Thursday, December 30, 2004

Good Cheer

Had a great time tonight. Rufus, Ric and myself got together for a holiday drinkfest at the local Firkin pub and got a chance to shoot the sh*t about everything from Improv to Digital Cameras. Melanie also came along for the first half of our encounter, but then had to run away to work...'tis ok, it let us thespian types to chat about stuff.

The concept of the impending Improv troupe was the main reason I wanted to get together (ok ok, drinks and good friends were important too, but hey...), and I felt we came along way towards the first step...coming up with names. The name I came up with was good yet conservative. Ric, being the great ideas man that he is came up with some names which were more whimsical, yet perfect. I'm still going to be a grouch and keep things under wraps for now, at least until I can come up with different campaigns for each name - then we can all fight about which one works the best.

Geez. I'm now pretty freakin' tired, and have to work in the morning. Time to call it a day. Cheers!

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

I AM 25% WHITE TRASH!
25% WHITE TRASH
The white trash in my blood will not keep me from becoming a doctor or a lawyer, but it will keep me from a good haircut and any sort of fashion sense.


Funny thing is, they didn't even ask if I ever lived in a trailer. I did at one point. Perhaps my score should be higher.



Stolen from Ric

Interesting

I'm just catching up on all my e-mails now in my various accounts (don't ask), and have been reading the last weeks issues of The Writer's Almanac. found an interesting quote on the December 27th edition.

Charles Darwin wrote, "Probably all organic beings which have ever lived on this earth have descended from some one primordial form, into which life was first breathed. There is grandeur in this view of life that...from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved."

Most people with a serious theological background will try to explain to you that Evolutionism and Creationism are total opposites. But if you read his quote, what better concept of God creating life could you ever read? "...into which life was first breathed..." What a beautiful statement that is.

It makes me wonder about how closeminded some people can truly be.

Give If You Can

There are so many people writing about the horrible disaster that befell the countries surrounding the Indian Ocean. I have commented on other peoples blogs, and feel that's been my bit. I choose not to write about it any further, because no words would suffice to console the hearts of the survivors for their losses.

All I will say, is please give generously if you can. Contact your local Red Cross and donate what you can.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Happy Birthday Stan!

From The Writer's Almanac:



It's the birthday of comic book writer Stan Lee, (books by this author) born Stanley Martin Lieber in New York City (1922). He spent most of his childhood watching Errol Flynn movies and reading boys' adventure stories. He decided to be a writer at an early age, and won a writing contest sponsored by the New York Herald Tribune three weeks in a row.

He got a job just out of high school as a gopher for a publishing company called Timley Publications, which published comic books. At first he got people coffee, swept floors, and ran errands, but eventually he began to proofread, and then write the occasional script, because he said, "I knew the difference between a declarative sentence and a baseball bat."

When he began to write scripts regularly, he chose to write under a pseudonym. He said, "I felt that those simple little comic books weren't important enough to deserve my real name. I was saving that for the Great American novel that I hoped to write one day. So I just cut my first name [Stanley] in half and called myself 'Stan Lee'."

Lee was just eighteen years old when the editor of the publishing house quit, and he got the job as head editor and writer. It was supposed to be temporary, but he wound up staying for more than thirty years.

At first, Lee wrote comic books without taking them very seriously. He said, "I was the ultimate hack. I was probably the hackiest hack that ever lived. I wrote whatever they told me to write the way they told me to write it. It didn't matter: War stories, crime, Westerns, horror, humor; I wrote everything."

But in the 1960's, Stan Lee began to regret all the time he'd spent writing mindless entertainment, stories with hackneyed plots and bad dialogue. At parties, he was embarrassed to admit that he wrote for comic books. He told his wife that he was fed up and he was going to quit. She suggested that if he had nothing to lose, he should try creating a comic book he could be proud of, since it wouldn't matter if he got fired anyway.

He agreed, and decided that the most important thing lacking from comic books was complex characters. All the good guys were entirely good, and the bad guys entirely evil. Stan Lee said, "[I decided to create] the kind of characters I could personally relate to. They'd be flesh and blood...they'd be fallible and feisty, and—most important of all—inside their colorful, costumed booties they'd still have feet of clay."

Instead of creating just one new comic book series, Lee created more than half a dozen, including The Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, the X-Men, Thor, Daredevil, and Dr. Strange. But his most successful character of all was The Amazing Spiderman, about an awkward teenager named Peter Parker who develops superpowers after being bitten by a radioactive spider. He was the first superhero to be filled with self-doubt, the first superhero to struggle with whether he wanted to be a superhero. Stan Lee's boss hated the idea, but the first issue featuring Spiderman sold every copy that was printed, and Spiderman went on to become one of the most popular superheroes ever invented.

Stan Lee said, "You ask the audience to suspend disbelief and accept that some idiot can climb on walls, but [then] you ask: What would life be like in the real world if there were such a character? Would he still have to worry about dandruff, about acne, about getting girlfriends, about keeping a job?"




I've always been a big Spider Man fan. Not just the movies and the old cartoons, but the comics as well. I haven't collected in quite a few years, but I still have many comics squirelled away, fighting Melanie on a regular basis to make sure she doesn't throw them out or give them away - because for some reason most females don't seem to understand the value in comic books. Spider Man appealed to me as he was the flawed superhero - one who was made to feel somewhat alone - exactly how I felt so many years ago....

Looking forward

In my last couple of days off, I've had the opportunity to see many movie trailers and book reports, and I have my current list of what I'm looking forwards to the most in 2005 on an entertainment front. (Don't ask me to compare any of these to the impending birth of my child, that won't warrant a response.)


  1. Sin City - (Movie) - April 2005

  2. Harry Potter & The Goblet Of Fire - (Movie) - November 2005

  3. Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince - (Book) - July 2005

  4. Batman Begins - (Movie) - June 2005

  5. The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy (Movie) - May 2005

  6. Star Wars III (Movie) - May 2005

  7. 24 (TV Series) - January 2005

  8. White Noise - (Movie) - January 2005 (two weeks!)

  9. The Lion, The With & The Wardrobe (Movie) - late 2005

  10. The Ring 2 - (Movie) - March 2005




Monday, December 27, 2004

Improv

Since starting to take the Second City courses, I have been so inspired to work towards the creation of a new Improv troupe. Now, I've had obsessions before, but something about this particular concept just pulls at me on a daily basis. Tonight I began my own part of the process. I created a name and a business card.

I'm going to be a tease and not provide that name yet. I have sent the info to a select group and am waiting on some feedback/criticisms/blows to the head from them before I move any further.

I once blew my chance to be part of what is now a fairly successful Improv troupe in the GTA. The director of that group and myself were fellow actors in a show in Newmarket, and he asked me to co-start the group. I at that time was reluctant to think this woud be viable and blew him off. Regretful decision.

This is my time to redeem that mistake. A lot of work is ahead, and I look forward to it. Hopefully I'll have some exciting news to share soon.

Friday, December 24, 2004

A Merry Christmas To All!

I wanted to draft a long e-mail to all of my friends and acquaintances this afternoon, but then my e-mail program broke in the most horrible way, and I was only able to fix it and retrieve all my messages a couple minutes ago. Now I'm too tired to think up anything too whitty and thought provoking. So, I'll spend my last bit of energy before Christmas and write here.

This has been a good year for me, and I have much to be thankful for. Of course, my marriage and the impending birth of our child has been the largest news of the year, but I have many other things to be thankful for. Starring in one production, having a pivotal role in a second, and then being cast to star in a third has been great, plus all of the commercials and rock videos and short films I have shot this year. With the acting industry in Ontario being in such a shambles I've done alright. Nothing too exciting yet, but I've had a lot of fun and that's really what matters in the end.

I have a new job to be thankful for. It's not quite what I expected and I don't love it...but it is acceptable for the time being. I do have a good team to work with, with a boss I like, so many of you would agree I should count my lucky stars for that.

My artwork fell away this year. I created four posters for theatre productions, but that's really it. I think it's due to I reached a threshold with what I know, and hate just plunking out the same old stuff. I need to learn some more techniques that will facinate me enough to get back into the groove. I'm thankful for the fact I have the ability to teach myself these things. I'll be even more thankful if I find the time to do it.

I'm thankful for the lovely martini set I just received for Christmas (Melanie's family are German, and they celebrate on Christmas Eve). I look forward to mixing drinks and kicking back with my friends, who I am extremely thankful to have in my life. Diane, Ric, Andrea, Ted, Greg, Joe, Quin-Chi just to name a few. Hope you all have a great Christmas!

That goes for you all. Please have a great day! I'll be back on the 26th to write some more. Cheers!


Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Another Onion Flavoured Gift

From The Onion

Olive? Who's Olive?





You Are "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer"





Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer
Had a very shiny nose.
And if you ever saw him,
You would even say it glows.

For you, Christmas is a mix of tradition and fun.
You're not above strapping on a red blinking nose for a laugh.



Tuesday, December 21, 2004

ahem..uh huh. And I'm sticking to that story...





You Were Nice This Year!





You're an uber-perfect person who is on the top of Santa's list.
You probably didn't even *think* any naughty thoughts this year.
Unless you're a Mormon, you've probably been a little too good.
Is that extra candy cane worth being a sweetheart for 365 days straight?



Ed?





You Are Socks!





Cozy and warm... but easily lost.
You make a good puppet.



Monday, December 20, 2004

Thank you, Roger Karshner

As some of you know, I accepted the lead role in Theatre On Main's upcoming presentation of The Man With The Plastic Sandwich a little while ago, and now tonight I have my first readthrough. So, I said to myself - "Self, you should actually start reading that script a bit more...you have 111E+52 lines to memorize so it's time to crack down." So, not wanting to neglect my own wishes, I picked up the script at lunch today and gave it a thorough examining. This time I picked up a bit more than my initial reading. I discovered where the title comes from (and I'm not telling!!! nyah nyah!), and really started to connect not just with my character, Walter, but with the three other characters in the show, Ellie, Haley and Lenore.

This show is hilarious. Hands down some of the best dialogue I've ever read or performed. But, like 'The Affections Of May', there is a real heart to this show that if done right (and it will, dammit!!!!!!) will draw tears like a late evening showing of Old Yeller.

This show is not new. It was written in 1978 by Roger Karshner, so some references are slightly dated. One of the costume choices scare me a bit (picture Herb Tarlick if you dare), but I guess I've had worse. Even if the director (My friend and the star of "The Affections of May", Colleen Sims) does decide to modernize the show by changing some references, I don't see the actual spirit of the show being jeopardized.

The pain my character is going through reminds me so much of what has happened to me and to friends of mine in the past and even in the now. The concept of losing your job and your place in the status quo, and feeling so lost and helpless fits this time period just as much as it did thirty years ago. I look forward to this show in so many ways, not the least of which is presenting it for my friends and family. I've said it before for previous performances, but this one is going to be my crowning achievement. I just know it.

UPDATE: 10:01pm

Just got back from the rehearsal. The cast is great. Erin and Marianne (who play Ellie and Lenore respectfully) are two actresses that I have previously worked with, and Bruce, who plays Haley has got a great sense of humour and presence that is going to be fun. Also, we all live fairly close together so we can get together for line readings without anybody having to drive forever to get to where they need to go. I am really looking forward to this show starting. Two weeks from now we begin rehearsals...woohoo!

We also discussed the time period, and collectively agreed that it should stay in the past. So, 1976 it is.

I also discovered there was an extra week. The original pamphlet I picked up at the theatre stated the show opened on February 24 and ran two weeks. It really opens on February 17, and runs three weeks. A nine show run is going to feel more fulfilling in comparison to the effort we put into it.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Dilemna...to Connect or Not to Connect

Ever since the service Classmates.com reared its head a few years ago, I have had as much of my profile online as a free service would let me. I really don't get a lot from it, though have had at least one person from my past contact me using its Gold Membership.

Today while dreaming of drinking the nice bottle of Citra Sangiovese Terre Di Chieti Red Wine that I was given at our Departmental Christmas Lunch, I was browsing through the Classmates databases from the schools I attended and came across my ex-girlfriend from high school whom I had not really dispatched our relationship in a very positive way. My misbegotten arrogance got the best of me at the time, and I broke it off with her in a very regretful manner, mostly because she was fighting so hard to keep the relationship together which I found to be smothering. But another, much sillier reason for me is I had a taste of "popularity" for the first time in high school and became quite drunk with it. I thought I was some kind of Superfly all of a sudden and that all kinds of girls were clambering for my attention.

Yup, that's the bullshit delusional world I was in at the time.

Now that I have a way to reconnect to her, I'm debating as to whether I should get a Gold Membership so I could send her a note or not. For my own piece of mind, it would make me feel better to reach out to her and just say that I'm sorry for being such a dick...but I have to consider whether she would welcome such a thing being passed to her. Ah...much to decide.

Think I'm going to go home, and not drink this wine. Think I'll crack some ice that I just asked Melanie to make, pour myself a nice glass of Teacher's Highland Cream Scotch and contemplate the issue for a bit. Even if I don't make a decision tonight, at least I'll have enjoyed my Scotch!

Any takers on this issue? (not the Scotch bit, the other issue)

Slap Happy

I just got back from an eventful night. My friend Diane and I went to an improv night at Bad Dog Theatre, where we were thoroughly entertained by the headliners Slappy Happy Improvisational Theatre Company along with their special guests Tontos Nephews. Kerry Griffen of Slap Happy just happens to be our current instructor at Second City, so we thought it prudent that we not only support him, but make sure he really knows what he's talking about (just kidding Kerry if you read this!). He proved himself quite well...as did the rest of the performers. By the intermission I was so inspired to set the foundations of my own troupe so I can grace the same stage with these guys....it may just happen pretty soon, or at least within the year. Maybe a specific Newmarket/Aurora team. I have three people already...I need a forth (Ric?).

Bad Dog Theatre is quite a different venue than the Second City mainstage. It is very small and intimate, so you are made to feel that much closer to the entertainers. Really close in fact as the front row, which we grabbed quickly, was only 4 feet from the stage. It also gives the feel of a "working mans" theatre. The set dressing is really ratty, and the stage is built from a bunch of risers that have obviously had many a set of feet pounding upon them over the years. None of this turned me off, because it actually fit quite well with the type of theatre we were seeing. Improv is normally quite quick and dirty...why can't the theatre be too?

The only unfortunate event of the night was on the way home. I dropped Diane off at her car at Woodbine and 7...but it was quite dead. Sounds like her starter motor was toast. So, after scratching my head for a few minutes I told Diane to call CAA and within 20 minutes we had a friendly tow-truck to drive her car home. So, I drove her home and then gladly headed back home in a rush (I really had to pee!!!) and here we are.

Adventures are a consistancy. It's just good to have good friends to share them with. I'm sure Diane feels the same.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Aiiiiiieeeeeee!!!





Your Christmas is Most Like: A Very Brady Christmas





For you, it's all about sharing times with family.
Even if you all get a bit cheesy at times.




{ACK!} Kill me, Quick!!!! The ghosts of bad nostalgia television are possessing me!!! There is no cure!!! {ACK!}

Sunday, December 12, 2004

ahem...La la la la...





Your Dominant Intelligence is Musical Intelligence



Every part of your life has a beat, and you're often tapping your fingers or toes.
You enjoy sounds of all types, but you also find sound can distract you at the wrong time.
You are probably a gifted musician of some sort - even if you haven't realized it.
Also a music lover, you tend to appreciate artists of all kinds.

You would make a great musician, disc jockey, singer, or composer.



Thursday, December 09, 2004

Bring on the good news for once.

Does it strike anybody as sad when CNews, the parent company of The Toronto Sun, listed the following story as Weird News?

Debbie Peliti, an unemployed mother of six, found approximately $40,000 in a clear plastic bag literally lying on the street at Kingston Blvd and McCowan Rd. According to her, she didn't even think for a second of keeping the money, though obviously she could have used it. Instead, she followed her upbringing of honesty and respect for others, and turned the money into the local Toronto Dominion Bank, who eventually rewarded her with $2000.

Why exactly is this Weird News? Is it because there is a positive message being portrayed here, and the news media is slightly confused on how to deal with it? In these times of turmoil, with the Iraq War and Government Incompetance and really crappy television, there should be an outlet to show all the good news that occurs on a daily basis, but is generally hidden from the public because nobody can profit from it.

I have friends who are Manic Depressive, and I've seen an entire generation get more and more depressed every year because they feel that the world is for the most part just a great pile of crap. I feel this is largely due to just how much Bad News gets thrown at us from our televisions and newspapers and the radio. My wife won't even watch the news because of this spin...it's too depressing for her.

I applaud Ms. Peliti for her honesty, but am ashamed by how the media outlets have tried to work this into an entirely different feel. Instead of discussing how good her act was, and how society in general should follow her example, they do surveys on whether she should have kept the money and how chintzy the bank was to ONLY give her $2000. Last survey I heard had 2/3's keeping the cash. I changed the channel.

I mean, c'mon...it makes you want to throw up your hands, give up on society and move into a luddite commune.

Monday, December 06, 2004

A New Aquatic Habitat


A New Aquatic Habitat Posted by HelloHere's a shot of the new 29 gallon fish tank that I picked up to replace both my hex tank and my little 5 gallon. The reason I eliminated the hex was was we have been given new cabinets for our living room, and there just wasn't any more room for the tank. Because it used a powerhead and undergravel filter, it was also slightly more challenging for me to clean on a consistant basis...I would have to vacuum it very often, and because when on a stand it was almost as tall as I was I would have to hold the gravity vacuum at a weird angle which bothered my shoulder to no length.

Melanie originally wanted me to replace the 80 gallon tank I have along with the 35, but unless I could find somebody to take the 40 or so Texas Ciclids that roam that tank I was unwilling to minimize the amount of tank space that much...so I talked into her the idea of replacing the 5 gallon in the bedroom with this tank, and she went along with it. Now that it is all set up with a cool backing (not shown in the picture) she's really happy with this choice.

In the tank I have the following range of creatures:

1 Placo (the one of the lower right corner (from the hex tank)
2 Orange Algae Eaters (from the 5 gallon)
2 3" Gourami's (new)
7 Fancy Guppies of multiple colours (new)
7 Blueberry Tetras (all but 1 is new)
5 Neon Tetras (new)
1 Scissortail Raspora (from the 5 gallon and my oldest fish)
3 Dwarf Frogs (new - and really cool!)

I find the Placo knocks plants and other items askew quite often, that's why you can see some floating objects at the top of the tank. I need to weigh them down a bit more so they stay put, or may pick up some different kinds of plastic plants with rock bottoms. I'll try different combinations as long as budget allows.

That's the cool thing about fish tanks. If you have the money...the sky is the limit as to what you can do.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Keepin' It Together

Bloody hell...having some serious problems keeping my eyes open over the last few hours. For two days now I've been in all day training for some software and methodology training at work. Now, I have been an advocate of extra training over the last while, however something just seems wrong to leave your house in the dark, sit and watch somebody drone on about technology for 8 hours and then leave for home in the dark.

Tonight I need to recharge my batteries quick as I have a Christmas Party to stop at for awhile. My agent, Sam, is throwing her party at the L'Arte Bar & Grille down on Dundas St W at 8pm. I was originally thinking of sitting here for awhile and write like a good little boy before heading down, but then my brain realized that I'll be asleep and drooling on my keyboard within 30 minutes if I don't start moving. I'll head down to Bloor St...find a good parking spot, do some shopping and use the streetcar. Hopefully I'll have something interesting to write about tomorrow.

Cheers!

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Making excuses

My writing has been extremely limited lately due to mass exhaustion. I've been horribly busy with work so have not been posting much from there, and I find that when I get home I'm so tired that I just need to flake out on the couch. Even now, my bed is crying out to me but I thought it prudent that I force myself to post something so that people know I'm alive.

I'm preparing myself for some new adventures in writing for the next spurt of energy that I encounter. On my last trip to Theatrebooks, I picked up a couple items that sounded interesting. One was a book by Marsh Cassady called The Art of Story Telling, which is designed for stage work but which will also hopefully inspire some new writing. Also, just for fun, I picked up a cute novelty item called "The Writer's Block", which is literally that...a big block of pages with 786 different ideas on how to bypass that nasty scenarios of wanting to write but having a completely blank mind on where to start. Everything from pictures to suggestions like "Write in the nude" are present, and I may give it a swing (I promise I won't share with the world if I really did write naked - unless you really wanted to know or something... :) ).

December is going to be a busy month. I expect that I will begin rehearsals for my next show, The Man With The Plastic Sandwich in the middle of the month, and I also expect that I will be working some longer hours at work while we prepare for our first project UAT start date in January. I will endevour to get some interesting stuff in here at least three times a week though. No promises...I won't sign a blood pact or anything - but for my own well-being I'd like to thump some ideas out, and I value the opinions of those who do take the time to read my blog regularly (not many of you yet, but that's ok).

Out for now...Cheers!

Tim

Monday, November 29, 2004

A Happy 86th Birthday To....



Happy birthday wishes go out to Madeleine L'Engle, the author of A Wrinkle in Time.

Everybody who enjoys reading and/or writing can fondly look back to see the books that inspired them to follow a particular genre. For me, being an avid Fantasy/Sci-Fi enthusiast, the book that really started it all for me was A Wrinkle In Time.

I had previously read the Narnia Chronicles by C.S. Lewis, who also would be celebrating a birthday today if he was still alive (for more on that read Ric's blog here) as well as the Lloyd Alexander Prydian Chronicles, and though I was an avid fan of the work they did not inspire me to pick up a pen and write my own fantasy stories. L'Engle's writing changed that for me.

Up until that time my writing was very Detective based. As a youth, my main source of material was The Hardy Boys and The Three Investigator books (the real Alfred Hitchcock connection, not the revised ones they release today). From about the age of seven I was bypassing my horrible handwriting to pen stories which appealed to me, using myself and my close friends as characters. My writing and imagination grew from these exercises, and I found myself wanting to read as many books as possible to inspire my own ideas from the scenarios offered.

Then one day on a trip to the library I found A Wrinkle In Time and gave it a spin. I remember being floored by the combination of Fantasy and Science Fiction in one novel. Fantasy itself is fairly common place in children's and young adult literature...it's a great vessel to use as metaphor, but true Sci-Fi was unusual at the time.

The main characters were kids who felt different and outcast from everybody else - just like I did...which drew me in further to the story, and then WHAM...the concept of the Tesseract just ripped new pathways into my brain that weren't there previously. I was ready to read not just for the idea of reading and obtaining writing ideas, but to challenge my own beliefs of reality and pursue new ideas. I can even remember having heated arguments about ideas I was reading about. A nine year old philosopher - a very scary thing indeed.

Having this new mindset pushed me to authors such as Andre Norton and William Sleator and into limits beyond and I liked to question everything all of a sudden. My Baptist Sunday School teachers did not like this new me, however...and I found myself in consistent run-ins with them during class. Especially when I discovered the dreaded Dungeons & Dragons (gasp!). I suddenly felt that I had been brainwashed by them previously...not for purposes of hurt (I didn't expect the tainted cool-aid to come out) but just for the sake they don't like any other reality to choose from...where I had an endless supply at the other end of the author-reader chain. I stopped going to church altogether at that time in a fit of disgust for the system.

I picked up a copy of some of her novels last year and gave them a re-read for the first time in twenty years, and though the writing is obviously focused at a younger audience they still hold up very well to any other fantasy writing offered today. I look forward to cracking them out for my children as they grow.

By my calculations, Madeleine is 86 years old today, and again, I wish her a wonderful birthday. Thank you for the gift of words you have given me and the world.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Runner-Up Still Works

Canadian Actor Online
I submitted an entry to Canadian Actor Online's contest for the most unique audition experience. The first prize was a free workshop at Sears & Switzer, while two runner-up prizes of a Canadian Actor Online T-shirt were offered.

I don't get any schooling, though I now have a new piece of clothing to keep me warm over the next few months of winter. I don't mindat all really, I've already taken the workshops that were offered as a prize anyway. I entered the contest to see what would happen. I had a few goals in the writing area this year, and so far this is the only one that I've kept. Guess this is a little kick in the butt saying get rolling on those words, buddy!

Here's my runner-up entry, for your info. This is a true story (as was the rules in the contest).

When it comes to auditions, the term normal need not apply. Every opportunity you have to sell your services to a casting director is wrought with the perils of uniqueness, so any preparation you may have slaved over is often thrown right out the window. You have to come in to the room expecting the unexpected.

After being called into the demesne of one unscrupulous director last July, I was told to toss away the script my agent had frantically gotten into my hands the night before and that the audition would be completely improvised. This startling revelation sent a cold shadow of fear into my being. Improvising is a strength of mine, however it can be difficult to judge whether you are giving too much or too little to a director. Plus, the character he asked me to create on the spot was a Bad Hollywood Producer pretending to be good.

Not one to back down to a challenge I gave it my all, creating a fake question and answer period with the director as my audience. He played along, but then as with most auditions I was back out the door within ten minutes.

Seems I gave a little too much. The real producer sent me a message saying I didn't get the part I wanted, but would I take a different role - "Bad Actor Auditioning for a movie." Didn't know whether to be complimented or insulted, but I took the role anyway.



Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Considering betterment

I was at a group lunch today with the team I was previously connected to before being hired by the company fulltime. Now, I find in big groups that it is very difficult to follow too many of the conversations that float around, primarily due to the fact I suffer from a condition I refer to as 'radio ear', though I am sure there is a more scientific term for it. When in a crowded room with a meriad of people all speaking at once, I easily lose focus on what's being discussed right around me. Add in a television or radio and I'll totally lose you within milliseconds.

So as to be a useful part of the lunchtable, I strained to focus in on the conversation closest to me, which interestingly enough centered mostly on being involved with a gym, running marathons, and generally just getting healthy. I say it's interesting as I have been interested in being involved with the gym local to my company due to the fact they offer an extremely generous rate to all the employees here. As long as I could start off on a light workout only it might be a good way to regain some of my former strength and athletic ability - both which have long since packed their bags and moved out. Yes, it's true....due to my inflamed knees, my painful right shoulder and a couple crushed discs in my neck I've become pretty weak. I'd like to start changing that now that my wife and I are starting a family.

And I'm not only thinking about it for the kid(s?) either. As with all things, I'm always looking for new ways to better my acting career. One thing I have been looking at lately is Sword Fighting and other Fight Choreography training. Now, if I can barely lift 40 pounds with one arm, what use am I going to be if somebody wants me to practice with a Broadsword? I don't want to be stuck as the guy who could only use a Foil because of it's lightness.

So, early next week, I'm going to drop into the gym, take a tour and ask all the questions I need to ask. That part can't hurt. It's the actual workout that's going to hurt...we'll see if I can handle that.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Death Ray Cats


Death Ray Cats Posted by Hello

The Ric Knight Collection


The Ric Knight Collection Posted by Hello


After over six weeks of waiting, my order of two of Sir Knight's mugs were delivered to me. Apparantly there was some fight at customs...and the boxes were marked as having Electronic Parts inside, so I'm not so certain about Cafepress's international shipping policy, but at least they weren't lost completely, or gracing the shelf of some strangers kitchen.





Fairwell to a Canadian Comedic Icon

As was about to shut things down for the night, but then I overheard this news on CBC so I had to check it out. I am greatly saddened by this loss.

From www.cbc.ca

TORONTO - John Morgan, the former cast member of CBC's Royal Canadian Air Farce, has died. He was 74 years old.

Morgan was one of the founding members of the long-running comedy series, which originated on CBC Radio and continues to this day on television.
John Morgan (courtesy AirFarce.com
He was perhaps best known for his character Jock McBile, the perpetually disgusted Scotsman.

His other original characters included the monosyllabic Mike from Canmore, and over the years he also lampooned political figures like bland Liberal MP Herb Gray and Russian leader Boris Yeltsin.

In an e-mail sent to CBC staff on Tuesday, CBC executives Jane Chalmers and Richard Stursberg lauded Morgan as "one of Canada's beloved entertainers."

Fellow cast members Roger Abbott and Don Ferguson noted in the same message that Morgan, originally a comedy writer, did not start performing until he was 40 years old.

"He was surprised to find himself a television star at an age when most men are thinking about retirement," the two said.

They also noted that, even though he departed the show in 2001, "barely a day has gone by when we don't quote him."

His former co-stars urged him to return for special appearances, but he declined, saying "You're not really retired if you keep working."

Originally from Wales, Morgan held a number of jobs before entering the comedy world, including newspaper reporter, magazine editor, teacher and pub owner.

He began his writing career in 1966, and his credits include penning the pilot episode for the Al Waxman sitcom King of Kensington.

He also wrote and performed in England, and had a series on BBC Radio, It's All in the Mind of John Morgan.

Morgan was once asked his reason for being a writer.

"I figured if I was going to get stabbed in the back, I'd prefer it to be with a pen," he responded.


Fairwell Mike. If I'm ever in Canmore I'll salute you. For more Air Farce references, check out their website.

A "Second" Future?

I've had a few things I've wanted to write about in the last week, but life, work and a need for the occasional bout of sleep had caught up with me.

Last Tuesday, my friend Diane and I went to catch a preview showing of the Toronto Second City Mainstage Revue, Good's Good, Evils's Bad. We had free tickets for the show as we are both now students of the organization, taking Level A Improvisation on Sundays for the next couple of months. I must say, it was a phenomenal evening.

The Second City shows are drafted quite differently than most other productions. Instead of somebody writing a show, workshopping it and then casting it, Second City stirs the mix up a bit. First they cast the players, and have them improvise multiple sketches over a period of time. Once they have a bit of material compiled from these sessions, they begin molding a show around them, and then workshop them for different test audiences, looking for the moments that work and those that don't. It's only on the final night of workshopping, just before the show is to be opened for the paying public, that they actually write it all down. This "script" is not for the main cast's benefit - it's only for archival purposes, and if an understudy is needed to fill a role.

I laughed heartily with most of the material that was presented to us. Of that, my favourite sketches included The German Comedy Team,The Miners and the Fart Machine and The Sniper. But what I really pulled out of the deal was a level of inspiration - some of the cast in this show started right where I am now, just taking the improv workshops and improving their skills wherever possible. I'm seeing possibilities!

Jump forward a few days, to Sunday. This was the first actual class of the Level A Improvisation, and it felt great to be in a class setting like this - just playing around and trying new things. I haven't had an experience in theatre like this since I left high school. Knowing that I'm in a setting where it's totally okay to make mistakes, where making a fool out of yourself is expected. and where laughter is always good...that's the place for me.

I found out more information about the advanced levels of the Second City courses and how far I could go. Let's just say I'm inspired. At this moment in time I'm planning on going straight through to level E and then audition for the Conservatory, but now we are looking at timeframes a year in head of time. We'll see what happens as I get there.

More to write about....I'll see if I have time tonight...if not I'll be back tomorrow.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

They couldn't shut up for two minutes?

Now I fully understand what the survey results meant. Apparently, when asked whether Rememberance Day was still as significant today as when it was instated, 65% said No.

Just now, as I bowed my head to think of my Grandfather and the other veterans who had served their country with valour, I was dismayed to hear people in the next aisle laughing and actually SHOUTING back and forth to each other in a display of such inconsideration that I was sorely tempted to tell them to "Shut the &*@# up". This I declined to do as it would have only pulled myself down to their level. So, I gritted my teeth and tried to shut the sounds of their voices, and of printers starting up and phones ringing because they just couldn't stop for two whole minutes to actually think and ponder the sacrifices made for this country and every other country in the world.

These are the moments when I look at society in general and feel shame.

Lest We Forget

Image provided by The Canadian Airforces

From The Royal Canadian Legion

HISTORY OF THE POPPY

Why was the poppy chosen as the symbol of remembrance for Canada's war dead?
The poppy, an international symbol for those who died in war, also had international origins.

A writer first made the connection between the poppy and battlefield deaths during the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th century, remarking that fields that were barren before battle exploded with the blood-red flowers after the fighting ended.

Prior to the First World War few poppies grew in Flanders. During the tremendous bombardments of that war the chalk soils became rich in lime from rubble, allowing 'popaver rhoeas' to thrive. When the war ended the lime was quickly absorbed, and the poppy began to disappear again.

Lieut-Col. John McCrae, the Canadian doctor who wrote the poem IN FLANDERS FIELDS, made the same connection 100 years later, during the First World War, and the scarlet poppy quickly became the symbol for soldiers who died in battle.

Three years later an American, Moina Michael, was working in a New York City YMCA canteen when she started wearing a poppy in memory of the millions who died on the battlefield. During a 1920 visit to the United States a French woman, Madame Guerin, learned of the custom. On her return to France she decided to use handmade poppies to raise money for the destitute children in war-torn areas of the country. In November 1921, the first poppies were distributed in Canada.

Thanks to the millions of Canadians who wear the flowers each November, the little red plant has never died. And neither have Canadian's memories for 117,000 of their countrymen who died in battle.


Wednesday, November 10, 2004


We The Wanderers.... Posted by Hello
Since joining Aviva last year, I have moved a total of 4 times. The picture here is the desk that I have been working out of for the last couple of months. Tomorrow I move once more.

I had no idea when signing my agreement that I was now officially a member of a gypsy caste. I already know that in less than 2 months, I move again. And then six months after that...yes, you guessed it, I move again. Pretty soon I will begin feeling like a marble on a board of Chinese checkers.

All the time I have been at the company, I have not once made any of the desks I've been at feel homey. I've posted no pictures or whimsical sayings. As a consultant, I refused to tie myself down to the company by feeling comfortable there. But now as an employee, I will be more prone to put up a picture of my wife and hang a few DIlbert Comics here or there. Maybe even put up some of my art.

The reason we do that is to feel some permanancy and comfort in our cubicles or offices. But knowing that I'm just going to be shuffled off again is not a very comfortable state of mind to be in, and I don't know if I want to make myself feel attached to a workspace if I'm just going to lose it again.

Guess starting Friday I'll start wearing bells and loose clothing for dancing around the fire.

O, gypsy spirit inside of me.
O, river spirit inside of me.
O, Gypsy River, I will always be.

From Hic Sunt Dracones
By Miriam Smyth





And the road went on.... Posted by Hello

Fish Scale Sky


Fish Scale Sky Posted by Hello

On my way home from work on Monday I was driving Westbound on Aurora Road when I noticed that the clouds were in this really funky rippled effect like a Trouts or a Snakes Scales. I grabbed my nifty camera, which I have been carrying around quite a bit lately and took a blind shot. The added colour from the sunset really makes the image stand out.

Cool Cloud Formation


Cool cloud formation - Orangeville, Ontario Posted by Hello



This was taken from my Grandparents balcony in Orangeville. Depending on your state of mind at the time you would see different things. My grandmother saw a goose. I agreed with her, but thought I recognized some other shape in the image. Just now as I downloaded the image from my camera, the geekier part of my brain cried out - "Holy *&%#, it's the Enterprise from Star Trek!".

I of course immediately gave that part of my brain a wedgie.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Hey rufus, show your husband this!!!

I'm not directly involved with the party, but survey says.......





You Are a "Don't Tread On Me" Libertarian



You distrust the government, are fiercely independent, and don't belong in either party.

Religion and politics should never mix, in your opinion... and you feel opressed by both.

You don't want the government to cramp your self made style. Or anyone else's for that matter.

You're proud to say that you're pro-choice on absolutely everything!




Screening Info

The gentlemen behind this feature were also behind the movie "Low Budget", which I have a small role in. I came to see the first screening of this movie at the University of Toronto and was very impressed with their research and cinematography. I even bought a copy on DVD. I highly recommend anyone who gets the chance to see this to do so...it will give you a slightly different perspective of what occurred in the concentration camps during World War II.

Capital j. Films will conduct another set of screenings of "Against The Odds" - the documentary about the resistance in Nazi concentration camps.
The documentary tells the unknown story of the resistance within the camps through interviews with survivors and historians ilustrated with archival footage and computer generated images. It depicts different forms of resistance from a "simple" smuggling of medicines to something as aggressive as the elimination of Gestapo agents and preparations for rebellions.
"Against The Odds" was already screened in Montreal and Toronto to an audience ranging from university students to camp survivors and industry professionals and received only the best reviews. Now a number of additional screenings will take place at the following locations:
-21 Nov (Sunday) at 6pm at the John Paul II community center in Mississauga (4300 Cawthra Rd., just south of the 403),
-24 Nov (Wednesday) at 8pm at the John Paul II community center in Mississauga, and
-25 Nov (Thursday) at 7pm at the building of the Polish Veterans' Association in Toronto (206 Beverley, 1 block south of College and the U of T campus)

Reviews:
"…a very valuable addition to the filmed history of World War II...informative and entertaining." - Joe Fox, Movies editor, The Toronto Star.
"…insightful and well researched documentary…" - The Montreal Mirror.
"Congratulations to the director and producer for the idea to produce a documentary about the heroic and very effective fight against the enemy within the camps." T. Kaszuba, Stutthof concentration camp survivor.
"Wonderful Doc!!" Paul Haber, Discovery Channel Canada.

How do you know she is a witch?

You are Sir Bedevere! Wise and creative, you are able to counsel others as well as come up with some really ingenious plans of attack...sort of.
You are Sir Bedevere! Wise and creative, you are
able to counsel others as well as come up with
some really ingenious plans of attack...sort
of.


Which Monty Python & the Holy Grail Character are you REALLY?
brought to you by Quizilla

Monday, November 08, 2004

Bright lights but no city

Melanie and I paid a visit to my Grandparents on Sunday to indulge in the incredible feast that my grandmother always puts together. As is the norm, there was enough food to feed a Third World Nation, and since there were only the four of us at the dinner table I admonished her for working too hard.

It's a habit though. Grandma was the eldest of sixteen children (that survived infancy), and she has always been used to cooking for large multitudes of people. Even after growing up, getting married and having four children of her own, she became a foster parent and ended up taking care of an additional 4-8 children at any given time. Since retiring from fostering almost twenty years ago, she has gone on to working at multiple restaurants and even owning two different locations herself along with my grandfather. The Riverdale Restaurant in Pefferlaw, Ontario was a limited success due to the population and economic situation of that town at the time, and Edith's Good Food in Baldwin did good business due to its location, but the price of her rent and the cost of keeping her amazing buffet dinner's going became too much of a hinderance. After she closed the doors on that venture she gave up on owning restaurants for good.

A good thing too, but only for selfish reasons of my own. Her cooking is so good that I like to consider myself priviledged to be a part of her inner circle. When she cooks for the public it devalues my own social worth. So, I'd rather remain a total bastard and keep it all to myself and my kin. I'm totally joking of course. But it is that freakin' good.

After all the Roast Beef and Whipped Potatoes and the multitude of other vegetables were consumed, to be joined by the overdosing piece of Fresh Apple Pie, we rolled ourselves away from the table and sprawled onto her couches to have an after dinner chat. The normal conversations roamed our quartet - the pregancy, baby names, other members of the family, my uncles house (we visited it previously - I will write about that later, trust me - WOAH!!!!!), and whatever came to mind. I remember being totally shocked looking at the clock, seeing that it was 6pm and it was totally black outside.

Grandma and I sat out on the veranda in our winter jackets while she had an after dinner smoke and stared out into the fields beyond. They live on the outskirts of Orangeville, and their apartment faces onto a bird sanctuary. Absolutely gorgeous view. I suddenly noticed that there was a vividly green Aurora Borealis occuring in the Eastern Sky (which confused me, I always figured it was only to be seen to the north). Watching the dance of the "Northern Lights" was awe inspiring and it added to the peaceful feeling we felt. We were in the country, not the city...there was no hustle and bustle to be felt. Just the four of us enjoying a quiet evening together. That's what Sunday evenings should always be like.

Friday, November 05, 2004

It's always in threes...but strangely not always bad...

Looks like I've done something right lately. Instead of everything being bad in threes I'm getting everything good in threes. It's uncanny. And in some bizarre way it frightens me a bit. I keep looking out the window to see if Hell has frozen over (Yes Rick, I'm looking towards your office building), if Pigs have all taken wing, and if the Leafs pulled a fast one on everybody and won the Stanley Cup during the lock-out.

Perhaps it's good karma. Or just good luck. Who knows?

First, Aviva has hired me on full time into a well written, brand new role in a brand new department. No old policies and methods to fight against, reasonable salary to start off, great benefits. Educational opportunites are massive. My spirits are up. I've been writing great code all week like a maniac.

Second, I won $5 on the lottery. Five bucks?! you say, laughing hyserically. Let's just say I have the worlds worst luck on lotteries, so winning anything past a free ticket is something special. It's only because I'm not so great at math that I keep doing it every week.

Third, I just received a call today from somebody wanting me to star in their theatrical production. And the show would be in February, which is pretty much at the cut-off date I've decided on due to the upcoming arrival of my prodigal child. So, I'm picking up the script on Sunday and will give it a good read. Because I'm doing the Second City workshops on Sunday afternoon instead of a weeknight, it gives me the opportunity to do one show without worrying about the interference factor.

Tonight, Melanie and I are going out to celebrate this burst of luck! That's unless I see a pig pass me on the 404...then I'll be hiding under the bed awaiting the upcoming apocalypse.

Book Review: Speaker For The Dead

cover


The second book in the Ender Saga, written by Orson Scott Card, brings about a major change of direction in the storyline. Where last we met the character of Andrew Wiggin, or Ender as he is called, he was a youth treated first as a hero and then later as a villain for commandeering the Xenocide of the Buggers. Unknown to most people, he was the one who caused his own villiany, by releasing a book under the name The Speaker For The Dead in which he identified the Xenocide as a horrible mistake. This document would reach near biblical proportions, and make Ender the most hated entity in the Universe.
Now, leap forward 3000 years. Ender is still alive, having travelled all over the galaxy at near Light-Speed fulfilling duties as a Speaker Of The Dead. Nobody but his three closest companions knows his secret, his sister Valentine who also bears a dual identity as the famous writer Demosthenes, Jane, a massively intelligent computer programme who may just be a new form of life, and the last queen of the buggers, who Ender has been protecting all these years while searching for a new home for her.
Now Ender has been summonded to the planet Lusitania as Speaker For The Dead of a Xenobiologist who has apparently been murdered by a newly discovered race of aliens. The mystery he uncovers there could very well be to his salvation, or to the utter destruction of them all.

Highly recommended by this reader. Purchase your copy at Amazon.ca today!

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Well...ok....

HASH(0x8c52a48)
You're British Columbia. You're hip and happenin'
but also a nice person who isn't a snob. Career
is important to you but it isn't your whole
life. People assume that your life is perfect
and that you have it all, like you were born
with a silver spoon in your mouth. But it's not
true; you do have your own set of troubles just
like everybody else.


What Canadian Province Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla


And I haven't even been there. Guess the call of Starbucks and a variety of homegrown must be calling to me after all....


Tuesday, November 02, 2004

My moment to plead for intelligence.

Unless you are a luddite, in which case you wouldn't be reading this, never mind watching TV, you are pretty much aware that today is the American Election day. Thank god too...I don't think I could take much more coverage on the subject. Something just seems very wrong with the amount of sensationalism that is generated by these events, and the amount of money that is invested in it. My god, Kings have been coroneted for less.

As a Canadian, I have no power to vote on this event, so I will use this entry to discuss my take on the day. Then I will never mention it again (or at least until something really interesting comes about), unlike some that can never get off the freakin' subject.

I don't know if it's my training in media or what, but I just cannot understand how the American public can be so swayed by events in the media that just smell of staged events. C'mon, all of a sudden Osama Bin Laden pops back up just as we prep for the polls, so that everybody looks to Mr. Bush for help? And how the terror alert keeps popping back up whenever Mr. Kerry is slightly ahead in the polls? The rule is, if it seems too coincidental, it's not.

This morning, all the news was talking about was how many of the polling stations were worried about problems in the voting because of TOO MANY PEOPLE TURNING OUT. What the ^&@*????? Isn't the concept of an election in a democracy to have every eligible vote make it? I also have heard people say how if the vote is split right down the middle then the government could not function. Umm...that's what sort of happened four years ago, people.

Scare tactics are everywhere. The specter of "The War on Terror" is everywhere, and it's actually quite comical to watch the different slants in the media to pursued voters one way or the other. You have people discuss at one moment how the war is a bad thing, but at least they have Mr. Bush to protect them from their enemies during the war. HUH?????

I try to have faith that our brothers and sisters to the south of us are smart people. Unfortunately, their media really tries to show they are not. And to most Canadians, that's the only way we know Americans - through their media. The Jerry Springer's, The Next Top Hermaphodite Junkie Model's, The Gross Me Out So Much I Have To Change The Channel Factor. The mentality of these shows is presenting itself in the normal news media...so, does it make you wonder why there is so much angst between us sometimes?

As to who I would vote for if I had the opportunity, I choose not to say. All I can ask is people really think about what they want and who they are voting for, not do what the slant on television tells them to do.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Mr. Leacock, I presume?


Ready for the ghost walk Posted by Hello


Back in college, we once had a project where we had to be historical figures interviewing each other. I just happened to receive the role of Stephen Leacock, and to this day believe that this project represented one of my finest moments in theatre. I was asked a surprise question by my classmate (who was portraying Shoeless Joe Jackson) how I felt about losing my wife Beatrix, and the answer I gave along with gently released touch of emotion stilled the room entirely...you could have heard a pin drop, evolve into a higher being and leave the room for the next bus to Chicago. Trying to find moments like that is one of the reasons I have continued in theatre to this day.

Jump forward ten years. During the show Infidelities! I was talking to one of the actors in the show, Ninette, who was responsible for setting up at Ghost Walk in Georgina for Halloween, and she was looking for people to play historical figures in the area. My ears perked up...Stephen Leacock and his family lived in the area for quite some time...that means I could take another shot at playing him again. I immediately volunteered and it was never mentioned again until the opening week of Honestly, Now!. Ninette, who played my love interest in this show, brought it up again, and though my schedule was slightly tighter now I continued my interest.

Geez...I was under the gun, now. I had to find a costume, a panama hat, and re-do my research pretty damned quick. So I frantically searched around for everything, and basically had the works together on Thursday evening...so I could do a final cram of information.

Then the events of Friday occurred and I was forced to cancel my appearance for that night. Even though we had good news about the pregnancy, we were still shaken up from the event and decided to have a quiet night at home.

I promised Ninette I would be there the following night though, so picked up my hairspray and fake hair so I could create the moustache effect. The picture above does not do that bit justice...I look more like Guido Sarducci. But I trimmed it down a bit and the final result was pretty darned close to the photo I was using as a reference.

The actual ghost walk was fun, though I was slightly stressed. Because of Friday, I was not AS prepared as I would have liked to have been - even though I knew pretty much his entire biography. In hindsight I would have perhaps used one of his stories in my bit...just giving information is a little dry for an evening out. However, people seemed satisfied, and I even was applauded by the different groups coming in which was a pleasant surprise.

I have offered to help Ninette out next year...perhaps turning the role of Stephen into a tourguide instead of just a stop on the tour...I think that would be even more fun. And it gives me the chance to fill the shoes of this wonderful writer at least one more time.

To meet at high noon Posted by Hello

A Patriotic Impression Posted by Hello

Angst and relief

Pardon the delay in my writing...it has been a slightly bizarre weekend with ups and downs, and I just didn't have the energy and ambition to write anything. I will explain.

But first, a little bit of backstory. I have a little secret that very few people are aware of, but now it's time to let the cat out of the bag. Melanie and I are expecting our first child, and are currently at almost three months. There...I've said it, and now I can officially start writing about my feelings on this subject (positive, let me assure you). That's for another day, I need to write about what happened this weekend, first.

On Friday, I was sitting at my desk at work, waiting to hear from Melanie who was seeing her doctor. It was a fairly quiet day, and I was just about to start writing when the phone rang. Melanie was on the other line, extremely upset, telling me to come home. When I asked why, she just repeated her statement and hung up.

Now, in my place what would you be thinking at that exact moment? I automatically assumed that we had lost the child and already put myself into a mental state where I could be strong for my wife yet still grieve for my child. The drive home was a trip of despair.

Melanie was just sitting on the couch when I rushed into the apartment, and after a few quiet moments she told me the doctor thought the pregancy was not viable. Apparently the Ultrasound showed nothing in the sack, and he thought the fetus was still in the fallopian tubes which would be a fatal situation to Melanie if it was allowed to grow. This news was very upsetting, as I'm sure you can understand.

Her doctor had set up a rush Ultrasound appointment that afternoon to get a second opinion on the results, so we drove there in relative silence not knowing what to expect.

Melanie was taken into the Ultrasound room on her own, I was not allowed to be there for the initial test. My heart was in my throat and I tried very unsuccessfully to do some reading to get my mind off the reason we were there. Suddenly, Melanie burst out of the room and gloriously shouted "There's a heartbeat". Still not knowing if we were in the clear, we both rushed into the room where a second part of the test was performed, and we were able to see the baby, fully in it's sack...all apendages forming normally. Seeing the heartbeat fluttering on the screen was the most joyous thing I could ever imagine and I felt a little misty. We beat the odds...our child was still alive, and apparently very healthy.

No, I don't know yet if it's a boy or a girl. At eleven weeks you cannot tell that kind of thing, and we are tryingt to leave it a surprise anyway.

So, to sum up what happened. I don't blame the doctor for making the diagnosis...he worked with what he had in his hand. I blame the previous Ultrasound technician and lab for a totally botched job (different clinic then where we had the final result, btw). The Ultrasound they did was at 5 weeks, and it took them 4 weeks to get it to our doctor. Also, they only scanned one area of her stomach, which is neglectful. I am seriously angry at them, and if the result we received on Friday had been negative I would consider suing them for malpractice. I mean...4 weeks to get results? They had them ready too...they just sat on them because they were too lazy to find out a fax number (they apparently had lost it, though did have the phone number).

However...everything seems to be cool, so I'm not going to spread any further bad karma by going after others. We have come out on top in this situation. Following the event, I was still kind of stunned, and wanted to really wrap my mind around this whole thing...that's why I didn't write previously. I have other things to catch up on though, so will take a crack at that later on today.

Cheers!

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Ender's Game

cover


I remember being told about this book many years ago when I was running a literary BBS out of my Scarborough basement apartment, and decided at the time to give it a pass because I had too many other books to read and things to do. After finally getting around to picking up the series, I regret that decision.

I was absolutely floored by this book and its themes. In a world where the concept of Genocide haunts us on what seems less than a monthly basis, we find ourselves constantly questioning other peoples' morality and conveniently ignore past history to suit our own needs. Now what if you were faced with an entire alien race with their own form of communication that in no way even comes close to ours, and decided that the only way to solve the problem was complete and utter Xenocide? How would history favour you afterwards? Orson Scott Card begins his thesis on this issue with this book.

The book begins with a feel that is fairly reminiscent of the Harry Potter series. It is far into the future, and Andrew Wiggins, or Ender as he is called, is only six years old yet already an intellectual genius when he is drafted into the military. Over the next few years, he progresses in training, solving problems and creating new methods of warfare that were otherwise never considered by anybody previously. Deliberately forced to feel very much alone through his training schedule, he deals with an inner turmoil of not wanting to be a violent person, yet being forced to unleash his fury at times with dire results.

The ultimate result of this training comes to a head in his twelth year in an event that he has been specifically trained to handle, and his own personal feelings about this set up the next couple of books in the series.

The Buggers are the alien race in this novel, and the description of them sounds very similar to the aliens in Heinlein's Starship Troopers. There are also concepts which echo those of the novel The Forever War which my friend Ric loaned me a few months back.

I have already moved on to the next book in the series, Speaker For The Dead, and will write about that when I am done. Until then, go out and grab a copy of Ender's Game...you won't regret it.

Onion, anyone?


I've been a devoted reader of the Daily Onion since Ric sent me a link to the site a few years ago. The site, which is updated every Wednesday, is filled with satirical humour that often leaves me laughing hysterically at my desk at work in the times I need it most.

This week is great. Not only did they post the image above, which pretty much sums up the current state in American politics, but some of the other articles shine brightly beyond the level of hilarity I've come to expect.

The Going Away Party and The Sniper are my two favs this time around. Ric...I think you'd get a dreamy look in your eyes after you read the Going Away Party...just think of the Beloved One in this context.

For a special treat...read the horoscopes. Trust me.

Call of the wild

What is it about discount stores that drives people out of their minds? I was in one of the local second hand stores yesterday, trying to find an old-cut suit for use in a gig I have this weekend. Though I was in a specific men's aisle, I was still being jostled by bitter old women that obviously had nothing else better to do with their time. I got fed up with this after five minutes and decided to leave.

Suddenly, an employee brought out a cart of stuff from the back, and you would have thought somebody yelled fire. All these old women suddenly surrounded this cart, nearly killing the poor employee, and began fighting over used dishes and costume jewellery. They honestly looked like a pack of hungry wolves who had just encountered a lame deer. I had to backtrack a bit and go down a different aisle because they wouldn't move to allow anybody past them, and I was afraid of being eaten.

I still need to go back to find that suit...I noticed some candidates I need to try on. However, I think I may wait until the local Bingo parlor opens so that the coast is clear.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Coke vs Water


Sarah Stunt and myself Posted by Hello


After dragging myself out of bed at the ungodly hour of 5:30am, going through my morning ritual and then scuttling out into the darkness, I made the trek to the good 'ole downtown Toronto. My destination was the Rock N' Roll Diner at the corner of Gerrard and Yonge. After parking at the local ripoff..er, I mean - parking lot, I wandered over to the diner to meet the crew.

The flock of Ryerson Students were obviously tired, having arrived a couple hours previously to set up, but were obviously excited about getting this major project of theirs over with. I waited an additional hour while they made one more run back to their campus to get some extra materials like sandbags and XLR cables, but then we got rolling.

The premise of the short film is a teenage girl meeting her father at a diner, and them having a bit of a strained discussion about the merits of drinking Water over Coke. My character ordered water and food, the girl (Jane) ordered Coke only. I tell her that I think drinking Coke is unhealthy. Mind you the fact I also ordered a huge greasy burger and chili cheese fries makes my point kind of moot. The actual backstory is that the father took off seven years previously, and is only now trying to become part of the girls life again. She resents him for what he did, and for the fact he tries to be paternal when obviously he’s lost the knack and perhaps even the right on how to do that. This backstory is never discussed in the movie, but when you apply the knowledge of this to the lines in the script, everything ends up becoming a really cool metaphor.

I of course played the father, and a talented young girl with the cool name of Sarah Stunt played Jane. There is a third performer in the movie, a waitress, but you never see her face. A lady named Rose played that role.

We shot a few scenes in the morning: all of the scenes with the waitress, camera angles of us individually with a sideview, and a full wide shot of the entire production for reference. We then broke for lunch, and walked over to Pitman Hall for some Pasta and Caesar Salad. Yes, plenty of Coke and Water were provided. When we returned to the shoot, we went right into some different POV shots for different areas of the script, and then we got to the fun part. I end up having a certain dark beverage thrown at me. Two shots of that from different angles, and then I was wrapped. All in told, it was just less than a nine hour day, which really isn’t all that bad for a short film.

The crew were fun to work with (I'll only post their first names in case of confidentiality concerns). Megan was great as a director, and Jennifer as producer played this fine line between commander and comic relief throughout the day. As Cinematographer, Kendra had a fun bubbly energy which is common in the professional industry…so I see her going far. Ezra and Dylan handled the sound and boom as well as they could in a little diner along a busy roadway ("Was that a truck?"), Judith was the Gaffer ("Don’t touch the lights, they’re hot!"), Kim handled the slate. And Amy…well, Amy was quiet and I never really got a chance to talk to her. She seemed to handle her job as Script Supervisor just fine.

I have pictures from the shoot that I will post when I get the chance. Just stuff from behind the scenes - nothing exciting.



Monday, October 25, 2004

Funny how that happens

It's actually kind of funny. All week I have found myself caught with a bad case of writers block...everytime I went to write something substantial it would fall apart. Now, at this exact moment in time, I have several ideas of things to write about, both on the blog and offline. Unfortunately I don't have the time.

Reason? I have a job interview first thing tomorrow morning...which is never my best time. So, I'm hitting the sack far earlier than usual (like, in 5 minutes) and getting up at the ungodly hour that many of you poor folks have had to do forever.

Second day in a row too. I was up at 5:30am this morning so I could be downtown and somewhat chipper for a movie role (I'll write about that tomorrow). I need that extra 1/2 hour to just flake out and have a cup of tea before I head out the door...I'm 200% more efficient, and 1000x more pleasant for it.

So, I will leave it at that for the night. From wherever you are, wish me positive thoughts for this job. I'll let you know what happens.

Honestly, Now! Post-Mortem

We wrapped up the run of Honestly, Now! on Saturday evening, and I can honestly now (HAHAHAHA - shoot me) say that I'm fairly torn about my feelings regarding the show.

The role of Hector was one of those dream roles for me. It was a combination of different aspects, outrageously silly and childish at one moment and then steady and controlled at the next. The balance in this role allowed people to see how flexible I can be on stage, and it felt good to receive praise from this.

I was extremely happy with rufus' directing on this show. It was her first kick-at-the-can so to speak and she proved that she has the potential to direct more. It's not easy your first time out, especially when you've been working with the same people as an acting peer - taking that step up to leader is somewhat frightening.

The production itself was fraught with problems, this is true. The cast perhaps didn't gel as well as it could have, and some friction continued well into the final show. That's not my issue, and I have no wish to revisit it. All I can say is we all worked hard with the material, and sometimes we pulled it off and sometimes not.

Happily though, for a show that opened on a somewhat sour note, we ended on a great one. Saturday night was a performance with it's own complete personality...I don't think the script will ever look the same. But it was done in a way that nobody in the audience could tell. A good portion of my family came to that show, and they barely noticed anything out of the ordinary.

That's why we don't give scripts to the audience, right?

The Weekly Geek-Out Begins


What Video Game Character Are You? I am Kung Fu Master.I am Kung Fu Master.


I like to be in control of myself. I dislike crowds, especially crowds containing people trying to kill me. Even though I always win, I prefer to avoid fights if possible. What Video Game Character Are You?

Friday, October 22, 2004

Song of Susannah

cover


I just finished reading this novel by Stephen King after only three days and was heartily impressed. Mr. King has crafted an incredible work of art that adds so much more to not only the Dark Tower series, but to his entire body of work in general. Anybody who has been following this series and most of his newer works know that he has begun creating a really cool connection between many of his individual novels, and boy does this one really crack the whole thing wide open.

Without giving much away, the last couple of books in the series connected The Stand, Hearts of Atlantis,'Salems Lot,Bag Of Bones,The Eyes of the Dragon,Insomnia and many others. And now the author has gone and done something else that is rarely done by any author and rarely works - he's written himself into the storyline. Done in a very blunt and somewhat heart-wrenching way, you can feel that he is indulging in a bit of catharsis to deal with the tragedy of his accident a few years previously; much in the same way as he did with the television series Kingdom Hospital.

The evolution of the main foursome in the series: Roland, Eddie, Jake and Susannah is tremendous at this point and it's sad to realize that there is only one final book left in the series to tell the rest of the story. I plan on going out to grab The Dark Tower at my next opportunity.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Wet Blogging

Hope you like the new background. It is actually the very first design I ever created using the software Bryce, and I've used it many different times over the last couple of years; for literature and even in some software I've written.

Slowly yet steadily I am fiddling with the design over on my website, and as I come up with a style that I like I will change the stylesheets over here to match. I'm preparing for my next big project here - my artwork.

That's right. Bet some of you wondered why I called myself The Acting Artist when I rarely discussed Art. As with everything else, I was just procrastinating...I have a fairly healthy portfolio of digital designs that I will begin displaying for multiple purposes over the next couple of weeks. Also, I plan to sit down and begin designing some new pieces to go along with some stories I'm writing. My thought lies in that one medium will inspire the other.

Some updates: The posting for the job I've applied for just closed today, and I've already received a call from HR wanting to set up a new interview. Unfortunately their first choice was this Monday, when I'll be offsite shooting a movie with some Ryerson students. I've asked them to do Tuesday instead...though I would be even more pleased if they asked to do it tomorrow. I just want to get this stress out of the way.

Probably do some more writing tonight...have a bunch of stuff I want to post but surprisingly busy today with real work.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

It's not easy being green...

Ever noticed that Sod, after falling off the back of a truck onto the highway, looks like roadkill?

Thought I ran over the Grinch this morning on the 404. Sheesh.

Green is the colour on the news this morning. Toronto is finally pushing forward with a Green Bin programme to handle organic waste, and of course one of the local news stations dispatched a reporter to check out the pilot area to see if they were following through. So far it seems to be working, though there was apparently quite a bit of grumbling from people who thought sorting their garbage was a waste of time. Wait...there has been a Blue Box Recycling programme for over ten years now...you mean they haven't been sorting for that?

The good thing I heard is that the normal garbage pick-up for the areas with the Green Bin programme will be every two weeks, and more often for the organic waste. Unless you want piles of garbage smelling up your house or property, you will be forced to sort everything to minimize what is left over. I applaud what sounds like a very well thought out plan.

Now is only Aurora would adopt the same programme...mind you, there may be a problem with it in our apartment building, as they only have one garbage shoot, but I'm sure something could be figured out. Perhaps large bins on the ground floor with twice a week pick-up? Think I'll do my research and write the local paper about this.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Honestly, Now! Follow-Up


Honestly Now! Posted by Hello


Well, we finished our first weekend run a tad successfully. Sadly we didn't start it that way. I don't wish to go into too many details on our Friday performance...not because people could view anything I say as slander, but because it gives me nightmares when I delve too deep into the experience. It was just that bad.

Saturday was far better. As a member of the cast who has gotten to know the script quite well, I could still feel the struggle some had for parts of the dialogue, but they pulled it off in a way I doubt any audience member would have noticed.

I look forward to this coming weekend. Now that the weak parts have been noted, those would have been worked hard over and over again so that it'll not just be a good show, but the fantastic show that this script should allow.

Hope to see some of you there!

Friday, October 15, 2004

And Then There Were Three

I'm not referring to the album by the rock band Genesis.

This morning I was in a rush to leave the apartment and was asking Melanie to feed the mice when she was up and about, but then something made me go check on them myself. Everything looked ok at first, our brown mouse Maddi was casually having a drink when I looked in, and I could see the forms of the triplets in a huddled circle. I reached in to pet them, and two noses popped up into the air, but their sister didn't move. I checked her out and discovered she had passed away sometime during the night.

Many people would laugh about me being sentimental over a mouse, but I happen to have a fondness for Rodents. Rabbits, Mice, Rats, Hamsters...had 'em all, and plan to add more in the future when space avails itself. For now, we've been content taking care of these little ladies whom we rescued from the OSPCA before they became hawk food.

Mice are particularly difficult to separate when young. You have to a really good eye to determine what sex they are, so often males are accidently mixed in with a clan of females and you have a population explosion on your hands. This was happening regularly at the OSPCA and the amount of mice available was getting out of hand. I was unemployed at the time, so spent my time volunteering at the Provincial Centre as the acting co-ordinator for volunteers when the position became vacant (I was actually hoping for the job). Very quickly it was obvious that I enjoyed working with the rodents as well, so when I tired of paperwork and phonecalls, I snuck down to the animal area and spent some time there. When the project for the final separation of the mice came down, I was recruited and we spent a painstaking time separating all the males from the females. I ended up taking five of them home with me, all female, for what Melanie originally thought was a foster situation, but then she fell in love with them herself and so we kept them.

We had an Albino, a Brown Mouse and the triplets - all a cream and brown colour. They seemed happy in their new home, a triple decker cage I had owned from my days of breeding rats. They were messy from time to time, pushing their seed-shells out of the side of the cage when they were finished, but for the most part they were a perfect part of the family.

Age does catch up with us all though, especially pets. I'd estimate they were at least a year old when I got them, and we've had them for two years now. The typical lifespan of a mouse is 1.5 to 3 years. So, we've started to lose them. First our Albino moved on a couple months ago, then this morning's spiritual release occurred. I figure that by the end of next year they may all be gone, one after the other.

I'm not going to shed tears for any of them. I understand the cycle of life very well and the consequences of being the owner of many pets. I'm just going to take comfort in the fact I gave them a good life and provided them a safe and happy home. That's the best way to look at it.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

The Ghosts That Haunt Us


Boo! Posted by Hello


I've been involved in productions at the Stephen Leacock Theatre for many years now, and have always been aware of some kind of presence in the building. I'm not alone.

So many people have reported strange events in the theatre...items going missing or moved to unusual areas. I've even had my entire lighting rig completely altered in the middle of the night. We spent the entire evening setting the lights for a production of Iolanthe and when we came back the next afternoon for the rehearsal every light was in a different position. Some people assumed it was a childish prank by some neighbourhood kids who figured a way to break in, but they would have had to use 30 foot ladders which were locked up. Totally bizarre experience (and frustrating too!).

The haunting of the Stephen Leacock Theatre has been reported in the past. You can find a report at the Ontario Ghosts and Hauntings Research Society website.

This picture was taken a couple weeks ago, when we were first moving into the theatre to set up for Honestly, Now!. It could just be a result of the flash on my Kodak Digital Camera, but I'd like to think it's the spirit of the place showing who's the real star of the show.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Look out below!!!!!! {THUMP}

A Good Knee - Obviously Not Mine


Just like most parts of your body, your knees are a part that you take for granted until they decide to rebel against you.

As a child I did the most horrific things to my body. A memory that came back to me recently was climbing out of the window of the second floor bathroom at my Grandmother's farmhouse onto the roof, and jumping off for fun. We're talking about ten or twelve feet in the air, leaping outwards to land about ten feet away - feet firmly on the ground. The force I must have been exerting onto my knees is enough to make me wince these 22+ years later. I can't even remember having some sort of superhero fetish at the time, I just liked to jump.

Then you have all the other childhood experiences that would cripple an adult for life. Wiping out on my BMX bike while peddling full-out to jump some makeshift ramp. Randomly falling out of trees...including one forty foot plunge in Pefferlaw (I'll discuss that separately). As a teenager I mastered the pratfall on stage, but not until I practiced injuring myself in untold ways by doing badly choreographed flips and such. Now that's suffering for your art.

Over the last few years I have paid for my unwise machoism. My knees are pretty much sore and inflamed all the time. My love of running, skiing, hiking and baseball have all been put on the backburner; perhaps permanently. I even had to use a pillow so that I could get down on one knee to propose to my wife. I regret not having strong knees every single day, though have learned to live with my condition.

Everything is hindsight and time-travel hasn't been invented yet (or is a physics impossibility), so obviously I can't go back to smack some sense into myself as a kid. But I can be prepared to put the fear of god into my own kids if I catch them doing the kind of stuff I did. "You wanna walk like daddy? Huh!? I knew you didn't". That hopefully should be enough to make 'em think twice before they try their own death-defying leaps. Mind you, kids are naturally inquisitive by nature to the point of being downright suicidal, so they'll probably try anyway when I'm not looking.

Think I'll install parachutes into all their clothing.....