Herbivore

I’m not eating meat or dairy until sometime in April.  I started the fast yesterday.  It’s the fourth of my life.

I’m not a big church goer, but the fast does coincide with lent.  I guess it’s just a lot easier to do a fast when there’s a big shiny light at the end of the tunnel.  In this case, that light is the meat orgy known as Easter supper at Aunt Sophie’s.  There’s a lot of family and food and booze around.  It’s a chance to catch up with people I haven’t seen in a long time, and load up on bbq’d back bacon, lamb, steak, cabbage rolls, and sausage.

People always tell me that after going several weeks without meat or dairy, eating that much in one sitting will make me sick.  My response is always the same.  I never get sick because I am a meat eating machine.  Last year I woke up the next morning and felt all that meat sitting in a lump at the bottom of my stomach.  I was a lumpy ball of bliss!

The other thing I find great about fasting is that my pallet opens up.  If I’m not eating meat or dairy, I start to eat food that I would never otherwise consider.  I also pay attention to the balance of my diet.  I try to eat equal varieties of everything, not just protein or those vegetable things.

Unusual

I woke up this morning and I didn’t know where I was.

Home.  I couldn’t believe it.  I’ve been in so many beds, in so many places, in so many time zones that it took me a moment to recognize the inside of my own bedroom.

I walked to Atlantis this morning, ordered my ‘usual’ and it felt like a brand new experience.  My day is only 90 minutes old and I can already tell that I’m in for an adjustment period.

Courtney picked me up from the airport yesterday.  It was great having her be the first Regina experience of my new found regturn.  We went for lunch then hung out for a bit at my place.  After she departed, I barely left the living room.  I have a lot of work ahead of me, but travel days afford a kind of purgatory from the rest of the world that I wasn’t about to squander.

I upgraded the software on my computer then spent the rest of the night squishing software bugs.  I’m still dealing with them in fact.  My new blog software did something to my domain name that caused it to disappear completely.  Perhaps it also took a well earned trip to purgatory.  Not sure, but I wish it would have left a note or something.

Well… time to rejoin life in my city.

Home Stretch

Two great meetings under my belt!  Toronto’s mission is now accomplished.

I had lunch on Monday with Bruce from CBC.  I brought him back some tuica and suggested that if he found any flaws in the demo when it came time for him to view it, he perhaps should have a few sips, then watch again.  He liked the footage I showed him from Transylvania and loves the idea of Rich Terfry being our host.  There are some great opportunities for CBC to cross pollinate the promotion of the series between its various radio and television entities.  The other good thing is CBC radio listeners tend to be fiercely loyal to its hosts, and with Rich being the host of CBC Radio 2 Drive, we should be able to bring that audience over.  Bruce also like the Alternate Reality Game idea to launch the series.  Overall, it was a great lunch and he’s as excited as anyone to see the demo.

I had supper on Tuesday with Lee from Canamedia.  We talked about our various projects and he’s also happy with the latest developments for Crimes of the Art.  There’s interest from a US broadcaster and he also thinks this will be a good fit for a UK broadcaster he has in mind.  This will be especially so if we can pitch this as a 3D series.  We’re also going to rejig the strategy for a couple of our other projects.

I’ve been away for an awful long time and I’m looking forward to heading home.  It’s always nice to travel, but all good things require balance.  I’m keen to get started on the demo.  I’m looking forward to my morning routines at Atlantis.  I’m excited to see friends and loved ones again.  I miss my apartment.

I’m writing this from a plane bound for Regina.  My life back home feels like a distant memory.  I’ll see you soon in the place that rhymes with fun!

Rich Beyond my Greatest Expectations

I showed up this morning at Rich Terfry’s house with all my camera gear.  What a great guy!  Also known as ‘Buck 65’ in Canadian music circles (buck65.com), Rich will be the host and narrator of ‘Crimes of the Art’.  I don’t think I could have cast a better man for the job.  His voice, his manner in front of the camera, his folksy yet enigmatic personality, his award winning and critically acclaimed body of work (and subsequent fan base), all contribute to making this series many times more better(er) than it ever could have been without him.

And guess what else?  C’mon guess!

His living room features red walls.  Yes, red walls with paint peeling in all the right places.  Red like blood dripping off the lips of a blood thirsty vampire.  Red like Laura dressed head to toe in red during our shoot in Transylvania.  Red like some other third thing that’s coloured really really red.  His walls are perfectly red.

We were soon rolling and he started narrating the words I wrote for him.  As his voice brought life to the work, it took some effort to keep my mind from drifting to all of the other really great elements that are coming together for the demo.  I could see in my mind Chrystene’s beyond amazing design elements, Laura meandering around Piata Sfatului, the After Effects magic of the editing team, Chrystene’s performance as Mrs Stoker… there were more than a handful of times that Rich finished his read and I was off somewhere in space, musing about the possibilities.  People standing in front of a camera generally like feedback after a take.

The whole morning went super duper alright.  We both seemed to be having a lot of fun and we even looked at some music Rich thought would be good for the demo.  He’s keen to contribute some of his own unreleased music to the demo.  Every new development makes the demo’s potential for success even greater.  I am chomping at the bit to get everything in the edit suite.

I can’t wait to see what the finished work will look like!

Women’s Rights and Birthdays Too

I was walking down Yonge Street looking for a coffee shop to settle into when a Women’s Rights parade happened by.  I watched them pass for a few moments then decided, ‘what the hell!’ and joined them.

So there I was walking down the middle of Yonge Street with a bunch of people hollering and screaming, others just smiling laughing, holding signs, waving, and chanting.  I think there were as many men in the parade as women, which was a great sign.  There was also a police escort the whole way.

I wondered if my motives for being there were sound.  Perhaps marching in a parade would make for a cool story to tell folks back home?  Perhaps it would be something great to write about in my blog?  I dunno.  I looked around and saw other people who seemed equally opportunistic for a story.  Others were photographing and video taping themselves.

I do believe in the cause, I’m just not as passionate about it as others.  I directed the Vagina Monologues two years ago.  I’ve taken a Women’s Studies class at the University.  I have a daughter.  I can march in a parade and I can talk about how cool it was.  I figure I’ve earned my Feminist stripes and I double dog triple dare anyone to challenge the legitimacy of those stripes!

After a half hour I left the parade and backtracked back to a Thai food place for something to eat.  I caught up on some blogging then headed back to Sharon & Jerry’s on the subway for a nap.  I was surprised to see that Toronto’s subway trains are ancient compared to Bucharest’s.  Toronto’s stations are much nicer however, but the fare is about six times more expensive.  Both are quick and easy to use.

For supper I took Sharon and Jerry out to express my appreciation for their hospitality.  Afterwards we wound up at Trenna’s along with a bunch of other ex-Saskatchewan residents.  It was another birthday!  Trenna celebrated with wine, friends, stories, and laughs.  Funny, this was the second time in two days I fell into an actor’s birthday celebration.  The difference being, this time I knew everyone at the party (except Trena’s sister).

We didn’t get home until 2am and I collapsed into my air mattress.  One of the best sleeps ever.

Thirty-one Hours Later

It’s Saturday morning and Friday morning was 31 hours ago.

The flight(s) back to Toronto were relatively uneventful and I couldn’t have been happier.  Given the epic drama involved getting to Bucharest, I just wasn’t in the mood for more shenanigans on the return trip.

Sharon picked me up from the airport at 8pm and from there we met an actor friend of hers for dinner in downtown Toronto.  It was her friend’s birthday and I figured staying up after an 18 hour flight would be a good way to acclimatize myself to the time zone… even if it meant being a zombie during dinner.  I had a good time, and made a new facebook friend with Sharon’s friend in the process.  We can creep on each other’s profiles and not ever have to talk to each other.  It’s a sweet arrangement.

Sharon and I have known each other for seventeen years.  She was dating my roommate back in our university days, and we got to know each other pretty good because she was over a lot.  A few months later she went back home to Toronto and I got on with my life.

She reemerged suddenly about four years ago when I decided to take a university class.  She was back in Regina working on a theatre degree.  We’ve been close ever since.

After being on the road for so long, it’s felt great to wake up in a friend’s home.

See You Soon!

Someone asked me just before I left for Romania, “If you could imagine yourself anywhere in the world doing anything, no matter the cost, what would it be?”

Usually the answers to those kinds of questions include lofty beyond your wildest dreams impossible to achieve type fantasies.  My answer is exactly what I found myself doing today.

“Sitting in a cafe, in the old centre of Bucharest, writing a script.”  The script turned out to be a gooder too.  I am beyond grateful and I feel truly blessed to be able to make a living doing what I love to do.

[Jarrett just knocked on wood]

It’s been a pretty intense couple of days.  Completing the research took longer than I expected.  I worked until 2am in The Embassy last night and only had the first act of the script written.  I woke up today and took bus 385 to my usual stop, but this time instead of getting on the Metro, I walked through the old centre.  I happened upon a busker who was singing U2 songs with all his heart.  I slipped 10 lei in his overturned hat and kept on walking.  Eventually I found myself at the Van Gogh Cafe, sitting in the window drinking cappuccinos and writing up a storm.

Afterwards Laura came over to my apartment for supper.  I made chicken and cream cheese mashed potatoes.  She drank straight clamato juice (no vodka, no beer).  Laura was exhausted from a long day of school.  She didn’t get off until 8pm and her day started at 10am.  The evening featured much chilling out, doing nothing in particular.  We watched ‘Serenity’ on my laptop until the battery died.  She left around 11 after a big hug and a kiss.  It will be a little while before I see her again because this will be my last night in Bucharest.

After cleaning up, I went for a walk in my neighborhood.  It was just me and the city alone together.  We shared a beer I brought with me as I walked.  Soon a stray pack of dogs found me and we made friends.  We all walked together for a spell and after about an hour, I headed back to my apartment.

It was a nice fair well.  I’ll be back soon.

Transformation

I didn’t sleep at all Monday night.  Too excited.  The government released it’s long awaited feasibility study for the stadium project in downtown Regina.  I spent hours pouring over a big chunk of the 200 page document.  The stadium is impressive, and I believe it will transform our city’s prospects in terms of really great concerts, sports, and cultural events.

Having said that, I am even more impressed by the way this project will tie the warehouse district to the downtown.  Bushwakers to O’Hanlon’s in 7 minutes!  Dewdney Avenue will be reconfigured.  Green space and park space will be created.  New condo developments will be going up.  Impressive new pedestrian linkages over the rail lines will not only be made practical, but also a destination in themselves.  This thing needs to be built!

So naturally, I didn’t fall asleep until the sun was up, and didn’t wake up until late afternoon.  Kind of a waste, but at the same time, I am floating somewhere between Bucharest and Regina time.  That said, I made myself some coffee, had a shower, and soon found myself sitting inside an Irish pub in the Old Centre going through footage from the weekend shoot.

At 6pm I met Ioana in Piata Romana and we went to the Embassy Cafe to hang out.  Ioana, being an architecture student, was keenly interested in the stadium project.  A project of that scale is almost beyond her imagination.  I promised to send her the feasibility study, which for her, might be an architect’s wet dream.  Everything is in there, from the overall design mock-ups to the number of toilets required for the stadium.  I think the biggest thing she ever designed was a three story hotel – three more stories than I could ever muster.

At 11:30pm we parted ways and I forced myself to get some sleep.  I promised a script to someone by Wednesday, and I had some work to do.

Bran Castle

The shoot with Laura went great.  After covering three locations in Brasov with two cameras (and one metaphor) we packed up, and called it a day.  Our night was spent wandering, suppering, and shopping around Piata Sfatului.

Yesterday we set out for Bran Castle, located in a village by the same name (shocking coincidence).  Getting there was a bit of an adventure.  Our directions were foggy (mostly because I forgot to look at a map).  So we wound up circling Brasov for about 45 minutes before finally getting on track.

We stopped for lunch in a traditional Romanian Restaurant in Bran.  I had wolf sausage (not sure if it was made from wolves).  The service was also traditionally Romanian, in that our server left work, forgetting he had a table.  We sat there almost an hour, going through footage before wondering if the cook was having problems rounding up a wolf.  Our meal was delicious once it finally did arrive.  A half hour later we were walking into Bran Castle, equipment in tow.

Bran Castle is a castle that Vlad the Impaler lived in while staging attacks on the Saxons in Brasov.  Entertainment options were limited in those days so it was either impale Saxons or do pizza.  It has also become known as ‘Dracula’s Castle’.

It took a little longer to shoot inside the castle because there were a lot of tourists whom we had to be mindful of.  Still, I’m happy with the footage and it will match nicely juxtaposed next to shots from the actual film.

The drive home was great.  I wasn’t in as big a hurry because I didn’t have several hours of shooting ahead of me.  I also don’t have the nagging feeling that I’m missing something.  I got most of what I came for, and found a few things I wasn’t expecting.  When I combine this footage with Toronto’s shoot on Sunday, combined with any studio stuff I do back in Regina, combined with any magic we come up with in the edit suite, we should have something pretty remarkable.

Being Helpful

Every wrong turn is an opportunity to learn something new about the unexpected place you find yourself in.

I should take that sentence and attach a photograph to it.  Maybe something optimistic and hopeful, like a sunset and a big horizon.  Or maybe something mind boggling, like confusion wrapped up in disorientation and served up on a platter of ‘what the fuck?’.

I returned the rental car today and took one wrong turn.  One wrong turn and it took me an hour to get back on track.  Twenty minutes passed before I even realized I was headed in completely the wrong direction.  I had to sniff around, looking for bus routes I recognized, churches I could orient myself with, and landmarks I could guide myself by.  Bucharest’s twisting winding streets never fail to fuck with my sense of direction.  It’s like wandering through a forest.

Actually, I have wandered through forests.  I do much better with forests than I do with Bucharest’s streets.  Give me a topographical map and a compass set in 2 degree increments, and I can navigate my way through anything.  I could even triangulate my position if the landmarks are visible.  I have already decided that a compass will be part of my next trip.

The trick is to simply know where I’m going, rather than relate the directions to roads on the map.  There are two many one way streets, side streets, blocked streets, turning lanes, bus lanes, and kamikaze lanes to simply plan my route to a map.  I did very well driving the parts of Bucharest I knew intimately.  It was the other 70% of the city that messed me up.

I hung out this evening with Darius, Andreea, and Ioana, three of the designers from the Urban Future shoot.  I met them at school and we walked to a pub in the Old Centre.  It was good to catch up and reconnect.  The three are very close friends who’ve known each other a long time.  I caught up with them at a rather dramatic period in their lives.  Andreea and Darius hadn’t seen each other since they broke up two weeks ago.

The evening turned into a bit of a healing session, combined with some angst, combined with some motivational speaking.  I told them that “every wrong turn is an opportunity to learn something new about the unexpected place you find yourself in.”

They all looked at me like I was crazy, or an asshole, or both.  Probably would have sounded better to not start laughing half way through the sentence.