Highwaymen Afoot

Walked into Atlantis this morning, and Abby, owner of the place, handed me a ‘free’ double Americano.  She mistakingly made it for someone and instead of dumping it out, she gave it to me.  Coincidentally, I was about to order a double Americano.

It’s a hot Friday afternoon and a long weekend is about to start.  The whole city has a really chilled out vibe about it.  Days like this can only be made possible when you cram in a whole bunch of other shitty hectic days.  Buddhists would call that the theory of emptiness.  Nothing has meaning without context.

I have some odds, ends, and visitations ahead of me today.  I am hoping I’ll be left with enough time to finish Act I of Ep 1 of Highwaymen.  I may even have the first draft of the first episode complete by the end of this long weekend.  Such an accomplishment would leave me feeling really great.  A proper pitch package for Highwaymen wouldn’t be far off after that.

[Jarrett stares out the window running scenes through his mind]

Wow.  I just imagine the possibilities.  I truly can’t imagine a better way to end the weekend.

Passing Semis in the Mountains

Back at home in the Vag… the place that rhymes with fun.  Who else can say that but people who live in Regina?

Massive amounts of kilometres driven over two days has an effect on a person.  You feel kind of stoned when you stop.  You close your eyes and instantly there’s the phantom inertia of rounding a corner, or breaking suddenly to avoid some idiot who pulled into your lane without looking.

And also, what part of “Keep Right Except to Pass” or “Slower Traffic Keep Right” is so hard to understand?  Goddammit.  I got my foot 140 km/h deep into the gas peddle.  Get outta my lane!

Mountains are a little tricky though.  They have something us prairie folk aren’t used to — turns.  They have mountains, valleys and cliffs too, but you never really want to meet those things from behind the wheel.  Passing windows on single lane highways in the mountains are like a precious metal.  They’re rare and you covet them — especially when stuck behind a semi.  Can’t say I wasn’t greedy though.  Took almost everyone I came across.

While travelling along at about 100 km/h, leave a few car lengths between you and the semi, downshift to 3rd, gas peddle to the floor, pull out just before slamming into the semi’s trailer, up shift to 4th, pull back in the nano second you clear the tractor, up shift to 5th and foot off the gas.

By this time I’d be doing close to 180 and I let my car coast back to 130 if no one’s in front of me.  If there is another car in front of the semi I just passed, I get hard on the breaks and pull in behind.  Passing too many cars in one go can lead to unfortunate meetings with mountains, valleys, cliffs, and the front end of other vehicles.  Same goes for spending too much time in the passing lane.  Besides, passing other cars after successfully picking my way through semis is kind of easy.  Set ‘em up, knock ‘em down.  Set ‘em up, knock ‘em down.

At least that’s how it goes until the next semi comes along.

Perfect Night

The last 36 hours or so have turned out to be pretty satisfying.  I’m about three quarters the way through Act I of Highwaymen’s first episode.  Good stuff methinks.  Not only that, but I’m chomping at the bit to keep at ‘er.

It’s a good lesson.  The next time I get all twitchy about what I should write and how big the scope is, remind me of yesterday.  “Just write motherfucker.”  That’s what you’ll say to me… and I’ll even listen.

I had lunch with Don Kugler yesterday at a place called ‘The Alibi Room.’  He’s the Vancouver-based director who workshopped my play in May.  He likes the new draft.  Suggested a couple of tweaks, but they’re nothing that should stop me from sending it out.  He even gave me the names of Artistic Directors at theatre companies in Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Saskatoon, Calgary, and Vancouver whom I should send it to.  He also said I should drop his name when I pitch ‘em.  That should give me a leg up on some of my fellow playwrights.

Later in the evening Ingrid Nilson texted me.  She’s a successful Vancouver actress who got started in Regina.  I helped her with a play she wrote called, ‘Not A Pretty Girl’ a few years ago.  We got to be good friends after that.  Anyhoo, Ingrid, myself and her beaux Lawrence met up on Kits Beach and found a place called ‘Local’ to sup at.  It turns out Ingrid knows the dramaturge at the Vancouver theatre company that Don told me about.  When I’m back in August, she’ll set up a meeting for all of us to have a face to face.  Connections are a big part of making things happen.

Funny story.  While waiting for them, a drunk guy sat down beside me and started chatting me up.  I humoured him with polite conversation in return.  He then declared that he was Scottish and started singing to me.  After a few minutes he left abruptly.

I am now writing this from my campsite, somewhere between Golden and Field on the Trans-Canada Highway.  Jazzy’s in the tent singing to herself and I’m watching the campfire burn down to nothing.  There’s hot chocolate in our bellies and there’s another camping memory freshly made.  It’s pitch black all around me.  I can here trains passing off in the distance and the wind whispers to us through the tree tops.

It’s a perfect night.

Riders 20 – Calgary 40

I gave up 9 points in my football pool last night.  Edmonton shit the bed in its game, and then the Riders channelled Edmonton in the 2nd half of their game.

Saskatchewan started off okay.  The score was tied 7-7 at half time.  Then we forgot how to play defence.  Special teams didn’t give us any field position and as the clock wound down, Durant was forced to gamble a little more with the football.  He completed slightly more long bombs as he did interceptions.  We needed to score a pile of points in a hurry and going deep was our only option.

The TSN telecast criticized the Riders for NOT pulling Durant as it became apparent that we weren’t going to catch up.  Leaving him out there risked injury.  Leaving him out there also signalled to the team and the league that Roughriders never quit, Roughriders never stop coming at you, and Roughriders never take their foot off the gas… even when the tank has run dry.

I realize that I’m writing with green tinted glasses, but maybe the team needed this.  I was becoming alarmed at some of the things this team started saying about itself.  Two weeks ago players and coaches were talking about their potential to score 60 points per game.  They also talked about the impossibility of other teams figuring out their unconventional defence.

That’s the sort of shit that people like me say ABOUT the team, and NOT for the team to say about itself.  The most admirable part of this team has been its character.  Roughriders don’t showboat.  Roughriders don’t gloat.  Roughriders express humility when greatness looms.  Roughriders ride.

Put your nose down boys and do your jobs.  Quit reading the papers, and quit talking about yourselves.  Do your jobs, execute your assignments, tackle, and let your play do your talking.

The potential to have a 15 – 3 type season is there.  But for Montreal, every other team in the league is either rebuilding, or in decline.  Furthermore, our offence has the potential to put a lot of points on the board.  Our defence can be dominant.  Special teams is the weak link, and hopefully that can be corrected soon.

Lets not have any more games like this last one.  It’s too hard on my headspace otherwise.

Sittin’ On the Dock by the Bay

Sitting on the grass at the foot of Denmen waiting for Jazzy’s boat to float in.  It’s a warm Saturday afternoon, clear blue sky, and I’ve got a tall Americano at my side.  PJ is off in the distance talking, talking talking to one of the other mom’s waiting.

I’ve been tortured, feeling like I could be doing more writing and less procrastinating with my surfing and football watching.  Of course, passing up on football ain’t really an option.  Considerin’ my subject matter, you could even call it research.  I’m taking words from some peoples’ mouths and putting them in other characters’ mouths.  I’m drawing on my past in 1990’s Rider football, and I’m marrying it to my growth as a 30 something wandering wanderer.

Got other shit in there too.

Well… there’s a buzz about.  The parents are running for the docks.  Guess that means good news is coming up the way.  There’s a whole afternoon ahead of Jazzy walking and football watching and eating and loving and taking it all in.

Maybe we’ll go off somewhere and catch a Rider game on TV.

Last Car Aboard

Normally, starting a blog article with a title and a photo dooms me to writers’ block.  Not so this time.  The above photo illustrates in vivid reality what a truly remarkable stroke of luck I came upon yesterday morning.

Notice my grey Jetta tucked snuggly into the starboard-stern of the ferry.  I was the last car to load.  I made the cutoff with mere inches to spare.  Given my previous ferry experience, I was super duper pleased with the outcome.

After parking I stepped out to see how close it really was and I laughed out loud.  The space between my bumper and the tailgate of the truck in front of me was about three inches.  Same on the back end of my car.  There’s a metaphor in there somewhere, I just haven’t figured it out yet.

I wrote the first scene for ‘Highwaymen’ while camping in Nanaimo.  After re-reading it today, I must say, I’m pleased.  I’ve sketched out where I think this story’s going, but I keep second guessing myself.  Is this going to be a sit-com or a one hour dramedy series?  My original vision for having this be a low budget SCN sized series has evaporated.  There’s some serious themes that I’d like to explore and the 24 minute sit-com format may be too limiting.  It might be easier on an audience to be a drama with funny parts (Desperate Housewives, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) than to be a sit-com with serious parts, (MASH, Barney Miller).

[about a half hour passes]

Okay.  So maybe this could be a sit-com after all.  I just youtubed some old Barney Miller episodes then re-read my ‘Highwaymen’ scene.  Strong story telling and rich characters will trump the format’s limitations.  I think.

We’ll see how much I can cram into six 24 minute episodes.

Neutral in Nature

I think life is best lived in neutral gear while coasting downhill.  There’s only one direction to go, and you only have a limited ability to control where you’re headed.

After racing through Vancouver traffic at a breathtaking 5 km/h.  I pulled up to the ferry terminal at Horseshoe Bay, only to find out that it would be a five hour wait.  I was “two sails” away from Nanaimo.  Nothin to do but sit around, eat something, read, and watch boats float.  There are far worse ways to spend a day.

My computer was out of gas, so all I could do was check for email quickly before being forced to shut down.  With that, I pulled out one of my newly purchased books and started read-watching.

Read-watching is what you do when you have a book out, but there’s so much going on around you, it’s difficult to concentrate.  People came and went, boats floated by, trains followed decades old tracks through the mountains nearby, and crows queued themselves up behind a table of patrons ready and willing to feed them.

The ferry ride itself was great.  Finding a power outlet was my primary concern, and once settled in, I had a view to muse me, and my phone to distract me.  This was definitely not a time for read-watching.  Instead I hunkered down and tickled my keyboard until finished.

I am now writing from an outdoor cafe located at my campsite in Nanaimo.  I have Wi-fi, electricity, and a S’more latte on the go.  An oceanside view is beyond me, and I have two days to do nothing but write.  But for one meeting I agreed to take in, I don’t think I’ll even need to leave my campsite.


Chloe with your vowels and consonants all pushed together.  Do you close your eyes at night to see the dreams about yourself looking back at yourself looking back at yourself?  Whose skin are you in this time?  What places do you imagine yourself being?

I caught a glimpse of you in passing.  You were standing at the window, thinking about the next big thing.  I could tell you were thinking that cuz I was thinking the exact same thing.

It’s just a matter of closing your eyes and jumping blindly methinks.  We always land on our feet.  Just never where we expect.

I gotta run now.  Got a ferry to catch.  I’ll pass you on the way back.

Grey Matter

This morning as I dug down into my backpack to retrieve a shirt, a wave of satisfaction swept over me as the colour grey came up.  Grey as in grey shirt.  It was my third day of wearing grey shirts.  Couldn’t be happier about that.

I can only hope that a forth grey shirt will come out of my backpack tomorrow morning.  I don’t know why, there’s no logic behind colour really… I just really like wearing plain grey shirts.  They make me feel good.

This morning of all mornings was an extra special occasion to wear grey.  I found myself lecturing to a Media Studies 461 Class at UBC.  Didn’t expect that I’d be doing that 24 hours ago.  It turns out the class really enjoyed me, and I may even wind up teaching that class the next time it’s offered.  I even got paid for my efforts… in books.  The prof took me to the UBC Bookstore afterwards and told me to pick out anything I wanted.  Wound up getting a script writing book, and another book on directing.

I’m heading out to the island tomorrow to do some camping near Nanaimo.  I’m going to catch up with a film creature I know out there in addition to working on ‘Highwaymen’.

Diving straight into the first episode was problematic.  My characters just didn’t interest me and I wasn’t sure where their voices were.  I spent yesterday writing bios for them, trying to figure out who they were and what they wanted.  My musings took me from professional football to advanced human cloning, to organ transplantation, to physics, to psychology, to philosophy.  Quite the journey.

In the end I wound up with two pages and two really rich characters who excite me.  Now all they want to do is talk my ear off, but I won’t let ‘em.  I’m gonna let the fuckers stew for a bit while I round out the cast and work on story design.  I may even dive a little further into some research.  I figure the more pent up they get with something to say, the better their words will be when they finally come out.

I’m now sitting here on the campus of UBC trying to decide how the rest of my day should go.  More writing methinks… more writing and then a bit of prancing.  Just me and my grey shirt.  My next blog update will come from tomorrow’s ferry ride.

Montreal 16 – BC 12

PJ, Jazzy and I headed off to Empire Field last night for the once in a life-time opportunity to watch a live CFL football game, outdoors in Vancouver.  The stadium is a temporary structure built on the old site of Empire Stadium, the Lion’s home for the first 26 years of their existence.  BC Place, their regular home, is under renovations, and so the Lions will play the 2010 season outdoors at this site.

I must say that it was a real treat.  Empire Field is a cozy stadium.  25,000 fans took in the game and the weather, nostalgia, and atmosphere were great.  Site lines were also great.  Two streakers and three drunks made their way out the stadium over the course of the game.

The game itself was a stinker.  It seemed nobody wanted to win.  Montreal was playing their third straight game on the road and BC just sucks.  Actually, both teams in the last two weeks got slapped around by the Saskatchewan Roughriders.  In fact, the stink of Saskatchewan’s territorial pissing upon them was so great, that the in-stadium announcer actually made the mistake of saying, “First and 10, Saskatchewan, from the BC 45 yard line.”

In general, fans in BC are a stupid lot.  They actually have to be prompted by the announcer when to make noise, and then like domesticated livestock, they comply with an obedient drone.  This would never happen in Saskatchewan.    Water is wet, the sky is blue, and fans in Saskatchewan need no prompting of any kind.  We rain hate down upon the visitor’s bench and no opponent’s 2nd & long goes off without our wrath.

Further confirming the collective ‘special’ intelligence of the BC crowd, they actually make noise, bang drums, and stomp their feet when their offence has the ball.  Utterly shocking.  At Mosaic, fans take responsibility for quieting each other down when our offence has the ball, even after big plays.

Overall, the three of us had a really great time.  I highly recommend seeing a game at Empire Field while it’s still around.  By this time next year, the place will be packed up and moved on to Toronto (I’m predicting) and the Lion’s will be back at BC Place.  2010, like the BC fans themselves, will be a ‘special’ season for football in Vancouver.