Pigeons on the Sidewalk

The Birthday went all right.  Sharon, Ty, Mel, and Tahirih joined me at my table in Gate 403.  Interesting mix.  Three actors, one PM, and me.  Sharon knew Mel, but none of the others.  Ty knew Tahirih and came with Mel.  Mel didn’t know Tahirih.  Everyone got along splendidly.

I hadn’t realized it at the time, but Gate 403 was actually the last place I drank in, before leaving Toronto in December.  Frankie, Janicel, and I came in for a few pints.  I just didn’t catch the name of the place.

We had live entertainment, but it wasn’t so overwhelming, that we couldn’t talk.  All in all, a good venue for my birthday.

This morning I’m sitting in Bannock, watching a couple of pigeons eat microscopic bits of something I can’t even see from off the sidewalk.  They nose around the curb, jumping to and fro, avoiding the traffic on Queen Street.  I keep secretly hoping that some car will get one, but alas, these are savvy birds, who seem to know what they’re doing.

The snow came yesterday (Friday 13th).  Looks like it’s here to stay now.  The cold came too.  Even so, I went out in it.  Cabin Fever was getting the better of me.  Walked to the subway and got off on Bay.  I thought briefly about going for a work out, but when I realized I was in serious danger of falling backwards down the escalator if I let go of the handrail, I thought better of it.  I’m feeling much better than I was at the beginning of the week, but I’m still a bit weak at the beginning of this good feeling.

Afterwards, Tahirih invited me over for supper.  She had given me several bags of ethnic food from her mother’s store back in Regina, to take back to Toronto with me.  The courier charge was supper.

Today has Tang on the menu.  We’re meeting in 90 minutes or so and we’ll see what the afternoon brings.  It’s a good day to stare out the window.  Maybe something unexpected will come up too.

Birthday Day

It’s my birthday today.

I’m feeling better.  The cough remains, but the energy is back to where I’d like it to be.  My appetite has also returned.  I finished the YBCS video (and hopefully the client agrees), and I have a reservation at a Jazz Club called Gate 403 in Roncesvalles.  Table for six.  We’ll see who shows up.

There was a fire that destroyed a storage facility a block away from my place.  News vans, fire trucks, police cars, and EMTs were all on hand.  Last I heard, the fire is still smouldering in spots.

That’s about it for excitement in my life.  I’ve been in bed for the last two days.  What more can I say?

Oh yeah.  Star Trek Enterprise is a terrible series, that I can’t stop watching.  One episode actually featured a dous ex machina ending!  That’s what happens when outside forces resolve the protagonist’s problems for him.  I heard the series was eventually cancelled due to the success of Battlestar Gallactica.

This is encouraging in a way.  If writing that bad still finds its way onto television, then I should be able to put myself forward and knock someone out of the food chain.

I hope that last sentence doesn’t make me sound like a dick.

Well… it’s time to get ready for tonight.  Here’s to a good night.  Cheers!

Whole Lotta Nothin’

Two long 13+ hour days resulted in me arriving safely in Toronto at midnight last night.

I wasn’t in the best of shape.  My eyes were no longer seeing straight, I had the chills, and was shivering uncontrollably.  Baaaaad cold.  Today I’m slightly better, but still far from healthy.  I’ve taken all kinds of medication and don’t seem to be better off for it.  At least I’m home.

I’m not really keen to do much today.  Aside from sending some important emails, I’ve pretty much done nothing thus far.  I don’t really want to be around people given my health situation, and I don’t really have the energy to start big projects.

Gotta do something though.  I’m pretty damned bored.  I’m writing from a place called The Beet, an organic coffee house on Dundas West in The Junction.  From here I’ll wander a little further down the street to see what I can see.

Admittedly, this isn’t the best way to start the year in my new city.  I’ll get back into the swing of things though.  Even last time, I took a couple days to myself before diving into everything Toronto had to offer.

I’ve got a couple of important meetings to line up for Highwaymen.  I have a video to finish for YBCS.  I have some deliverables to deliver for CBC.  That’s enough to keep me busy for a day or so.  After that, it will be back to the mission.  Meet as many people as I can, and see where that takes me.

There’s also the business of my birthday on Thursday.  I’ll need to figure out what I’m doing for that.  Hopefully my health will be back to normal as well.

Simple and Elegant Day

I just finished paying for my coffee at Atlantis and I hear this voice, “Jarrett!” It’s coming from behind me and it took me a moment to locate its owner.


She was just popping in for a shot of caffeine on her way home. I was just about to settle in for a rewrite of my ‘Highwaymen’ script. We wound up talking for three hours instead. The hands actually fell off the clock. Sooooo good to catch up with her. There was so much to say. Career stuff. Life stuff. Amusing observations. Witty responsifications.

It was a perfect conversation.

After she left I opened up ‘Highwaymen’ and set about reworking the penultimate scene. The mission was to turn this pilot script, from a story about my protagonist taking on an expansion team, to a story about my protagonist taking on the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Despite being such a radical shift in the story structure, it turned out to be quite a simple transition to make. I rewrote two pages of dialogue and everything fell into place – better than it was before. The best solutions are simple and elegant. That’s what I like most about this one.

As if to confirm my new designs on the structure, the gods of story bestowed upon me a sign. Jeff, my philosophy professor from a couple years back, walked through the door, just as I was writing the dialogue, “truth comes knocking on the door, and we say, ‘Go away, I’m looking for truth.’” It’s a passage from a well known philosophy text, ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.’

I’m now sitting in a corner nook of the 4 Seasons Sports Palace. The Romanian Syndicate will be joining me shortly for some beers and the usual irreverent banter. Kind of a pretty good day I have to say.

Ego Check

I’m feeling rather self important these days.  All these heady developments with the football series has my ego raging.  I’m having fantasies about walking around MY set and having all the pretty girls wanting to bed me because I’m the creator of the series, and all the vampires wanting to consume me, because I’m rather self important.  In my fantasy, I walk around and I’m still really nice to people, and that will cause them to hold me in even higher regard – perhaps wanting to bed me even more than they already did previously.  All the people who ever wronged me will feel ashamed of themselves and I will feel vindicated for having the talent and perseverance to be truly great.

I just want everyone to know how lame I really am on the inside.  I’m feeling pretty good about myself, but things inside my head are getting a little out of hand.

It’s the story stupid!  Everything must be about serving the best interests of the story.  I’m surrounding myself with good people, and I’m leaning on their expertise to make a good idea, great.

I’ve accomplished quite a bit in the three weeks I’ve been home.  It started with having a great script and continued with a series of outstanding meetings.  There remain some big hurdles and even if I get everything I ask for.  The real challenge will come down to how well I can put the pieces together when there’s money involved.

If a green light comes in February, I’ll have two months to complete seven scripts.  Obviously more writers will be added to the team.  While this is happening, there is also casting, banking, business affairs, crewing and more.  I also anticipate many fires to be extinguished.

It all adds up to some long days and a hellova lot of pressure to get things right.

Take that ego.  Here’s some cold water for you.

Full Access

Let’s see… what did I do today?  Brushed my teeth… drank some coffee… picked Jazz up from Grama’s… got a haircut… hmmm…

What else?

Oh!  I remember.  I pitched ‘Highwaymen’ to Jeremy O’Day.  He liked it so much, he brought GM Brendan Taman in on the meeting.  Brendan and I shared an office together in the 90’s.  He remembered me.  He also loved the idea – said he trusts me, and he’ll give me full access to the team.  He’s even going as far as to phone the CFL to set up my meeting for me.  He also said the door’s open to chat him up.  He’s full of old stories.

He also made me aware of some uniform issues that may cause me to rethink the series.  Perhaps instead of following the Yellowhead Highwaymen, the series will follow the Saskatchewan Roughriders.  It would solve a lot of logistical challenges, including home stadium and locker room sets.  I’ve already brainstormed some tweaks to the pilot script to accommodate this change.

I’m just sitting here in the window of Atlantis letting the gravity of the situation sink in.  This great big idea is closer to reality than ever before.  The largest hurdle – access to the team, has been cleared.  It now comes down to receiving the CFL’s blessing, and convincing TSN that this opportunity is worth $2.8 million to pursue.

I should know how that plays out by sometime in February.

Classic Elvis

My day started with a phone call to the Saskatchewan Roughriders.  I lined up a meeting for 10am tomorrow with Jeremy O’Day (Assistant GM) to talk about ‘Highwaymen’.  Kind of a big deal sort of meeting.  I’m nervous, but fortunately I know Jeremy from my time with the team.

After that I set off for a coffee shop to catch up on some odds & ends.  That’s when Ali texted me.  She told me to drop everything and meet her at Performance Marine.  “You’ll shit your pants” she said.

So I get there and there’s this warehouse in the back lot just full of classic cars.  Must have been over a dozen.  Upstairs it was all Elvis.  The space included a vintage 1:1 scale replica of the house he was born in.  The whole thing was completely overwhelming.  There was so much Elvis paraphernalia that it would take a couple days just to see it all.

Best/Weirdest of all, it was just someone’s private collection.  Not for public consumption.  Kathlene, the matron of the family served us Elvis red wine and talked for hours to us about his life.  She played DVDs on a big screen and had us sign her guest book.  Ali left her with the impression that I was important.  Denying my importance, only made me seem more important.

It’s now 7:30 and the evening still has much to offer.  Let’s see what I can make of it.

Manly Conversations About the Future

I went over to Shawn’s last night to pick him & Brad up for a beer at O’Hanlon’s.  Upon entering (O’Hans), Carl saw me and called me over.  Big hug (in a manly way).  Jeanette Stewart was there too.  I directed her in the Vagina Monologues a few years back.  Another big hug.

Catching up with Shawn and Brad was great.  We ate pizza and drank beer.  Talked about grown up things like, how to deal with our kids having sex some day in the future.  Afterwards we went back to Shawn’s to join Cheryl and Beth.

Table reads in Toronto gave me the idea that a table read with this group might go over alright.  We read the latest version of my ‘Dick’ play.  I made changes to two scenes in the coffee shop earlier in the night and was keen to hear them.

It was a big hit.  Everyone was drunk and had never done anything like that before.  I didn’t learn much from the read because everyone was too busy laughing at each other (and the script) for me to really hear the rhythm and pace of the piece.  We’re going to try again with a different script on Thursday.  I hope we get more laughs with that one too.

Jazzy and I are having a great time too.  We just hang out and ‘be’.  Lots of laughs, hugs, love and foot rubs.  Well… the foot rubs are rather one-sided, but I don’t mind.


One more week to go, and then I’m Toronto bound again.  The city is starting to feel like a 2nd home to me.  I miss the place, and the people living there.  In the meantime, I have a whole lotta Regina to pack in.

New Year’s Day

“Where you come from is gone.  Where you thought you were going to, weren’t never there, and where you are, ain’t no good unless you can get away from it.”

Yesterday in the food court of the Cornwall Centre, Jazzy asked me what my favourite quote was, and the above, by Flannery O’Conner in her book, ‘Wise Blood’, was it.  Her response was perfectly memorable.

“That’s a double negative.”

Double negatives make a positive.  Kinda sums up my year.

I’ve heard more than a handful of people say they’re looking forward to putting 2011 behind them.  Despite the hardest times of my life, I have a lot to be thankful for in 2011.  More than anything, I was pushed towards realizing my potential as a writer.

Speaking of writing… the table read for ‘Dick’ was informative.  Tahirih, Shauna, and Tara joined me around a table to give it a go.  It’s still lumpy in places, but it’s close.  After everyone left, Shauna and I dove into the fight scene between the two women.  Something about that scene rubbed everyone the wrong way, but they couldn’t articulate it.  To this end Shauna and I went through it, breaking it down into beats, analyzing the subtext, and double checking objectives.  I found the problem, and may even set about fixing it today.

Highwaymen is also making its rounds with people.  Rhonda likes the idea, but after reading the script, just didn’t get it.  We talked about it for 90 minutes, and didn’t get very far.  I left that meeting more puzzled than discouraged.  It’s good.  I know it’s good.  Rhonda’s an accomplished producer.  Worked with the best in the business.  Maybe it’s a taste thing?

I sent the script to Ian, writer/story editor I met in Toronto.  He’s worked on a lot of stuff and has the respect of everyone in the industry.  Six hours after sending my email, he responded.

“Read it.  Loved it.  I’m in.”

It’s a new year, full of promise.  Got a new city, new projects, new prospects, and a skip in my step.  Let’s see what comes of it.