Chooking the Cheese

Today is Orthodox Easter – or as I more fondly think of it – a return to eating up cooked bits of dead animals. Jazz and I celebrated by bbqing some steaks, and eating them at midnight. We didn’t have eggs, so we chooked with slices of cheese. A new tradition was born.

I didn’t do much yesterday. The sun was out. Looked like a beautiful day out the window, but I didn’t partake. No particular reason for that. Just needed to shut ‘er down.

Jazz spent the day downstairs with the dogs. Paul and Renee are away, so Jazz got their place to herself. I think the cat was jealous.

On Friday night I went to the Short Short Play Festival for the second time this week. The festival features twelve short plays, none longer than 20 minutes. A number of my friends are either performing in, directing, and/or producing the plays. I wanted to support their work. Also, my table is starring in one of the plays. I wanted to support my table’s debut.

I continue to enjoy my work on The Expanse. The people are great. The show is fantastic. The job is enjoyable. I left the production office on Friday afternoon, crossed the lot to Stage 12, and met with some of the crew about petty cash stuff. I was warmly received by all. It feels like I’m part of something special.

Jazzy and I finished watching Season I last night. I had previously taken her on a set tour, and so it was neat to see those same sets playing on our television. How many get that kind of intimacy on their TV?

Alright. That’s enough for now. Got some burgers to tend to.

Happy Easter!

Greek Haircuts & Meat

  I’m sitting in a salon on Queen Street East, waiting for a haircut. The salon is owned by an older Greek couple. They and their clientele wished Jazzy a happy 17th birthday. “God bless both of you!” they said in their thick accents.

They feel like the old people at church when I was growing up, who always talked to me. They talked to me like they’d known me all my life (cuz they actually had), and I didn’t even know their names. There’s something familiar about them, and I think it’s why I keep coming back.

Paul and Renee came home from the hospital with a baby yesterday. His name is Kieran. It’ll be fun to have a baby in the house. Jazzy and I bought them a gift certificate from Cineplex, so they could go on a date, and leave the kid with us. Exciting times!

They invited us down this afternoon to meet the baby. They also bought a cake for Jazzy – which I found incredibly thoughtful, given the big shiny new changes in their home.

Jazzy’s birthday has been…


I thought Orthodox Easter was April 24. It’s not. It’s May 1. May goddammed 1st! Jesus Christ, I dreamt about eating chicken last night. I haven’t eaten chicken, or any other meat and dairy since lent began approximately too long to remember ago.

Two more weeks. Alright. Here I go.

Jazzy’s birthday has been swell. We’ll be celebrating by doing stuff and not eating meat.

East Coast Easter Road Trip

IMG_0479.jpgI’m writing from our hotel room on the 14th floor of the Tryp Hotel in beautiful Quebec City. The view out our floor-to-ceiling window is breath-taking. It lead to one of my favourite moments of the trip – Jazzy and I laying on our bellies on the floor, our chins perched on the bottom of the window frame, looking out at the world and talking about the future.

The whole idea started in January, when Jazzy brought up the idea of checking out Saint Thomas University in Fredericton. I’m not keen on the idea of her moving away to go to school, but we have a year before we need to make any decisions. I told her that if a couple of things fall into place for me, we could afford a road trip.

Then I made the CBC sale. Then I landed the Expanse gig.

Jazz loaded up her stuff, and brought her friend Gwen along for the ride. We stayed with my buddy in Fredericton – a playwright named Ryan Griffith. We arrived on Good Friday, and he promptly took us to a gas station to buy groceries – we came home with a box of Kraft Dinner, and 10 beer.

We checked out the campus of STU the next morning. Turns out Ryan teaches there on occasion, so he had keys to the place. The girls got a tour beyond their expectations.

From there we drove around a bit, got a feel for the town, then parked near the river. We walked across the St John River on a retired railroad bridge, then grabbed a bite at a local pub. I had fish cakes for the first time in my life.

After lunch, we split up. The girls went exploring downtown, while Ryan and I camped out at another pub called The James Joyce. He worked on a new play, while I finished the first act of my new TV Pilot.

The plan was to leave Sunday morning, and swing through Moncton to catch a glimpse of the Ocean on our way home. Turns out PEI is only another half hour down the road, via Confederation Bridge.

It added three hours of driving to our day, but lunch in Charlottetown was one of the best decisions I’ve made all year. The girls were blown away by the scenery and pure spontaneity of the drive.

I had Seafood Chowder, Jazz had Calamari, and Gwen ate the fish cakes.

We pulled into Quebec City at 10pm last night, tired from a long day of driving. Then we saw our room, and we were instantly charged with a powerful urge to explore the town.

The plan is to leave at around noon today, which will get us into Toronto, comfortably after rush hour traffic clears.

Montreal, Fredericton, Charlottetown, and Quebec City in 96 hours. This truly has been one of the best trips ever!

Sunday Morning Conversation with Jazzy

“Dad, if you could punch an art movement in the face, which one would it be?”

Jazzy asked me this question this morning. I kind of stood there and blinked my eyes for a bit, not sure what to answer. “I like Surrealism a lot, but I really don’t know enough about other art movements to pick a favourite to hate.”

She snapped back with, “Hanna says Rococo, and I say Post Modernism.”

“Po Mo is No Mo!” I responded. She seemed impressed.

“Did you just make that up?”

“No, it’s something we used to parrot a lot in film school.”

That was our Sunday morning conversation. I have to say, I’m kind of impressed with my progeny. She’s pulling in great marks at school, and she’s genuinely interested in genuinely interesting things.

I gave her my Hot Docs pass, and she poured through the conference schedule. Ran out of her room raving something about wanting to see the History seminar.

Last night her friend Hanna came over and they spent the evening watching movies, while eating snacks and polishing off the bottle of Champaign I gave Jazz for her birthday. When I awoke this morning, Jazz volunteered the biggest hug in the world. I kind of looked at her, not sure what I did to deserve it.

“That was the best birthday party ever Dad! Thank you!”

I wish every morning could be as warm as this one.

Researching Around the Stereo Types

  I’m sitting inside Victoria College with a Hot Docs Conference Pass hanging around my neck. I won it at the DGC’s AGM a couple of weeks ago, and I’m somewhat saddened that I won’t get to take full advantage of it.

I start on a movie next week, so while I will have free admittance to all of the documentaries that are screening over the next three weeks in the evenings, the conference itself will be unavailable to me. I think I’m going to get Jazzy to skip a day of school next week so she can go in my place. I’m sure she’ll get a lot out of the panel discussions and other activities.

The spec script is going well. I’ve done so much research on Iran and its nuclear program, that I’m sure I’ve drawn the attention of some clandestine government organization hankering to hook electrodes up to my nipples. The going has been slow because the material is so dense. Also, I procrastinate a lot.

At the Toronto Reference Library yesterday, I sat down for several hours, and kept coming upon niggly little bits of information that I needed to obtain. Things like the names of certain Persian desserts, features of Persian architecture, or the name of a Lebanese photo-journalist who was killed in the most recent Israeli/Hezbollah conflict.

I’m proud of how real the world feels in the script – especially since I started with knowing nothing about any of it. Research allows me to write depth into the characters. It allows me to avoid stereotypes. It makes the story compelling. I almost feel like I’m plagiarizing the 6 o’clock news – from a Persian perspective.

Thus far, I’m half way through Act I. I spent some time cleaning up the first nine pages this afternoon, and I aim to reach Act II by this evening. As I mentioned previously, this script will be five acts plus a teaser.

Well, 5pm doth toll. It’s time to pound more pages.


Champaign Thursday

Yesterday was Jazzy’s 16th birthday (her Champaign birthday). I wrote her a note telling her how proud I am of her, and I cooked her bacon, eggs and toast for breakfast. I had to prompt her for a hug after all that. The evening was a different story however. I left a package in her room, and when she opened it, I got the biggest hug in the world.

The package contained a manual for her to study for her G1 Driver’s Exam, and a bottle of champaign. She’s having friends over this weekend, and I figure they can all polish it off together.

I struggled through my day yesterday. Just couldn’t get myself in gear. Too much Facebook. Too much surfing for websites. I felt awful about myself.

I promised myself that today would be a better day. The Writers’ Group is getting together at Beaches Library today at 2pm. Before then, I will be making some phone calls for the sitcom. Maybe even get some laundry done. And a bit of cleaning.

Easter McDonalds

It’s Easter Morning and I’m sitting on the balcony with a coffee. The sun is out and it’s almost warm enough to be comfortable. I put on a few extra layers so I won’t have to leave this spot. The cat just showed up with a similar idea in mind.

Jazz and I went to Romanian church last night for Easter service. Must have been 400 people there, most of them speaking Romanian as they mingled in the parking lot waiting for the service to begin. There were too many of us to fit in the Church, so service began in that parking lot.

In Regina/Assiniboia, there’s always this part where we circle the church once or thrice. There were so many people at this church, that the priest took us around the whole block (one of Toronto’s famous loooooong narrow blocks), just so the end of the line would actually have somewhere to walk to, once we all stretched out into a procession.

Forty-five minutes had passed by this point, and people began to split, once they completed their lap. Jazz and I just looked at each other. “Wanna call this an hour, and head off to McDonald’s for Chicken McNuggets?” she asked.

“Let’s call it two. Say we did the whole thing, before departing for our Easter McDonald’s meal.”

We laughed all the way back to the car.

Today I’m going to do a bit of work on the spec script. I have a basic story mapped out, after doing some research on Iran’s nuclear program, and the sanctions around it. This will be a very political, action-filled type of script – a nice complement to Machiavelli & Tymes. With these two scripts in my arsenal, added to Room 31, and my Boardwalk Empire spec, I feel like I’ll have enough material to start hunting for an agent.

Time to wash the cobwebs out of my eyes. Happy Easter!

Remembering Film 100

Yesterday was reasonably productive. I submitted a pitch to a potential sponsor for the Rider sitcom that included two treatments and two short scripts. I also headed down to the library on Queen St. E. to write a one-pager for the Christmas movie pitch. I was very happy with both products.

I headed over to Dave’s to pick up the firewood in his backyard. It was cold and rainy, and my hands went numb after five minutes. The wood remains in the trunk of my car, and I have resolved to leave it there until the weather turns cooperative.

Jazz came home around 8 and we fell into a conversation about Charlie Chaplin. She was concerned that she wouldn’t have enough things to say about him to fill a 20 minute presentation. To this, I dug deep into all my Film 100 recollections, to make the case for Chaplin as a pioneer in the development of a visual story telling language – the very language of cinema. I got into a whole schpiel on his contemporaries and was about to play The Great Train Robbery by Edwin S. Porter in 1903, when Dave walked in.

Together, the two of us got into a whole panel discussion on early 20th century filmmaking – all for Jazz’s benefit. I admit, I’m not as up on the history of cinema as Dave is. He apparently loved film theory in film school. Me, I was always more interested in playing with all the shiny objects.

This morning Jazz is making a pitch to her teacher, to adapt her project to be more about the development of cinematic language through those early years, using Chaplin as a roadmap. I’m very proud of her, and I am very much looking forward to reliving Film 100 through my daughter’s assignment.

Smelling the Hamburgers

Less than a week to go, and the fast Jazzy and I have been on, will be over. Hello meat! Hello dairy! Hello vegan bean & lentil soup that I’ve been cooking (but now with added beef)! Hello bbq on our balcony, we missed you!

I didn’t find the fast to be as difficult this year, as I have with years’ past. We have been eating a lot of fish (fish is a vegetable). Mostly, I’ve just been really occupied with other endeavours, so I didn’t spend a lot of time sitting around thinking about hamburgers.

Mmmmm. Hamburgers.

Orthodox Easter is Sunday. I’m thinking we might find a Romanian church here in the city, so we can take in the midnight service. There are two if I remember correctly. Guess I’ll spend some time researching which one would be best for us. Maybe we can crash someone’s table for the meal afterwards (and make some friends in the process).

Jazzy’s been spending a lot of time at home lately. This led to me helping her with her homework on a number of occasions. We also made a bean & lentil soup together on Sunday. She’s going to be 16 next week, and she still has a place for me in her life.

Spring is sputtering to life here in Toronto. The snow is mostly all gone (though it’s putting up a fight), and the temperature is almost warm enough to walk outside without a coat. I have a bunch of phone calls to make today, but after that I’m thinking I could pack up my work and head out to the library on Queen Street East.

Alright. Time to wrap this up and get on with my day. Have a gooder!

The Art of Showing Concern for an Art Gallery Refugee

I’ve been spending a lot of time in the house, working from home. After three days of looking out the windows into the cold, I realized that I should probably step outside at some point to see if my legs still work.

To this end, I bundled up and headed down to the library on Queen Street East. Walked through the ravine on my way, and the crick was running. Temperature outside was balmy and the air in my lungs was freshly brisk. What a perfectly wonderful decision I had made for myself.

Walking home from the library last night was when I realized my plan had a major flaw to it. Once that hot afternoon sun dropped out of the sky, the cold wind off Lake Ontario took ahold of the place, and shook it to its bones. My gawd it was cold!

So cold, I had to stop in at Mullin’s, three blocks from home, just to warm up (with a cold beer). I called Dave, and he joined me a few minutes later. It was Dave, and me, and the bartender most of the night.

Then some guy walked in wearing nothing but jeans and a suit jacket. He looked like he just stepped in from a spring walk through the daisies.

“What the hell are you wearing!” I exclaimed – to which he explained that two doors down, his wife was opening an art exhibit. After several hours, he desperately felt a need to escape. He wound up buying Dave and I each a shot of expensive Irish whiskey, as thanks for showing concern for his well being.

This morning Jazzy and I discussed the fast we’re supposed to be on. No meat or dairy for 40 days, but our fridge yet clings stubbornly to a brick of cheese, a half-eaten roll of salami, some ham, and a carton of eggs. We decided we’ll start the fast once those remaining hold-outs have been consumed.

To this end, we made ham & egg muffins. Stir up some eggs in a bowl, line the muffin tray with slices of ham, pour the eggs in, and bake. It’s always wonderful when spontaneous little things come up, that we can do together.

I’m thinking I’m going to head out again today after I make some phone calls for the sitcom. This whole business of heading outside and breathing fresh air seems to be compelling. Worst case scenario, I wind up at Mullin’s again.