Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Filming in Canada

Okay... I'll admit it: I went to see Taking Lives last night because it was shot mostly in Quebec city and Montreal. It was great seeing my old stomping grounds in a movie and still have the script reflect the actual surroundings.

For example, when I saw the DiCaprio/Hanks movie Catch Me If You Can, I nearly jumped out of my seat in surprise when I saw that the final scene with the printing press was shot in Old Quebec (right in front of the Eglise Samuel de Champlain).

My only beef with the film (and it is quite good -- you can catch it for cheap at the Eaton Centre ($5.95)) is that they show views of Quebec city (like the Chateau Frontenac) and they keep referring to it as Montreal. The whole story is set in Montreal, but parts of it are obviously shot in Quebec city.

I guess it's just because Quebec is more picturesque, but Montreal sounds cooler. But really, there's no reason why they couldn't have put the whole story in Quebec city.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Shutter Bug

As a late b-day prezzie to myself, I picked up a Canon Digital Rebel (a digital SLR camera). My old digicam (Fuji finepix 2600) has been disappointing me of late and I wanted something with more power.

So after consulting Imaging Resource and a few friends in the know, I had decided upon the Nikon D-70 or the Digital Rebel, so I headed down to York International to pick one up. Unfortunately, the D-70 was selling out so fast that they didn't have any in stock. "Besides," pointed out the salesguy. "Unless you're a professional-level photographer, you're not really going to notice the difference in the two cameras. Both are excellent."

So I decided to get the Digital Rebel and save $600 (and a month of waiting). The camera is complex and powerful, so I'm taking lots of shots to relearn the ins and outs of photography (I took a course back in my university days, but since I've been armed with point-and-shoots since then, I've gotten rusty on my technical skills).

But the rules of photography are pretty much the same. It takes about 20 shots before you end up with something cool (but at least I don't have to pay for the developping of pictures I don't want).

Here's a keeper and it's something I wouldn't have been able to capture with my pocket digicam.

I'll be back to updating my photoblog, so check it out here.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

The Last Dance

Last Friday evening, we were discussing music over pints and shivering in the cold night air (in June! What's up with that?!?), and Patsy revealed to me that at her High School dances, Stairway to Heaven was always the last song of the night.

I used to think that only my school did that, but over the years, I've discovered that most Canadian high schools played Stairway to Heaven as the last song (or it might be a North American thing). It's even part of the lyrics of the Grade 9 song by Barenaked Ladies:
    I've got a red leather tie and pair of rugger pants,
    I put them on and I went to the high school dance.
    Dad said I had to be home by eleven -
    aw, man, I'm gonna miss Stairway to Heaven.

Where did that come from? Stairway to Heaven seemed to have plugged into a global consciousness and everyone played that song as the last dance song. It's a great song, but that's quite to coincidence.

Does anyone have an explanation?

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Bonne Fête de la St. Jean!

En honneur de la Fête Nationale des Québecois (English, français), j'ecris en français aujourd'hui. SVP excuses mes fautes d'orthographe et de grammaire: je n'ecris pas en français tres souvent.

Normalement, je participe dans les evenements de la St. Jean (à Montréal ou à Québec), mais je suis un peu tros fatigué après mon contrat. Peut-être ce soir je trouveras quel-que chose de locale à faire pour affirmer mon coté Québecois.

Mes amis anglophones me trouve un peu etrange (pour plusieurs raisons) quand je dis que je participes dans ces evenements. Ils oublie souvent que je viens de Québec (Ste. Foy) et que j'ai des liens familial dans la communauté franco-Québecoise.

C'est dommage que la Fête Nationale des Québecois a encore une reputation d'être anti-anglais. Je ne dis pas qu'ils y en na plus de coté ou de sentiment politique dans cette célebration, mais le focus est maintenant plus sur la beaute de Québec. Et la réalité est que nous vivons dans un pays ou la politique existe dans tous ce que nous vivons. Il y a toujours quel-q'un qui va utiliser un evenement pour presenter leur agenda. Ca veux pas dire que tu ne peux pas trouver la beauté dans quelque chose parce-que quel q'un d'autre l'interprete un autre façon.

J'ai jamais apprecié mon coté Québecois avant l'université quand quel-q'un a essayé me dire que je n'étais pas un vrai Québecois parce-que je suis anglophone. C'est vrai que j'ai un petit accent dans mon français et mon français ecrit en pénible (mes excuses), mais tout les Québecois on un accent qui montre d'ou ils viennent (Montréal, Québec, Lac St-Jean). Mais je suis un Québecois de plusieurs génerations (4 du coté de mon père et 5+ du coté de ma mère).

Mais vous avez souffert assez avec mes éfforts d'écriture en français. Bonne St. Jean!

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Blogging Draft Archive

I've started keeping a folder of text files with blog posts that I start and can't finish for a variety of reasons (usually because I've written myself into a corner).

My contract is finally done, which means the summer can begin. I've got a couple of trips planned (Toronto, Quebec city, maybe the Eastern provinces) and August is just booked solid.

I haven't had a real vacation in years, so I'll looking forward to it this summer. But I also need to keep busy and accomplish a few things, otherwise I'll feel like it was a waste.

One of my main things is I want to stay away from this computer as much as possible. I spend way too much time holed up in my house. Another thing I need to do is get myself back in shape (or away from the round shape I'm currently in).

Summer: projects! It's all good.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Wrapping Up

It's officially over: Storytelling has been brought to the Fringe Festival of Montreal in 2004. Over a six-show run, we received about 80 people (max. capacity of 390), so we're definitely going to lose money on the show. Oh well... we certainly had a good time doing it. We saw some fantastic shows, met awesome people, and the audiences always outnumbered the storytellers.

We're already talking about doing it again next year, but we might try to hide the word "storytelling" in the promotion of the show. I think it threw people off, thinking this would be only entertaining for children. Over the course of the run, we only received about 6 kids and the reviews were always positive (down by the Buzz Corridor).

Being in the Fringe this year has inspired me to try to finish one of my many playscript ideas. It'll be one of my summer projects.

The best thing about this Fringe show was that we passed around a clipboard and asked people to sign-up for more information about Word of Mouth Production events. When our Book/CD finally gets published (end of summer) and when put on our next storytelling event (Harvest Gala: October 31st 2004), we'll be able to tell people about it.

If you want to be put on that mailing list, email me at

So thanks to everyone who came out to see our show! We really do appreciate your support!

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Final Fringe Weekend

Our final shows in the Fringe are coming up (Friday, Saturday, Sunday), so if you want to come see some Fringetastic storytelling, this weekend is your last stop. From what I'm hearing, we might get some good numbers in terms of audience this weekend. Let's hope so: we've gotten 30 people so far (over three shows), but we need 110 people to break even on this show (I'll already resigned myself to the possibility that we're going to lose money on it, but it's not a big deal).

I haven't been able to see any of the Fringe this week because I've been working like mad to finish my contract with my Big Kahuna client. This contract was supposed to end last week, but it's been extended and extended so much that now I've had to give up my camping trip on the weekend. Fuck. I've only been looking forward to that trip since November 2003.

But the disappointment of missing the camping trip has been softened due to a few key people not being able to make it either, but still. I just want this contract to end, but as one of my writers said "Your life, unlike this contract, will soon be over."

And get this: I got a call from a guy who claimed to be the boss of the cab driver who caused the accident on Monday. He was asked me if I believed that the cabbie was responsible for the accident (!!). "Hell yes," I replied. "The light was a stale red and he decided to plow through it. This mess was his fault!"

I think I'll call the cab company to lodge a formal complaint against the cab driver. He puts my life and the life of others in danger and he has the gall to not take responsibility for it?!? That just burns my biscuit.

Actually, it looks like my biscuits are getting burned all over. I can't wait for this week to end (on a high note, please).

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Air bags

This was one of those blog-worthy days in a chinese curse kind of way. I was in a car accident today.

Solid bang, air bags deployed, dented metal, cars lifted off the ground momentarily, only to come to an eventual and permanent stop. Both cars were totalled beyond repair. Everyone walked from the accident, although the guy that was hit was limping slightly.

I don't know why my cabbie was in such a hurry, but he sped off down my street and completely ignored the red light at the corner. I remember noticing that our red light was definitely stale when the second car shot in front of us. The cabbie slammed on the brakes and swerved, but it did no good. I braced myself against the seat and we collided.

The sound of the collision was almost as fierce as the resulting momentum that tossed me around in the back seat. The air bags deployed and filled the car with clouds of white dust. Everyone got out and surveyed the damage.

I asked the cabbie if he was okay, but he waved me off and flipped open his cellphone. I went to the guy in the car we hit to ask if he was okay, but he just looked at me in a daze, unsure of what I was saying.

The ambulance arrived first, then the cops, then the firemen. A crowd of bystanders had formed and was surveying the results of the collision. Both cars were mangled beyond repair. It was a good thing that the other guy didn't have a passenger, because he/she would be dead or praying for it.

Don't think about that... Don't think about that...

Oddly enough, the crowd of onlookers were more supportive and informative than the officials. I told the cops I was the passenger in the cab, but they waved me to the curb and told me to wait. I went to the ambulance attendents, but since there was nothing wrong with me except scraped thighs, they also waved me to the curb.

A few of the onlookers came to me and talked about the accident, which was what I really needed to do. They said that I had 24 hours to file a complaint and, although I felt fine now, if I had any injuries, they would show up tomorrow and I should go to the hospital.

It's been a few hours now and I don't feel much different, so I guess I don't have any complaint to file.

Suddenly I remembered I had a Fringe show that I was supposed to be performing in in 30 minutes. One guy asked me if I was supposed to be somewhere and replied, "Yeah... I'm supposed to be telling stories in the Fringe Festival at 7pm."

"How are you going to get there?" he asked.

"I guess I'll call another cab," I replied, reaching for my cellphone.

"Another cab? Haven't you learned your lesson yet? Don't play with fate: I'll give you a lift." I resisted, but the man insisted, and he gave me a ride. I gave him a free ticket to the show.

My life is so interesting, it's a wonder it doesn't kill me sometimes. I'm going to light a candle now. I've got some thanking to do.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Fringe First Show

Ya never know what will happen at the Fringe.

Last night, I saw Anne of Green Gables as interpreted by exotic/erotic dancer Shakti. I'm not a great fan of interpretive dance, but it was definitely interesting. Apparently, after an evening of alcoholic consumption, Jeremy (the Fringe Festival producer) challenged Shakti to put together such a performance for the Fringe. Tipsily, she agreed.

Shakti had seven dance pieces inspired by works of Lucie Maude Montgomery accentuated with the music of Laurie Anderson and Screaming Jay Hawkins. When I told people I was going to see an exotic dance version of Anne of Green Gables, I had no idea what to expect.

Now I've seen it and I still can't describe it. Very cool. She's also got another show in the Fringe.

First show is tonight! Wish me luck! Better yet... come see it!

Friday, June 11, 2004

Easily Confused

Ring... Ring...

Him: H-hello?

Me: Can I speak to Jamison please?

Him: Uhhhh... Who?

Me: Jamison. Can I speak to Jamison please?

Him: What number did you dial?

Me: 878-8390. I'm sorry... I must have the wrong number.

Him: No no... the number is right, but -- uhhhhh...

Me: The number may be right, but I guess this isn't Jamison's number. My bad.

Him: I don't get it. The number IS right, but there's no Jamison here. I'm confused.

Me: It's okay. Sorry to both-- >-CLICK-< Hello?

Somebody needs this Friday more than I do, it seems.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Fringe is approaching

Our first big show is getting closer and closer! Saturday at 17h00 is our frist Fringe show and we're feeling pretty good about it. We had our tech rehearsal on Tuesday night and we adjusted the lights, set the props, and picked the music.

The killer cost in this is the advertising. We had 100 color posters and 500 postcards made, so we've dropped about $300 in advertising costs. I expect we'll have to make more posters and more cards, but we've got to come up with a cheaper way to do it. We might also try to get a sponsor to offset some of the printing costs.

I've seen some of the advertising that the other companies have put together and I don't know how they can afford it (color postcards, full-length color posters). They don't look like they're getting sponsorship, and we're all charging the same thing (approx.), so how are they going to make ends meet?

Maybe the fringe isn't about making ends meet. Maybe that's what I'm about to find out. I don't really care about making ends meet myself, but it would be a nice statement about the show. Like all the storytelling events I'm involved in, I just want to enjoy the art form.

Who knows? Maybe we'll even win something!

Monday, June 07, 2004

Low Energy

I spent the weekend in and out of consciousness. I was hit by a severe case of fatigue: one minute, I'd be up and running and the next minute I'd be falling over and snoring before I hit the ground. I don't know if that's a week's worth of exhaustion and stress catching up with me or if it's another facet of this sickness that's been gripping me for the past week or so.

At least I've replenished my supply of DayQuil/NyQuil.

After waking from a sudden four-hour catnap on Saturday, I decided to phone up Garak and check out the latest Harry Potter film. I was amazed by what I saw on many levels. The Kids' acting ability has vastly improved, leaving the studio and moving the set to Scotland was breathtaking, and the plot moved quite nicely from beginning to end.

I've been reading the fan sites and the reviews are definitely mixed, but alternating from one extreme (awesome) to the other (it sucked). Being your stereotypical Canadian, I can see both sides of the issue.

I can see how diehard fans were disappointed because there were many scenes from the book that were omitted from the film (nothing too crucial, but they were missed).

But we need to be realistic here. This movie was already 2:16 hours which is pretty long for the main type of audience targeted (kids). But personally, I could've sat through another 45 minutes of the film (probably without falling asleep like I did in the LOTR movies ("Blasphemy!)). But let's face it: the book will always have more details than the movie can possibly handle.

Did we learn nothing from the LOTR? The transition between Book-to-Movie is never a smooth one and well-written books are not supposed to be easily transferred to the screen.

The people who worked on this movie did a pretty good job at translating the book to the screen, although there were many scenes and moments that I was looking forward to that weren't there. Oh well... Maybe we'll get an extended version on the DVD.

To quote John LeCarre: Seeing your book turned into a movie is like watching an ox turned into bouillon cubes.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Fringe Festival: Gathering Steam

Nothing big from our Word of Mouth Productions troupe since the Fringe For All, but the official website for the Fringe Festival is finally up (check it out here).

I haven't seen the TV ads myself, but you can also watch them on the website (the chainsaw one is my favourite).

We'll be rehearsing over the next few days and then we'll be starting in on the big promotion drive. I've got a few personal contacts to be shaken down and then its posters-posters-posters.

I'm hoping we can get a few interviews done and raise more awareness of our little show.

When it comes to the Fringe, I'm alternating between terror and anticipation.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Medicine Cabinet Management

I've been fighting off a cold for the past few days. I always get sick right before a big event (I think the Fringe For All was the big event, although my latest deadline might also qualify), but I've been going the DayQuil/NyQuil caplet route to stay on top of things.

I don't usually take medicine to fight off sickness, but I can't afford to be ill for the next month or so. Any time the warm weather wants to come hurtling through the atmosphere, I'll be good with it.

So as I was getting ready for the day this morning, I popped a couple of orange DayQuil caplets when I realized I didn't have a glass of water to wash them down with.

When it comes to candy, orange-flavoured candy has always been my favourite. The DayQuil caplets are big and orange, so I automatically assumed that cracking through the outer hull of the caplet would produce a delish orange flavour.

Learn from my mistakes. It most certainly does not. There's a reason why these things are design to melt far from your taste buds.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Fringe For All: the results

We rocked that place! There must've been at least 500 people crammed onto the dance floor at Cafe Campus. Each company had 2.5 minutes to present their show and get the media's attention. The media people sat in the first two rows next to the stage and they were given press kits with all of our press releases.

Our producer Esmerita suggested that we create a strong visual image by dressing in dark pants, white shirts, and god-awful ties. Zimmerman fished out a Winne the Pooh tie and I had one with colorful fish.

As soon as we stepped out onto the scene, we got their attention. I could hear the people giggling about our ties, and knowing that we now had their attention, our confidence was given a boost.

Honestly, we were a bit intimidated at first. Storytelling is a struggling art form in this part of the world, but I was worried that it might be a bit out-of-place in a "Fringe" festival. When faced with other plays about naked cowboys that eat pudding, storytelling doesn't seem on the same level.

But I was relieved to see from the program that there are a few family shows in the Fringe (although we're the only storytellers). Some of the presentations were bizarre, but others were less complex and more entertaining, so by the time we stepped up on stage, I knew we would be okay.

Our bit for the FFA was that we were to present our show about the adventures of Jack, but then Zimmerman and I would start arguing about the details of those stories, punctuated by cries of "You don't know Jack!" The bit ended with the two of us yelling at each other about who knew Jack better and finally pointing at the audience and saying "You don't know Jack!"

Many people came up to us afterwards and congratulated us on our FFA bit and I noticed the media folks taking plenty of notes. The website has even gotten a few hits in the past couple of days, so that's encouraging. Stan Asher has even contacted us to do an interview on CKUT.

I can't wait to start Fringing. This is going to be great fun. I hope some of you can make it to our show!