Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Crash

It was inevitable… the crash. After all that manic writing, yesterday came the "snap." Caught between the pressure of wanting renovations done by a contractor who is now a month late starting and my (minor) lung surgery on June 12.  I had to "fire" him and that was the trigger.

But, relentless optimist that I am, I appreciate the gentle ride of my obsessions and mania because at my age I can be conscious of it all and that consciousness makes me a better writer as I move more and more into dialogue and drama and away from technical writing.

I had a ball early yesterday morning at Whole Foods. "Monica" was training "Dixie' (now there's a name you don't hear often now a days) and there was hardly anyone in the store so while they were processing I asked them what they thought about while they worked.

"Do you ever say to yourself: 'Wow, no wonder that guy's so fat. Look at what he eats?" Or: "Good God, woman, you only need one of those!" I wondered because their job is to serve a constant stream of people and they get to meet each person through their food choices—a Rorschach snapshot of their personality. We had a lot of fun talking about it and it would never have occurred to me to ask had I not started writing drama and dialogue. I love it.

It's an adage: Write what you know. And great writers are avid readers. I was never a great reader. I mean I love reading and getting lost in the worlds of great writers, but I was a writer. I thought of reading as the passive form of writing and I preferred active involvement with words. And I have always been a talker, so it should not surprise me that my writing of dialogue is going pretty well.

The crash was short and deep. A least self-loathing keeps you humble—again, the optimist sees good in everything. I wanted the ear of God; I wanted to negotiate and make promises. Today is a better day.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Party! Party! Party!

22,000 words and 90 pages and two brilliant scenes (even if I do say so myself) and 81 other scenes, many quite decent, I think, for a first-timer. I have finished my first draft of my first screenplay. It is called Mockingbird and I am even happy with the title. So that's one play (accepted for production at Presentation House) and one screenplay in one month. Not bad for an old fart.

But way more important than that, is the miracle of Samuel Smith. Oh my.

Leon: Master of his domain.
Spring cleaning.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sam Smith is my New Boyfriend

I feel like I'm a sixteen-year-old schoolgirl with a crush on a man that is burning my sheets and pillow at night. I have listened to this song so many times today and I fell for him on first hearing. I am writing my butt off and for a break and for inspiration, nothing beats Mr. Smith. Oh my God. He has the softest, tenderest song to a man whom he knows will tell him "I love you but not in that way." He sings another song, this time, to a woman that says plaintively in its chorus: "… leave you lover, leave him for me."

I have Beatlemania for this handsome, gentle (gay) man.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Oh my God, that show was good. Robert LePage and Cirque du Soleil. The "fixed trapeze" man was the handsomest, strongest, sexiest man I have ever seen. The consumes, the acts, the comedy, the WOMEN on unicycles—oh my God! What a night! What a show! What a price!
It's going to take me a while to get over him.
The costumes were amazing.

I was in the third row.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Flaming Again

I day, 10,000 words, 35 pages and 22 scenes. That's my progress report on Screenplay, the title less adaptation of my play, Knock Knock, I'm doing with Warren. I sent him the 10,000 words without reading them just to get an idea of how I'm doing as a communicator of moving imagery. For a complete novice, I think I am doing acceptably, thanks largely to the education I got from watching Les garçons, et Guillaume à Table! and from talking with Warren.

June 4th. I'm in The Flame again. My sixth time, telling the story of being a noviciate teacher taking students on a hike up the mountain, when tragedy strikes. It's free. Come on by.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Wet, Wet Friday

It's pouring outside, and dark. And the prognosticators don't have good news for the upcoming week. I will get lots done because its also pouring figuratively:
  1. Early yesterday morning, Warren arrived and we got down to turning Knock Knock into a screenplay. It was slow going. Poor Warren is having to start from scratch. The whole morning was spent teaching me how to write for film. Then Warren left and I wrote five short bits to send to him to read like homework.

    Guess what? I really like it. It is like no other writing I have ever done because it requires a lot of description and for a guy with a very visual way of thinking, I not only find it rather easy, I really like it. All my life was technical writing — all actions or ideas — but for this screenplay, Warren has me describing the people and places in it and I love it.
  2. My voice situation is so strange. I don't know if it is better or not, but I can talk without any problems at all 99% of the time. But, if I want, I can also lose it. I am of the impression that I have learned to talk in a new "place" on my vocal chords. That is how I think of my intuition because I can go "back" to the old place I used to talk and speak in the horrid way I have for the past 3 months.
  3. Kim, on our future with my new play, HoMe: "I am very stoked about this idea. I sense it will be rewarding artistically, personally and financially for both you and the theatre." He has written to say that we will do a workshop in the fall.

    Doing my first play, Knock Knock, was hugely rewarding. The laughter, the curtain calls, the notes and emails all were very satisfying, but self-production short-circuits complete satisfaction—and I knew it would. That's why Kim's initiation of—and enthusiasm for—HoMe feels so satisfying. I have reached my ultimate and dream goal in life and I had let it go.

    I want to say that again: I have reached my ultimate and dream goal in life and I had let it go.

    The dream I dared not dream all my life was to write a play that got professionally produced. Bonus: I am the lead performer. And I had let that dream go. Four years ago, I thought to myself: Why carry this disappointment around? Why not let go of that dream and get on with life — find happiness in new goals? And that is what I did. That's how the idea of self-producing Knock Knock. I was buying the dream.

    But Kim has rewarded that initiative and fulfilled a the life-long dream born when I first saw the garage of our new home in August 1952. It became my first theatre. It's time again for my new catch-phrase: Fucking pinch me.
  4. June 12th is the day of my operation. Dr. Leung calls it the mother of biopsies because it is not a diagnostic biopsy, it is a therapeutic and research biopsy. They take out a piece go lung to support treatment research for me and a much bigger piece to support clinical research because they think many people with HIV and on the cocktail may develop this disease.

Thursday, May 22, 2014


2:00 pm, May 21, 2014; Lonsdale Quay.

Fucking, pinch me. It is real. Presentation House is going to produce my show, HoMe, in April 2015 or June 2015. Hearing Kim explain how the work-shopping would work and how production meetings would play out was like hearing Christiano Renaldo say: “First I am going to take off your clothes and then I am going to fill your body with ecstasy.”

Hearing Kim reference a “designer” for the show “production manager” gave me feelings beyond my capacity to put into words.

I will be performing in a professional show that I have written on the stage I built 36 years ago. Kim had these amazing quotes by famous authors about “going home again.” I feel like God’s favored son.

The theatre had its inaugural opening in 1977. North Shore Live, the first professional show I conceived and produced, had its opening there in 198? And now HoMe will open there next year.

I ask myself: Why me? I ask myself: Why all this good fortune now (HoMe, my book maybe going big, Warren’s belief in Knock Knock as a movie)? I worry it’s all a joke, and some nasty punch-line is coming.

Earth-shattering news like this shifts me into a different state of consciousness. Things become hyper-real. I am a person whose play is going to be produced, getting on the Seabus. I am a person whose play is going to be produced, walking home…. And I want to tell people without seeming boastful. How do you do that? …Oh, before you go, … Oh, speaking of June…

I also ponder. I wonder why I didn’t write creatively before. Why was I always taking on big administrative projects? I thing there are two big reasons. One: I love problem solving for reward. It started with marks and scholarships and my porjects were like puzzles to me. Second: Salary.

But the exhilaration of this past two weeks was worth the wait. On the cusp of becoming a (non self-) published author and definitely soon:  produced playwright and screenwriter. Fucking, pinch me.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


As I write, I await:
  • a call from the Ear Nose and Throat doctor about fixing my voice (of greater concern as my teaching starts in two weeks and I have a show to do next Spring).
  • a call from St. Paul's about a date for my impending (mini) lung operation.
  • a call from David at McGraw Hill about taking my book national.
  • Warren's arrival in half an hour to begin working on a screenplay for stage script #1: Knock Knock
  • to leave for Presentation House for a noon meeting about stage script #2: HoMe
  • time to draft my script for The Flame on June 4th—got invited yesterday to perform.

And unquestioningly and absolutely, the best part of all this recent activity is that I am not driving the non-medical ones. David is driving the development of my book, Artist Survival Skills; Warren is driving the KK screenplay and Kim is driving HoMe. They are the drivers and navigators and I am the gasoline.

The screenplay has been a non-starter with me ever since Warren first mentioned it. He has had a vision of my story as a film since rehearsals for the play but I never knew what to do about it. Just this week he called with an action plan and step one was watching Les Garçons Et Guillaume, à Table! that is the  funniest film I have ever seen performed by an extraordinary man—my new  passion: Guillaume Gallienne.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Sunday, May 18, 2014


He was asked: "If someone from the 1950s were to appear today, what would be the hardest thing to explain to them about life today?"

He answered: "That most people today have a device in their pockets that can be used to access the entirety of information known to man and they use it primarily to look at pictures of cats."

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Mr. Generous, Warren Kimmel

When I was in my twenties and a brand new teacher, another teacher and I took a large group of students on an overnight hike to singing pass. Almost as soon as we got there, David Milner slid down some ice and broke his hip so we tied him to a ladder we found outside a ranger’s cabin inside two sleeping bags. The next morning we carried him down. The six of us who carried him developed an intense sense of camaraderie that has lasted our lifetimes.

When I performed Knock Knock, a play I had wrote, I had the same feeling with my fellow cast mates who were going through a major life event with me—particularly with Warren. Every night, I forgot where I was—not my lines, where I was—and Warren would say one word, and I’d know where I was and be off again until the end of the play. He had my back every performance.

Ever since meeting reading my script he has advocated turning my story into a film. Today he called and for the third or fourth time, got wound up telling me the reasons for his passion for my story and his faith in it. Today, he gave me a gift of confidence I will never forget. He is such a prince. We are getting together to storyboard a script that I will then flush out under his direction. Partners. I feel so blessed. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Purple Forest

In the block beside me, the Landscape Architects of BC Society have turned the Wall Centre mini-park into a festival of blue and pink.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

I'm a Dinosaur

Bronchiectasis. I have been practising pronouncing it; it sound like the name of a dinosaur. Dr. Leung showed me the CT scans of my lungs to see it. I do not have a very serious case it looks like to me.

I am going to have a biopsy of my lungs. I have had the procedure before; it was one of the worst experiences of my life because I was not sedated. This time, trust me, I am getting sedated. Here's what Wiki says:
Bronchiectasis is a disease state defined by localized, irreversible dilation of part of the bronchial tree caused by destruction of the muscle and elastic tissue. It is classified as an obstructive lung disease, along with emphysemabronchitis, and asthma
Involved bronchi are dilated, inflamed, and easily collapsible, resulting in airway obstruction and impaired clearance of secretions. Bronchiectasis may result from a variety of infective and acquired causes, including severe and recurrent pneumonia, tuberculosis, and cystic fibrosis.[

Guy Walks into a Bathroom ….

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Public Draft #1

I was taken off a medical compliance study because a psychiatrist thought I was non-clinically obsessive compulsive. Well I say, bring it on! Today I mailed the first public draft of my script to six friends to read so that I have some idea of how objective eyes and minds view it.

Only ten writing days to Public Draft #1.

Artists RULE!!!

Visual artists had a big victory today at the Supreme Court in the fight for minimum artist fees at the National Gallery of Canada. In a unanimous decision from the bench, the court allowed an appeal on behalf of artist restoring an earlier decision that found in their favour.
At issue was a perceived conflict between the Status of the Artist Act and the Copyright Act. The associations that represent artists, CARFAC and RAAV, had been trying to negotiate binding minimum fees for the payment of artists at the gallery, similar to a minimum wage. The gallery essentially argued CARFAC and RAAV, were taking away the right of artists to be paid less if they chose. In allowing the appeal, the court rejected this argument and, in an unusual move, ruled immediately after oral arguments.
Artists from across Canada in attendance were delighted with the results. “It’s a good day for artists,” said Grant McConnell, president of CARFAC. “This is a major victory for all artists in Canada and Quebec.”

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Writer's GIF

I tremble. I have reached page 40 of Draft 2 of HoMe. I have 19 pages more to go and then I must read it out loud or have someone read it out loud to me in do Draft #3. But Draft #2 will be good enough for people to evaluate its worthiness as an evening's entertainment and make suggestions that will also be part of Draft #3.

  • I walked the seawall today in the mild heat. I hate heat now.
  • revisited my notes from the Speech Therapist I saw long ago and I did the exercises today and I believe they help my voice. It's a little weird walking the seawall and doing vocal exercises.
  • Lunch with two good friends tomorrow.
  • First visit with a new, second, respirologist on Thursday.
  • Meeting #2 about my play next week. What a world.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Walking Weather

My voice is still the shits, but there are windows of clarity.

I am ripping through my first revision of draft #1 of Home. This project has been so easy compared to all preceding major writes, be they play or book. I can't believe it.

And today, Pablo and Sam were here. They are the carpenters who are doing my renovations. I was thrilled to add a new desk to the list of things being done. I am having it built into my office and since I spend most of my time awake sitting where I am right now, I am thrilled I will have a nice new solid stable surface to work on.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Organic Costume Design

Real flower petals serve as fashion illustrations by artist Grace Ciao.

Mania is GOOD!

DR, Dianne, Dana (back, L to R) Jane and I had brunch today in Dianne's back yard.
April 30th 2014
I meet with Kim Selody to talk about doing a show at Presentation House. A fundraiser like Knock Knock was, but for Presentation House. We didn't talk too much about it, just a couple of broad strokes.

May 11th, 2014
Eleven days later I have a working title that I really like and a completed first draft. It is a first draft, but it is not rough; it is a strong draft. it is not an outline, it is a full script: 18,000 words and 57 double-spaced pages.

It's called HoMe and it is about creating the programming policies for Presentation House, turning it from an amateur arts centre into a professionally run and curated centre. And it is about me growing up because it was my first job. Here is a scene summary:
  1. The first scene is about getting fired. This scene sets up the story.
  2. The second scene concerns my first year. It is written in the style of Anthony Trollope.
  3. Scene three is four 5-minute stories about my greatest thrills while at Presentation House.
  4. "Telegrams" is a scene of very short stories told from the point of view of people associated with Presentation House when I was there.
  5. This scene is about 10 things that happened that taught me something significant.
  6. This scene features a different guest speaker each night. The guest tells a single story.
  7. The scene is about getting fired the second and last time and wraps up the show.
Next: Dirty Panties: Parenting, Travelling and Elder Care

Friday, May 9, 2014

Circumstance Induced Mania (CIM)

Is there a drug for depression? Not the kind to stop depression—the kind to bring it on.

I know one shouldn't joke about depression but a depression inducement pill is what I need. I want to go to bed just like when you are depressed, because I am afraid I will explode. I have Circumstance Induced Mania — CIM.

I made CIM up, but that is what I feel possesses me. It started with the commission to do a play for Presentation House on April 30th—nine days ago, and then really started surging in me when I developed a plan for the piece in a day that is pretty well developed.

Yesterday I woke up to a $3,500 tax refund—not a bad breakfast at all. And by the end of the day, I had a very, very satisfactory first scene written and a rough draft of the much longer scene two. And scene two is dialogue which is much harder for me to write than monologue.

Then, this morning at 7:30 exactly on time as promised, the CEO—that's CEO—of McGraw Hill called to talk about my book Artist Survival Skills. This connection being the latest serendipitous step in our storey.

His verdict:
  • He liked the title and design very much.
  • It is not the kind of book McGraw Hill publishes any longer.
  • "The numbers [sales] are impressive."
  • "A reference book like this could have legs like [book whose title I have forgotten]."
I told him it has to be re-written and needed a chapter on social media. I also told him that I lacked the ambition of youth and so he proposed that he "take a couple of weeks to talk to some people" about a re-development of the book with the same title but by me plus another writer who would nationalize it and revise it with me. I'd get [modest no doubt] royalties. He is going to call me back in two weeks at a precise time.

Within seconds of hanging up the phone, I had CIM and needed that pill. I have the tax refund to afford one no matter how much they cost.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Me and Mania

I am so up and happy about life. Is it valid or a mild mania?

Ten days ago I met with Kim Selody, the Artistic Director at Presentation House (PH) in North Vancouver (as I mentioned earlier here on the blog) and I came home with a challenge: Could I write a show for the space and could I do it quickly enough to be able to learn it and do it next Spring?

The answer is, Yes! I am loving working on another show. LOVING it! My only other show, Knock Knock, was a musical about finding my birth mother. I am calling this show HoMe. It is about my time with Presentation House but it will not be a boring linear narrative—if you know me at all, you'll know that's true!

I've "crunched the numbers" and I can't believe it. The numbers are speaking to me. They say there are sufficient profits to be made with tickets at $25 - $30 (the higher end if it is a fundraiser for PH) to absolutely do the show. Not only that, I have two more shows in me: Failed Expectations or Mistakes about the disasters in my life and Dirty Panties about my travels.

Or my medications may be changed.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Life Backwards

Heartbreaking, heart-stopping slam poetry by a remarkably gifted Patrick Roche.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

I love Anthony Tollope

I have just finished The Barchester Chronicles. I got it as part of a package of BBC videos that also contained He Knew He Was Right and The Way We Live Now—all adaptations of the writings of Anthony Trollope.

I watched The Way We Live Now first and then He Knew He Was Right followed by Barchester and I am glad I watched them in that order. By the time Barchester was ending, I was weeping with delight at both the characters written by Trollope and the performances.

Donald Pleasance, Nigel Hawthorne, Alan Richman, Geraldine McEwan and Susan Hampshire make Barchester a masterpiece. I found the company of all of them to be absolutely breathtaking, but Barchester is unparalleled entertainment for this blogger.

There is no score to Barchester; everything is in the word, the look, the pause and the gesture and it is richer than anything modern. Oh my God, dramatic perfection happens when Mrs. Bold and Mr. Arabin declare their love. Or is it just me?

I would hate to have lived then, being the nobody I am, but how they could speak! Oh my God. It was dramatic perfection to watch the scene in which Mrs. Bold (Barbara Flynn) and Mr. Arabin (derek New) declare their love. Watch her hand, or is it just me?