Monday, June 30, 2014

Word of the Day: Deuterostomes

Humans, as chordates, are Deuterostomes. Deuterostomes are "any of a numerous animals of the group Deuterostomia, in which the anus develops from the first opening in the embryo and the mouth develops later, and including the echinoderms, hemichordates, and chordates."

This means once, you and I were literally and only assholes.

Duet (Beautiful!)

Watch this in full screen. 
Glen Keane is a Disney animator who did this on his own.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Fill in the Blanks

Chris, His Posse and the Prime Minister

That's me in the wheelbarrow around 1975. The others are boys sentenced to perform community work service hours by the North Vancouver courts. Next week, I am meeting one of the judge's who did the sentencing. She never knew what became of them and I owe her a great debt. Me and my boys were building the theatre at Presentation House.

And this one is of Pierre Trudeau and me. He opened the theatre when we were finished building it. (You may notice, I clean up well.) And on this visit, he got me to call a friend whom he wanted to date. Next week, I am also meeting her to hear what happened.

All this is research for HoMe, the play I am doing next season at Presentation House.


Up early, as usual, and without a ton of writing to do, I decided to attend to some cleaning. I had a bunch of books that I needed to recycle, so I took them downstairs to a table where residents of my building can leave things for other residents to take.

It took seconds on the main floor to deposit the books, then I got in the elevator to come back to my appointment. When the elevator stopped, I got out and walked to my suite, opened the door and walked in.

I was immediately enveloped by the thick smell of marijuana (it was 6:30 am) and a vision of running shoes. Who's ever apartment I was in has, perhaps, 150 pairs of running shoes on little shelves from floor to ceiling in his/her hallway—and a serious early-morning (or very late night) dope habit plus a propensity to leave their door unlocked. It was terribly unnerving. I went immediately into reverse.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Oh Canada

Draft Two: DONE!

Draft two of our screenplay, Uncle Gus' Monkey,  is done. Warren called at 6:00 am from Rome, as scheduled, with some final suggestions for change and they are now all done. Phew.  We are happy proud parents. I will miss this obsession because now he enjoys Italy for three weeks and I move to work on HoMe, my play that goes into workshops in September.

Dwight, Dana, Jane, Dianne, Stephen and Jude all got a copy to read today. When I hear from them and when Warren comes back, we will begin Draft Three. But we may use Draft Two to experiment with some pitching to potential new partners.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

I Dodged A Bullet

This morning I was up at 4:00. At 9:00 I had an appointment to see Dr. Leung and get the results of the biopsy. It was the best results imaginable. Yes, I have bronchiectasis, but my "Cell count" (whatever that is) is low enough that currently there is no cause for concern. In six months, I go through the same cycle again: another CT scan, another biopsy, but far less anxiety because this one went well and I know what I am in for. I cried in the fire exit with relief, I am such a sissy.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I Smiled, I Cried with Joy...

Pharrell Williams made his song "Happy" freely available to use and encouraged people all over the world to make their own videos for the song. Hundreds of groups have taken him up on the offer, but most are lip-dubs or dancing to the original recording. This one is a full cover version in Swahili, liberally sprinkled with French, from the city of Goma, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The performers, from KivuYouth Entertainment, are awesome. While you listen, keep in mind that “Nafurahi” translates to “Happy.”

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Show Stopper

When I saw this man sing this song on the Grammy show, I was stopped in my tracks. No lights, no smoke, no naked girls, no band, no screaming and no choreography. Just Joh Legend, a piano and his singing and songwriting talent. What a guy.

Feelin' Mighty Good!

It was me alone who fought to make the mandate of the gallery photography and I believe
it is that mandate that has led to the success of the space. Yay me! (I rarely say that.)

Announced today:

Vancouver's North Shore looks set to become a new cultural destination after North Vancouver Council approved development of a major new art gallery Monday night.
Presentation House Gallery, founded 30 years ago, is known for its commitment to cutting-edge photography, with past exhibitions of internationally-renowned local artists Stan Douglas, Rodney Graham and Fred Herzog, as well as international artists such as Cindy Sherman and Ansel Adams. 
To be sited in Lower Lonsdale, the waterfront gallery is planned to open in 2017 and has been designed by B.C.'s Patkau Architects. It will cost $15 million, with $2.5 million funded by the City of North Vancouver. 
The gallery is currently located inside an old schoolhouse that has, over the years, also been a police station and a temporary City Hall, and is showing its age. The 19,000 square feet new gallery will more than double the available exhibition space, with purpose-built galleries able to properly display the large-format photographic works by many of the Vancouver School artists including Jeff Wall and Ian Wallace. 
With a cafe, bookstore and waterfront plaza, the gallery expects to become a cultural hub and gathering space, as well as a major new tourist attraction, with estimates of 33,000 visitors in its first year. 
“We’re thrilled that this project will now move forward,” says gallery director Reid Shier, in a statement. “The City of North Vancouver has shown great vision in their plan to revitalize the city’s waterfront and we could not be happier to be a part of it.”


Warren has left Canada. He is off to Italy for three weeks and I am going to miss him terribly. It's been the most amazing experience to have this virtual stranger — someone I knew for three fabulous weeks a year ago — walk into my life and become an intimate friend. He came here at 9:00 am on May 22nd and a month later, with six-to-fourteen hour days on my part and who knows how many hours of his time — we have a baby: our screenplay for Uncle Gus' Monkey.

We are planning on a few more sessions together via Skype while he's in Italy at the end of this week. Then on the weekend, I put the application package for Praxis together and next Monday, it goes into the competition.

The huge jump I have made from technical writing to creative writing has brought me an unparalleled sense of pride and satisfaction and there are two people to thank for that: Dwight and Warren. They have gifted me with the remarkable impact of confidence in me.

Friday, June 20, 2014

My Cat Does These Tricks Too

I Love Liz

Liz and I met as employee and employer. She came to an interview and I hired her right away in spite of having just put an ad in the paper (that had yet to appear) and in spite of her being the first person I interviewed. She was right and I knew it in my heart and intuition but my brain was freaking as I offered her the job. But what an amazing and wise decision that was.

My dear Liz just got married at a cute little church in Scotland. She married Tom, a cute little man from Whales.  Liz: Curator. Tom: Filmmaker. Me: HAPPY!
The Reception Hall

Tom and Liz

Flower Girl; Ring Bearer

Say No More

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Uncle Gus' Monkey

The deadline looms … today has produced only a change in title. What was once called Mockingbird now has a much better title, thanks to Warren. It is Uncle Gus' Monkey.

Crystal Rama

I bought some new shoes today. There was a sales person there names Crystal Rama. Do you think someone named Crystal Rama is allowed to be tense or nasty? Can you imagine someone saying: "Crystal Rama bought a gun?"

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Writer's Fatigue

I started re-writing Act Three of Mockingbird this morning at 5:00 am. I took a 20-minute break for breakfast and a bath, but ate lunch at my desk. Warren came at three and stayed until eight. We have four pages to go. Then I have to do a bit of translating of some scenes and we'll be done.  I feel like I have submitted Mount Everest.

Me and Warren

My new favourite song is "Demons" by a band called Imagine Dragons. It is an anthem for the hurting, but what a great tune!

Yesterday Warren came to my place to work at 3:00. He stayed until eight and we are now two-thirds of the way through the draft we will send to the competition.

Warren leaves for Italy on the 24th so I have a week to deal with final tweaks and to get the script printed for the application after he leaves. But we have done it and I am thrilled and amazed. And we not only have finished (almost) our script, we have finished a winning script.

And dare I say it: We are going to win. (Winning means being one of eight scripts selected for development.) And, yes I know I am inviting disappointment by thinking that way. But I believe it and I believe passionately in our work. Besides, one doesn't win the Praxis competition by producing a perfect script, one wins by presenting a great script with room for improvement.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Me and Pierre

Pierre Trudeau opened the theatre I built in 1975, and when he came, we had this amazingly detailed itinerary that Pierre blew all to Hell when he broke protocol to ask me if I knew renowned local singer Ann Mortifee.  I said we had worked together for months and although I revered her talent and loved her as a performer, I couldn't say I knew her. But I said I knew someone who did and so he asked me to get hold of my friend and get him Ann's number.

I can't believe it, it was so long ago. But that happened and I have been telling people for decades that I pimped for the PM. But, I never knew if they got together, so I wrote to Ann's sister Jane and she forwarded my request to know how the story ends to Ann. Now, Ann and I are getting together this coming week so I can include the ending in my play, HoMe.

I am working to bring other voices into my script.

It's a Boy

Mockingbird is born. The stats:  98 pages and 21,300 words. And he looks really, really good because he was delivered in Final Draft software.  And what an ordeal because I delivered twins: Mockingbird and HoMe. HoMe was born about two weeks ago at 62 pages and 18,100 words.

Labour involved writing HoMe twice and Mockingbird three times. So, in the past month I have typed 100,100 words plus had a diagnosis of bronchiectasis and had a lung biopsy and its side effects. Yes, that is correct: In a month — 100,000 words. It's amazing what you can do when you get up at 4:00 am every morning and stay focused until from noon to 2:00 pm.

What you see above is one page of my script. Final Draft software forces you into the standard format of scripts. It is such a complete rush to see it. I love the sense of accomplishing something that has involved learning new skills.

Tonight, I party with friends.

Saturday, June 14, 2014


I am posting this video that Warren and I made of my song Orphans for the convenience of Praxis jurors. We have mentioned it in our application to the Praxis / Whistler Screenwriters Lab competition.

Friday, June 13, 2014



Boy, was I thinking of Peggy Lee last night.

John picked me up at the hospital at 4:00 late yesterday afternoon. I felt absolutely fine and we joked on the way home. But twice on the way home, I told John I was cold.

At around 6:00, my friends Ryan came by and I met him in the lane because he wanted to drop something off for me. Waiting in the sunshine was lovely. I was hyper-aware of the wonderful warmth.

Everything was normal. I was thrilled to have the procedure over and behind me, so I decided to get comfortable on the couch with Leon. We love cuddling and watching TV together. But at 7:20 I started trembling. By 7:30 I could not hold onto anything in my hands and breathing was really hard. I felt so cold I could not stop shaking uncontrollably.

Get this: I live in a commercial building so our hot water is scalding. Last night, as the shaking got worse and worse, I got into a scalding bath. and found relief. I had the phone with me so I called 411 and the nurse said I had the fever that often accompanies the procedure I had. I may never forget the fear and shaking of the walk from the bathtub to my bed where my winter comforter held in all the heat in my flesh from the bath.

I woke up at 10:30 in a soaking wet bed. Now I was burning up. The nurse asked me to take my temperature but I was too cold too get out of bed and go back to the bathroom to get the thermometer. I went back to sleep at 10:30 and slept deeply until 5:00 am this morning.

Now… back to work on my script. But f-ck. What a night.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

One Smaller Lung

Re: Praxis
How great is serendipity? My friend Stephen called last night and I told him about our plans to submit the screenplay of Knock Knock to Praxis and he made me call a guy who I have known of for decades but never really known. He is a fine guy and he ran Praxis for over ten years. And Stephen was a juror, so I learned many things. Michel told me things to put into our application letter and he said we'd be competing with between 70 and 100 scripts. Stephen said a lot of the scripts are duds. And since Stephen saw  Knock Knock, his assurance that my story is stronger than many scripts he has read was reassuring.

Re: Health
Well that is over. After all the words, it was not really more than a lung biopsy. But it was a doctor I was not expecting and I was thrown by some issues, but once the sedation hit. It was over. I got a good dose of some medication that begins with "M" that makes you forget everything. Awesome!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Experiential Learning

Scene view of Mockingbird script.
Click to enlarge.

There's nothing like it. (Read the post title.) I've been doing it all my life. I built a theatre armed with only confidence and an honours English degree. I founded a photography gallery that continues to do well (critically) armed with nothing but a short lifetime (at the time) of looking at images. The first book I wrote became an official best seller and my first play got me a commission to write a second that is soon to be produced. All good eh?

I love learning by doing new things. Everything above, I undertook with naive confidence as I have undertaken the script of Mockingbird. Today I had a very encouraging conversation with the former head of Praxis, the producers of the scriptwriting competition to whom Warren and I are submitting our script.

My fabulous schedule: Wake up at 5:00; at work by 5:30.  Focused work until anywhere between noon and 2:00. Lunch and a break or a walk. Warren arrives at 3:00 and stays until 6:00. Dinner. The two more hours of work. Saturday and Sunday, I am going to rehearsal with Warren so that when he is not needed, we can work.

Best thing about today: Movie scripts are 110 pages long or less. It seems to be a rule of thumb. I am on page 52. I think our script will likely be 85 - 90 pages and that seems good to me because we have a narrator that has a heavy load of dialogue and the voice of a narrator creates far less length than dialogue…. short, for us, is okay.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Place Your Bets...

Friend, Beth, (wisely) cautions me to be prepared for rejection at Praxis.

Warren expresses concerns about how much time we have to work on the script.

I tell Warren, who is busy with rehearsals and other projects, that we can ignore Praxis and I mean it. I do not want to push this project, but Warren wants to go for it.

I am glad he wants to go ahead because his conviction in Mockingbird got me to invest hundreds of hours to get this far. But to continue to work this hard would be easier and more rewarding were we to get objective and experienced encouragement for the script and Praxis seems like a perfect opportunity.

Meanwhile… Wednesday I have to eat light, Thursday is surgery, Kim is reading draft #2 of HoMe and I await word from Toronto about a revision/re-write of Artist Survival Skills.

Saturday, June 7, 2014


Warren was here for a couple of hours yesterday. We sat down to work and he pulled out his stack of yellow file cards. He had one for each scene in the screenplay; each bore a title and purpose and he had re-arranged my order of the scenes.

It was truly humbling to see so profoundly talented a man so engrossed by my story and so incredibly invested in it. He knows what we are doing and how to do it better than I do. He sees the structure of the story and knows the language of film.

We had a great session that will serve for a model for future sessions and we will meet regularly—perhaps twice a week—to move through my first draft to our first draft BECAUSE God sent me a message last night. Here are God’s words:

Canadian screenwriters are invited to apply to the WFF Praxis Screenwriters Lab, an intense five day workship presented by the Whistler Film Festival and Praxis Centre for Screenwriters.The program will be held from December 1 to 5, 2014 during the Whistler Film Festival + Summit.

Designed to advance Canadian creative talent, the WFF Praxis Screenwriters Lab focuses on strengthening feature length scripts by facilitating feedback and mentorship from veteran screenwriters and story editors.

Up to 8 screenwriters will be invited to participate in the 2014 Screenwriters Lab.
The benefits:
·      Writers receive targeted feedback on the screenplay with the guidance of a carefully selected Creative Advisor
·      Writers participate in individual and group meetings with the Producer-in-Residence
·      Writers receive an industry pass to the Whistler Film Festival, having the opportunity to network and connect with other industry professionals

·      Writers leave the workshop having charted a course for a rewrite and further development
Warren was here for a couple of hours yesterday. We sat down to work and he pulled out his stack of yellow file cards. He had one for each scene in the screenplay; each bore a title and purpose and he had re-arranged my order 

And how do I know it was God speaking?  The Praxis deadline is June 30th.

Friday, June 6, 2014

UBC Botanical Garden

Today, dear, dear friends Lydia and David and their daughter, Martha (whom I have known all her life) went to the UBC Botanical Garden. It was stunning in every way and perfect weather. They arrived yesterday. Martha lives in Richmond, Virginia and L&D live in Kennewick Washington. We have a long fabulous history together.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Fabulous Flame

The Flame, as we were about to start.
The fabulous, the most wonderful Deborah Williams who started The Flame and is its host.

Last night was my sixth time telling a story at The Flame, a storytelling forum I just love. And being a stunning day, I walked from home to the Cottage Bistro where the event is held. (Excellent War Wonton Soup!)

That meant walking Main Street, from Science World to 30th. It was the second day in a row I had done the same walk because Main Street is by far the most interesting street in the city. There are lots of funky (and clean) restaurants and scores of boutiques in which you meet the charming and unique owners.

My friends Dianne and DR came to watch and so I asked Dianne (who is about to retire and is the former film commissioner for British Columbia) to read and comment on my screenplay and give me any feedback that might occur to her.

There’s been fewer posts because I am almost finished draft two of play #2: HoMe.

And, I found a great new person to do my renovations. It is a wonderful experience to be working with someone I trust and who is true to his word. I have complete faith in James and my new kitchen cabinets are already underway.