Friday, September 30, 2005


To close a number of outstanding issues:

1) The kids did finally get paid, and I met Josa in person. Each kid received $250 Cdn for one day's work. I could have quiblled that Children Two and Three worked two days, but I didn't want to completely alienate Josa or the producers.

2) I still haven't fetched any mousetraps.

3) The toe is coming along nicely.

4) I wrote my portion of the Will and Sylvia story for the collaborative script project at the Screenwriting Life. I spent my pages trying to tie things together, but I may have only succeeded in adding a new twist.

5) The lab at Concordia worked fine Monday in JOUR 319, but Wednesday in JOUR 202, I couldn't get the projector to work. After class, I found Simon, the TA, who informed me that they have discovered that the ceiling-mounted projector freezes up. Only unplugging it will reboot it. It's a good thing I have a few strapping young lads in my classes to reach it for me.

6) Soly hasn't written back after my offer.

7) If you use Safari 10.3.1 on OS 10.3.9 and Blogger undergoes maintenance, you need to close and restart your browser to get to show up again. Clearing your cache won't help.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


I feel like crap. I have a headache and after an unusually rhinovirus-free year, I'm coming down with a cold. I also have more work than usual to prepare for tomorrow's JOUR 202 class. The class used to hook up to Infomart through Telnet. This is my first time teaching it through the Web interface. It's easier in some ways, less powerful in others. Regardless, I had to teach myself how to use the Web variety, and then write up lecture notes on the process.

Sunday, while watching yet another substandard episode of "Family Guy", I was caught in a brainstorm. I thought up a decent plot for the short Nearmiss and I will be writing. She liked my idea "A LOT". I was pleasantly surprised to learn that she makes some money in the biz - neither of us is an amateur writer, although I still am an amateur screenwriter.

We hashed out an outline in chat Monday afternoon. She said it reminded her of a "Twilight Zone" episode; it is of that genre. She said she'd take first whack at a treatment and get it to me Wednesday.

Time for me to send some notes on "Medieval" to Alex. In some aspects, it resembles "Sheep's End": medievalized pop music (Alex used the Beatles, I used New Order and the Hoodoo Gurus); supernatural beings; and the whole swords-and-sorcery culture and audience.

I also have to get in touch with Lorne. I probably send him "Sheep's End" as a sample. If he likes it, we may end up collaborating.

What with how I feel, and the workload, I had to cancel on hockey tonight. :(

Bonus observation:

Not a single obituary has mentioned Don Adams's work on the execrable Canadian sitcom, "Check It Out".

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Are things happening?

All of a sudden, I'm very busy with scriptwriting. I may even make some cash from it.

A small group of TriggerStreet users is holding a non-competitive project. Teams of two people take on a genre and McGuffin and have to come up with a script for a short film up to ten minutes long. I'm teamed with a woman who goes by "Nearmiss" and we have to put together a SF script based on a watch.

Our title is due tomorrow morning, and I only just found out that the teams were sent out Friday night. Thanks for trashing all of Nearmiss's e-mail, Videotron. I just switched the default e-mail on my TriggerStreet account to my Gmail address.

I'm also chatting with a member of the Montreal Screenwriters group about writing for pay. he has a number of scripts partially done and wants to pay to get one completed, so he can shoot it. I think I can get one of his comedies done.

Lastly, I'm on deck for the collaborative screenplay at the Screenwriting Life blog.

And then there's all the stuff I'm doing for Alex. I feel particularly proud of getting his PowerBook back on his wireless network after a Tiger update wrecked the networking scheme. I had to create a new AirPort port under a new name (LN AirPort), delete the old AirPort port. set the port to keep scanning for networks, and created a specific network setting rather than have the computer log on automatically. I have more work to finish for him, as well.

It's going to be a busy week.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Goodbye, Videotron

To co-opt a popular theory, I have a "tipping-point" temperment. No matter what goes on around me, I adapt, go with the flow as long as I can - until I reach that tipping point, when I act.

Psychologists call this "bottling up the rage inside you".

This week, I reached the tipping point with Videotron, the Quebec-based cable conglomerate that supplies me with that lovely coaxial cable full of creamy Intardnet goodness.

The cable Internet service truly is wonderful. My download bandwidth regularly reaches T1 speed. Much of that, I suspect, is due to my neighbourhood of NDG, which has one Canada's highest per capita rates of seniors - a cohort that doesn't traditionally suck up much of the neighbourhood share of cable bandwidth.

Videotron runs an open-relay SMTP server (the one that sends out e-mail). No matter the advantage to such a system, one big drawback is that open relays find their way onto spam blacklists. Often, ISPs will block all Videotron e-mail as spam, and few spam filters bother to send back a bounce message. That's understandable - replying to every spam is as bad as spam itself - but it means that any Videotron user must trust that their e-mail has gone through.

That's not good enough for me anymore. I was trying to set up an interview this week and my e-mail failed to get to its destination. Only because I overcame my misanthropy enough to pick up the phone did I learn that my e-mail never made it.

I've had three e-mail accounts for a while: Videotron, Gmail, and Yahoo. This week, I gave up on Videotron. I will still retrieve my Videotron e-mail, but everything I send from this point on will go through Gmail (with the exception of posts to Yahoo Groups mailing lists).

Gmail isn't perfect - call me old-fashioned, but I like to archive my e-mail in distinct folders rather than use a search every time I want to look something up. But I can use Eudora to retrieve the Gmail e-mail and store it on my own machine the way I like.

If any of you want a Gmail address, just post a comment.

Friday, September 23, 2005

The toenail

My wife came home from school (she's a grad student) and after saying hello to the surviving guinea pig and the newest rescue animal in our house, a black she-rabbit of as yet undetermined name, she greeted me as well.

She came towards me for a hug and stepped on my foot, removing the half-toenail that hung on. I thought I should post the news while my toe still felt the sting of the bitter end.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Not so lovely Rita

My mom and brother live in Houston, so I have a vested interest in keeping tabs on the impending landfall of Hurricane Rita. Both live in homes on the west side of town, my brother just outside the outer loop near I-10, and my mom further out along I-10, near Katy.

I went to Rice University in Houston - although no one in my family lived there at the time - and I still have many friends there.

None of the people I know are in danger of flooding or are in zones of evacuation. At worst, they can reasonably expect broken windows and other property damage. My mom called last night. She works in an orthopedic clinic. They closed up shop yesterday and backed up all hard drives (off-site, I hope). She and my brother plan to hunker down and ride out the storm. I probably would as well.

My brother writes:
What can we say... a huge storm is heading our way. We seem to be as prepared as we can be, but we are still discussing the possibility of leaving town. A typical drive from Houston to Dallas takes about 4 1/2 it takes about 14 hours to do the same drive. My parents and Kristin's parents as well as her grandmother have decided to stick around and see what Rita is really all about. We hope that we are far enough inland to avert any major disaster. Flooding doesn't concern us as much as the 165 mph winds (which will be about 100 mph when they hit us). As long as trees and debris don't hit our house, we should be ok. We expect the power to go out but we have the pool to keep us somewhat cool. We will keep sending updates for as long as we can.

Even had they decided to leave, traffic is impossible. Check out these Houston traffic webcams. My mom's exit is Barker-Cypress along I-10 Katy. Sure are many more folks leaving than heading in.

This is not my family's first brush with hurricanes. Last year, my father in Freeport, Bahamas took two in the face. (That's my sister and her kids, not my movie-star offspring.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Search for stowaway vermin

I dragged me tired bones to the main deck, and heaved the chest on casters fro'. Aaarrgh! The mice be treatin' the main deck like a poop deck, even to this day.

Serves me right for puttin' off a voyage to the hardware quartermaster. Ten lashin's at dawn!

We be still infested with the vermin, so as soon as my beauty, the Schedule, loughs sails in a moment of placidity, I shall drop the jolly boat and row for stores.

With a little nut butter, the tiny scalliwags will ne'er know what hit 'em!

Bonus toe update:

I good and cracked me injured toe against a chest today, but the little feller gamely hangs on like a baby at its mama's teat. Avast!

Saul and other opportunities

Saul sent a pleasant e-mail declining to fork over money for the Lenart bio. He'll remove it from his site. I would have preferred the $400, but he took a few words to promise to get back to me as soon as he has funding. which he didn't have to do if he were just stringing me along.

We only had six people at our monthly screenwriting meeting last night, but it was the best meeting yet - probably because of that. I may have landed a low-paying job, made stronger contacts, and confirmed that I'm on the right road to reducing the suckitude of "101". All it will take is more work....

Sunday, September 18, 2005


Many people, writers especially, wake up and write their dreams down in the hope that it will make some sort of sense. I remember the last time I did that before this morning. Let me see if I can find the notes....


storm trashes bank robbery
motorcycle getaway to car to motorcycles
get loot in lakeside stairs, found
marathon swim to escape
get to ? then hide in big old armoire

Uh huh. I'm sure it made sense at the time.

This morning, I woke at the end of a perfect dream. It was perfect in the sense that it was a well-crafted thriller about friends gone wrong, kidnapping, and family. I dreamed it like I was watching the movie, and as it ended with a heart-rending plot point, I woke up.

I'm not sure if all the structure is there, if I just dreamed Act I or a synopsis of the whole thing, but I'll tell you what: it was one hell of a movie. And I've got it down on two pages of notes. Although I'm not convinced that the villain should dress in Edwardian top hat and miniature cape, or use a rifle-cane and a giant slingshot to fling himself onto the forest on top of the church.

But those are just quibbles.

Saturday, September 17, 2005


I mentioned, in my "Plagiarism" post two posts down, that I met with a fellow writer. That fellow is Alex Epstein, who writes the Complications Ensue blog (link in the left sidebar). He also writes for screen and television ("Naked Josh", "Charlie Jade"). I'm his new intern.

Let's see how long it takes him to find this blog and comment....

So far, the job has entailed a heck of a lot of research - really the same stuff I was doing before, except now I'm doing it for status and opportunity rather than money.

Friday, September 16, 2005

You're a fun guy, Saul

A bit of research uncovered the identity of the site I found. It's a front for a filmmaker named Saul. I called him during the day - no answer. I got him at home at night.

Right away, I identified myself, mentioned that I was a freelance journalist, and told him that it appeared that his Web site had used the article I wrote for I could tell immediately that he knew what I was talking about.

I think I surprised him when I suggested that he could buy it instead of removing it.

I might have surprised myself. I had found the word count of the article to be 2,338 words. You'd think a guy who did that would do so to sell the words, and then price those words, but I didn't. I know what a good per-word rate is and I know what isn't, but I hadn't evaluated just what I wanted as payment.

So Saul surprised me by asking how much I would sell for.

I thought quickly. I knew that a decent rate of $1 per word was out of the question, and I figured even half that was exorbitant in this situation. So I decided on 25 cents per word, and then dropped to a $400 flat fee. I didn't want to cross the mental barrier of $500.

He agreed that $400 was a fair price, but said he would have to discuss it with his partner. He told me I had done a good job on the biography, and he sounded sincere. He seemed like a really nice guy.

We spent a good 20 minutes after that just chatting. We talked about flying, about Lenart, about the squadron in general. He is still looking for funding for the Lenart documentary. I told him that if he gets it and needs a researcher to give me a call. He thought that was a great idea.

He also mentioned that David Mamet had written a feature script based on the Operations Velveta, and was waiting for cash to do that. Good thing I don't care if it's my version of the story that gets made. Maybe I should have chosen a tight focus like that Mamet guy did....

Saul promised to call me back tomorrow with the decision to pay me or not for the bio.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Me 'n' a producer

I worked on "101" a bit last night, motivated in part by meeting a fellow writer who also knows former 101 Squadron co-commander Lou Lenart (more on that meeting later, possibly). We talked a bit about Lou's drive to get a movie made, which led me to Google him last night.

I found a site belonging to a producer named Saul that seems to indicate that Lou and he are trying to get a documentary made rather than a feature. I knew about Lou's efforts to get a movie made, but I don't view it as competition. The more such projects the better, as that means more chance for the story to make it on screen, which motivates me more than the personal glory.

I found that the producer had, however, borrowed my 101 Squadron biography for use on their site, renaming the HTML document "101saquadron.html". They must have been typing in a hurry.

I'm normally quite liberal in sharing my material, but I do like to be asked or credited. Yet, I smelled opportunity here.

The situation resolved happily. See tomorrow's post.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


I was out of my cheap pens of choice, Uni-ball roller pens, so I stopped by the bookstore to pick two up, one blue and one green. An editor needs a selection of colours, don't you know.

I couldn't help cruising the textbooks - that's just the kind of guy I am. On the shelves, I found one book on screenwriting, for a Communications Studies course, William Miller's "Screenwriting for Film and Television". It was a paperback and my brief thumb-through made it seem potentially useful for a know-nothing wannabe like myself. I snagged it and got in line for the cash.

I got to the cashier and she rung up the pens first at $3 apiece, in Canadian dollars. Then she rang up the book. Bloody fucking hell! It was $68. Twenty-five cents a page! I was so stunned, I didn't summon the courage to say "Bloody fucking hell! That's 25 cents a page!" right there in the store.

Fortunately, the bookstore has a five-day return policy. Can I read it by Friday?

Bonus toenail update:

Still hanging in there.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Expected delays

Last year, when the Journalism Department faculty learned that our new building would be ready August 31, 2005, I figured that any delay would be disastrous.

Well, at least I wasn't surprised.

I'm on the second week of teaching two courses in computer-assisted reporting, and I don't have Internet access in the computer labs. I have one lab whose iMacs at least have software, and a second lab that has a projector, but whose eMacs have never been turned on.

It's not a terrible situation, and I am working around it with hand-outs, and lots of boring lecturing, but still....

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Very tiny contributions to society

Amid all the aggravation that the "101" screenplay is causing me, small achievements make the hobby worthwhile.

Last week, I received a notification from A poster had replied to my two-year-old post, which sought relatives of Bill Schroeder.

Bill Schroeder flew with 101 Squadron. He was an American volunteer, who some sources had identified as an aviator in the US Navy. No more was known, and even the US Navy connection was dubious.

Schroeder made it to Israel in September/October 1948. He may have spent a week or two in training in Czechoslovakia before that. He may have ferried a Spitfire from Yugoslavia to Israel in December 1948 as part of Operation Velveta 2.

Schroeder was involved in the dogfight on the last day of the war between 101 Squadron Spitfires and RAF Tempests and Spitfires.  He shot down a Tempest whose pilot, David Tattersfield, died.  The action earned him a nickname, maybe two: "Sure Shot" or "Sudden Death".

Schroeder was deeply affected by the fact that he had killed a British pilot.  David Tattersfield's father received an anonymous letter of regret that it is believed Schroeder wrote. Schroeder went home soon after, and essentially hid from the past.  He never attended reunions or contacted any fellow volunteers.  All anybody knows these days is his name.

My personal research turned up few leads, mostly because there are so many Bill Schroeders out there. There's a football player, the victim of the Kent State shooting, the baseball player, and the second recipient of a Jarvik-7 artificial heart. There have been a few men named Bill Schroeder even within the restricted field of aviation - the Lockheed mathematician, for example.

I had turned up nothing on this man, so I posted in a Schroeder genealogy message board. And that drew a response from a man named Casey, who suspected that his late grandfather was the pilot I was looking for.

Casey wrote that his grandfather "did have one mission he refused to discuss and our grandmother respected his wishes until her death." That was heartening, but the biographical sketch casey offered me has his Bill Schroeder in staff college between August 1948 and February 1949.

Fortunately, Casey was able to provide three photos of Schroeder in US Navy service. I sent them on to Chalmers "Slick" Goodlin and Syd Cohen, two 101 Squadron vets who flew with Bill Schroeder. I also sent them to Jeff Weiss, author of "I Am My Brother's Keeper" for him to forward to Israeli historical sources.

I got this note from Goodlin earlier today:

I have reviewed the photos, and they certainly appear to represent the Bill Schroeder I knew in IAF 101 Squadron during my combat service there over Sinai in 1948-49.

I knew Bill as a fine fellow.  I am sure that many of us who had close relationships with RCAF and RAF fellows during WW II were extremely disappointed that we were forced to defend ourselves when flying under foreign colors and being attacked by our British allies and friends. It was a most unsatisfactory experience.

With best regards,
Chalmers H. Goodlin

I won't debate on this blog exactly who was attacking whom, but I will let this rest with one observation: it sure feels good to solve a 50-year-old mystery. Look for a bio of Schroeder to go up on in the next week or two. That's him cutting the cake in the photo above.

In a separate tidbit of vindication, Jeff Weiss sent me a photo of a service log that confirms my strong suspicion that Bob Vickman perished in S-199 number D-110 on July 9, 1948. Most previous researchers assumed that D-110's last pilot was Eddie Cohen, who had died May 29.

This time, I promise

I got 60 pages in to the "101" rewrite before I realized that all I'm really accomplishing is a deep polish. I need to start a treatment, because I thought this script needed major surgery. I started from scratch. I outlined a new Act I. The rest is easier, since the two stories coincide after that in all drafts. I even got five pages of script down. But I'm not happy with it.

This story is bifurcate. There's no way around it. I have the squadron, which saved the country on its first mission. After that came the volunteers, who kept the squadron going and eventually ran it themselves. In my first drafts, I've run two parallel stories. I follow the volunteers' journey on one hand and the squadron's activities on the other.

Some readers criticize the lack of focus because the first act splits time between the main volunteer character and the squadron. In the new treatment, I tried to exclusively focus on the volunteer, make him the only main character - but that drops crucial action scenes that set the tone for the evolving history. How can I not show the squadron saving the country at the cost of lives, or driving enemy bombers out of the skies? Those are crucial developments. Yet by staying wit hte volunteer story, these are sidetracks, expository action scenes that just don't fit.

If I focus on the squadron, then volunteers show up haphazardly. They are placeholders, with no background or meaning. Furthermore, I don't have that volunteer character, grounded in dull normalcy, through which I'm trying to connect with the audience. He goes from sales to reborn fighter pilot in a week, and takes the audience with him. Plus, he's the draw for an American movie-watcher.

Americans didn't watch "Dark Blue World" because there were no Americans in it. Hollywood's take on the Battle of Britain focuses on an American, fictionalized it may be. On the other hand, I don't want to make a mess like "Pearl Harbor".

I'm really starting to hate this, which isn't the goal of the exercise at all.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Invasion of the dog-food snatchers

Stuart and Barbara are gone, but a few nights before their departure, Stuart saw what he said was a small rodent peeking out from behind the TV cabinet. The wife - who I will henceforth call Elvi because she does not mind blowing her cover in this blog's comments - pooh-poohed him.

Two night ago, I was up late watching the History Channel, and I heard what sounded like someone playing with the power cords and cables behind the TV cabinet.

Ordinarily, I'm a big wussy, and this was an ordinary night. So I just kinda shook the TV cabinet while guarding my legs with a throw pillow. The creepy noise stopped. My duty done, I went to bed.

Yesterday, in daylight, I moved the TV cabinet, which is less impressive than it sounds because its on casters on a hardwood floor.

Apparently, we do have at least one mouse. I saw no animal, but the floor behind and previously below the TV cabinet was littered with mouse droppings. There were also two huge piles of dog food, maybe five cups worth in total. I guess the mice sneak over to the dog's dish, steal a nugget of dry dog food, and bring it behind the TV cabinet. And they do that a lot. I would love to know if it's a clan of thieves or just one very industrious mouse. I wish I'd snapped a picture, but Elvi (the wife, remember?) cleaned the mess up after coming home from the ballet.

Beside the dog food and mouse feces, the floor behind the cabinet was covered dust and dirt, pounds of samoyed hair, and many lost toys. The latter included misplaced plastic missiles, pieces of a Thomas the Tank Engine train set, and cards from the Blue's Clues board game.

Elvi was wary of setting out mousetraps and suggested Child Two (still anonymous) might have a hard time dealing with dead fuzzy things, having recently lost a guinea pig as well as two hamsters a year ago. She suggested live traps.

I asked Child Two. She had no problem with it, and displayed an unusual interest in finding out exactly how the mousetrap works.

I'm off to the hardware store tonight.

Bonus toe update:

The toenail refuses to let go on the right side. I had to give in and cut it in half lengthwise becuse the loose left side of the toenail had bent and the point had been digging into my toe when I wore socks.

Bonus spite update:

I would have linked the dog food store and brand in my post, but the company provides nothing in English online. C'est la vie.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The circle of life

One of my students in JOUR 202 is the son of the woman who taught me English in grades 7 and 8.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The unfriendly skies

This 155-MB video from Juice is the WWII Online equivalent of guncam film. Every aircraft and vehicle you see is virtually piloted by a human at his or her computer.

It either explains it all, or it doesn't.

Semester starts

This morning, I taught my first class of the semester, JOUR 202, Introduction to Computer Applications. The class has 24 students, and they seemed bright-eyed for a morning session. Let's see if they sustain that through the semester.

Because the new building is still being finished around us, we had to use the older iMac lab and not the newer eMacs. None of the machines in either lab is hooked up to the Net or even to a printer yet. I'm supposed to have Net access in time for JOUR 319 on Monday, but then I was supposed to have that today.

University here in Quebec is only three years long, so the 200-level courses are the first ones the students take. Mine was the first class for nearly all of the students in 202, and I hope the facilities haven't soured them on the department. Or maybe I don't - they should go study something that offers jobs when they graduate.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Back in action disappeared for 36 hours. It's back.

I apologize to the online world.

Monday, September 05, 2005

I almost killed my wife

Stuart and his fiancee, Barbara, took us out for supper last night. I may have eaten more beef at one sitting than I ever have before.

It was a night of unintentional, mostly, double entendres. The restaurant displays fantastic cuts of meat in a meat counter by the front door. Some of the cuts are amazing, and not only for their size. One hunk of unsliced T-bone was so well aged, it looked almost like cheese.

When we first arrived, the maitre-d' told us we would have to wait for the hostess to return from the second floor before we could be seated. The wife told him, "That's OK. We'll just look at your meat." In case anyone missed the unintentional pun, she laughed for five minutes to put an exclamation point on it.

But that's not how she nearly died.

The waiters wore nifty black and white ties with a horse motif. Stuart wanted one, but the restaurant was out of stock. New, they cost $60. One waiter said he would for $20 sell us the tie off his neck at the end of his shift, at 10:30. We finished our meal, took a walk, and still returned with 15 minutes to wait.

We decided to have drinks in the restaurant bar. The waiter there sold us on flavoured coffees. My wife and Barbara decided on the coffee that, he informed us, "had a shot of Frangelico, with the flavour of nuts."

This description was the first step on path that almost led to my lovely wife's demise.

The coffees arrived, top high with freshly whipped cream. I had ordered something with Tia Maria and brandy, for, as I commented, I didn't think I was up to drinking something flavoured with our waiter's nuts.

You see where this is going, don't you?

Barbara wondered whether the whipped cream on top belonged to the waiter as well, or if it was artificial. I said, "It's real. It takes a little longer, but it's worth it."

And this is how I nearly killed my wife.

She thought that was really funny. So funny, in fact that it caused her to expel most of the air in her lungs into the coffee that she was about to sip. The lion's share of the whipped cream - were lions to actually share whipped cream instead of keeping it for themselves - the lion's share retained coherence. The glob of cream flew up in the air, turning slowly above my wife's head, as if some prehistoric Australopithecine pastry chef had tossed it up in triumphant celebration of the invention of mille-feuilles or tiramisu.

It rotated. Time slowed down, allowed us the leisure of examining every bump and valley on the glob's surface. Then it fell into her lap.

In addition to the satellite of cream, streamers blew back from the cup to cover my wife's face and hair, like some sort of dairy bukkake, not that I would know anything about things like that, or link to them.

I hear my audience: what a lovely yet not fatal picture you paint!

Here's the dangerous part. After expelling the contents of her lungs, my wife, being not quite superhuman enough to go without oxygen, breathed in. Deeply. The concentration of cream per liter of air in the vicinity of her intakes exceeded all known government safety standards.

Her hair had fallen over her face, and she was shaking. We all thought she was laughing. We all laughed with her. In fact, she was choking on whipped cream that had lodged in her trachea. Five seconds later, she coughed up the cream, and continued laughing.

Great fun was had by all.

Bonus restaurant review:

We went to Chez Queux for lunch today. We got our table at 1:00, three of us were served our salads at 2:00, and the other three received a hamburger, poutine, and chicken nuggets another 15 minutes later. And the food wasn't even that great.

If the Intardnet is good for anything, this post will warn off people from going there for lunch.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Twenty stitches, each side

I just listened to the tale of the Great Minivan Rescue of Ought-Five.

Wife and Stuart borrowed my brother-in-law's jumper cables and went to the van while I slept off the three shots of Malibu that did nothing for me last night.

They started up the new van with the old van. Then they closed its door.

Let's review. Two minivans, both running. One open, one locked. In the locked minivan, one set of keys in the ignition. Two sets of keys in the purse on the front seat. Zero keys or remote-starter doodads available outside its confines to unlock it.

CAA was more than happy to help my wife, a paying customer. As the van was running, they made her a priority. There's an upside to gas costing $1.47 per liter.


I found out what was causing my G4 to remain comatose after sleep. I acquired an Epson CX4600 printer/copier/scanner last week. If my G4 goes to sleep while the CX4600 is powered on and connected to it with the USB cable, it will not wake. Unplugging the Epson after the onset of sleep does not prevent the bug. The peripheral must be detached/unpowered when the G4 enters sleep.

In a secondary eureka moment, this 101 blog has made it onto the blog roll of Alligators in a Helicopter (see link in Screenwriting Links). Thanks, Steve. Sorry the Epson scores higher.

Bonus minivan coverage:

I wanted to retrieve the van before supper, but my wife wanted to wait until afterward. Here in Canada, vehicles must use daytime running lights, and even though this was a California van when we bought it, we had to install daytime-running-light functionality to import it.

The battery was dead when she went to get it at 9:45 on the way to the airport. No big deal. She bought jumper cables this morning and went to get it with Stuart.

Double bonus "I hate my house even when it's empty" coverage:

Between 10 p.m. and midnight, my home gained Stuart's fiance, my sister, her husband, and her two kids for the long weekend.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Even more early senility

This morning, my wife told me that my father, who is visiting from out of town, said he would pick up the boy from kindergarten, and that he might need to borrow one of our minivans to do so.

I assumed he would either contact me or show up at my home regardless of any need to borrow a vehicle. Contact me, because I'm the parent who does afternoon carpool, and show up regardless, because he would need the boy's carseat.

I had heard nothing by 2:30, and kindergarten pick-up is at 3:00, so off I went to retrieve the boy.

I met my father at the school. The trip wasn't a total loss - I handed over the carseat to him, then walked two blocks to Tim Horton's for a large coffee. I had to pick up the girls and their carpool buddy at 4:00 anyway.

I got back to my car with a half-hour left to waste. The kids had a portable DVD player in the back seat and a collection of DVDs. I figured I'd blow 22 minutes with an episode of "Futurama", one of the greatest shows ever on TV, and my all-time favourite DVDs for the commentary.

I unlocked the car with the remote and engaged the electric power to run the DVD player. I closed the driver-side door and went to the passenger-side sliding door. It was locked.

You know that sinking feeling you get when your universe doglegs irrevocably?

All the doors were locked. So was the trunk. I'm not sure why. The doors used to lock automatically once the van reached 20 mph. Maybe I leaned on the door-lock switch. Maybe the mechanics who installed the new engine miswired the electrics. Doesn't matter - I was locked out.

I walked two blocks the other way to a police station. The officer on duty said that the laws prevented police from breaking into a vehicle, even at the owner's request. He said all he could do was call a tow truck for me.

Back at the school, I called CAA. My wife has an account. The not entirely business savvy CAA woman told me I could buy an associate account, but I'd have to wait 48 hours before my first service call.

I tried to phone my wife next. I have never been able to commit her cell-phone number to memory, but the school had last year's files at hand. Not this year's, yet. That's unfortunate, since my wife really only uses the new cell phone, the number of which the school did not have. I called the older cell phone, but I think that's the one I saw in the minvan I was locked out of.

In the end, our fellow carpooler, Julia, came to pick us all up. Luckily, I left the patio door unlocked, so we had no problem getting into the house.

We'll go get the van later. It's legally parked.

Early senility

I woke up this morning with an insightful, worthwhile comment for the blog. Something on the hurricane and New Orleans, I think.

Somewhere between the time I lathered the shampoo and rinsed my face, it left me.

So here's an alternate and less earth-changing thought: maybe I should change the name of my blog to "Llamas in a Bumper Car" to honour Scott my Reader's own take on "Snakes on a Plane".

Speaking of Hurricane Katrina.... The tattered remnants of the storm fell on Montreal, and caused a black-out in my house. Ever since, when my G4 goes to sleep, it won't wake up. I rebuilt permissions, so we'll see how that goes. The next step would be to zap the PMU.

"101" rewrite

I could swear I promised myself I'd start with a legitimate treatment this time....

The reviews I received for the first draft of "101" I pretty much expected: good writing; good setting; lousy sense of drama and emotion. That's what you get when you let journalists write fiction.... I'm encouraged by the few readers who tell me they get sucked in so hard, they read it through without stopping. It is a great story, and I couldn't make it up if I tried - apparently.

I'm tearing my hair out trying to invest these guys with more emotional juice. I think it's working, but I'm not sure.

I've gone about 20 pages into a fairly significant rewrite, and I'm too close to tell whether I'm on the right track or falling into the same old pitfalls.

To borrow a line from "Sheep's End": "You're a cold, cold man, Hawth."

Bonus fantasy baseball whine:

My NL 4x4 fantasy baseball team has just about an entire lineup of injured players:

C - Todd Greene, out for most of year
1B Doug Mientkewicz, DL
2B Jose Castillo, out for year
3B Scott Rolen, out for year
SS Kaz Matsui, out for most of year
OF Ryan Freel, out for month
OF Brad Hawpe, out for most of year
OF Lance Berkman, was out for two months
SP Ben Sheets, out for year

Thursday, September 01, 2005


I spent the day on a rewrite of "101". I think I've added more drama to the beginning, and I'm pleased with the new introduction of the first class of pilots, but I might be spending too much time with them and losing main characters in the background.

I'd like to include the story of the beautiful spy in the hotel because it adds danger and a rare female role, but it might just be too tangential to the main story. In fact, just blogging this has convinced me to cut that sequence short. So long, writer's block. Even if this blog has an audience of two, this just made it worth it. (C'mon. Comment. I dare you. Both of you.)

Next time, at least the next writing-oriented entry, I hope to discuss TriggerStreet's reaction to "Sheep's End".