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Archive for March 2008

Maybe not ten feet

But it certainly peaks at five. That’s like ten feet to me.

This is after a day and a half of melt, too. It’s that high on the entire front yard.

When we let the dog out into the back, he trots over the fence and waits in the front yard to be let in. I tried to get a photo of him, but he saw me in the walk/trench, barked and ran back to the back door. Idiot. Instead, here’s a photo of two nuts in a tree.

I wish I had a camera

One that worked, anyway. Our front yard has a lot of snow. I think it peaks at about ten feet, all shoveled by hand.

I remember huge mountains of snow when I was a kid, but those were helped by the snowblowers that used to blow the snow onto our lawn. Those were the days. Now it takes a crew of six to clear half a road.

We got another 30 centimeters of snow Saturday and Sunday. Child Three and I braved the leading edge of the storm to watch a Novice B playoff game, the winner of which would play us Sunday morning. The NDG team lost in what may have been the most exciting game I’ve ever seen. The Ahuntsic Bruins went into the third period up 1-0, but the NDG Jaguars scored quickly and then added more, going up up 3-1 with about five minutes left in the game.

But the Bruins came back with a goal a minute later, then scored again to tie it. Overtime solved nothing. A Bruin player put in the first of the shootout attempts and no one scored in the other five.

Our game was 9:30 Sunday and the roads were an absolute mess. We’d parked one van on the street but the plow packed it in good. Digging out the driveway was easier. I picked up a player and his family on the way and made it to the rink a half-hour before game time.

We played a tight game against the Bruins. Our third and fourth leading scorers didn’t show, which is worse than it sounds because those two kids are two of our most reliable backcheckers. They were our two skaters at the Hockey Montreal all-star game.

We had nine skaters and a goalie in total. The three defencemen we had played their best game all year. We had fewer than six shots on offense, but we took a squeaker 2-1 to advance in the winners’ bracket.

Elsewhere in my life, I continue to put in long hours for showbiz. I have a day off tomorrow, which will let me correct assignments, teach a class (sorta – it’s mostly a workshop now), scan and send expense receipts, find a place to get Alex more business cards, and write a letter to my lawyer so that he can give me some money he owes me (and is quite willing to send me).

Now, I have some notes from today to coalesce into my usual brilliant synopsis.

A return to young adulthood

One of the bonuses of working on this TV project is that it gets me out of the house and into my old stomping grounds. I lived in the Plateau neighbourhood from 1990 to 1993.

I found out yesterday that one of the writers I’ve been working with worked on “Sweating Bullets“, a show I watched when I lived there, beside the old location of Coupe Bizzarre and above what used to be a Portuguese pastry shop.

“Sweating Bullets” was popcorn TV about a couple of private eyes in Florida – sort of a less expensive “Moonlighting” with more bikinis. The show was saved by fun writing and a determination not to reach further than it could provide. It stayed light-hearted, funny, and warm amid the tropical shirts, drug-runners, and cliches. It embraced the cliches, which was helped by the Mexican and Israeli actors hired where the production shot. At a time when few shows made me sit down and watch (“Seinfeld”, “Mad about You”, “Cheers”, “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, “The Kids in the Hall”, are the others I can remember without looking them up), “Sweating Bullets” drew me in, occasionally with an actual bowl of popcorn.

Here’s the first sixth of the pilot. The show was called “Tropical Heat” in some markets for reasons I don’t know. You can watch the rest at YouTube as well.


Snow problem

I had to dig my van out of two snowbanks today, one because I was plowed in and the second because I was running out of time to find a safe place to park before my class. The second time, I left my front hanging a little too close to the drivable portion of the road. Had I driven by a van parked like I was, I would have thought the driver was a lazy jackass.

I’m sure having knowledge of the other side of this will teach me tolerance and empathy for my fellow humans.

The best part was getting four of my students to push me out of the snowbank after class. Heh. It’s good to be the king.

Unusually, the city was horrible at cleaning the roads today. It seemed like workers laid neither sand nor ice, and I was driving on highways and major arteries. There was some plowing, but the snow fell steadily and the plowing didn’t keep up. It seemed like one pass in the morning and that was it.

I noticed this morning that my windshield had a small crack running horizontally from the driver’s edge a few inches above the bottom. By the end of the day, it had grown all the way across the windshield. I’ll be getting a new one, which isn’t terrible, since it means I finally get rid of the abrasions left when the car’s previous owner tried to use his wipers to get rid of sand that had fallen out of a truck. I’m surprised I haven’t killed somebody while driving into the sun.

Now, if I can only finagle new body panels to get rid of the rust. Every time I close my rear hatch, chunks fall out.

As Alex, the man who pushed me out of the first snowbank, writes, the room takes a lot out of you. So this is short. And thank goodness for my Wednesdays.

Bonus photo of a goalie for a first-place team:

He’ll need bigger pads next year.

A view with a room

We’re a week into Alex’s writer’s room, which he has mentioned in his blog. I’m in there. Officially my title is writer assistant and it’s a paying gig. I’ve done some paid research in show biz in the past, but this is my first paid writing-related job.

What’s it like? Gosh….

We we’re working in a borrowed and viciously cold Plateau row house. We share it with some guests of the homeowners, who are off somewhere else.

We start at 10:00 a.m., but I have to get there earlier to warm the place up. That’s not a bother – Elvi does morning carpool and drops me off on her way to work, which half the time is nearby McGill University. I take my laptop and deal with whatever I need to deal with before Alex and the two other writers show up. We work until and sometimes through lunch and finish when we’re mentally exhausted, around 4:00 or 5:00.

It’s a great gig for me. My primary responsibility is taking notes – the journalism experience helps immensely. Although we all have laptops, we tend to work in longhand. It’s each individual’s choice and I am much faster with pen than keyboard. The tapping on keys would drive me nuts anyway.

I’m not only a stenographer; the writers accept and appreciate my story input. I’ve contributed to the solutions of a couple of problems already. In fact, last week each of the four of us took an episode to break as homework and come back with the next day, and I was included in that. My pitching skills need honing, but I think I came up with something presentable. I need to learn to kill my journalism skills. I put in too much backstory and explanation rather than just telling the story.

Our group works well, I think. (How would I know?) What’s fascinating is the interplay between analysis and lack of ego. the writers are willing to stand up for story points, but only to serve their story. It’s not a matter of defending their own ideas.

After the day ends, I come home and spend a few hours with the family or go coach hockey, and then I get to work again. I take my notes and condense them into narrative format. I could take the easy way out and simply transcribe written notes to note format in a text document, but that’s not all that useful. Our discussions in the room wander and we may revisit a particular point several times in a day. What I do is go through the notes, divide them by subject, and produce a narrative of the room’s conclusions. Once we reach agreement on a story point, that conclusion is what the writers need to read. The process we took to get there isn’t as important. That’s where the journalism experience shines. I’m skilled at turning interview notes into narrative and this is the same thing.

Of course, it takes an hour or two more than it would to just transcribe notes, but I think it’s useful to my own story-building skills as well.

On top of this, there’s the assistant part of my job. I take care of expense receipts, go shopping for snacks and other groceries, and pick up inspirational literature at comic book stores. It makes for some long days, 12 hours one day last week, for example (split up by a few hours of family time). Hourly, the pay sucks, but the experience is enriching me.

Now, I have some notes from Friday to take care of….

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