Updated Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Monday, March 31, 2008

The Fog... in my brain (41 Days Remaining...)

I just can't seem to think today. My short term memory, hell, even my perception seems in this weird dreamlike state - somewhat washed out yet vivid. No, I'm not high - though the buzzing in my ears makes me wonder what was in those cookies I nabbed from the cafeteria.

It's funny how our bodies decide to work (or not) from one day to the next - like smushy hardware with its own temperment and hidden agenda. I used to get pissy at my computer as it'd bog to a crawl while trying to do too many things at once; what do I do when my brain - hell, time itself - seems to be taking a page from that ol' playbook?

Yesterday was a fart in the wind compared to today, I woke up, got dressed, ate breakfast and went to bed - or that's how it seemed. Today I just can't seem to get the hour to pass - I keep checking the little digital clock on my desktop and these last few hours of tedium have, in fact, only passed about 20 mins.

I've been trying to write, to make the time pass quicker, to hop over the walls of the maze in my head only to find that I've inadvertantly lined it with razorwire. Huh. Who knew?

There's a passive calm that surrounds me right now, the hum of my computer is actually lulling me into a sort of Beta-wave state... the world's just fading to white noise. And I've still got a good 2 or so hours to kill.

I got a callback from the job that I applied for oh so long ago, actually, two. I didn't post about the first interview because I wasn't sure which direction it went - the lady was exceedingly difficult to read. But today's interview, the second. That, well, that was a different kettle of fish. It went by with a sort of ease that I hadn't quite expected and by the time I knew it was over, well, almost a good hour had passed. It was more conversation than question period and the atmosphere was overtly positive. They're down to the final 5 (or so) and apparently I've managed to make a good impression.

Though perhaps the only potential sticking point is that, well, there's a good chance I'm overqualified for the position. Not in my eyes, mind you - I see it as a lateral move more than anything else, a re-potting in deeper soil, if you will. I'm not a huge fan of using things like 'growth' analogies but in this case, they're quite apt. Where I'm at right now I'm safe, cozy and, well, stunted. Where I want to be lies many different forms of potential in many different areas. It's got an exciting air to it, a change so sorely needed from the steady drum of normality that has become my life as of late.

Either way, the sense of change - that creeping sense of hope for something different - is a nice feeling and it's finding my way into my writing. It's been noticably more upbeat as of late and I can't help but ride the wave.

Maybe I'll finish that romantic comedy of mine...

Cheers,
Brandon

Friday, March 28, 2008

Go Planet! (44 Days Remaining...)

This post was actually inspired by Mr. Henshaw's recent Earth Hour post. I'd originally intended to comment on his blog but I soon realized that the comment was steadily growing and showed no signs of stopping.

Guess I got on a bit of a tear...

One of the major points that Mr. Henshaw makes is that "...our current crop of environmentalists seem less interested in actual change than creating "consciousness raising" events that don't really change anything. From "Live 8" to all the copycat films coat-tailing Al Gore's movie, it seems the process is more about branding yourself environmentally friendly than actually doing something concrete."

And to a point, I agree with him. "Green is the new Black" after all (yes, that saying makes me cringe).

It just makes sense that any corporation with a borderline competent PR team is going to jump on the bandwagon. They're going to pile on and wave that 'me too' flag with as much gusto as necessary to make them appear Human and/or caring.

And that's all well and good, I say go for it. These corporations are doing what no army of pimply, long-haired, tree-huggers ever could (no offense to my fellow tree-huggers): Make the environment - and ergo environmentalism - "Sexy".

I mean, you can say what you want about motives and the like but the simple fact is that Corporations have money and they have it to burn. They have money and PR teams and ad agencies and... they've been coerced into doing the work that environmentalists have been struggling to do on their own since, what, the '60's?

Yeah, sure, slap a Coke symbol on that DC/AC converter or windmill. Go nuts. But make sure you sell it. Make sexy, slick advertisements, make us want it. Save the planet, make a few bucks. Why not?

Quick question: How many of you have ever heard of a show called Captain Planet?

I'm guessing that most of you haven't. But I was raised as a kid of the '80s and '90s, I watched shows like Captain Planet and The Smoggies. Essentially, I grew up watching Environmentalists trying to connect with people, trying to connect with me. Looking back, I can see why most adults scoffed at these efforts - Captain Planet is nigh-unwatchable now and The Smoggies was barely watchable for me at my age (if I remember correctly it was on just before Ewoks and Droids...).

And yet they stuck with me. I still have fond, silly memories of "Earth, Fire, Wind, Water... HEART! GOOO PLANET!" Yes, it's cheesy as hell to watch now, almost painful with the 90's synth riffs but it was still a fun and engaging show for me during the formative years of my childhood. It was a bright and shiny, happy half-hour of TV with a message. If nothing else it got me to start recycling - and thinking about recycling - as a kid.

Though not all 'environmental education' efforts were so cute and cuddly. I remember a commercial that would often play in between those shows and it was decidedly less fun.

The commercial depicted a smog-covered city street with people walking and wearing gas masks, all the trees are in these weird containers and a guy walks up, drops a coin into a slot and picks up some sort of inhaler. He tries to get a dose of the tree's air but there's nothing coming out, he walks away and the inhaler is left hanging. I don't remember the actual text, but to this day that imagery is seared into my mind. I've looked all over the web for this commercial but I'm not even sure what to start looking for.

Anyways, my point is that environmentalists have been trying for a long time, in many different ways and mediums, to connect with people. The messages have all been well-intentioned and informed - telling them about things like recycling, about not wasting water, about walking more, driving less. And, well, the population reacted but with what can only be called a glacial sense of urgency.

Now we have entire cities, people, turning off their lights for an hour all over the world. Yes, we've got corporations standing there going 'look at me' but the truth is that other people, regular people, are being influenced too. They're waking up.

And the trick is to not let them go back to sleep.

We've got to let people know that the technology to go clean is coming - we've got ultra-efficient LED tech, 80% efficient solar panels that even work at night, Room-temperature super-conductive material that will cut power usage in everything from Cellphones to Refrigerators - it, and more, is all on its way down the pipe.

The rub lies in the fact that we've gotta get people to actually BUY and USE it. Unfortunately, you can only do that by making people aware, by making them care. So if some corporation wants to make a good bit of coin off of promoting things like that, then I say good on them. And if other corporations want to stand in the way, well, use the system. Make elements like the stock market and consumer demand remove those roadblocks for you.

If your government is fighting you selling power back to the grid, co-ordinate with other people who're trying to do the same thing, organize. I know I make it sound simple - here I am saying "Just do this", but the truth is that even 5 years ago the very concept that you could sell power back to the grid was utter blasphemy. That's now changed. It's not easy - they're fighting it with everything they have - but it's possible. And as more people attempt, as more people sort out the system and figure out how to navigate it, more people will join. The system is the problem, not the will. The tech is out there.

Heck, they've even got small urban windmills figured out for city dwellers who want to get in on the act.

As far as Earth Hour goes, I say let it do what it's meant to: connect. Connect with the average person, to whom Global Warming is an overwhelming problem, and allow them to feel like they can actually do something to help. Is it the only thing? Of course not, but that's where the people in the know - now that they have all these wonderful people's attentions - can say "Oh, hey, while you're here have a look at this!"

We can show them that strides are being made, that the tech exists and all they have to do - all you have to do - is WANT it. It's that simple. You have to want it enough that you're willing to put your money where your mouth is.

And people are. Solar panels and windmills are constantly growing in efficiency and lowering in cost because people who believe are standing there and being the first to invest in their, and by extension, our future. They're investing their cash so that little start-up wind and solar farms can thrive, so that we don't have to mine for and burn coal. They're building companies that are creating things like Nano Paint.

The movement is working, people are caring - the problem is that we're overwhelmed. The problem is too big to comprehend - or too much of a bother - for people who have to contend with mortgages and kids and bills and putting food on the table and being to bed before 10. And so that's why alot of the movement has shifted to the younger generation - to those who will inherit this place. They're building the groundwork and change is coming.

Right now, they're making it simple: go to a concert, turn off a light. Trying to get people into the thought process and have it running in the back of their heads. The bigger stuff: use CFL or LED lighting, stop buying bottled water, eat locally grown food, use renewable energy, that will come.

Will these efforts change things overnight? Obviously no. But with things like Earth Hour and Live 8 you will change a few.

And hey, if a cheesy kids show like Captain Planet can reach me and set me on the path, well, I can only imagine what's possible now with all that we're capable of.

If nothing else, at the very least, it's another step in the right direction.

Cheers,
Brandon

Monday, March 24, 2008

Abort/Retry/Fail (49 Days Remaining)

The screen flickers and informs me that my efforts have not been in vain. That wonderful little XP loading bar bounces back and forth in silent acceptance of my changes. Everything's okay now, daddy's here, it'll be alright.

Many years ago - just as AGP was giving way to PCI Express - I sat down with a bunch of components and put my baby together: a Pentium 4 Prescott Chip (2.8 Gigahertz) with that wonderful 1 Megabyte of on-die Level 2 Cache. It would run a little hot, most Prescotts do (from what I'd heard) but the extra memory would help to move those instructions out to my shiny, new ASUS P4P800-E board. I'd picked it because of the on board Wi-Fi connector, something that while useful, I never quite ended up using to its full capacity.

Windows XP is one of those operating systems that only really comes alive with a Gigabyte or more of RAM. And so, with a steady, loving hand I socketed both of my 512 Megabyte PC3200 DDR ram chips - it'd give me steady, stable performance for XP while allowing me to multi-task without too much trouble.

Out from the anti-static bag came my ATI All-In-Wonder 9600 card - DOOM 3 would never run on this thing, well, in any playable form. The measly 128 Megs of RAM on the card would balk at pushing out the sheer amounts of raw texture data and particle effects required. But it was a cheap card that would allow me to do all sorts of things like (and this sounded like a great idea at the time) play my Dreamcast on my computer (Yet another short-lived idea that, while cool, I just didn't use much).

Finally, I connected my old 40 Gigabyte IDE hard drive - the only remnant of my last computer and storage bin for most of my life.

A few cables connected and a flip of the power switch brought my creation to life - fans whirred and the BIOS beeped. My baby leaped into action, loading the system files with a lightning speed unknown to my previous computer (hastily bought, pre-built, in the college rush). As the soft blue glow illuminated my face it patiently waited for my input, waiting for me to give it the go ahead. My baby was beautiful in nearly every way.

Years have passed and time has not always been fair to my techno-child. For though the addition of a new 80 gig SATA drive gave it more room to breathe, a few fans have been lost along the way - not to mention a like-new power supply melted by the wrath of a thunderstorm. And yet, through it all it has performed with a dexterous grace that has made me proud every step of the way.

But my baby's been sick and this long weekend I was finally able to sit down and give it the TLC it so badly needed. Piece by piece I took it apart, cleaning the dust and testing the connections - what had gone wrong? Was it truly the SATA connection? Had I blown a circuit? I checked for the typical scent of burning silicone and there was nothing. What had gone wrong?

Every step of the way the hardware proved true - it'd lasted the test of time like a little trooper. The answer was something sneakier and less easy to diagnose: Software. Something had gone wrong inside that was keeping my computer from booting properly. Was it Windows itself? It'd been forever since I'd formatted (I used to do it once a year, clean installs of everything, keep it current and slick)...

So into Safe mode I went, mucking about with services and checking Dynamic Link Libraries. Nothing out of place. Everything as my tightly controlled installation had dictated. A virus? A Trojan? I scoured the system and it came up clean, I checked for spyware and adware, hijackers and diallers, still nothing. Could it be something I hadn't thought of? I scoured the logs, looking for error messages, anything that would give me a clue as to what was ailing my baby.

And there it was, staring me in the face, something I'd forgotten, something so silly and stupid. On a whim I'd updated my video drivers, I don't even remember why I'd chosen to do so, but I'd forgotten all about it. I was onto something. It was software, it was manageable, it was simple. I breathed a sigh of relief - I would fix this.

It'd been a long time since I'd used System Restore - it's a feature that I usually turn off to save on hard drive space. All-in-all it's simple feature that creates a snapshot of your computer - just as it was at a specific date, backing up system files and such just in case you do something monumentally stupid. And somehow, I had.

Looking through the system restore logs, I hoped that it'd been smart enough to back itself up before installing the new video drivers - and to my great relief, it had. That's where I noticed the culprit, not the drivers themselves but a tiny piece of software installed just after the video drivers were locked into place. There it was, clear as day, this little thing, this... crumb... of data had brought such an illness to my baby.

The selection and the fix was simple, almost anti-climatic in comparison to the labour of love that had consumed the better part of my day. I watched in silence as the fans whirred to life and the BIOS beeped its cheerful beep. It tore through POST and booted like a charm - Windows XP's brave little loading bar telling me everything I needed to know.

Everything's okay now, my baby's back and, like a fevered nightmare crushed by the rays of morning light, the memory fades; forgotten as the ones and zeros of that offending crumb are gobbled up by the Page File or other System Memory.

My baby's back - and I have work to do.

Cheers!
Brandon

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A brief intermission (54 Days Remaining)

I'm sure you've all managed to find your way to Senator Obama's absolutely brilliant speech by now.

What you may or may not know is that he wrote it. It's not the product of a talented room of writers, he did over the course of a couple days and nights. On his own.

You can read the full text of his speech here (bandwidth courtesy of the Huffington Post, though basically cut and pasted from Senator Obama's Blog).

Now, being Canadian and having witnessed what's been going on with our politics these days - ie. the soul-crushing banality of the CTF Taskforce and Bill C-10 issues - I can't help but watch things unfold across the border with a touch of jealousy.

When was the last time you heard a Canadian politician give a heartfelt speech that was brutally honest and yet filled with hope? Open about our flaws and yet inspiring us to be a part of the change?

I'm coming up blank here.

Some time back I wrote about the problem with being earnest - about how people don't like to be preached to, how they inevitably rebel against it and about how we end up having to hide our messages so as not to seem 'preachy'.

Then here comes Senator Obama, not preaching, not attacking, not splashing around in the political pool - he simply tells his message and he gives it context and lets the rationality of it sink in on its own merits. He lets the weight of past mistakes - and the mind-set that allowed them to occur - speak for themselves. Senator Obama put his trust, his faith in the end user - the viewer - and invited them to make the connections with him on a personal level.

And it worked. It worked fabulously. It worked so well that the spinners are still trying to find bits that they can safely turn on him.

But I'm still left conflicted by it all.

You see, as a writer, I'm in awe of a speech like this - to be able to excavate and communicate decades of intolerance and prejudice and fear so eloquently; to acknowledge these failings while offering a determined sense of hope -- it's quite simply the best speech I've ever heard from anyone involved in politics. Hands down.

Yet, as a Canadian, I can't help but have mixed feelings. For while Senator Obama is a wonderful speaker with great ideas and hopes for the future, he is still American and will have American interests at heart.

I see his passion and his determination and it forces me to look at our leaders, the ones who seem to be coasting and ask:

Where's OUR Obama?

Cheers,
Brandon

Monday, March 17, 2008

Last week was a wreck (56 days remaining...)

Okay this is just getting ridiculous.

Literally every time I sat down to write last week something came up - and with my home computer currently doing its best impersonation of a paperweight... well... things are not getting done as fast as I'd like. Unfortunately, I just don't have the time right now to tear the thing apart and fix it.

And so, I'm plunking away on my girlfriend's ol' laptop these days - it works in a pinch but the accompanying neck strain is a killer. I find that it is a lot easier to type in the mornings tho' as I can take it with me as I go through the 6am motions.

I'm definitely a morning writer, I'm a morning person in general - much to the chagrin of my friends and loved ones. I'm not sure why but ideas just seem to flow for me, the connections between ideas seeming far more tactile when the world's still lost in dreamland.

So far the feedback from my Battlestar script has been really, really positive and that has me just glowing. I worked very hard on it so I'm allowing myself to feel good that others are enjoying it as well. All the positivity has raised my confidence a notch or so and it's inspired me to get a start on a few other projects that I've been considering.

The first involves me taking my TV show Savage Knights back to basics. I sat down this weekend and started to sketch out what it'd look like and was quite surprised by the results.

In my original screenplay and episodes it always seemed like Ben and Jack were the strongest characters, they had great chemistry with each other and just seemed to click. I made one tiny (okay not so tiny) change to my story - one person dies where they normally lived - and just like that *poof* everything was different. Talk about a Sliders moment - Quinn Mallory would be pleased, I'm sure.

It's weird when you know a story inside and out, when you know characters and events by heart and then you pull that one piece out, snip that one connecting thread and watch how the bones fall.

One death.

Choosing to end one life instead of continuing it literally changed everything about my story and the characters involved. It made it darker yet infinitely more intriguing. I'm not sure if I'm going to keep it this way but I'm going to do some exploratory surgery on my pilot script, going to commit this idea to paper and see how it pans out. If it doesn't work, then that's fine but I've got an idea that I may be onto something here. Two people, both trying to do the right thing but from completely different angles, never quite agreeing on what the 'right' thing is. Sounds like there's some potential to be mined there...

I've also created two little 'kicker' ideas, ones that I'm toying with like bored housecat. Ended up going out for coffee with some friends last night and pushed my cute fledgeling ideas out into the world. The reaction was good but I could see that they'll definitely need to be fleshed out some more. Probably the strangest thing, for me anyways, is that neither of them have anything to do with Sci-Fi or Horror.

In fact, they're pretty much the 'anti-me' at this point - one's a Satire and the other is a full-fledged drama with all the trimmings. To be honest, it's both scary and exciting to think that I'm actually going to attempt these. Satire is absolutely out of my comfort zone right now - sometimes I feel like I just don't 'get' comedy, the things I find funny... well, most people don't - but I think the idea is pretty solid and so I'm going to give it a try. Follow my instincts, see where it ends up.

The drama, well, it'll definitely be fun to do I'm just not sure where I want to take it - still figuring out the structure, the confines of the story I want to tell.

In other news I've completed another chunk of my application: my top 10 TV show list of all time. Please keep in mind that I've only been an aware consumer of TV for a few years.

10. Frasier
9. 24
8. Cheers (yes, I watched it in re-runs, but it's still good TV!)
7. The Simpsons
6. Dexter
5. Carnivale
4. Two and a Half Men
3. Doctor Who
2. Battlestar Galactica (Re-imagined)
1. Farscape

The top 3 of the list are pretty solid. Farscape was a show that captured my imagination like nothing has since. Just everything about it is phenominal in my eyes... sometimes when I watch the episodes I try to imagine what the writer's room must've been like. To have been a fly on the wall in that place as these characters and stories were etched into existence...

If you've never seen the show, I highly recommend that you sit down and dig in deep 'cause it's got so much in it - it really is a meal of a show. It's been 5 years since it's passing and I still find myself thinking about John Crichton and Aeryn Sun and the rest of the rag-tag group.

If you get a chance, I really hope you check it out.

Writing Challenge #5 - in Honour of St. Pattie's Day

Format: Any
Length: Any

Topic 1: Research and Write a Limerick about the most drunk you've ever been.
Alternate Topic: Compose a 300-style battle sequence: St. Patrick vs. The Snakes of Ireland. Take it in any direction you want: Prose, Play, Battle Hymn - Go nuts, have fun.

Bonus: use a palindrome.

Cheers (And Happy St. Patty's Day!
Brandon

Monday, March 10, 2008

Mission Accomplished! (63 days remaining...)

So it was a crazy weekend to say the least - watching the snow pile up was an interesting way to spend the day. Luckily, thanks to the wonderful woman in my life, the weekend was not a waste. I was able to get not only my letter of intent done but I finished the second draft of my Battlestar Script!!!

Okay, so I didn't get it done exactly 'on time', I'd set myself the goal of having my letter of intent done for Friday, but I'd managed to have it done for noon on Saturday. My Battlestar script, well, that's another story. On the bright side, it's all done - on the bad side, had this been for an actual paying client, my ass would be in a sling.

My computer is a wreck. She won't boot and I'm thinking it's the motherboard that's gone the way of the Dodo. I'll have to do some further tests to see if its the SATA port on the board or if something more sinister is at work here. The way it died out on me, it looked like it could've been a virus, but I run a pretty tight ship so it'd have to be something pretty sneaky to get in and do that kind of damage. Anyway, it's not pretty, I've got an old box I might put back together to help with the testing - hopefully I'll get lucky and it'll only be the hard drive. Keep my fingers crossed on that one.

On a happier note, my Battlestar script turned out even better than I'd hoped! I was worried at first, feeling like I was just 'padding' out what I'd had, thinking I'd run out of story to tell. Then came Cameron (you can check out his blog here). Cameron is a great friend and an amazing writer - seriously, I'm in awe of what he pumps out. He properly introduced me to Doctor Who and Little Britain, the first season of House and, well, Great TV.

So, yeah, he read my first draft and thought about it and one day, while I was ranting about my writing pangs over a nice buffet lunch he looks to me and says:

"What about the Pegasus?" (That's not quite what he said, but I don't want to put any spoilers in this post).

And my jaw dropped. And then my mind started racing. I'd accounted for it in my script but I'd forgotten an important point. A simple thing but it opened the door to something much better than I'd originally had. So I went home and erased all the 'stuff' I'd written, starting fresh with my mind on fire.

I'd found the path again, thanks to a little nudge from Cameron. (Thanks, man!)

It's all done now - I had to take a bit of a break in between thanks to life things - but all-in-all, I think it turned out pretty stellar! If you'd like to give it a read, drop me a line ;)

If you'd like to read my letter of intent, well, that's below.

Cheers!
Brandon

My Letter of Intent:

Dear Prime Time Television Program Selection Committee,

Hello! My name is Brandon Laraby and I am writing to you today with wholehearted and passionate enthusiasm to express my desire and intent to join the Canadian Film Center in it’s 2008 Prime Time Television program.

If there has been one constant in my life it has been my rapacious devotion to telling a great tale. At my heart, in my core, I am a storyteller. Though I’ve traveled many different paths in my short time on this planet – from beating the streets as a door-to-door salesman to jumping from an airplane at 13,000 feet – my need to share my dreams and experiences with others has been the one, true connecting thread.

At 27 years of age I have finally figured out what I want to do with my life: I want to tell stories on that wonderful video box in your living room. Yet, in order to do that, I need to learn how to take my passion and make it a profession - and I believe that the Prime Time Television program is exactly what I need.

As you will see, motivation has never been a problem for me - I taught myself everything I know about screenwriting, first learning the format from reading old Buffy The Vampire Slayer scripts then spending years delving into the art of the craft and writing for myself; Getting my hands dirty.

But I have come as far as I can on my own and there are aspects of the businees that I still need to learn: How do I write with a team? How do I make a living off of this? How do I build a story engine that will properly sustain a season or more? I believe the Prime Time program would prove invaluable in teaching me these things while helping to temper and focus what already exists: my passion for sharing a great tale.

Once admitted into the program, my goal is to be an active participant in the whole process – for I crave knowledge of all kinds. I believe that if I can properly envision not just how the scene will look, but how it will be made, I will be a stronger writer in the end. Knowing the story is one thing, knowing how best to communicate it is far better in my mind.

And so I will write beat sheets and one-pagers, I will learn how to properly break a story and how to pitch it right. I will submerge myself into my studies, cocooning myself inside the writer’s room with the intent of emerging, 20 weeks later, fully transformed and ready to use what I’ve learned. Because I have many stories to tell and many more that I’ve yet to dream up, I have ideas and fragments to share with others and a hope that – for even one moment – I can help bring people together in a room to share in a story with me.

Thank you for your time and your consideration,
Brandon Laraby

Thursday, March 06, 2008

And down she goes... (67 days remaining...)

My PC bit the biscuit. It won't even boot now.

Needless to say that makes working from home a very interesting experience. I'm thinking of plugging my USB keyboard into my Wii and seeing about blogging from there for a while.

Blogging with my Wii... there's a joke in there somewhere.

Now if only it could run Final Draft...

My Battlestar script has yet to be finished - I was in the middle of working on it when it ground to a halt and never recovered. The reason this post, so far, is expletive-free is that I was actually smart enough to back it up onto my Flash drive. *go me!*

I'm still working on my letter of intent, hopefully THAT will actually get done today or tomorrow - I'd like to think that somehow I'm staying on point here.

Anyways, back to the grind. Much to do.

Cheers,
Brandon

Monday, March 03, 2008

And back to basics... (70 days remaining)

With Bill C-10 seemingly on life support - sent back to the Banks to confirm whether or not they had really intended on censoring, well, Canada - it's time for me to get back to basics.

I started this blog, originally, to track my adventures in trying to get my TV show Savage Knights made. Somewhere along the line I realized that if I had any hope at all of seeing that done I was going to need more than just a snappy wardrobe and noggin full o' dreams.

Thus I made the decision to apply to the CFC and get my butt into writing some Spec scripts just gain more experience and improve my craft as a writer. It didn't hurt that it was also a requirement for the program.

I'd originally thought the deadline for entry was January 28th and, at the time, that tight deadline fuelled me like nothing else. I was a writing machine and utterly devoted to my cause. I wrote a really kickass Battlestar Galactica script that I'm really proud of. Then...

Well, then I learned that I'd been mistaken.

The deadline was actually mid-May. I ended up getting rather shook up about it, lost my focus for a bit - still wrote but my heart didn't seem in it as much. I floundered with a second draft of my Battlestar script, got addicted to spray-cheez whippets and generally let myself go.

Okay, not that bad - I hate spray cheez.

But then things got good. Really good. Karen Walton wrote me a kickass letter of recommendation, I started challenging myself with my weekly writing challenges (these are going to be bi-weekly now for reasons to be explained below) and I really fell in love with figuring out which parts of me were screaming for attention. Most of what I've written I'd never post but it was very therapeutic and helped me right the ship, so to speak.

Being an active participant in the fight for the life of my chosen career, in one country or another, has stoked the furnace inside me once again. I plan on not letting this fire dissipate but, instead, use this passion to fuel another.

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008.

I have exactly 72 days until the entry deadline for the CFC Prime Time Television program. My goal is to have everything ready and submitted on Monday, May 12th, 2008.

My 2nd draft of my Battlestar script will be done for Wednesday at the latest.

70 days. Starting today.

My first goal will be to have a Letter of Intent ready for this Friday.

Just for recap, my letter of intent should be: "a one-page description outlining what you hope to achieve by attending the program, both within the program and after. Include your thoughts about your skill needs and how you plan to polish those skills within the program."

And so, the first of the new Bi-Weekly writing challenges - I'll be writing my own letter of intent this week, so I'm going to spin it a bit towards you:

Writing Challenge #4:

Format: Letter
Length: 1 page

Topic 1: Write a letter of intent to yourself. Discuss where you are right now, where you hope you will go in the future. What you will work to improve and how you will work towards improving it over the course of time. **This does not have to strictly pertain to writing**

Alternate Topic: Write a letter of thanks to a friend or family member for something nice they did for you that you're pretty sure they've forgotten all about.

Optional Bonus: Put some heart into it.

Cheers,
Brandon

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Democracy in Action, or, Bill C-10 gets a beatdown

"...now you see that evil will always triumph because good is dumb." - Dark Helmet, Spaceballs

The most important thing to remember is to stay on this once all the hoopla around Bill C-10 has died down. Remember that they tried to SNEAK this past us before, there's a good chance that all they'll do is pin it on to some other bill.

The problem with being the good guys is that the bad guys know that once they're defeated the good guys have their victory lap and disappear back into the woodwork, leaving them free to come in from another angle.

Unfortunately, it requires a near-constant vigil. Because, believe me - if you think that this is the only time this has ever happened... well, let's just say this is one of the few times that they've been caught red-handed.

They know what they're doing is wrong, but that's how things are done in Canada. Americans make Big provisions and pass them in the dead of night. Canadians make small amendments to innocuous bills over a longer period of time to get the same effect. That's what makes them so dangerous. Take a look at our laws, amendments to specific bills made all over hell's half-acres - an amendment here in one bill, another over in that one. It's scary to think that this is how policy is made in this country.

I'd like to think that now that we've caught them in the spotlight that they'll slink away and the issue will never come up again. But the truth of the matter is simply that they'll bide their time, like they always do, and once things calm down *wham* that's when you get the sucker punch.

Good requires eternal vigilance and that's why evil thrives. No one can be watching everything all the time - and, frankly, no one wants to. That's where they rule, they're already imbedded in the system while we're on the outside looking in. Truthfully, it IS a tough fight keeping the system in check, but that's our duty as citizens in a democracy. If we don't police our leaders, well, no one else is going to. When we catch them being wrong, there SHOULD be outrage. There should be marches in the streets and letters written and, well, you get the picture. THAT is what a healthy democracy looks like, not quietly shaking our heads and saying "well, they're the government, they're all corrupt."

Anyways, a great big thank you to all the amazing people who stood up to smack down Bill C-10, I've read a good number of letters myself and they were all informed and heartfelt. Now comes the not-so-easy part: I ask that you remain vigilant. You've just had a taste of what we are all capable of. This is what a true Democracy looks like. From the people at the source - at the highest levels of government who leaked it, to the people who reported it, to the brave citizens who stood up and said "NO!". We are ultimately responsible for the fate of our land and it is something we can all be active participants in.

You are powerful. You have control. Don't forget that.

Please.

Cheers to you all!
Brandon