Updated Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Endings and Beginnings

Hey, 2009, thanks for the memories.

But I'm rather glad to see you go.

Rather than looking backward over the chaos of this last year (let alone this last decade) I want to look forward.

And hey, since we're looking forward, let's really swing for the fences here.


2010 will be the year we get it right.

It'll be the year we finally see ourselves in the mirror, taking a long sober look at the insanity behind us. A reflection on the devastation we've wreaked amongst ourselves.

It'll be the year that we finally decide enough is enough, where the silent majority finally work to stabilize the lunatic fringe. Religious, political or otherwise.

We'll figure out this world hunger crap, end racial intolerance, clean the planet, save the whales and stop global warming.

Our personal lives will become personal again, our children will be raised with care and our companies will give us more time to spend with our families.

Technology will actually make our lives easier and safer, Science will make our lives better and longer and we'll come to understand our role in the universe.

As a species, we'll take things slower -- think before we act, question before we speak and open ourselves to our fellows. We'll look out for one another, from an honest place of compassion and respect. We'll look farther than just our own gain, make the right calls in a clinch and expect better of ourselves.

We'll be better and smarter, more caring and aware. We'll accept each other as equals and share in the bounty of the Human spirit together.

Together we'll figure out how to make the system work for everyone.

And finally, at long last, peace will find itself in the Middle East.

Yes, 2010 will be our year of rebirth -- a step in the right direction, a push forward for Humanity as a whole.

Or... maybe not.

But, hey, if the dreams of sleeping cats can change the world... then why the hell not give it a shot myself? Maybe, just maybe, if the dream is good enough -- if it is craved and wanted for and called for by enough people... then, hey, why not?

Can't hurt to dream, right?

Happy New Year to you all... here's hoping for something better.

Cheers,
Brandon

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My Obligatory Avatar Review

Yesterday I went out with my wife and nephew to see Avatar.

Not in IMAX. No, apparently, that sucker's sold out 'til August.

So we went in for a noon showing, expecting to sneak in and sneak out without it being too much of an issue.

Heh. Wow.

Guess it's a good time to be a theater owner 'cause DAMN it was packed. Like, insanely packed; Little-children-getting-their-feet-trampled-by-line-butting-assholes kind of packed (poor kid...).

Anyways, on to the show. (minor non-plot spoilers peppered throughout)

Just so you know, I'm coming to this as somewhat of a 3D aficionado. I've always been a fan of the concept and I generally search out films that have it -- it may not end up being the 'waaaaave ooooof theeee fuuuutuuuure' that some have made it out to be, but when it's done right it can be a breathtaking experience (check out Wild Ocean 3D in IMAX).

For a great number of people, James Cameron's last film was Titanic but for me (though they're technically not 'movies') 'Ghosts of the Abyss' and 'Aliens of the Deep' are still somewhat resonant in my mind's eye. My fascination with the deep is almost as intense of that of outer space and so when I sat down and was transported into Mr. Cameron's forays beneath the waves, I found his love for the abyss quite infectious.

And I think that's what ultimately sold me on Avatar.

In this film I found that it was his connection to Pandora, his openness to expressing its beauty and its utter vulnerability that grabbed me.

This was a world he intended to share from the get go.

Unfortunately, the world is far more interesting than the story taking part in it.

Now, let's pause for a moment here. Since I've yet to see Avatar in IMAX, I'm going to hold off on getting into the real gel of the 3D of it -- 'cause, truth be told, when I was sitting there in my 5th row center seat I became acutely aware that I was missing subtle flourishes that had been added. Flourishes that Mr. Cameron had obviously meant to be seen in the larger format.

But in the context of the (smaller) non-IMAX showing, I'd have to put the 3D down as 'breathtaking'. His decision to have the Human world be cold and sterile and limit the 3D effects to things like computer screens and such actually makes the pulsing 'life' of Pandora all the more vibrant. Here the 3D isn't used to thrust a sword at your face (though that moment does exist, of sorts) it's used to show distance and perspective -- to enhance a sense of closeness. The world hums beneath our protagonists' feet and, thanks to Mr. Cameron's deft use of his new 3D tech, we can almost feel that hum ourselves.

Simply put -- and if I haven't made it clear by now -- visually, Avatar is sumptuous.

Mr. Cameron's known for having an eye for detail and my eyes threatened to burst in my attempts to drink it all in. His realization of an entire alien biosphere is, hands down, phenomenal -- hell, even if I'd end up being eaten by a Thanator, I want to visit this world just so I can see it with my own eyes.

If this is what alien worlds look like, sign me the hell up.

That said, what bothers me the most about this film is that this vibrant, multi-faceted world is shackled to a story that is so utterly black and white.

I predicted every major turn of the movie long before they actually hit, even how it would go down and who'd be responsible... if I wasn't in the middle of having my eyeballs scraped off the side of my skull I'd have been yawning my way through this rubber band of a tale.

On the bright side, the world is there. It's built and -- if we believe the glimpses we get from other parts of the planet -- there's more to see. There are other stories to be told here, other characters and tales and environs to explore. All things that I'm sure'll be brought up in the inevitable sequel.

One which I'm hoping will clock in at a brisk 100 mins or less.

'Cause I know I've heard people talk about the length of the film but I don't know how much it really hits home until your 9-year-old nephew taps you on the shoulder to show you the time.

Twice.

(apparently he was keeping track)

We went in for the 12pm showing and after the commercials and the trailers and the movies, we got out around 3:20pm.

Again, it must be a great time to be a theater owner.

All-in-all, Avatar is the rare kind of blockbuster that deserves its fanfare; Visually, this is Mr. Cameron's 'Starry Night' in glorious 3D.

While the script certainly isn't going to win him any awards, his passion and wonder for this planet is infectious, leaving us with a childlike wonder and a need to touch and splash and play.

I can't wait to go back.

Cheers,
Brandon

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

White Wine In The Sun

Though my religious Christian days are long behind me, I have to admit I've still got a soft spot for the spirit that drives the Christmas holiday season (Blah, blah, commercialization, etc. notwithstanding).

So, while I know that Christ was most likely born in the summer (if you agree that he existed at all) and the day is largely co-opted to overwrite other, more pagan rituals... well, heck... it's a great excuse to get together with the people who actually matter in your life.

Be that family, friends or whatever.

Christian or not I'd like to think that Christ -- a wise man who preached tolerance, love and forgiveness -- would be down with Humans in general getting together in some semblance of that spirit.

And so, with that in mind, I share with you one of my new favourite non-religious Christmas songs.



Cheers to you all and may you find an excuse to be deliriously happy this holiday season.

Brandon

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Top 10s of The Decade

Got some more posts brewing, but for now, I'm going to jump on the Top 10 bandwagon.

Top 10 TV Series of the Decade:

* Battlestar Galactica - Right up until the last 5 mins.
* Dexter - This last season re-affirmed why I kept watching. John Lithgow = amazing!
* Trailer Park Boys - Sometimes that show hit a little too close to home...
* Doctor Who - First Christopher Eccleston then David Tennant... wow. The Girl in the Fireplace. Midnight. Blink. You should watch these eps.
* True Blood - For being absolutely Batshit insane.
* Sons Of Anarchy - Peter intro'd me to this series and DAMN. I'm hooked.
* The Tudors - "It's good to be the King" - Mel Brooks
* Friday Night Lights - I'm not a 'football' guy, just not my thing... but man, this show is amazing. Extraordinary passions, indeed.
* Arrested Development - Just thinking about this show makes me laugh
* How I Met Your Mother - They gave us NPH. In awesome form. Gawd bless'em.

Top 10 Films of the Decade:

HA! And now I watch you squirm! Can you do it? Can you break it down into a measly 10?! I've managed to get 10 in here but I could go on for ages. These are in no particular order...

* Let The Right One In - Hands down, the best 'vampire' flick I've seen this decade.
* Monster - This movie is even more messed up if you've watched any of the interviews with aileen wuornos.
* Persepolis - Touching and memorable.
* Once - This movie damn near had me crying on an airplane. Amazing soundtrack.
* The Dark Knight - This is exactly the kind of Batman movie I've been waiting for.
* Lord of The Rings: The fellowship Of The Ring - The first got the ball rolling and made me remember why I loved the books.
* Shaun Of The Dead - Best Rom/Zom/Com I've ever seen.
* Amelie - An old friend said it best: "I feel like a better Human being for having seen this movie".
* The Bourne Identity - This movie made me wish I was a badass.
* Wall-E - I'll watch this movie again, any time.

Top 10 Personal Successes of the Decade:

* Finding the Love of my life/Getting married
* Joining Ink Canada and finding such a welcoming community
* Finishing my first screenplay... and finding out that people loved it!
* My first-ever table read (Thanks to the amazing Beatriz Yuste!)
* Being promoted from Inktern to Junior Editor on the site.
* Starting my blog and all the amazingly cool people I've met because of it.
* Completing College. Tho' it didn't amount to what I thought it would, it put me on the path to discovering my talents as a writer.
* Meeting my best friend, who's been a rock through all the bad and good.
* Paying off all my Student Debt, finally, this year.
* Getting accepted to college and getting the heck out of my hometown (that pretty much kick-started everything else!)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Oh, Look: Writing! (Just Kidding)

Been a while since I've updated on my actual writing activities... so I figure now's as good a time as any.

I've been chipping away at an old Original Series, trying to re-figure out how the foundation's supposed to fit together. I thought I had it before but then realized that uh, no.

So I've taken it back to the drawing board, trying to re-discover who my characters are and why this series exists.

Which, incidentally, has always been the killer for me: "Why this show, why these characters? Why YOU?"

A part of me doesn't even want to think about these questions right now -- it's hard to pimp a skeleton, let alone one that's still re-calcifying.

All I can think about is how I want to sink away into a quiet abyss for a week or two, to hammer things out in my head; To weld, solder, whack, beat, crush, mold and spackle.

Looking at my holiday calendar... well, yeah, not likely to happen.

So it looks like, thus far, the answer to the above questions are officially: I don't know, I don't know and I don't know.

Guess I'm still searching for that spark? I thought I found it before but then it fizzled.

I've got a "Cool Idea" and a "Strong Concept"... just gotta figure out how to make it float and move forward at the same time.

"But where are you going to pitch it??"

"Will it appeal to a family/mostly-female demographic?"

Don't know. Should I know? Trying not to think. Clicking off Logical thought processes. Switching to 'abstract goo' mode.

~Colourz r prety~

*cough*

They say that every writer's got like ten thousand or so crappy pages inside'em and that the sooner we get them out of us, the better. After that, we get to the good stuff. Unfortunately I find myself agonizing over each and every one of them, desperately wanting them to be good.

Which they can be.

If I'm willing to go over each and every one of them 3 times.

Which currently appears to be the game plan.

Also, lately, I've been having nightmares that somehow I forgot how to tell a story.

Not sure why, but it's been somewhat recurring and actually sort of terrifying. I guess it's the Writer's equivalent of the whole 'showing up to class to give a speech while naked' thing. Except it's a campfire that's got all our wonderful urban legends sitting around it (hook-hand guy, etc), waiting... not so patiently... for me to come up with a 'new' story for them.

(They don't wait long).

My wife's been kind enough to tell me that I've 'just got writer's block' which is a distinct possibility. However, the idea that my 'block' would be following me into dreamland is somewhat unnerving.

Denis has constantly recommended a little book called 'The War of Art' and so that's on my list to pick up and read over this coming holiday season. I'm hoping it'll prove inspirational.

So far my solution has been to just sit at a keyboard and type it out. Whatever random craziness comes out of me, well, that'll be that. Been doing it for a few days now and it shows no real sign of stopping.

On the bright side, well, I have got some wacked-out stuff sitting there. Maybe I can use it later on.

Cheers,
Brandon

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Options

If there's one thing that we certainly have in this whole CRTC-Save-Local-TV-Tax thing, it's options.

Not that they're options we'll actually get to, or want to, exercise... but hey, sometimes it's nice just to put it all up on the wall and see how it sticks together.

So... why not? Let's take a look at where we are.

As of right now:

We could regulate the problem -- like we have in Radio. If you want to operate in Canada, you need this much Canadian Drama, this much Canadian docs, this much 10/10 Canadian Content at minimum. Period. End of Discussion.

We could force the Broadcasters and BDUs to negotiate with one another. Make them form up some sort of system for working with one another based off their 'symbiotic' relationship.

We could give Broadcasters 'Value for Signal'.

We could give BDUs more money/protection.

We could give Broadcasters more money/less obligations to the "onerous" costs of creating Canadian TV.

We could scrap the whole protection scheme from the ground up. Cut out the middleman, let American channels broadcast in Canada at will.

We could let Broadcasters 'black out' American broadcasts of shows they've paid for, re-airing them whenever they want, however they want.

We could kill the bundling of channels - go a la carte, allow Canadians to pay only for the channels we want.

We could create a 'skinny basic' for those who only want the bare minimum (the cable equivalent of a 'gateway drug').

We could...

What else am I missing? (Will update as suggestions come in!)

Cheers,
Brandon

Courtesy of Jim Henshaw:

We could have a system where the consumer decides what's worth paying for. Y'know the way everything else in this country is bought and sold.

Then we'd get to see what they really want to watch, make our version of it and perhaps have a real industry.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Back in the Saddle

You know, there's something invigorating about being intellectually stimulated.

Okay, yes, not exactly a world-shattering observation on my part... but man... the Smithsonian was good to me.

Honestly, this CRTC stuff has made me feel, well, numb.

Watching this fight unfold and trying to fit so many square concepts into the roundness of my consciousness... well, it's been a tiring bit of work to hammer them all through.

Even my sturdy ol' "actually giving a damn" filter has started to get a bit clogged by it all as of late -- I can't even imagine how those who've been fighting this battle for a decade or so must feel.

Simply put, my trip to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum was a revelation.

I was surprised to discover just how deeply nourishing it is to be dwarfed by SkyLab and the Hubble Telescope (replica) -- to stare at these things in awe and wonder; to run my fingers along the atmosphere-seared hull of the Apollo II; or caress the cold steel of a rocket engine's massive exhaust vents.

I stood there, surrounded by these aging relics of possibility and it felt... expansive; Like touching the jagged wheels of a pioneer's ox-cart, imagining what would come next.

'Cause even with these long obsolete creations towering above me... we're still only at the beginning, we've barely even started the Prologue.

Unlike this CRTC nonsense.

We're living in a world that has already moved on. We're now in an age of Hulu and Boxee and, hell, iTunes. Yet we're held back and made to watch as old men bicker about who'll lead the wagon train over the mountain pass.

A pass we can all fly over pretty much any freaking time we want... sometimes for free (if you have access to Hulu... or Google).

I understand that regular broadcast is still valid and there's a hell of a lot of people in this country who barely have that... but it's hard to feel bad for a group of people who -- even when given the opportunity and the money -- soundly refuse to innovate.

Instead we get fighting, and lawyer-ing and... well, a whole lot of heartbreaking displays of apathy from those in charge to those who passionately want to make it work.

Those of us who do, in fact, give a damn.

And that's why it was so nice to get away for a bit. A chance to feel truly connected with something again; To clean the cobwebs off of my imagination and get the gears grinding once more.

'Cause, damn, it's easy to feel lost and cold in the shadow of the monolith.

Anyways, I'm back, energized and feeling positive again; having been reminded of why I enjoy what I do: the exploration of possibilities -- that push forward into the unknown, wanting to discover or create and share some great stories.

The CRTC reconvenes on December 14 and I think this trip was just what I needed to help get me ready for it.

Here's hoping for the best on that one.

On a side note: I know the Smithsonian's a fair bit out of range for return visits so I think I'm going to start making regular trips to our Royal Ontario Museum. I know it's not the same, but hey, I think my recent trips gotten me onto a bit of a museum kick...

Nothing wrong with that.

Cheers,
Brandon