Friday, May 29, 2009

Back in business

and business is good.

Hey folks,

well, we're back from Bermuda, and things are back to business, and business is good. First off, The Lance will be back and ready to go - we'll have the next publication out in by Tuesday next week. It's going to be great. I haven't opened an InDesign work file in almost two months - I almost forgot how to drop an object - which is simply inserting a photo onto a page. Yikes.

While I only really did two things at the office today - get the layouts to the editors and change a couple of alarm codes for new staff - I must have spent an easy three hours on the phone today getting everything and everyone back in place (again, this is the first paper in almost two months).

BUT there is other good news, too

While I was away, there were two days of shooting for The Extent, and the report from my associate Executive Producer, and the creator of the show, Jay Nassr, says that absolutely everything has been going fantastic. When we were creating characters, a man named Mickey Dhutta developed a man named Luther - and we casted a guy named Steve to play the part (not an actor, he lays flooring for a living).

Apparently Steve has turned some major corners in his acting and has been rocking the role we made for him - which is awesome to hear. I just finished the set list and emailed it out to the crew and we're ready to finish up business on that set. (For the record, to suggest that there's some serious connections that link us all up in the universe - Steve gave me a call and we chatted about filming and some of the scenes as I was typing his name. Cool, eh?)

So that's good stuff - we have an excellent set put together that carries the majority of our shooting for the first season of this show, and we're going to be able to finish up with it by the end. That's a major achievement.

And, to make matters even better - there's an Online show coming out soon that was just bought up by Warner Brothers called Blood Cell: check out the trailer.





So this means two things, and both of them are good. First, there's a market for Webseries and Second, that there are buyers in that market - all of this bodes well for The Extent. We don't need a gay title like "Blood Cell," either.

More good business
The next cool part of my day of being back in business includes the final sale of that George Antoine Belcourt article I was mentioning all those posts ago. My partner in crime, James Mays (whose teddybear runs a blog here) has been in touch with The Beaver Magazine (a Canadian historical magazine) and they've confirmed that they are going to purchase the article that we put together. To quip my partner verbatim:
Ryan!
Break out the champagne! Beaver bought the story.
Wait 'til the cheque arrives! Whoo!
James
So that's awesome news. We knew that The Beaver was interested in the stories, but they wanted the stories flowered up a bit, decorated and made real pretty. James doesn't like that sorta shit - so he asked if I was up for it. I was.

Did I pretty it up? Well, instead of giving it a verbose floral vernacular, I instead read Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" and built a running conceit about the Ware Steam Wagon and transformed it into a freakish creation of humanity that ran amok. Flowery indeed. Plus added a hint of Late Victorian prose (but only a hint).

And to top it all off:
I managed another high score on Hell Kitchen for Facebook. 247! That's a big score! That was awesome, too.

BTW: I don't know quite how to classify this (www.scottrogers.org).

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Back from Bermuda

Hi folks - we're back from Bermuda after travelling for the last couple of days. I'll post up some thoughts and pictures shortly - I just wanted to say "Hey, we're home."

And if Donovan is still lurking around, I should let you know that before we met one another the other day, I submitted a rendition of my comments about your skiing lessons to MacLean's as a letter to the editor. I have on idea whether or not it will make their final cut and be included in the front pages - but it might be. It seems fair that you get a heads up, what with us being in correspondence now.

You can cut it out and put it on the fridge for when guests come by.

I hope all is well, and I'm looking forward to catching up with everyone!

Also, some Extent Behind the Scenes stuff:

Friday, May 22, 2009

Some parents should be arrested

But not Donovan Tildesley's, no matter how unorthodox their methods.

The latest edition of Maclean's arrived at my address this afternoon and it has a column in it entitled: "Did you see that?" about a blind B.C. skier who does 'ridiculous' stuff. It's inspired me to write one last blog before my fiance and I head to Bermuda for a few days.



The article is by Julia McKinnell. Here is an excerpt:
On a warm spring day, a small crew of skiers meets at the bottom of the Wizard chair on Blackcomb Mountain. One of the skiers is Donovan Tildesley, 24, Canada's flag-bearer at the Beijing Paralympics and a world-record-holding swimmer. Wearing a black and orage vest with "Blind Skier" printed on it, he jokes about his other problems, dyslexia. "I was born with one of the poorest senses of direction you could have. Friends tell me I walk around like an old man."

Tildesley, who was born without retinas, learned to ski at age three on Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver. He skied backwards the first year because it felt easier that way. "Yeah, it's not like I can see where I'm going."

So let me get this straight - a ski resort in North Vancouver let an adult put a blind 3-year-old on skis and push them down the hill backwards? His parents must have been as adventurous as he is.

On a different note - I'll try and post pictures from Bermuda over the next week while we're away for you to check out. If not - I'll be back by next Friday. See you then.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My blog is helping science

So you may have noticed that I had some odd images of a green engine on my site earlier - and admittedly, those are indeed odd. A genuine departure from my usual subject matter, I admit. So what the hell was I up to? I was helping science, with my blog. Cool, eh?

The short story goes like this: My buddy James had to get some snapshots of the "oldest engine in Windsor" (James, perhaps you can send me a blurb about the engine so I can tell people what this is all about?) that a museum in Ottawa was interested in getting some pictures of.

First off, the most important part of this story is NOT the engine, but rather the remarkably wonderful couple that have the engine. I don't recall their names, but they were pleasant, welcoming and passionate folks who've held on to this engine for decades. And you should see this guy's Chevrolet! It's amazing! (James, maybe you could explain a little bit more about who this couple is?)

We took some photos of the engine (which you've seen by now) and emailed them out to a woman named Suzanne Beauvais, an interim curator at the Transportation, Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa, Ont. The emails, however, just weren't going through, no matter what, so ... I decided, what if I just posted this all on the blog and had the curator get the material from there? Sure enough, it's worked out real well, and now, science is benefiting from my blog. Nice, eh?

So, Science, you're welcome.



Also, thanks to everyone for the help deciding on what kind of car I should look in to. I might do a few test drives tomorrow. (And, if I forget to post about it, ask me about the guy who got kicked out of The Beer Store earlier this evening after baseball practice: it was funny, but also sad - a good story for the blog).

Extent Sneak Peek 2

A big day of filming yesterday - we sure covered a lot of material.

Here's a small sample of what we put together.



I hope you enjoy it.
Bulmer engine video one:



Bulmer engine video two:

For Suzanne Beauvais

Here are some pictures of the Bulmer Engine that James and I took for the Canada Science and Technology Museum Corporation.











Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Car's in the shop/shopping for a car

Well, the ol' Buick LeSabre is in the shop, and I'm worried that it might be for good this time. I don't know that the problem I was having with alignment/brakes/ABS/front wheels is a BIG problem or not, but it certainly has me thinking about getting a newer vehicle. I've been kicking the idea of getting a new car for a while now (like, three years) but just haven't got around to it.

There's no update on the status of the Buick yet - but I've got a real bad feeling about it. There was something definitely causing friction on the front driver's side wheel, and it started clinking around pretty hard. Then the dashboard ABS light came on, and the brakes went to hell. It was a bad scene. Basically, if it's too much to fix it, I'm going to tell them to not bother and try and get a dealership to take 'er in. Or something like that.

Now - with the auto market where it's at (awesome for buyers) this is the best time to get whatever cash I can for the '98 green monster and trade up to something a bit more comfortable for me.

Things that I require in a car include:

1) the windows have to be the right height for me to rest my elbow out of them comfortably. This is a must.

2) the console has to sit just right so that I can rest my elbow on it while I'm steering. This is a must.

3) the dome light must come with a manual switch. My fiance's car doesn't have one (you have to open the door) and that's too stupid for me. There has to be a way to turn on the dome light while you're driving (so you can read maps at night when you're lost).

4) it has to do all of the things you expect in a car - change gears evenly, run well, brake when you press the brakes, and pass emissions tests, have power windows, etc. The tires should be good, too.

5) I want to get a standard car - but my fiance says no. Frankly, ... I say yes. They're more fun to drive, better on gas, and plus they're awesome. It also limits how many people who can borrow your car - a plus if I were still living with additional carless roommates.

6) A sun roof would be great, too. That could be manual, I'm cool with that.

7) a CD player would be nice for a change - my car still has a tape deck.

8) it doesn't have to be the size of a Buick - but it doesn't have to be small, either.

9) cup holders. I haven't had any since the "Little Jodi" incident, and I like to have a coffee in the car with me once in a while.

10) .. I'll leave this up to you readers. If there's something you love/hate about your car, let me know, and I'll consider it when I'm looking around for something better than what I've got now. Your feedback is always welcome.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Preparing to shoot birds

Yesterday I took a new set of used golf clubs out to the driving range and smacked a small bucket of balls around, which was fun. I still stink at golf, but I'm more open to playing than I've ever been. (Did I happen to mention that the last time I played I shot a birdie?) The clubs are wicked-old (but the irons are pretty good) - and I'm still looking for a good three-wood that I owe someone ;)

After the driving range, we went to Dr. Disc the used CD store. What did we find? First off, I had to replace a great CD that was snapped in half in my car: Fuel's "Sunburn." Was it a good album? Good enough to replace after it was broken! Second choice: The Odds's "Bedbugs." The Odds are fantastic (and apparently released an album recently?). Third choice is one that I was going to pick up at a Shopper's Drugmart because I was so excited for it: Roy Orbison's "16 Biggest Hits." Yeah, Roy Orbison! Lastly, for the sake of nostalgia, Gowan "The Best Of..." (which I'm playing on my laptop right now). So that was cool.

Other cool things:

The Detroit Zoo's animatronic dinosaurs are scaring the Bactrian Camels and the Red Pandas, so they had to turn the volume down a notch on them. That's hilarious. Poor camels. They're wise, though, to be leery of dinosaurs - they'd eat camels and pandas for fun.

PBS is close to revealing "Dinosaur Train" from Jim Henson's old company. It's going to be an animated series out in September. I haven't found any studio artwork for display yet, but it could be neat.

I'll take that back - here's the studio artwork right here.


Proof (for real) that dinosaurs survived the extinction 65 million years ago
Scientists have evidence that dinosaurs survived the mass extinction all those years ago - the catch is, they only survived for about half of a million years and died 64.5 million years ago. 500,000 years is a long time, but it doesn't help us see real dinosaurs right now, does it? Still, a cool premise. This theory isn't widely agreed upon by paleontologists, just by this one fellow who made it his life's work to prove this - so what are the odds that an old retired scientist discovered actual evidence that proves this right? Well, let's just let the critics who review his paper decide how close his science is to the truth.

Go Pens.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Routledge on Smallville (finally)

I had to do some digging - but the Smallville episode 8.21 "Injustice" featuring buddy Anna Mae Routledge is right here.


You can watch the whole episode right here. I haven't been able to get the whole video to load just yet - but it would appear that she dies in this episode. Another Routledge character that didn't last long. Too bad.

Appearances at:
- 4:33 (making a fireball)
- 7:50 (crying and then stands up to her boss)
- and then you don't see her anymore because an explosive microchip in her brain "landed her in a body bag."

Red Wings, Dead Things and The Extent

Red Wings:
Well, my fiance and I are going to have guests this weekend. A friend from high school, John, will be coming down to enjoy the opening game of the Detroit-Chicago conference championship in the NHL playoffs. He'll be bringing his girlfriend along and we'll have a little evening out tonight and make sure that they get to the hockey game tomorrow.

Personally, I dislike the Red Wings. It would have been interesting to see, had Anaheim won the series, if Chris Chelios would have shaken their hands. Back in 2007, Chelios cried and hid in the dressing room instead, citing that he was having an emotional moment and a lot of bad memories from the previous year (a cook was murdered at his restaurant, Cheli's Chili Bar).


Yeah, keep laughin' Chelios. You earned it.

Still, I wouldn't want to get in a fight with him. I've learned to live with my face just the way it is - I don't need for there to be any drastic changes to it because he's a poor sport.

The Extent:
To continue to hype the YouTube Smash Sensation Super-series, The Extent, we filmed a bit more of it yesterday. Another friend of mine, Rob, was helping out with one of the props - and it seems that he's becoming naturally interested in the show as well. We've got a neat mystery that we want to set up and the series will sneak little answers into the show as we go along, which makes it more interesting as we go.

If I had any photo-editing software, I'd make some promotional posters and share them with you, but until then, I'm kind of stuck. Filming things can be unusual - we did four scenes a few weeks ago. They were for two different episodes where some action takes place at a hair-salon, and then another scene where some guy is walking down the street- which I posted a link to as a sneak peek a few days ago.

Those scenes were in episodes one and two. Then we shot most of the scenes for episode 9 yesterday. There's still one sequence (a real tough one to shoot, I'm sure) that we'll have to get done at another time. It's exciting to see it coming together for now.

CASTING CALL:
The reason we had to jump to episode 9 was we had one actor not really follow through with what we hoped he'd be doing. So we've got to cast "Asshole with a heart of gold, who doesn't take shit from anyone," and cast him really soon. If you can think of anyone who'd like to do about a month's work for fun - let me know.

And if you'd like to do some behind-the-scenes work on a show that we're putting together, cough- Cara- cough, drop me a line and you can come and have some fun with us one of these days (and then you can go feed giraffe's at the zoo ;)

Dead Things:
I was talking about zombies the other day - and I wanted to share something I'd found on YouTube. It's about this parasite that gets into slugs, makes them slither into the open so that they're eaten by birds, and then it gets the birds to poop all over, spreading the parasite around the forest/jungle, where it can infect more slugs. Or something like that.




After watching that video, you can clearly see why I just won't eat shit. Mostly because it's shit, but also because you might become infected with a mind-controlling parasite that wants birds to eat you.

You can read more about it here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

No work - just frustration.

This is how I've felt the last few days.

So this week was supposed to be stupid-busy for me - and it's actually been anything but. And there are a whole whack of reasons, for it.

I was supposed to get a call on Monday listing my hours at Dominion Golf for this week. That hasn't come through yet - and I can't, in good conscience, book a bunch of things to do this week until I know what my new employer wants - so I'm a bit frustrated in scheduling the things I need to get done. And on a related note, of course the people I need to get things done with/for are becoming frustrated that I'm still unsure what I'm doing next. But as soon as this is clarified, things are okay once again.

And I was supposed to be back at The Lance, helping to get the paper back up and running so that we can get a production out by the end of the month. Editorial meetings, staff training, goal setting, publication schedules, temporary budgets and Board of Director reports all for this week - but none of that could get done either.

Item 1 - no work. Just frustration.

At The Lance we had our locks changed on us - which wouldn't be a big deal if anyone had told somebody that they were being done (a.k.a. done properly). So the locks were changed, and staff didn't find out until they arrived at the office to find that they couldn't get in. Now, there's a bit of a bureaucratic process required to have keys issued, and issued to the right people. Again, this could have been done very smoothly if it were done at, say, and editorial meeting where the staff is all in once place, all the forms could be filled out, signed and prepared all at once. Of course that didn't happen.

I guess the long and the short of this all is - key control cannot release keys to anyone without the signing authority at the office building's signature. The signing authority has gone on vacation for three weeks (left the continent, as I'm being told) and I can't seem to collaborate a way to get him to a fax machine to give me his signature yet - meaning we're locked out indefinitely until he returns. That's frustrating. So I had to cancel all Lance operations until we can get keys to get back into the office - which puts the entire staff out of work for a month - and nobody's happy about that, esp. me.

Item 2 - no work. Just frustration.

Then I find out that Jurassic Park IV is off the table - nobody is interested in making it anymore. That makes me sad, and takes another opportunity off the table with it.

Item 3 - no work. Just frustration.

Also, the Outside Worker's Strike is still on [5 weeks and counting], meaning no baseball this week, again. We'll get another practice in, but we paid our league fees so we could play baseball - not have six people show up for a practice. [Maybe if there's another team ready to practice, too, we could have a little scrimmage?]

Item 4 - no work. Just frustration.

So that's what's been bugging me the last two days - BUT that doesn't mean I can't still make progress on the In Business assignment I'm working on (Hub'09) (read Windsor Star article on it, here). That's coming along very well.


And the screenwriting class is tonight - which should be fun, once again. And Lost's season finale is on tonight (meaning there are two more hours of pleasure before that show goes on hiatus for another 8 or 9 months - frustrating?). And we started our new hockey season last night - which has been pleasurable. I've noticed that you won't score every game, so you have to find other things to be proud of - and I made some great passes, created some good turnovers, and had a couple good shots on net [notice I said nothing about good defense - yeah, didn't do so hot on defense last night]. So that's good to have back and running.

AND I made chili the other day - it's good. It makes your belly a little upset a few hours after eating it, but it's still wicked-tastey, even if I didn't make it spicy this time.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

In Business cover story

(I thought that was a clever title name, considering it was Barack's democrats interested in renegotiating our trade agreement).

Here's the latest edition of In Business magazine, featuring my cover story. It's all about NAFTA and whether it's good enough, just good enough for now, or if it is great the way it is and it will last forever.

There's no real answer - just a few different opinions on the matter.

If you're interested, you're in luck, because you can download the .pdf at this link.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Smallville preview

This Thursday at whatever the hell time on whatever channel - Anna Routledge is going to be on Smallville - and she even made it into the sneak peek for this week.



She gets to spin the orb of energy at the end. That's cool.

If I get a chance to watch this (online?) I will. It's still cool seeing her on t.v.

- - -

Also - it's cold this morning! And I'm going to be finding out about Dominion Golf today - so I'll be busy with that. Should be an interesting couple of days. BUT the big thing is my first full week back at The Lance.

Catch up with you folks shortly.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Jurassic Park IV

So - when I figured I'd try my hand at submitting a concept for the Jurassic Park franchise, it was sorta of a gag with my buddy. But the idea has grown on me. I've loved the books, the movies and how it invigorated the modern world with dinosaurs.

Now - would I seriously push to get this done because I think I've got the greatest idea around? No. The way things sit right now - I have a chance to provide a 'concept' to a man who is teaching a screenwriting class. He basically said that he can provide the pitch to an agent - and if they like it, they can make suggest it to a studio.

Now - the only thing that I've heard about the JPIV situation is that they have two scripts - one involving the world being in jeopardy from a dinosaurian flu that threatens to wipe out the human race. The other was that some company was interested in weaponizing the dinosaurs and turning them into Dino-Riders (or something).

Frankly, everyone I've heard from doesn't like the sound of these ideas. The latest news on the subject is that the franchise may have come to an end with the passing of Michael Crichton. That's awfully disappointing - but that doesn't mean I can't continue on with this little project. What's more - apparently www.imdb.com has deleted all of their threads on the matter. Doesn't look good.

BUT if this screenwriter "Wayne MacLean" can forward my ideas for a script to someone in the biz - then that's cool. I'm not really taking this wicked-seriously (like, I'm not going to freakout if this doesn't go anywhere - which I expect will happen) but it's one of those 'big chances' that are certainly worth taking when they come up.

Even if the more research on the matter I do suggests that this door closed back in December 2008.

Hopefully tomorrow I can share some more about my progress on the matter -

I hope everyone had a lovely Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

It's doubleplusgood!

Have you read 1984?

"It's doubleplusgood - Ministry of Truth"

Possibly the best review I've ever read for this book is right on the cover in this ad for AbeBooks.com

Friday, May 8, 2009

Back at the Lance

Well, it was only a brief hiatus, but I'm back at the office planning up the next edition of The Lance. I'm trying to get everything back on track, and I think we'll be ready to go very shortly. I've some how got to manage to orchestrate the next edition in a way that doesn't interfere with my trip to Bermuda - so I'll have to keep my schedule clear for that!

We had a baseball practice instead of a game last night- and I totally changed up my batting stance and was able to get some good swings out of our 'Rock Crusher' which was good to see. I stood a lot taller in the batter's box, opposed to a lower crouch that I was using last year. A real John Olerud sorta stance - and it was working great.


I don't see why you wouldn't want to bat like John Olerud - you just don't want to run like him.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Baseball status: yellow

Speaking of baseball being cancelled - see ya Manny, in 50 games.

Baseball is definitely cancelled for this afternoon - BUT we've got a practice for this afternoon, which is still good. BUT it's been raining for a couple of hours, just like it has EVERY Thursday for the last three weeks (which makes Ryan grouchy).

What is the status of our next ballgame being cancelled? Well, according to this article - they'll be back at the bargaining table on Monday (despite rumours they'd go back on Friday).

The City of Windsor and its outside workers will be back to the bargaining table Monday.

"It's a good sign and I'm hopeful on Monday we can get somewhere," Jim Wood, president of CUPE Local 82 which represents outside city workers, said Wednesday after a rally at city hall.

He told striking workers at the rally that a mediator had called the two sides back to bargaining.

Wood said the union has a Friday meeting with Green Shield officials to better understand the figures on retirement benefits before the 10 a.m. Monday meeting. Post-retirement benefits have been a stumbling block in the three-week strike by more than 1,800 inside and outside city workers. The union has been fighting against changing the retirement benefits to create a two-tier system.

"Hopefully ... Monday night we can come back out and say we've got an agreement, we're going to have a ratification vote and be back to work by the middle of the week," Wood told reporters.

Yes, this is what Windsor usually looks like - but it's
coupled with the double-problem of no baseball, too.


Is there enough time between Monday (making an tentative agreement) and cleaning up the diamonds so we can play on them (on Thursday?): I don't know. For now - only one casualty of the strike. Likely two - we'll definitely be ready to go before the end of the month.

Time to kill this one off - she's just a nuisance. How's she's
not died already is beyond human understanding.


Lost last night was cool - but all it did was tease us for the next episode anyhow - which is too bad. It's put all kinds of characters into play in different situations, but of course the big exciting set ups are: will all the Losties in the past die (like Richard said) and can Locke really kill Jacob? .. and I suppose we're looking forward to seeing what the 'Incident' is, too. Should be a bladder capacity-testing two hours of television.


Also - my new career at Dominion Golf will be beginning next Monday - where I will resume my sub-career of short-order cook. The cool thing will be the perk of significantly more affordable golf after work! I don't know much about golf - but I do know I'm way more likely to learn how to do it if it's free.

That reminds me still, that I owe my Best Man a 3-wood from over a year ago - I'll get it to you when I can, bud! People won't lend you a 3-wood if you tell them that you broke yours.

Along with my bourgeoning kitchen career - The Lance Oversight Board has decided that they cannot find a successor for me at The Lance, so they've asked me to return for a short stint until they can find one - which I am happy to do. This means that I will continue to work at the paper, performing my existing duties after a week's hiatus, while I'm not at the golf course, at hockey or at baseball. Will undoubtedly mean a very busy couple of weeks.

And all of this will have to get done while I'm not in Bermuda for five days. But I have a great project to work on while I'm in Bermuda that you must know about, which leads me to my next point ...

... I've concluded, IF Jurassic Park IV isn't being made because they can't get a good script together - then I will write them a script so they can make it. No more sitting back and being grouchy that this is taking WAY too long to produce. I KNOW they need a script and I can't think of anyone who's read those two books more often than me. Time to get proactive and get this franchise back on the horse. I just don't have the patience to have the movie not made!

It's time for someone to get this thing rolling already!

Seriously - they didn't bother to get good scripts for the first three movies? Why are they waiting so long this time? They're waiting for me.

I will fill you in on my progress to make the damned thing get done.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Busy day today

There's a big conference called Hub '09 that I'm at today, hosted at the Augustus Tower at Caesar's Windsor, which has been really neat. Of course I'm there covering a story for In Business Magazine, and that's fine, but it means that I get to do some interviews while I'm at it.

I was in luck to find an ally there in my old Business Manager from The Lance. We shared war stories from the past year and reflected on how difficult things had become towards the end.

I'm taking a brief siesta from the conference because my next seminar is at 4 p.m. so I'm taking some time to transcribe some of the interviews I've taken in the mean time. That being said - after the conference, I'm off to a screenwriting seminar hosted at the Windsor Public Library (which I attended last week and found interesting).

Then I'm rushing back home to catch the second-last episode of Lost this season, where the show will be gearing up for its two-hour finale, which should blow us [and Pierre Chang's arm] away.

Bad news about baseball - the municipal city workers' strike has finally negatively impacted me - as they are the caretakers for all of the baseball diamonds in the area and they are not in game-shape. Meaning we've had our home-opener delayed - and I'm upset about that.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Went out for a stroll

My fiance and I went out for a brief stroll downtown last night - we had cheques to cash - and thought it'd be a nice little sojourn. But, it was a bit ... well it was less nice than previously expected.

First, we had some homeless guy try and stop us for money - whom we ignored easily enough, and headed toward the CIBC building. There's some construction that's rebuilding the old Patty O's building. It's nice to see some reinvestment in the downtown area - everything seems to be teared down, nothing seems to be being rebuilt.

Then we headed back the other direction to the TD bank, and had to move up Ouellette Ave., which is under some heavy construction. That's fine - although I can't imagine what was wrong with it - I think they're doing something with the pipes under the road. (After all of these years, haven't they found a better place to put pipes rather than right under our roadways?)

Then a familiar face stopped us and gave us a familiar story. I was out with my buddy Rob one night, and some fella named James said:

"Hi, my name's James and I'm not from around here. I'm actually from Burnaby B.C., and I'm trying to see my 7-year-old son who's in Leamington. As you probably know, it's basically impossible to get there from here. I've tried hitchhiking and I got in trouble with the cops. Now I'm looking to buy an $85 ticket for a cab ride out to see my son."

Rob and I bumped into this guy, like, 4 or 5 weeks ago. He's either not pan-handling (b/c he should have $85 by now) or he's not trying to get to Leamington, for real. I'm not sure what it was - it could be he needed crack money, but he approached us at like 12:30 in the morning, and you'd think he'd have got his crack and cracked-up by that time of night. It was just weird, I guess.

Well, then my fiance felt like a McFlurry, so we headed over to McDonalds, only to be yelled at by another homeless guy in a wheelchair from across the street. He wasn't even using words, it was just like a monster of some kind screaming jibberish at us. He wasn't very scary, and I was going to yell right back at him (kind of like a 7-year-old would, mimicking him) but we didn't see him again after that. He sounded like the dumbass martian from Ghosts from Mars (in a wheelchair). Regrettably, I can't find a good sample of what the Ghost of Mars sounded like (it was hilarious) to show you. But believe me, this guy sounded like him. He actually kind of pissed me off.

While strolling along downtown, we were astonished at two things. 1) all of the schwarma places (I'm going to be opening my own called Chateau Schwarma) and how many other places are closed down. Furriers and photoshops, restaurants, parlours, everything is closed, and in between all of the vacant spaces are schwarma restaurants. Weird.

And that brings me to the Windsor Star's latest article on the Canal Project that came out just recently.

Despite councillors’ refusal to include a downtown “canal district” proposal on Windsor’s wish list for senior government stimulus grants, Mayor Eddie Francis is still convinced his colleagues will support the “transformational” development once they get a look at the details [Eddie's been holding the details back, to some consternation of the councillors].

“There are other avenues of stimulus funding,” Francis said Monday.

Windsor missed Friday’s deadline to include the project for two-thirds funding by Ottawa and the province [Never good to miss a deadline].

A canal district with attached marina planned for Windsor’s dilapidated downtown westside represents “a significant opportunity for redevelopment and revitalization” that would draw millions of new visitors annually to the city’s core, according to a business plan councillors were handed Monday night. [Really?]

The privately funded study commissioned last summer by the mayor points to a much cheaper development than the concept first floated last summer. The biggest change in the final version is moving the marina from an inland location just west of Caron Avenue to the Detroit River and replacing that section with a longer inshore canal.

A draft of the business plan, written by urbanMetrics inc., pegs total capital costs for the canal and marina at $48 million. But almost a quarter of that amount — $11 million — are costs the city would incur anyway, including shoreline improvements, the report says.

Francis said the project will be part of the 2009 operations and capital budget discussions that begin Wednesday.

The documents were made public Monday almost six weeks after Francis received them from the feasibility study group, but he said they represent only part of the full report he expects to hand council this week.

On three occasions last week when the proposal came up for consideration to be added on Windsor’s wish list for federal and provincial stimulus funding, councillors refused, including at a fiery meeting Friday attended by Essex MP Jeff Watson and consultants invited by the mayor to explain the project.

Some councillors have accused the mayor of keeping them out of the loop since first introducing the concept of a marina and canal on undeveloped lands west of the art gallery, and then commissioning a privately funded study on its viability.

On Friday, Ward 3 Coun. Alan Halberstadt, after hearing Watson and other outsiders received the draft reports over a month ago, blasted the mayor and accused him of arrogance.

Francis on Monday defended his handling of the file, arguing he was still putting the final touches on a planning report to accompany the study and business case in order to convince council of the project’s merits.

He said Ottawa’s criteria for which projects qualify under the stimulus program kept changing and that the canal project didn’t appear eligible until April 20, when cities were no longer told they could only submit three applications.

Watson on Friday indicated Windsor could be eligible for up to $150 million in stimulus-funded projects, all of which must be completed by March 2011 [most of which is likely for bridge developments, I would guess], and he urged local politicians “not to leave any dollars on the table.” Watson said projects, to be eligible, should be designed to help “reposition” economies for the post-recession period and must not already be included on a municipality’s capital funding list, such as roads and sewer projects.

Francis said Monday the $186-million list Windsor submitted probably only contains about $90 million in eligible projects. He said Windsorites should ask their councillors why the canal project was not included on the wish list, particularly given the fact that every project Ottawa approves must still be vetted, discussed and voted on by council.

The urbanMetrics inc. business case estimates that for every million new visitors the canal project attracts, Windsor will see 3,600 permanent full-time jobs created, $150 million in annual labour income generated and almost $100 million in revenues collected for all three levels of government.

Canal district backers argue such numbers are not unbelievable. With the opening of Casino Windsor, the downtown core enjoyed 9.1 million tourist visits in 1999, a figure that has since plummeted to the current four million.

The inland marina was discovered by the study team to be “cost prohibitive,” but its move to the Detroit River east of the Caron Avenue pumping station would allow the canal commencing west of the art gallery to be lengthened, increasing commercial opportunities. Development attracted to the canal, the business plan suggests, could attract a quarter-billion dollars in new private development and generate $5 million in annual municipal property taxes.

The canal itself would flow about a storey below street level, following a design the study team said has proven highly successful in other cities where such developments have sparked local economic booms.

“It’s a terrific plan. Psychologically, it would be something to be proud of and something to talk to other people about,” said Larry Horwitz, chairman of the Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association.

A member of the feasibility study committee chaired by former MPP Dave Cooke, Horwitz is also confident council will back the plan. “I’m very positive and very hopeful that once they all look at this together … they’ll realize this has the potential to transform Windsor.”

As always on this debate - there are those who can't imagine why on earth anyone would spend any time or money on a project like this when the whole city is being razed to the ground with unemployment, vacancy and squalid economic conditions. And others believe this the perfect solution. In any case, the most hopefully person needs to see more customers (specifically out of towners) coming to the area - which this might do, can certainly contribute to.

You can read the comments on the matter for yourself.

Monday, May 4, 2009

What's new?

Well, I suppose everyone knows now - but I wasn't really sure that the blog was the right place for saying this sort of thing - but I've quit my job at The Lance and am looking forward to the next awesome chapter of my career.

Due to some complications and mis-communications with my Board of Directors at the paper, I felt that I would be more satisfied with a career elsewhere. The details of those circumstances are all personal, and I have no interest in publishing them publicly here on the blog - but they were significant enough that I wasn't enjoying myself anymore.

That being said, my fiance and I are in the market for new jobs - and she'll have a squeaky new MSW to her credit when we start looking elsewhere for jobs. I'm really hoping that we might be able to establish ourselves in the London/Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge/Guelph area, all of which is very nice and close to other very nice communities. Great places to set ourselves up - and hopefully close enough to other great places where we can both find jobs in our fields.

That being said - I'm kicking out about 5 resumes in career-related fields all over the province, and if you find anything/hear about writing opportunities or communications positions anywhere - be sure to let me know.

But writing cover letters and sending them out takes a lot of work, let me tell you.

So there's the big thing that's going on with me right now - and because I hope to find a good new job before my wedding in October, you might be hearing more news about that than you will about our nearing nuptial ceremonies.

The Extent


Another project that I mentioned was a made-for-Youtube dramatic series that I've been developing with Jason Nassr - and we did a bunch of filming last week, which I can show you a sneak peak of. Without further ado, here is a sneak peak at The Extent:



It looks cool - and being behind the scenes and seeing everything that goes on with the production is very interesting. I'm looking forward to seeing some of the scenes that I wrote in production. But until then - we're looking at an early August release of a 15-episode season. I'll certainly keep you posted on how that's going.

In the mean time, I've got to figure out how to make a rickety ladder (that's safe) that can be made of spare crap found laying around a common warehouse.

Later on this afternoon/evening, I expect we'll be heading back to the set to do some pre-production and get things ready for more filming in the near future. Some interns have come in to town to help out, too. Should be great.

Next In Business assignment
I've been assigned my next article for the magazine, and it'll be on setting up a major international transportation hub in Windsor. It's mostly just a symposium on the subject, rather than an actual call to action for the project, but it should be interesting to see what plans people have for the city.

No updates on the Canal Project that was announced all those months ago- but I feel that we're going to be having some more updates on that matter shortly, too.

Next two great things to happen to me in the next 72 hours:
1) Lost will air it's second-last episode on Wednesday night at 9 p.m., setting up the season finale which is destined to be awesome.

2) Then, 24 hours after that - I will be swinging away in our opening day baseball game down at Mic Mac park at 8:30 (come one, come all) which is going to be great. Rumour has it, I'll be playing some more infield, and a bit more right/centre field because of a niggling eye injury our captain has had for a few months (and one of our out-fielders is having hernia surgery some time soon, too - yikes).

The important thing in baseball remains: protect your junk, because you won't always pull off a double-play after taking a one-hopper between the hips.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Hell's Kitchen game




This is fun -

A few weeks ago I heard that there was a Hell's Kitchen video game, and only today did I think to look it up. Well, as it turns out, you can play it for free with a Facebook account (and who doesn't have one of those?)

Pretty neat. I'm still getting the hang of it - while I watch the Caps. v. Pens. game. Try it out on Facebook (or as Micahel Douglas calls it MyFace)