Thursday, July 30, 2009

breaking news

There's a very, very real chance that we're going to be packing up and heading out near Lindsay, Ont. for a job that my fiance has been offered.

It's out near New Market, Uxbridge, Port Perry, Oshawa, etc. oh, and Peterborough where two of my best buddies from high school work. Cool stuff.

It's going to be interesting to see how this all plays out - but it's definitely exciting news. I'm pumped about it.

Also, I'll be away at my cottage for a few days over the long weekend, so I don't know whether I'll be blogging around then or not - but I likely will. We'll just have to wait and see if "Pete's Cove" internet connection is still up and running.

Also, I've just released a news bulletin to the local media for The Extent:

------ FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ------


July 30, 2009

Windsor, Ontario Canada

LOCAL INDEPENDENT PRODUCERS SET TO RELEASE ORIGINAL ONLINE SERIES: THE EXTENT

After seven months of development and production, two local producers are finally prepared to release a new online dramatic series filmed entirely here in Windsor, on August 5.

Described as “Lost meets War of the Worlds,” the action centres on eight main characters. Dealing with the normal pressures of their everyday lives, eight strangers awaken to find themselves mysteriously trapped together.

The trailer was released on YouTube two weeks ago, and is generating some excitement while the finishing touches continue to be made on the first few episodes. But there’s no doubt that the show will be ready for launch by Tuesday evening. The Extent is almost prepared to announce a major addition to the cast very shortly.

Releasing the show on YouTube provides several advantages to an independent producer. Series creator Jason Nassr says, “It’s not going to be a massive time commitment for people. It also is something that they’ll be able to watch whenever they want to watch it. It will be on demand, so very convenient. And definitely something that will have some characters that audiences care about.” Each episode will only run for approximately 10 minutes at a time.


Catch the story as it unfolds starting on Wednesday August 5, 2009 - Released at 7 p.m. EST. The first two episodes will be released together on August 5.

The Extent stars Dylan Dewdney as Tom Hunter and local thespian Leslie McCurdy as Mary. The show also features University of Windsor alumna Allie Boak as Rebecca Jenkins, as well as Windsor locals Melissa Amlin as Jessica, Maggie Yoell as Samantha Johanson, Steve Markou as Luther Vanette, and Jamell VanDusen as Adam Dollarhyde. Marvin Ramos also stars as Aman Anumpama.


Viewers can tune in by going to:
www.extenttv.com
or
www.youtube.com/extenttv

-30-

Contact Executive Producers Ryan Rogers or Jason Nassr for more information:
1-866-443-9529
Or
ryansrogers@hotmail.com
jayisnowhere@gmail.com

And I suppose it's okay for me to release the opening title sequence for The Extent, while we're at it. Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Extent


With August 5th and our series debuting on YouTube just days away, we're working hard to get things finished up. I just finished writing a re-scene (a scene that wasn't doable - so it was rewritten to be totally doable instead) and a promo commercial (for a fantasy company I invented that one of our protagonists works for).

It feels good to continue to produce creativly. It's way better than producing algorithms, right? Or producing shitty diapers. Or clearing tables. Or cooking burgers. Plus, you can wear a house coat, and not much else, while you're at it.

In the re-scene, we went from having two main actors, a guest star, a restaurant set, and at least a dozen extras - to two main characters in a house. Nice! I totally made that scene exponentially easier to produce. (I give myself two thumbs up.) Also, this scene falls in episode 14, at least 12 weeks away, so ... we're on schedule for that.

Now, if we were hypothetically trying to film a scene in an Iraqi school house for episode four, but were having trouble finding a location to film in, and having trouble finding Arab child-extras - well, you can imagine our worries of what to do.

Anyhow, besides that, I'm wicked-psyched for this show to his the airwaves. I hope you are, too.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Randy Sea Turtles


Lost news
Earlier I linked to a Mysteries of the Universe series that ABC is releasing on their website - and along those lines - they have set the release dates for the rest of the episodes: Aug. 4, Sept. 8, Oct. 15, and Nov. 16.

Leafers make a trade
Yeah, they picked up Wayne Primeau? That's fine - I just didn't know that Primeau was a player that GMs actively went after via trades. The Leafs also received Calgary's second round pick in 2011. To get this odd package, the Leafs gave the Flames Colin Stuart (whom was acquired from Atlanta via the Pavel Kubina trade about a month ago - so he'll never end up playing a game as a Maple Leaf), Anton Stralman (who I liked - he was alright) and a seventh round pick for 2012.

The Watchmen
I rented the Watchmen with my best man last weekend, and despite not being blown away with the promos and stuff - I gave it a shot. Now, I'm notorously hard on movies these days. I resent them, almost. I just resist investing so much time into a storyline and set of characters to be disappointed. That being said, The Watchmen is awesome! It was a really great movie that took the time to tell the story that it wanted to tell (more than three hours!). The special effects were great, but the story and the characters are better - and that's important in comic book spin offs. Give this movie a shot- it's worth it.

State of the world?
I don't know why I'm compelled to share these stories - but two of the most disturbing news articles have come up over the last few days. Police find 150 dead dogs in Dearborn home's freezer: this guy had like 300 chihuahuas, and didn't know how to take care of them (he's mentally unfit) and when they died, he put them in his freezer. The story is absolutely bizarre, like, neighbours never saw his dogs, had no idea that he had so many - and he kept his yard immaculately trimmed and cornered. Just - a classic case of some sort of disorder, no doubt. He doesn't appear to have harmed the dogs, he wasn't evil or anything, but he just ... wasn't really sure how to take care of them, and for some reason had hundreds.

Which is followed by: Texas mom decapitates baby, eats body: Police. Sometimes the headline says it all.

As a dumbass I met in a small restaurant out in LaSalle would say: Do you know why there are so many hurricanes these days? (Me: No, why?) Dumbass: Because children are talking back to their parents too much.

Riiight. Scapegoat the younger generation for the state of the world. Just like a clever zealot, this guy honestly believed the evils of the world are some sort of Godly indication that we aren't living our lives the way we should. Therefor, we have more hurricanes - more baby decapitations - and more freezers full of chihuahuas. (I take a breath to regroup)

The Extent
After seeing some of those promos I put together for the show, I hope you're excited to watch it some time soon. I've been working on finding something called an ISDN line, which basically means you can make an audio/video recording of someone from somewhere else, like, say Hollywood. That's right, we're closer to announcing our exciting scoop for The Extent. We're close to locking up a pretty big name to the show - and I think you'll be impressed when you hear who it is.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Lost Comic Con Panels

I've read transcripts of this stuff - and I'm not sure how long it'll last up on the net (they might get taken down) but here are the Lost Comic Con Panels!




AND

Pretty exciting scoop coming up soon

My fellow executive producer on The Extent and I were brainstorming some ideas on how to further promote our show while we've been developing it. One idea was to find someone to do the voice over teasers for "next time on The Extent." We came up with a pretty good list of people that we think would be a great fit for the role.

And we're very close to bringing a big name on to the show, and I'm really excited about it. Like, it's pretty cool - I think everyone will be impressed! I won't jinx it by name dropping before anything is agreed upon, but there's an exciting announcement in the works! Stay tuned!

Extent video now has 1,902 views - and no Comic Con 2009 info posted on YouTube yet. But rest assured, I'm glued to the screen waiting for an update.

4 of hearts

Today's project will be Lefevre's Redemption. Cool - I just snagged a new book about writing novels, so I'm eager to get through some of that while I retool that old novel from almost two years ago. It's been quite a project. I hope to make some better progress on it today.

untitled

Well, the Extent video is fairing well, with about 1,880 hits in a week, which is very good. We apparently have a sponsor from JuicyStar07, who does hair and makeup reviews - but has a huge audience - so we've received a lot of traffic from her sponsorship, which was the idea.

And in other news, the Strike Is Over - and is scheduled to cost $17.2 million over the next four years. The CUPE union was striking to preserve post-retirement benefits for new hires, and after 100 days of standing up to keep those benefits, they've lost them. So, interesting strategy. Hold out for what you want, then vote in favour of not having them anymore. Hmmm.

They will, however, receive a 6.3 % raise (again, I've never received a raise in any job I've ever had) so they should be happy with that?

So, is this what they held out for? A 6.3 % raise? Three months of striking, a few people even getting criminal charges laid against them, for 6.3% more? Over four years? I'll be interested to see further details as they come out.

And I've provided a small update for the Unbelievably Amazing Adventures blog.

I still can't wait for some videos of the Lost Panel at Comic Con to go up! The panel was to begin at 11 a.m. this morning, run for an hour, and then I imagine people will be uploading the thing soon after that. However, San Diego is on a westcoast time zone, meaning everything gets bumped back a few hours, .... argh ... tonight there will be something, I'm sure.

Friday, July 24, 2009

New Lost video?

So, we don't know a lot about the Dharma Initiative - but that doesn't mean that we might not be finding out about them, courtesy of the creators of Lost. Here's a teaser video that is about a mystery series that will be investigating the Dharma Initiative, a secret society whose ambitions are possibly cultish, and possibly humanitarian, but it's impossible to know for sure. Neat video.

Baseball, Zombie Dinosaurs, Lost, Comic Con, Unions, Strikes, Resolutions .. .oh man!

Three of Clubs
No kidding - I drew the 3 of clubs this time, again, totally randomly, so it's Zombie Dinosaurs. It's random, but not necessarily fair - I guess. But that's fine with me. I like this project - I just don't like neglecting the other stuff.

Strike! (somebody's beginning's end)
CUPE's voting on what City Council unanimously approved. It should be interesting to see what comes of this - but it would be exceptionally nice to have some semblance of normalcy back around here. Officially, our baseball season was canceled last night. So thank you CUPE - your legal rights' exercise has now ruined our summer.

Via Rail is getting closer to their strike deadline which is tonight or tomorrow morning. And then there won't be any conductors for the trains. Nice.

Lost has a new ARG (I think)

Apparently there's Lost University that has some videos and classes. I don't know exactly how it all works but ... I'm sure there will be some more answers or questions from the Comic Con panel this Saturday. TOMORROW - com'on! I can't wait for it.

And what can we expect from the Lost panel?
What can the lucky throngs pouring into the San Diego Convention Center's Hall H on Saturday morning expect from one of the convention's hottest tickets, the "Lost: The Final Season Begins" panel?

"We're going to be showing some things, some new material," Lindelof teases. "And then we open the floor to fan questions, and answer them as honestly as we can."

But will that fan Q&A be spoilery? Lindelof says he and Cuse plan to "leak out some of the things we want to share," yet he also affirms the producers' resolve to keep details about Lost's swan song under the biggest lock and key in the drama's already-covert history.

"We're going to be very protective of the story in this final season," says Lindelof, "because we want people to watch."
Neat stuff. I'm looking forward to seeing what comes of all of this. Back to work (new In Business assignment) and on to ACT II for Zombie Dinosaurs.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Back to the card system



It seems lately I've only really been making progress on one project, the Zombie Dinosaurs idea, and my other ambitions are falling by the wayside. So I've decided to go back to the card system, drawing randomly from the deck, and selecting a project for the day based on that selection.

Low and behold, the 3 of spades - meaning Zombie Dinosaurs anyhow. Fate wants me working on this project. BUT I'm definitely going to be getting back to the Alpha Sigma Chi history - I want to work on that, I need to work on that, and I think it's got a great promise for the future. So - I'll put some effort into that as well.

Strike news


Tentative deal struck!
The strike might be over as soon as Thursday. Says the Windsor Star:
WINDSOR, Ont. -- A tentative agreement has been reached between CUPE and the City of Windsor Thursday morning following 48 hours of marathon bargaining... CUPE members, off the job since mid-April, will be voting Friday on a tentative deal to end the long, bitter dispute.
The Barrel Monster
Apparently the guy who created this has been sentenced to community service. Someone didn't have a sense of humour about vandalizing city property into a grouchy hitchhiker that shamed speeders as they passed by?


And this is neat: are you familiar with the Green Day vs. Oasis track? Well, this is pretty much the same idea with Nirvana and Rick Astley. It's a good idea, but I'm not sure that it's as successful as I would have hoped. For the record, the GreenDay/Oasis thing was awful, too.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Comic con's a-coming

Yeah, I'm excited for Saturday when we'll have footage from the Lost panel - hopefully with a new video or something teasing us or giving us a clue about the upcoming season and how to interpret the season finale from last May.

There are a lot of questions that were raised just in that episode alone, let alone the entire series - so it should be interesting to see what comes of the panel. More exciting, perhaps, is that it has been released that the Lost folks are going to have an auction next year for many of the iconic props from the series. So once the show is over, parts of the props department could be yours. That's neat. I haven't heard where the funds are going to, yet, but let's hope it's not just directly to ABC [though they're fully entitled to do so].

Strike un-news
Bargaining committees don't strike a deal, again - not big news, but the latest. But then, despite saying they would not picket the Special Olympics, CUPE workers demonstrated and held up workers who were cleaning up for the opening ceremonies.

Strike pre-news
With there being a lot less money laying around in the economy, it's understanding that there just isn't as much to go around. This is why we're seeing so many strikes - because there just isn't as much to share. There's an absolutely remarkable article on unionized labour in MacLean's Magazine about two weeks ago demonstrating the differences between the public sector and private sector, and ... well, you should read it for yourselves. [Seriously, it's a bit long, but it's a great article]

That being said - VIA Rail has given their 72 hours notice that they will be on strike soon. This is bad - because my buddy James is in Montreal, and is due back on the 23rd, I think. I hope he makes it back before the strike goes on - or he'll be stuck in Montreal for ... who knows how long! Be back before the weekend, or else you're stuck.

Hope you like striking - b/c nobody's working these days.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Biblical Monsters


Here's an interesting item that came across my desk:

An atheist looks at monsters from the Bible

He goes over Behemoth (who he believes was a Brontosaurus), Satyrs, the cockatrice, Leviathan, the unicorn, zombies, giants, and the beast from Revelations (sounding like the Greek hydra).

Also, there are some exciting new trailers for The Extent ready to go, although there really isn't any new footage in it.








Monday, July 20, 2009

Things to look forward to this week

Today I've got an editorial meeting, a trip to the gym, more Extent filming and a trip to the grocery store planned, so it should be a productive day, which is good. Then on Tuesday I'll be getting a new health card (my old one is trash) and then hockey in the evening, where I hope to finally score a goal.

Wednesday will be more filming on the show (which is set to debut on Aug. 5) so stay tuned for that. It's awfully exciting.

Thursday we may have another baseball practice and this weekend, finally, will be the Comic Con where we can get a taste of the upcoming season of Lost (which I'm eager to learn much more about).

I will have the end of Act I finished for Unbelievably Amazing Adventures, some more artwork for the show, and I'll likely lay out (and do some more research for) Act II. Finishing Act I now will put me almost six days ahead of schedule for writing the thing, so that's great.

That's what's coming up this weekend - I hope everything works out nicely.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Welcome back Veteran Cab


Last night was my best man's birthday - and we were happy to be able to make good use of Veteran Cab now that they've returned from their 14+ week strike. We told the man about four times how happy we were that they were back on the job - and when he thought I was only giving him a 20 cent tip, he was happy anyhow (I gave him $2 - but it took me a while to find which pocket my change was in).

Anyhow - the cabbie was happy, the cab was clean, and we were able to get picked up "right away" instead of "that'll be about 40 minutes." Awesome.

They have the catchiest phone number, too. It's so easy to remember.

ALSO - had to do some work for The Extent today, and I think things are coming along real well!

ALSO - tomorrow I'm going to help finish up installing a back deck. It's probably mostly complete and there's just some finishing touches that I'm being called in to help with - but I'm going to take a wicked amount of glory for it. Seriously, I'll swing the hammer twice and be bragging that I installed a deck for months to come.

That's that. I hope everyone's doing great.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Good day for projects

Today I reached an agreement to work (very cheaply) as a blogger (once a week) for Excel Consultants. Basically kicking out 250 - 500 words of content on employee management, fund raising strategies, how to approach donors, how not to approach donors, etc, etc. Paid to blog is cool - (by the way, notice the Google Ad Links on the side banner of my blog to further help pay for my blogging - although I specifically agreed not to ask you to do that in the contract, so shhhh).

Zombie Dinosarus
Second: I'm writing another scene for Unbelievably Amazing Adventures. I'm on sc. x, meaning there are only four more scenes until the end of Act I - and then the adventure really picks up. The first Act is considered the "set up" which introduces you to the characters, who they are, what their lives are like, and puts them in a situation that turns their life, for better or worse, in a completely new direction.

Act II will be about obstacles that present themselves (probably about four of them, resulting from the protagonists' current situation, and their personality) and Act III is about a resolution from all of the events that have gone on.

But that's way in the future - for now, I'm close to wrapping up the first Act and scheming out the development of the second act, which will constitute the bulk of the story. That's going to be both awesome, difficult and rewarding - and probably take a long while, too. I can take some confidence knowing that this first Act has gone so smoothly that the second one will be as exciting to write as the first one.

The Extent
Lastly, we did a bit more filming on a few scenes for The Extent, and today I'll be watching Episode 3, "Solus" (which I think I wrote most of) for the first time. That's going to be really exciting to see the finished product. I think we've got all of the filming for episodes 1 (Pilot) and 2 (Arizona) in the can, so they'll be ready shortly.

In the mean time I'm going to write up some promotional dialogue for the 'voice over' guy to read when we're teasing upcoming episodes. I've got to get back on that soon.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Likely voting "No" and No-thronychus

First of all, Utah has uncovered a new species of Therizinosaur that they're calling Nothronychus graffami. These were feathered sloth-like dinosaurs (huge, too - 13 feet long) that browsed in trees or rooted through the ground to find awesome amounts of food. In fact, his name means sloth-like claw.
The newly discovered dinosaur, dubbed Nothronychus graffami, lived some 93 million years ago. When alive, the animal would have stood at 13 feet (4 meters) and sported a beaked mouth and forelimbs tipped with 9 inch- (22 cm)-long sickle claws.
As for the CUPE strike vote - it appears that the union leaders are vociferously fighting to have strikers vote "no" on approving the latest proposal from the city. Now, someone told me that city workers are losing their homes, and if they have to accept this to get back to work and making money - then that's what they're going to do. Again, we'll have to see what happens after all of this.

Somewhere, someone is going to wind up taking the heat for all of this. And it's usually a union prez, a city councillor or the mayor himself. Nobody is happy with how this is going - and it's going to cost someone their job.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Thursday could be the day

The CUPE civil workers are planning on voting on the City's latest offer on Thursday. So they've got plenty of time to review and consider everything in the offer. While the first reports on this story were very brief, many details have come in afterward.

Basically, CUPE presidents don't like the offer, and they'll recommend that their constituents not vote for it. We'll certainly be able to gauge how desperate the city workers are to get back to work by how they vote. If it's a unanimous rejection - then they're still working in solidarity toward achieving their goal. If they accept in unanimously, it would show that they are no longer on the same page as their leadership. Of course this vote will fall somewhere in between, and where in between will be an indicator to the City on how to move forward.

Interestingly, toward the end of the report the presidents began discussing how they were going to encourage their members to not reelect city council members.

On a side note - working on the Zombie Dinosaur project has been so much fun lately. It's been a very satisfying endeavour. I can say that now, because I haven't burned myself out with it, yet - and I'm enjoying the creative process. I'll hopefully get a few more scenes drafted up today (and MAYBE do some artwork on it). We'll see.

Stay up to date at my project blog: www.zombie.dinosaurs.blogspot.com

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Headlines

CUPE and Windsor are still at the negotiating table. Yesterday CUPE provided a 'final offer' and Windsor then counter-offered. Mayor Eddie Francis's line, “In the CUPE world there might be, but there is no such thing as a final offer." These really aren't fighting words, but rather, he's saying they're still talking. Although it would make great dialogue in a Western.

EXT - DAY
Eddie Francis saunters to the centre of town below the old clock tower. It's high noon.

CUPE OFFICIAL:
That's our final offer.

Francis twinkles his fingers over his holstered six-shooters hanging loosely at his hips.

FRANCIS:
In the CUPE world there might be, but there is no such
thing as a final offer.

Then a wild shootout knocking darkly dressed vermin cowboys through saloon windows.

FIN

Suing Lost for Plagarism
Did Lost steal some dialogue from someone? Was there reference to a book a little too specific? Nope, instead, someone's saying that Touchstone pictures has made an exact replica of their program.

This is neat - some guy apparently wrote the concept for the show Lost back in 1977 - and the studio wouldn't pick it up for years - and then out of nowhere they made the show. He contests that it wasn't an original idea, and in fact, has lists of similarities between the programs (all the more reason to register your plots and concepts with the WGA.) Is it a direct rip-off? We'll have to wait and see. Interesting, no doubt. Does he know the super secret ending to the show? would he spoil it for everyone? Interesting!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Zombie Dinosaurs

I've made a few more updates on the Zombie Dinosaurs page regarding the Unbelievably Amazing Adventures tag - I've drafted a few images of the protagonists for the Tomb of the Undead series, and finished writing Act I, sc. i (a small feat, but even a journey from Jordan to Turkey begins with a first step).

Where else can you find Zombie Dinosaurs?


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Two weeks away

Previously "One week away": Comic Con is the weekend of July 25 - not next weekend. whoops

By this time next week we're going to have a new teaser video (probably) for the upcoming season of Lost. It will also happen to be the final season of Lost, so this new video should be pretty exciting. Over the past few years at Comic Con in San Diego, thousands of fans cram into a room and listen to the the executive producers of the show tell a little about the past season, the season finale, and then tease about what they're going to be covering in the upcoming season - then they take fan questions. Some of these questions are jokes while others are tough - and with all of the mysteries that surround this show - there's a lot to live up to for the final season.

Now, also in the past there have been these Dharma Initiative videos that star a man that we now know to be Pierre Chang, who was a lead researcher on the Island back in the '70s. Our first glimpse of him was in the Swan orientation video back in Season 2. Since then he's appeared in orientation videos for almost all of the stations, and more importantly, appeared in videos at the Comic Con. Last year he teased the fact that the show was going to be moving into the realm of time travel - which was awesome. In years before he would just make mention of what the Dharma Initiative was about, lead some clues as to what Dharma's relationship with the hostiles was, etc.

But this year things will be very interesting, especially if they use the Chang character once again. By the season finale, the idea was for the Losties to go back in time, blow up the Swan Hatch, and prevent all of the things that happened to them from ever having have happened - which is a major no-no in time travel lingo (you're not supposed to do that sort of thing- it creates michief and disaster). But they did it anyhow - SO all of the video that have featured Pierre Chang have been from the post-incident era from 1977. So if we see a video from 1986, for example, and he's still in it, he'll obvioulsy be telling story about what happened after the Incident.

Obviously, the fallout from the Incident is going to have a great impact on the narrative storyline of the show for the last season - and that being said, we'll hopefully find out what happened immediately after the hydrogen bomb was detonated at the massive source of electromagnetism located beneath the hatch.

So here's what we'll need to watch for clues of:
  • moving even further back in time
  • moving forward in time
  • that the timeline has in fact changed (thus comparatively different information than from the original Dharma videos)
  • that the timeline is the same
  • other bizarre properties of the Island
  • that the Island is moving
  • the Hostiles (and their truce/architecture)
  • communications with the mainland
Should be interesting - and of course - we can look forward to it with great excitement.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Colour me a liar

Well, it rained for about five whole minutes and now it's as sunny as ever down here - so there definitely hasn't been a rain out like I thought there would be. AND the veteran cab folks I mentioned earlier decided they weren't happy with the terms of their negotiated settlement, and voted in a 65% majority to keep on striking. So - there are some corrections.

Plans dashed?



We were supposed to go to a picnic and then head down to epicure (food festival down by the riverside) today - but we're seriously being set up for some rain, and even more likely, serious thunder storms today/this evening.

I think we were due for a good washing though.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Ho, Ho! What is this?

Talks to end city strike reconvene Friday at 9 a.m.
Series of proposals traded

WINDSOR, Ont. -- A marathon session of renewed bargaining between the city and the union representing nearly 1,800 striking workers ended at about 12:25 a.m. Friday so negotiators could get some sleep before reconvening at 9 a.m.

The two sides had returned to the table on Thursday with a new mediator.

Talks between CUPE and city officials began early in the morning Thursday and stretched into a long day that saw proposals and counter-proposals flying fast and furious.

But ... people are tired of striking CUPE workers that people are grouping up against them - union stile.

Business group takes on CUPE
Public sector wages, benefits come under fire

WINDSOR, Ont. -- A Canadian small business organization has turned Windsor’s 13-week strike by municipal workers into a battleground in its pursuit of public sector wage and benefit cutbacks.

Small business owners are “over a barrel” when it comes to paying taxes for public sector costs and services, limiting their ability to survive or expand and hire more workers, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

“They pay heavy taxes at the city level,” said Judith Andrew, vice-president for CFIB in Ontario. The organization has advocated for small business owners for 35 years and has more than 105,000 members across Canada.

“The unions have no concept of the environment we are in. They feel entitled regardless of what is going on in the city, province or country.”

CFIB has used local radio stations to promote its stance and issued a letter of support to Mayor Eddie Francis.

“It is not as though this long work stoppage is aimed at improving working conditions for those at an unfair disadvantage,” says a letter signed by president and CEO Catherine Swift and posted on CFIB’s website.

“Windsor’s CUPE workers currently enjoy contracts which, if described as generous, would be seriously understating the case. Precious few private sector employees can even dream of such rich benefits.”

This Windsor Star article, if described as fair and balanced, would be seriously wrong in the case. Wouldn't you think? No surprise that comments weren't enabled on this article.

But things are coming to an end - which is important. A sign that these contract negotiations will end is hopefully premonitioned (if that's a word) by the ending of the Veteran Cab strike that's been dragging on for 14 weeks.
WINDSOR, Ont. -- Veteran Cab and union leaders have reached a tentative deal to end a strike that lasted so long some drivers gave up hope and got jobs elsewhere.

He did say the agreement addresses the issues the union was concerned about. A main one has been the union’s fight for a reduction of the $453 a week lease drivers have to pay to the company. Time off and safety issues revolving around putting video cameras in cabs have also been sticking points, Farnham said.

“It needs to reflect the economy and the hardship facing Windsor and the fact ridership is down 25 to 30 per cent,” he said. “I believe we’ve met that.”

So, isn't that nice? It looks like things might get back to normal around here for a change - something that would be awfully nice.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

More striking un-news

The CUPE Local 82 strike is still going strong - and here is news that really isn't news pertaining to their ongoing and unending struggle.

Protesting the Protest

To protest the continuing CUPE strike - people have begun picketing the picketers outside of their offices (truncated for brevity).
For the second day in a row, police had to respond as neighbours picketed Tuesday outside the headquarters of striking city workers to protest the garbage dumped next to the sidewalk that union members admit is mostly their own.

CUPE tried to have the pickets evicted, but Windsor police told the protesters they were free to occupy the public sidewalk as long as they kept moving and didn’t impede traffic or harass CUPE members.

“I think the frustration of the strike is setting in,” CUPE Local 82 president Jim Wood said after speaking with the protesters.


He thinks the frustration of the 12+ week strike is setting in? What other profound things might the CUPE Local 82 president be thinking about? With that sort of insight, I'm sure there's a solution to the strike around the corner.

Rumour mill

I heard that some older folks went to drop their garbage off at the CUPE Local 82 office to protest the strike and when they got out of the car to dump their garbage, a striker stole the keys from out of their car, and locked them in the CUPE office, so they could call the cops and have the oldster charged for dumping. Again, this is just a rumour, but the police showed up and fined the man a $100-somthing ticket for dumping, and then charged the CUPE member with theft under $5,000 (which has jail-time with a maximum conviction). Clever.

Then again, in a citizen's arrest, can't you legally detain someone until the police arrive? Hmmmm - what would be the most legal way to retain someone until the police arrive? Think about it - you don't want to go to jail for trying to uphold the law.

- Total Rumour (I can't seem to find a link to tell this story)

Selectively picketing

CUPE prez Wood has also confirmed that CUPE is not planning any organized pickets of the Special Olympics to be hosted between July 23 and 25 around City owned diamonds at Mic Mac Park. So is this a lack of integrity or are they trying to protect their image?

This was fun

From Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, this comic gave me a laugh this morning.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Swedish goalie set to enjoy his honeymoon

After a few weeks of negotiations the Maple Leafs have finally signed Swedish goalie Jonas Gustavsson to a one-year $900,000 contract (incl. signing bonus). I don't know why it's only one year, considering all the work that Burke put in to get this guy - but he's coming remarkably well regarded.

"Labeled the best goaltender outside of the NHL last season, the 6'3", 181 lb backstop was the top goalie in the Swedish Elite League last season while playing for Farjestad. He posted a 1.96 goals against average and a save percentage of .932 in the regular season, and led the team to the league championship this spring."
- TSN

Now, is this an entry-level contract? Will he be a restricted free agent after a year? Why did he only sign for one year? Why wasn't he drafted?

Second - how will he respond when Burke starts calling him out, demanding that he perform better and work harder, after all of this swooning and coaxing he's put him through? After Burke pitches, negotiates and 'begs' this guy to come play for him, how will he respond when Burke starts trying to hold him accountable?

Again - why is it we've never heard of this guy before the Leafs started being interested in him? I mean, I trust the scouts out there - but where has this guy been hiding? There seems to be information missing from all of this.


Unbelievably Amazing Adventures

I've outlined some of the screenwriting tips that are necessary for producing the Zombie Dinosaurs idea - basically, I'm a bit stumped on a bit part of Act II and I think it means I'll have to design and develop a new character so I can get a better feeling of how things are supposed to work.

I've got plenty of time today to get this sort of thing done - so I'll just go ahead and do that.

My stomach bug hasn't seemed to go away yet - which makes things a little uncomfortable, but ... as long as I don't put too much in the stomach, it seems to leave me alone, (esp. nothing spicy). Anyhow - you probably aren't interested in all of that - so let this be the last I say on the subject.

I'll be back with good news about the zombie dinosaurs idea - best case scenario: I'll be able to lay each scene from Act I out on 3x5 cue cards in preparation for writing the most important part of the script - the first 10 pages.

Have a great day!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Leafs making more moves

Maple Leafs are solidifying their decision to draft Nazem Khadri by signing him to a three-year entry-level contract. He was a solid winger for the London Knights last year and was a legitimate scoring threat even before John Taveres was brought to the team.

Next, the Leafs signed Francois Beauchemin three-year deal worth an average of $3.8 million per season.

Just like this time last year, the Leafs are signing up plenty of defence. Perhaps they're going to be moving Kaberle still, after all? I figured that after moving Kubina and acquiring value in return for him that they'd be happy to hang on to the talented and affordable Tomas Kaberle - but with all of these additional defence coming to the team, perhaps there are plans to move him still?

Also - The Toronto Maple Leafs announced Monday that the hockey club has re-signed forwards Ben Ondrus and Ryan Hamilton to one-year contracts. The Maple Leafs also signed a trio of free agent forwards including Jay Rosehill to a two-year contract, Tim Brent to a one-year contract, and Richard Greenop to a three-year entry level contract.

Richard Greenop has been busting skulls for the Spitfires for a couple seasons down here in Windsor - and he's done it at a level that's good enough to earn him a three-year contract, so that just goes to show you how good he is.

Again, I have to reiterate how great it is to finally have a GM at the Leafs who will draft players out of the OHL that we, as fans of the OHL, have a prayer of having heard of before they make it to the NHL. It's WAY more exciting to know a player as a prospect while he was playing in junior and watching him try to make the lineup - than it is to watch players you've never heard of (cough, Tlusty, cough) struggle to keep themself from being naked on the cover of the Toronto Sun.

No doubt, if Greenop makes the cover of the Toronto Sun, it'll be for something related to having 150 penalty minutes or more per season, instead of this George Michael shit.

Extent official trailer

I have to say, I've got a bit of the flu the last few days, and it's awfully uncomfortable. It's not like the flu, flu, but more of a stomach bug (entomona ventrii? ). Luckily, no nausea, no sniffles, no aches and pains, just a vile knot in my stomach once in a while - followed by some digestive suggestion that I'm not operating at 100 %.

But that aside, it's a bright new day at The Lance where I've been editing and piecing together the latest version. I'm done in record time today - well before noon - which means as I wait for my production manager to arrive to make the final insertions, I'll be killing time. Normally when I'm done early, he arrives late, and basically, there's no advantage to being done early, which is a pain in the ass. But hopefully today, as a compensation for having this stomach flu, he'll be on time and we can all get on with enjoying our day. Right? Well, we'll have to see about that.

More exciting than all of that is a new trailer for The Extent. This is not the 1:30 version, but rather an abbreviated :30 version that was released this morning.



So check that out! In a month we'll be releasing the first full season a few episodes at a time. I hope you'll like it. You'll have to see if you're able to tell which episodes/scenes I wrote or not.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Found it! and why I had to abbreviate my name

First off, I've told a few people about this clip I saw of a kid with an ice cream at a soccer game on Sports Centre about a week ago - it resembled this kid that my buddy Vic and I used to laugh about from when we worked back at the IGA in Nobleton, Ont.

Anyhow, here's the same damned thing!



Also, I thought I would show why I have to abbreviate the title of this blog, from Spring Chickens to SChickens - it's because the blog name was already taken - and you can visit it here. It's actually run by a chicken from Seattle who's published posts like: Ducks suck!, Bakbak "email" bak bkawk bakbak, and Truck Carrying 5,000 Chickens Overturn


Still striking

Here are four stories that were published recently on the CUPE strike. I think the last one is the most interesting. I think that someone should come out and say definitively - "There will be no savings after the strike. We'll use whatever hasn't been spent on payroll to get the city back to normal, and then provide a refund. There will be no money afterward."

It's unbelievable that the CUPE strike is still going on around here - it's been three months now, and there's been no resolution. You'd think over all of this time, that there'd be more clarity on the issues and what the next step is for both parties, but ... that doesn't seem to be the case. In fact, there appears to be more confusion than anything.

This was published two days ago:

City hires out-of-town workers
Replacements doing social services work electronically

The city is hiring replacement workers from other municipalities to handle a growing caseload in its social services department, residents and striking workers learned at Monday night's council meeting.

Between 15 and 20 workers have been toiling in a managerial capacity for two or three weeks, but the admission only came after Ward 2 Coun. Ron Jones raised the issue toward the end of Monday's meeting.

Cries of "shame" erupted from the public gallery, which was overflowing with striking city workers and their supporters, when city officials confirmed management from as many as six other municipalities, including Chatham, had been conscripted to handle a growing Ontario Works caseload.

But apparently this is incorrect:

Windsor apologizes to Chatham over replacement worker gaffe

Windsor has sent a written apology to Chatham-Kent over erroneous comments at Monday’s council meeting in which it was alleged Chatham was providing assistance to Windsor’s social services department during the civic strike.

In a July 2 letter to Mayor Randy Hope, Windsor CAO John Skorobohacz lays the blame on Coun. Ron Jones for posing a question — without seeking prior “clarification” from staff — about whether Chatham was processing some of Windsor’s Ontario Works applications. No, responded Ronna Warsh, general manager of social and health services.

The confusion arose when reporters later asked Skorobohacz for details, and he replied that, “Chatham-Kent aside,” six other municipalities were helping Windsor during the strike, which was then reported by media.

And it looks as though it's not just our baseball league that's suffering from all of this:

Strike forces officials to pull plug on baseball tournament

Windsor has lost the 2009 Ontario Men’s Baseball Championships.

Tournament chairman Bernie Soulliere said the Ontario Baseball Association decided Friday to cancel the event because of the prolonged strike by the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the unkempt conditions of the city’s baseball fields.

The CUPE strike is in its 12th week and the tourney is set for the last weekend in July.

“It is virtually impossible to carry on without the two main fields in the Mic Mac park complex,” Soulliere said. “The Mic Mac facility was to be the event headquarters and site of the championship final.”

The event requires four or five ball diamonds for 43 games during its four-day run.

Is there a silver lining?

Windsor's labour cost savings $24 million, but other costs mount

Windsor’s labour cost savings for not having to pay 1,800 striking municipal workers since mid-April have reached approximately $24 million.

Mayor Eddie Francis has promised that the city will reimburse ratepayers any net savings from the strike, now in its 12th week.

But city councillors are cautioning residents not to expect much of a refund. “The city has incurred significant costs — probably much more than what people expect," said Coun. Ken Lewenza Jr. "When people see the level of return, they will be insulted based on the inconvenience they have endured during the strike.”

He said citizens normally pay only 75 cents each time a garbage truck picks up their trash or recyclable materials. “They’ve probably spent more money dropping off their garbage during the strike than they would spend in a whole year,” he said.

Meanwhile, Windsorites have started receiving their 2009 final property tax bills, which were mailed on Monday. With several city services such as daycares, garbage collection and park maintenance now absent for a quarter of a year, some councillors are fielding phone calls from riled residents.

CUPE Local 543 president Jean Fox said she understands the frustration of taxpayers. “They’re paying for services they haven’t been able to use. I think the citizens of Windsor deserve a refund.”

Fox said she won’t hesitate to pay her bill when it arrives. “I’m a citizen of Windsor and I’ll be paying my tax bill. But I won’t be crossing the picket line to do it.” [What picket line? The one between your cheque book and the post office?]

Offsetting any gross wage savings, which the city has calculated at c, are such ongoing costs as non-union and management overtime expenses, security and contracted services. The city is also losing income from parking meters [hell yeah!] and bylaw enforcement, the issuing of licences and the charging of user fees.

Earlier in the strike, the city estimated it would lose about $130,000 per month in revenues from idled bylaw enforcement.

[hmmm? $300,000 per day v. $130,000 per month]

Last week, it was reported that Windsor was paying almost $60,000 per week to a private security firm contracted during the strike.

[hmmm? $300,000 per day v. $60,000 per week]

Because of the extra work assumed by non-union staff during the strike, it won’t be until after the dispute that the actual net savings will be known, said Helga Reidel, the city’s general manager of corporate services.

“Until this is all over we’re not prepared to do those calculations,” she said.

City treasurer Onorio Colucci said some of the people who would be tasked with doing that work are currently double-shifting, doing essential financial services during the regular workday and then tasked with other assignments on overtime.

“We’ve got (city hall) people deployed cleaning washrooms and toilets, people who would normally do analyses,” said Colucci. With continuously fluctuating costs, for example to implement an Environment Ministry order this week to open a third waste dropoff depot, the real savings is a moving target,” he said.

“It’s nowhere near $300,000,” he said.

[This shouldn't be that hard to calculate. How much is payroll normally? How much has it been over the last three months? = savings. And if he's suggesting that "(city hall) people" are performing $300,000 worth of washroom and toilet cleaning per day - then we should consider leaving $300,000 worth of work in the restrooms around city hall for them to clean up, eh?]

What to do with the refund?

Who knows what they're going to do with all that extra money? It seems like a refund will be likely, that's what everyone is saying, but ... I wouldn't be too surprised if there's a vote on what else the money could be used for instead of handing it back to people. I will be surprised if that money is ever handed back to tax payers.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Banjo the Australovenator - cool name!

Three new species of dinosaurs were discovered in Australia (probably discovered years ago, but only recently published).

Writing in the journal PLOS One, they describe one of the creatures as a fearsome predator with three large slashing claws on each hand.

The other two were herbivores: one a tall giraffe-like creature, the other of stocky build like a hippopotamus.

The fossils date back nearly 100m years to the middle of the Cretaceous period.

- says BBC news


More data here:





One is a raptor of some sort, and the others are titanosaurs -

Queensland Museum palaeontologist, Scott Hucknell, said the carnivore, Australovenator wintonensis, was even bigger and more terrifying than velociraptor made famous in the Jurassic Park movies.

"The cheetah of his time, Banjo was light and agile. He could run down most prey with ease over open ground," he told reporters.

The dinosaurs have been named after characters in Australia's famous song, Waltzing Matilda.

The carnivore has been named named after Banjo Patterson, who composed Waltzing Matilda in Winton in 1885, the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper explained.

Clancy, Witonotitan wattsi, was a tall slender animal, while Matilda, Diamantinasaurus matildae, was more stocky and hippo-like.

These two plant-eating, four-legged sauropod species are new types of titanosaurs - the largest animals ever to walk the earth.

Banjo and Matilda - possibly predator and his prey - were found buried together in a 98m year old billabong, or stagnant pond.

Nice, eh?


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Meet the Maple Leafs

I guess you've all heard that the Leafs have gone and made some moves, but how about we introduce the new fellas?

Mike Komisarek
Big defenseman that the Canadians would definitely wanted to hang on to for next season. He's a tough and talented back-ender - which made it possible to deal away someone like Pavel Kubina for more of what Brian Burke is looking for.

Garnet Exelby

This guy is a tough Canadian kid who'll be happy to be out of Atlanta. He throws down tough checks and is definitely a rough character - another type of player that Burke wanted to bring in to make playing against the Leafs a pain in the ass.

Colin Stuart
A big kid, a little younger than I am, who hasn't had much play in the NHL yet, born and raised in Minnesotta. He isn't a big scorer and doesn't seem to get a lot of icetime, but it will be interesting how he fits into Burke's plan.

Colton Orr
No write-up. For your reference:


Adios is Spanish for Sayonara
For the record, Pavel Kubina tried his damnedest to play the best he could, no doubt. It's because of his efforts that the Leafs were able to deal him away for things that the Leafs were hoping to add. He gave it his all, and he should be proud of what he did for the team here, no matter how thankless the Leafs were for having him.

Tim Stapleton had a very exciting stint in the pros for a brief moment with Ron Wilson even included him in a shootout to win the game in his first call-up. I think a lot of fans were excited to watch Stapleton come along through the system, but he's Atlanta's prospect now - they'll enjoy both Kubina and Stapleton.

The Extent

I've just been shown the new trailer for The Extent, and let me tell you, it looks awesome! You'll need a pretty good computer with strong processing power to see the HD-glory that is involved with the production. Or else it's pretty choppy, which is too bad.

It's still under lock and key, but I promise, it promises to be good. We'll have it out to you shortly, probably hosted on this site. Add that shit to your favourites.