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Thursday, March 31, 2005
Last day in the old building, and I'm packing up the crap in my beloved little Helvetica comma of an office. I really am going to miss having a door, I think, but enough of that before I begin to whine. The best part of moving is trashing the tons of files I've been keeping "just in case," even the ones from annoying projects. Now I feel free to dump them all into the recycling bin, and should I need to refer to one of them in the future, I have the ready-made "Oh, that must have been lost in the move" excuse.
There's a bit of a piss-up planned for this afternoon to say goodbye to the old place. Mainly we just don't want to move the already opened bottles of hooch to the new place. And, well, we have had some memorable occasions in this office. Nothing like the old Carswell office where you could see the plaster of paris over the hole where either Andy or Fergus punched a fist through the wall at an uproarious party, which was punched in again at the moving party in late 1993.
I promise to behave for at least three months, post-move. I promise to try to be professional and to concentrate on the work, not my surroundings. I promise not to put a tape outline of a wall and door in my new "copy grotto," and force people to knock before they interrupt me, à la Les Nessman.
We're off tomorrow, and at the new place on Saturday to unpack. So no new posts until at least Saturday afternoon. Goodbye, Catholic School Board building! Goodbye, ghosts of aftershave and CK One perfume in the elevators! Hello, strange new surroundings in inner city.
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Update: I was accepted in the introductory Meisner Technique workshop, yay! I was accepted into the intermediate voice-over workshop, yay! I will be flat broke for the next month, boo. But happy! Oh, yes.
Not a bad Easter, all told, with a trip to the country, wagon rides in the promising Spring air, delectable feasting, and a birthday celebration for my beloved younger brother, who has finally turned 40. Lawrence and I collaborated on a fly-fishing birthday gift for him, which meant that Lawrence contributed the graphite rod, the reels, carrying case, and other accessories, and I tossed in a landing net and a Leatherman tool. It's just too bad Dad couldn't have unstitched himself from Qualicum Beach and flown out for the weekend, if only to watch his sons practice casting in the snow.
We never learn. I love my brothers and their wives despite their fairly conservative opinions, and they seem to love me despite my open-minded, non-religious, loud-mouthed outlook. So when the topic of gay marriage came up on Monday morning, which I really wish it hadn't, it would have been wiser to keep the big yap firmly shut, or change the subject, or (better still) leave the room. Instead, I tried to tough it out, and succeeded until my sister-in-law talked about homosexuality being a choice. "Well then. If homosexuality is a choice, so is heterosexuality," I said, heating the conversation up to degrees usually only measured in Kelvins.
No point at all in taking part in such conversations, as both parties are equally determined not to be swayed. I will say this, though, it's easier to debate if you're staunchly religious, because you can always fall back on the "it's in the Bible" defense. My rejoinder, that if you're going to run with the Bible, "you'd better get ready to defend tithing, stoning, polygamy, etc.," is finally enough to get the subject changed. A good thing, as I was about to blow a brain valve. I did manage to ask the important questions, such as "Tell me, please, exactly HOW it endangers YOUR family that two gay men in a long-term relationship are allowed to take part in a legal contract?" Both sides of this argument made their points, and both retired honorably without conceding defeat or resorting to name-calling. But time I'll excuse myself. I'd just be repeating myself, anyway.
It is disgusting to purée two pounds of raw liver in a blender. But that's nothing at all compared to putting the liver goo in the oven to bake and forgetting to set the timer. For the record: burnt liver smells oddly chocolatey. And yes, I am one of those dog owners who makes her own dog treats, because $4 of liver goes a very long way. The smell of it cooking also completely annihilates my appetite, another very good thing.
Thursday, March 24, 2005
In the weekly scorecard, we note (a) spending half a day researching classic Harley Davidson touring bikes, (b) doing a taste test of Bernard Callebaut chocolates, (c) watching "Hercules and the Moon Men" and honking with laughter, (d) hearing that our ferocious hound has been invited to take part in a private agility class, and (e) throwing out production notes that have been moldering in my filing cabinet for four years (which means, yes, I will need them straight away on Monday morning). Work and other routines filled in the gaps. I present merely the highlights.
Tomorrow afternoon I will be trying to convince a dramaturge that I should be given a space in her Meisner Technique workshop. I doubt it will work, since I am not among the known actors, but you know. What the hell. I'll play the character of Middle-Aged Aspiring Voice Artist, and try not to grovel.
A very good weekend to you all.
Monday, March 21, 2005
Notes from a Weekend: Having written a handful or so of radio commercials in my job, I am always pleased to meet and listen to the voice talent interpreting my scripts. Well, after spending the weekend in a voice-over workshop, I will doff my cap, drop to one knee, and perform other obsequies the next time I meet voice artists. Good voice-overs are not easy. You think it's just people having fun behind a microphone, but it actually is a distillation of characterization, pacing, and, well, reading English believably, in 15- or 30-second increments. It's not surprising that a lot of the great voice artists are also experienced actors and/or singers. I listen to a fair amount of commercial radio, and it's painfully obvious in certain commercial spots that the company has used its own employees for v.o. talent. (It's the same with TV, and not necessarily in commercials. There's a financial commentator for one of the local stations who has the worst enunciation I've heard since teenagehood. "Analysts" comes out as "alice", "prospectus" as "proshpeckus", and so forth.)
Where was I? Oh, right. The second day of the workshop featured a studio session with an engineer, so you could get your own CD of your voice-overs of an ad. The instructor, Jonathan Love, was absolutely fun to work with. Really a down-to-earth, no-crap kind of a man. After my studio piece, I felt comfortable enough to ask the question that had been bugging me all weekend. "Look, I know you have to be encouraging and all that, since this is a beginning workshop, but I'm asking you to tell me straight. Should I bother going on? I'm having fun, but if I'm just indulging myself, you know...?" He was, as I expected, straightforward and kind. Yes, I should go on...if I'm willing to work at it. And it will take some work, especially with my characterizations.
Of course, what I really wanted to ask was, "Look--there are 11 of us in the class, and at least five of those gave some awful readings in the script exercises. Some of them have nice speaking voices, but they can't read out loud. Some have grating voices and freeze in front of the mike. Granted, I've been fortunate enough to have worked with professional voice artists, so my standards are high. My point is, those five people in class think they've got what it takes to be voice artists. How do I know I'm not just similarly deluding myself, since I think I have a radio voice?" I asked Vinnie La Vin this last night, who assured me that I wasn't delusional, at least nothing out of the ordinary. Even though I had a hacking cold throughout the workshop, I left eager to sign up for the next one. I love that feeling.
Note to clothing manufacturers: Would you consider selling already-chewed socks? I'd buy some just to eliminate that brief wink of hope that a pair will last for more than a week. Shut up, some of you, I know what you're going to say, but consider this: I have a dog who will stick her head into my front-loading washing machine and nick the socks out. Ditto the laundry basket. The clean socks are safe, until they are worn and in need of laundering. Then they are dog snacks. Sometimes they don't even make it out of the shopping bag--Piper nibbled a brand-new pair that was at the bottom of a store bag in my van in the five minutes she had to herself while I did a quick grocery run. It was probably sublime comedy to see the expression on my face as I reached into the bag to pull out a sodden label and a few tatters of cotton/lycra blend. So, please, clothing makers: either come up with a breathable Kevlar sock, or pioneer the toeless, heelless variety.
Or, I could just kennel the dog every night. Yeah.
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Many happy returns, Vinnie La Vin. I won't be seeing you today, it seems, so am currently debating whether or not to keep your present for myself. Let's see....nope, it still doesn't fit....dang, I guess it's yours after all.
Despite being voted "Most Improved" by the rest of our Canine Good Citizen class, Piper took a step backwards this morning when she glared and growled at a hapless work-shadowing high school student who was being shown around the office. Piper, I don't like teenagers, either, but I'm dealing with it. More bomb-proofing practice coming up for you, you brain-damaged cur.
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
I, Idiot. Or: How Jane Stopped Procrastinating. Simple. I did a couple of tiny calculations and realized that not paying a certain amount by a certain date meant that I'd be donating extra money to Ralph and his pals. [Non-Albertan readers: Ralph Klein is the premier of Alberta.] Quite a bit extra. So will I put off paying such amounts in the future? I will NOT.
Not really worth $32, but... Last weekend I drove up to see my niece perform in her high school production of "Peter Pan." This was not the same musical as the famous Broadway one--it was the same plot, but with updated songs. I discovered what a fogey I've become, because I thought the updated songs were absolutely forgettable. Give me Mary Martin singing "I'm Flying," any time.
But enough--I could pick apart the show's flaws one by one, and have quite a laundry list to show for it, but that would be gratuitously mean. It was an overly ambitious high school production, and that's all there is to say. My niece played one of the Lost Boys, and did a fine job with the eight or so lines she had. She told me later that the director had pledged not to turn away anyone who wanted to be in the play, and it showed. But as a feat of organization and detail, it was definitely impressive. I thought $32 was too steep a price for a high school performance, but reasoned that part of the price must be going for fund-raising, an admirable cause. After seeing the sets, the costumes, and the dinner decorations (forgot to mention that this was a dinner theatre production), I'd guess they'd barely be breaking even. Best inadvertent joke of the evening: the dinner menus had the text imposed over a faded skull-and-crossbones, i.e., the universal symbol for poison. Arrrr.
The truth of it is that currently I am no fit company for anyone, friends, family, or associates. Small talk sends me raging. Unsolicited opinions infuriate me. I know what this is, the loathing of being around others--it is the solitary confinement part of a depressive phase. Not even the daily 150mcg of Copywriter's Little Helper makes a dent. So it is a case of what cannot be cured being endured. Fighting back gets easier with practice, but what helps most is knowing that the void will eventually close over. Having a retarded dog in my life is good for distraction. Watching copious amounts of Mystery Science Theater 3000 is also good.
Counselling, yup, it has its place. But I have talked and talked about this cycle and, specifically, the antisocial phase, with trained professionals in the past. I have discovered that talking about it doesn't cure it. But talking did make me more aware of its cyclical nature, which is a light to a way out. And I'm not so likely to imperil my employment status in the mean time.
Blahdy blah. Cue: strident-voiced narrator: Boy, I sure would like to have YOUR problems! You just need to EXERCISE MORE! Think of all the people in the world who WOULD KILL TO BE YOU! You writer-types are ALL ALIKE, thinking your bad days MEAN SOMETHING IMPORTANT. SNAP OUT OF IT! SMILE!
Of course, I want to delete all the foregoing as embarrassing whining. This time I won't do it.
On to other matters. At the annual condo general meeting, I kept exchanging glances with a woman sitting in the front row. I thought, gee, she sure looks like my friend Joanne Atkins from Andrew Sibbald Elementary School back in the '70s. The woman volunteered to be a new board member, and came up to be introduced. Sure enough, it was Joanne Atkins, whom I have not seen since 1975, although she has since changed her first name to Joni, and I can't remember her married name. She lives four condos away from me in the complex. She seems to be just as amiable and funny as when I knew her 30 years ago. GOD! I'M OLD.
I also saw my Grade IX drama/art teacher at the Peter Pan show on the weekend, but didn't run up and introduce myself. But hey, Mr. Macintyre, the intervening 28 years haven't changed you a bit--28 years, sob, wahh--except, of course, your hairstyle is much better. 1970s hairstyles, argh. Feathered, frizzed, fucked.
Thursday, March 10, 2005
My dear, as in expensive, little dog. We've just come back from the vet, our second visit in three weeks. Piper has a rash around her right eye, resulting in hair loss and intermittent scabbing, and after a week of watching it get gradually bigger, I suddenly thought, hey, GENIUS! What if it's MANGE? So I stuffed Piper in the van and headed to the clinic. Turns out I really am a GENIUS, because it is MANGE! Not the oh-my-god kind of mange (sarcoptic), but the itchy, localized and self-resolving kind (demodectic). One hundred and fifty clams later, Piper's stumbling around with her head esconced in the hateful cone, and I get to smear ointment on her eyes twice a day until her rash disappears. Ah, pets! The affectionate little money pits! I love them, really.
Do You Want to Play A Game? Go to this site, and enter a caption for this picture:
I challenged the ever-swamped Grant and Jon to come up with a caption before noon tomorrow (Friday March 11, for those playing at home). Grant instantly obliged with the following gem:
"Several million pounds sterling per year in savings are anticipated by completely mechanizing the pre-chewed biscuit assembly system."
So, of course, I now completely hate the caption I entered:
Determined never again to be called "Mickey No Mates" at the workplace, Plant Manager Michael Davey enjoys a quiet tea break with his new invention, "TeaMate 1.0".
The winning captions will be posted at noon GMT on the BBC site. Why not cudgel your wits and bash out an entry of your own?
Donated platelets without incident yesterday morning, and afterwards, as I was enjoying my dinner-plate-sized cookie in the commissary, I was cheered by the tea ladies telling me all about the platelet donors who'd died over the past couple of years. "You remember him, he was such a nice fellow. I was so sad to hear he'd been killed on the highway." "And that lady, you know the one? She went off a cliff in her van, such a shame." As Jane chews away heroically on her uber-cookie.
One of the joys of volunteering at the Old Trout Puppet Workshop casino was watching "Saturday Night Fever" with a group of people who were roughly my age. We laughed pretty much throughout the movie, wryly for the most part. That movie, those clothes, the hairstyles, that dancing...we all remembered being young teenagers and thinking that SNF was the coolest thing. And we all played the soundtrack to death, as evidenced by the fact that we could sing along word for word with all the songs. Where have you gone, Robert Stigwood? A group of forty-somethings turns its lonely eyes to you. Woo woo woo.
Friday, March 04, 2005
The more things change, the more I pout. Okay, okay. I admit it. I don't like certain kinds of change. I can handle most kinds, but there are some that bring out the oversized toddler in me. To wit: my company's moving at the end of the month, from the fifth floor of a cool little office building to its very own building west of the downtown core. Most of it's a good thing: free parking, easy access to the river pathways, close-ish to restaurants, our own elevators, etc. But I have to give up my beloved, shabby little Helvetica comma of an office, with the door that closes and keeps the annoying ad executives out, and the IT-Guy-herding dog in. And I have to move to a sterile, soulless workstation that doesn't even have the pretensions to privacy of a cubicle. Waaah. I count my blessings: knowing what they know about my work habits, the partners still keep me on. It doesn't work. I want my office. I want my door. I don't want a gleaming white work surface with vitamin-annihilating overhead lights.
Of course, I was just looking at the architect's rendering of the workspaces. I could be having a tantrum ahead of the facts. But-but-but-WAAAAAAAAH.
Oh, well. I expect I'll get over it after a few months of colossal snit, which I dearly hope I can keep to myself.
My casino habit gets out of hand: For the third time in as many months, I'm volunteering foolishly late hours at a casino, this time for the Old Trouts Puppet Workshop. One of the lesser known facts about me is that I've always wanted to be a puppeteer, well, at least ever since 1969 when I caught my first episode of Sesame Street. So I'm hoping my alacrity in volunteering for the Trouts will help them to think favourably of me. I know. Dreamy little dreamer, me.
The legalization of marijuana is a subject very dear to me, but even I, Occasional Toke-Hack-Wheezer Jane, don't think that legalizing marijuana would have prevented that scum from killing four Mounties yesterday. I found myself yelling at my radio this morning after hearing an interview with the murderer's niece, who at one point said that it wasn't entirely her uncle's fault, because "the police had really been hassling him over the last little while." Yeah, because he was hoarding stolen goods and growing dope. The cops weren't after him for his conversational skills, you utter ditz.
Back to the country I go on Sunday, with my best hound by my side, to check out the current batch of invalids at Jean and Tyke's place. Three horses and one dog have sore paws. And Doc (the dog) also managed to gash the inside of his mouth most impressively. If I'd been a vet, I probably could have retired by now, just by hanging out with Jean for the last 15 years.