Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Apparently the problem is people...

“You need to decide: television or movies.  You can’t try to write both and expect either format’s producers to take you seriously.”
 
“These days you have to be a generalist.  You have to show you can be flexible and have proficiency in a wide range of formats.  No one will take a chance on a new writer who appears to have a tunnel-vision approach to the industry.”
 
“Stick to one genre.  If you write comedy, become known as the go-to comedy writer.  Anyone seeing you’ve written comedy specs and drama specs will think - and rightly so - that not only do you not know what you are doing, you don’t even know what you want to do.”
 
“Have spec scripts in a wide range of genres.  There’s too much money on the line for anyone to take a chance on someone whose abilities may be limited.  If you can’t show them you can do more than one genre, they’ll assume you can’t.”
 
“Send me a half-hour, a one hour, and a feature sample of your writing please.”
 
“Just send me your one hour, please.  Just so you know, don’t bother writing half-hours or features if you’re hoping to get a job with one hour dramas.  You’re never going to get anyone asking for anything but a one hour.”
 
“Welcome to the company.  Unfortunately, we’re in a bit of a time crunch for the next few months, so we can’t train you very much for a while - just do A, B, C and D… and when we have more time, we’ll go through it all with you so you can actually learn your job rather than just put out small fires as they happen.”
 
“As you know, three months of any new job is a probationary period.  We’re sorry, but you don’t seem to be working out.  We need to be able to give you more responsibilities but we don’t think you know what you’re doing with the ones you already have.  We’re going to have to let you go.”

 
Sigh.  People.  Is it any wonder my mantra of late is “I don’t know” ?
 
Okay.  So people are off the table.  People had their chance and people have no business speaking to me. 
 
My mirror is my guide.  My gut.  My sensibilities.  Just because you haven’t done it this way doesn’t mean I can’t.  Indeed, it probably means I should because no one else will see it coming. 

(That, and if anyone hires you because you have no experience so they can train you how they want you to do the job?  Smile politely, rise, shake their hand, thank them for their time but let them know you’ve been there, done that, and it’s never worked out the way they think it will.  Not when they're hiring a waitress.  Not when they're hiring an assistant in a payroll company.)

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Volunteers ≠ Traffic Pylons

I believe I am done.  Volunteering for small film festivals, that is.

Last year I volunteered at one that told everyone to come two hours earlier than necessary.  When someone from the festival finally showed (two hours later), his only comment was "Yeah, we originally needed everyone at five, but then we figured out that would be too early."  I see.  But you didn't figure out you should tell any of your volunteers this.  Later, after I had been told not to let anyone else in because we were at capacity, I apologized and turned away the next person who showed up.  He turned to one of the festival organizers - the one who had told me to turn away people - to complain.  The organizer said "Oh, she's just a volunteer.  I'm telling you you can go in." 

Alrighty.  So when that festival mass emailed all previous volunteers to ask if we're coming back, I promptly allowed it to go right in my recycle bin.

Last week I volunteered five days for a different festival, one that focusses solely on the work of female directors.  In retrospect, there were a number of red flags I ignored, not the least of which was that I had sent in my volunteer application two months ago and never heard a peep that I was accepted as a volunteer until two weeks before the event asking me for my availability.  Three days before the festival was to start, I still hadn't heard when I had been actually scheduled.  I should have known then that while this association believed they need volunteers, they didn't believe volunteers were of any priority.

Three of my shifts were meant to be supporting their workshops.  I thought that would mean setting things up, assisting at registration and striking the room.  Nope.  It was sit on a folding chair in a hallway outside the seminars "in case anyone comes by looking for the workshop, you can point them to the right door."  How do I know this?  Not because anyone from the festival met me at the start of my shift and explained my role.  (I had even texted the volunteer coordinator when I showed up and wasn't sure what to do... to this day, she never responded.)  No, I knew this because my volunteer partner who showed up later explained that that's what she did the day before.  When someone from the festival did show up an hour later, I was expecting to get more direction.  Nope.  Over the course of the next four and a half hours, my fellow volunteer and I took turns excusing ourselves from each other to stroll around the building, check out the cafĂ©, or just be anywhere but in a folding chair staring at one another in an empty hallway.

On my second day at the workshops, we did get a table of brochures in the hallway to try to foist on passersby so we could at least look like we were there for a reason.  The founder of the festival did stop by, and told us vast amounts of information about what needed to be done first thing the next day.  When we explained we weren't scheduled for first thing the next day, she asked who was?  I suggested she call the volunteer coordinator and ask her that.  The founder just walked away.

I was called into action once this day.  When the facilitator came out in the hallway with a bunch of dirty dishes, she called out into the void (even though we were sitting just two feet to her right) "Could I get a volunteer to grab these from me?!"  I jumped up and took the towering stack of dishes.  The facilitator said "I don't know where they go." and disappeared back into the room, closing the door on me.

The third workshop day, the door to the workshop room was actually open.  I went in, went up to the facilitator, and introduced myself as a volunteer.  "If you need anything, I'm your gal."  He said "Nope."  Oh. Kay.  The seminar started, I sat down in a chair at the back of the room - and he pointed to the hallway.  Sadly, I wasn't bright enough to bring my chair with me out the room I had just been excused from, as once I closed the door behind me, I saw there were no chairs.  Apparently, for this five hour shift, I was to stand in the hallway.  I thought alone, until another volunteer came up and greeted me.  Turns out, she had been standing in the hallway all morning with no direction or task.  I shared with her my own experience over the past few days with this festival.  We both looked at each other, not saying what either of us were thinking.  I'm not proud of what happened next:

"So," she finally broke the silence, "what are you saying you're going to do?"

"Um," I replied, "I think I'm going to do what I think you're going to do."  Silence  "I think I'm going to leave."

Beat.  "I think I am too."

We looked at each other for another moment.   Then she put out her hand "Well, it was nice to meet you.  Have a good day."

We shook hands and parted ways.

For the rest of the day, I was expecting a call, or an email, or a text asking where the heck was I.  Nope. 

Not even the next day, my last shift for the festival, where I saw both the volunteer coordinator and the festival founder.  I think neither had any clue the volunteers had walked out the day before.  Or didn't care enough about that fact to call out one of those volunteers even when she was standing right in front of them.  I did some actual volunteer work for about half an hour, then was told there's nothing else to do so I could go in and watch the movie if I wanted.  (Why the hell didn't I volunteer all five days at this location?! )  So, for the next three hours, I just sat in the theatre and watched the movies.  Came out a couple of times to ask if they needed anyone or anything.  Nope.  So back in I went.

Moral of the story?  You can't swing a dead cat without hitting an organization that wants a volunteer.  Some want to give people some experience in exchange for their efforts because there's not enough money to pay for the help.  Others just want traffic pylons they don't have to pick up from the department of transportation.  I need to do a better job ferreting out which is which, and apparently small film festival is a good place to draw the line.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Random Posting for Amusement Purposes:

Found in some old newspaper clippings I've kept because they tickled my funny bone:

"It's hard to say you're sorry, especially when you're infallible.  But Benedict offered words of apology.  He's sorry people felt bad.  That's known in Vatican terminology as a "me-a-kinda."  It's a time-honoured tradition in the Catholic Church dating back to the Inquisition when Pope Innocent IV said, 'We deeply regret the fact that so many non-believers happen to be flammable.' "

(I don't recall the story to which this refers.  I would cite the author or the paper if I could, for this is no doubt deserved of citation.)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Fire on the mountain - run boys, run!

Ecch.  I had me some plans for this here New Year.  Big plans.  Good plans about what I'd do, starting bright and early Jan 1.  Then Jan 1 came, and all I could do was languish in bed coughing and choking on my sore throat and cursing my social activities over the holidays -- because that's where germs are, boys and girls.  On other boys and girls!!

I had every single solitary intention of starting this blog over with much more positive thoughts than I had in past.  But heck, since the year's already blown anyway :

Note to Tortorella: Saturday's face off was an abomination. Period. But if you send your dancers out to what you suspect will be a promenade, you have no right to track the fiddler down at first intermission feigning outrage that a square dance broke out.

Happy 2014!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Upon deep and serious contemplation

I have been ranting since last Thursday, both on FB and in my front room to my television.   I have been too angry to really articulate my thoughts here until I saw this online today:


It was just so... apt.

The unprecedented level of hypocrisy, flagrant and pathological dishonesty, flippant disregard for lawful behaviour, and an inexplicably overinflated commitment to his own untouchable sense of entitlement... I was at a loss.  I truly never thought a politician could sink lower in my estimation than he/she could by simply being a politician.  Kudos.  He's taken a subset of society for whom I had no previous respect or admiration (with barely a handful of exceptions), and made those who came before him kings in my eyes. 

No one - and I am talking NO ONE - has ever made me feel better about the homophobic knee-jerk conservatism of my home province politicians than this guy. And no one has ever made me feel better about the men and women back home who put them in power, than the people here who support this guy.  THIS is who they've asked to stand in their stead, to speak for them, to act on their behalf?

They owe me, and all other decent Toronto citizens like me, an apology.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

This is why we can't have nice stuff!

People gripe about funding for the arts.  It’s all touchy-feely, hippie crap, am I right?  And by that I mean, you think money spent on the arts is like tossing cash into the crapper, for as much good as it offers the world at large. 

Well, it’s harder for me to convince you of the fallacy of that argument when a recent city-wide all night arts festival offered the following “pieces”:

“An artist/poet silently wanders the financial district completely covered in Velcro-like hooked burdock seedpods accompanied by two assistants and a docent.”

“Two driverless luxury sedans circle each other in an endless figure eight, teetering on the verge of collision but never quite doing so.”

“Participants spin a wheel of fortune to select questions that are put to a 12-foot tall child oracle who offers answers privately over headphones.  These relatively benign proceedings are made menacing by the vengeful spirit of an even larger inflatable hanging spider exploring the night as the locus of imaginary fears.”

“A photography professor hoists personal messages about emotional states up a flagpole.”

“Celebrate Toronto’s squirrel population with knitted and felted portraits.”

“Wearing a soft sculpture made of stuffed toys, an artist wanders the area hugging passersby.”

“A 12-hour-long sentence made of 12,000 proverbs from around the world is read from the church pulpit.”

Don’t get me wrong.  The existence of this art is not my issue.  Calling it art isn’t even my issue.  It’s whether or not I, as a taxpayer, paid for any of the above.  Do I know for a fact that any of the above received any manner of public funding?  I do not.  Who is to be the judge of what is art and what is not, and thereby what is “worth” being funded – me?  I don’t really think so.  So what am I saying is the solution?

Well, art doesn't have to have a solution, does it?  Art can simply be about expressing or eliciting an emotional state or reaction.  It can be successful by simply instigating the discussion.  So consider this post my art *. 

[* No taxpayer was harmed – or fleeced – in the creation or execution of this art.]

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Sentiment Remains Sound

One of the officers involved in the streetcar shooting is going to be charged with second-degree murder in connection with the shooting.

(This one incident - and my choice in using it as shorthand to discuss the larger issue - does not invalidate the arguments presented.)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

And now for A Public Service Message:

[I haven't had the drive to share anything here lately, but I was just about to post an obscenely long response to someone on FB, and decided not to do that to her.  It's more appropriate here, I guess, as it is a bit of a rant:]

A few days ago, I stumbled upon a protest rally outside Toronto Police Headquarters.  I'm not positive about exactly what incident people were protesting, but some of their signs were deriding the police for killing mentally ill suspects who were committing acts of aggression. 

I couldn't help but think: this mob is protesting the wrong location.  Their beef should have been with a lack of funding available to provide assistance to the mentally ill before one of the ill climbed aboard a TTC streetcar and threatened the safety of others (I think that was the inciting incident for this rally).  I couldn't help but think that if mental illness was funded at an appropriate level -- a level that actually met the need, rather than just paid the most economical lip service they could get away with and still call themselves mental health funders -- the police wouldn't cross paths with (so many?) mentally ill suspects endangering the populace.

I couldn't help but think: this mob is picking apart a split second decision in the calm, non-urgent, no-one's-in-danger light of the next day.  I'll give the protesters the benefit of the doubt by assuming they were aggrieved over the officers' choice not to use the non-lethal options available to them.  (I could even factor in the scuttlebutt I've been told that Toronto police in particular are known to be corrupt bullies whose nefarious butts are covered by the Special Investigations Unit which almost always clears them of any wrongdoing regardless of how wrong the doing was... but that's a different rant for a different day.)  But that doesn't change the fact that the mob had debated options in the comfort of their living rooms or conference tables, while the officers were standing on a streetcar in the middle of the night faced with an aggressive and certain threat.  The mob had weighed the probable success of non-lethal alternatives while kicking back with coffee and Timbits and bathroom breaks, while the officers had to act in defense of others and themselves  r i g h t   n o w   !

(officers are allowed to save their own lives too, people.  if I get to put on that airplane mask that dropped from the ceiling over my own mouth and nose before helping others, police are certainly allowed to choose to stay alive in order to protect me). 

I couldn't help but think: this mob must be aware of something I'm not -- how to tell on sight that someone is mentally ill and thus shouldn't be held accountable for their actions.  I mean, that's ridiculous of me to think that the mob has that kind of sight, right?... but they must have that knowledge - they're demanding that the police do.

Finally, I couldn't help but think: if the police had not neutralized this dangerous man, if somehow they had known the man was mentally ill and thus was not accountable for his actions, if the police did not act in defense of others on the streetcar in case the dangerous man could not be expected to understand how he was endangering people -- I couldn't help but think I'd be walking past a different rally outside the headquarters. 

A "What do we pay you for, if not to protect us from dangerous men on streetcars?!" rally. 

The police can't win.  I'm glad they continue to play each day on my behalf any way.

[See?  Rant.  But seriously, fund options for the mentally ill appropriately.  The police shouldn't be taking the heat for the fact you endanger the public with your penny pinching.]

Monday, June 3, 2013

I am serious Universe. Quit it!

Monday morning.  A new day.  A new week.  I was going to start this one out right.  Needing to pick some things up from an organic grocery store about a twenty minute walk away, I set my alarm, got up, get dressed and sat down to tie up my walking shoes...

...bumping into the table next to my chair, dumping a vase of flowers onto all the papers and notebooks sitting on that table, effectively destroying my handwritten notes on a story I had worked on all weekend.

Don't panic.  It's a glitch.  No need to let it ruin my day.  My plan to start the week off right remains sound.  So clean up the spill, press the papers between absorbent towels, cross my fingers, put on my coat, in with the ear buds, and off I am to the store. 

About two blocks away, my favourite song is playing so I kick up the walk with a little bounce in my step...

...tripping over a pit in the sidewalk, twisting my ankle and skidding across the cement on my elbow and shin.

Okay.  I get it.  My fault for thinking good thoughts.  Won't happen again.  Screw you Universe.  What did I ever do to you?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Once More Into the Abyss...

I am pleased to announce that I have four plants currently living in my apartment! 

Two are peace lilies that haven't flowered -- but I've had them for maybe four to six months and they remain alive!

One is a pointsettia I've had since Christmas.  Still alive.

The fourth - and the one that has prompted this post - is my attempt to make up for my epic failure with its earlier relative.  Remember this poor soul?
Well I picked up another one yesterday.  Except the one I have now is naturally camera-shy, given what happened to its predecessor.

All my plants have begged me not to show their pictures online, lest there exist some curse involved in being associated with my care. 

But maybe one day...