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You Can’t Come Out Of Nowhere

December 5, 2017 Leave a comment

Technically, that’s not true. In my own small way, I came into television out of nowhere. But I’m a very lucky person. I got an original idea for a children’s television series and wrote up a presentation. I went to the first appointment I could get (I forget who it was) and was rejected. The guy liked the concept, except for this and that and so on. I went home and made changes to eliminate the guy’s “exceptions”.

After two rejections followed by two improvements to the concept, I was beginning to think I might not make it. That’s a terrible thing to do. Never let a negative vision enter your mind.

I went to the CFTO-TV studio in Toronto. I was there on my day job, producing a television commercial. During a break, I was walking through their vast reception area when I noticed a familiar face. He was standing at the reception desk speaking on the telephone. I couldn’t remember how I knew him, so I asked the receptionist who he is. She told me he was Ed Marcel, and I remembered him from the neighbourhood when we were kids. I remembered that I had heard he was the producer of their sports programs.

When he got off the phone I approached him and asked he remembered me. He did, immediately. I told him I had this series presentation, and would he look at it and pass it on to the right person if he thought it was worthy.

I heard nothing for several weeks. Finally, I saw Ed and the studio cafeteria and asked him if he’d read the presentation. He replied that he liked it, and had sent it on to Arthur Weinthal, director of CTV network programing. I felt great, and settled down to wait again. One day, I felt I had nothing to lose if I take a shot. I wrote and mailed a letter to Mr. Weinthal and asked that he not reject my presentation without speaking to me.

A few days later Mr. Weinthal’s secretary called me and said her boss would see me at 3:00pm on Wednesday next. His office was not up north at the studio. It was downtown, on St. Charles St. not far from my office. I did no preparation, I believed I was there to make CTV believe that I could deliver them a good series with good, original scripts.

When I was shown into Mr. Weinthal’s office, I took a seat across his desk from him. The first thing he asked me is who was I and where did I come from. I was pleased, because my family name was quite well known in the city, and I’m often asked if I’m related to this uncle or that cousin, or even my father.

I just started talking. I spoke about my life, my family, my children and my philosophy. Mr. Weinthal took two Granny Smith apples out of his desk drawer and handed one to me. We ate the apples and talked. At the end, I’d finished the apple and so had he. He said he will arrange for me to conduct some tests. My concept, in the end, required some technological tricks that had never been tried before.

I prepared myself for the call that would mean I should go to the studio. It was a deliciously exciting thought. The feeling of exaltation enveloped me on the drive home. I went into the house and looked at the mail. There was an envelope from CTV. I tore it open. It was a rejection of my concept. I knew from the date on the letter that it was mailed before I met with Mr. Weinthal. My shot in the dark to get a meeting had overturned the final rejection.

Do not give up on your dream. You have not lost until you quit. If you never quit, it means you’re still working at it. You might come out of nowhere.

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Men are childish, women are women.

November 6, 2017 Leave a comment

There’s a big deal on television. It’s called the Super Bowl. It gathers a vast amount of attention and costs people a vast amount of money. It doesn’t mean anything. The Super Bowl is meaningless, yet a great deal of false meaning has been injected into it. Fanatics pay thousands of dollars for seats that are worth thirty bucks. They could even watch it for no charge, in their own homes, with their own snacks and get a better view to boot.

Any sort of fanaticism is not a good idea. Things like Nazism, Aryan Brotherhood, Super Bowl and so on. This obviously doesn’t include harmless fan preferences like fans of Bruce Springsteen, The Beatles, Harrison Ford, Dolly Parton and so on. Not all Super Bowl fans are childish and some women do as some men do for the big game.

Although some people paint their faces and even their bodies in the colours of their preferred team, it is childish. It’s fun, it’s troublesome and it’s childish. There are women who cook and serve special snacks to be consumed during the game. It is a game, remember. It’s only a game that for some reason commands great attention and much money.

Well, not for some reason – for the reason that it’s a business enterprise. The people that own the teams, the stadium and the series of games, spend much money to hype up the interest in their business. Fanatical fans should remember that it is not really a game, as in a game people play for pleasure like bowling and poker. It is somebody’s business. The painted faces and heaps of snacks are all in celebration of someone’s very successful business promotion.

We all know that men are childish. It’s true that little boys grow up to be big boys with big toys. It’s true that little girls grow up to be women, and they take care of life more properly than do men. We have to mention that while men behave childishly, women also have their oddities.

Women prepare their faces like painting on a canvas. Black lengthening material is applied to lashes. Colour is applied to upper lids, sometimes with sparkles in it. Dark lines are drawn around the eyes and beyond their corners. Skin is enhanced with skin coloured crème. Lips are enhanced with colour, sometimes two shades on one lip. Cheek bones are accentuated with highlights and shadows carefully applied. Breasts are usually prominent when the woman is proud of them.

There’s not room for all the hair and body enhancements to be described, so we’ll end here… except to say that women are odd too and should willingly forgive men for loving their trucks and painting their faces to show their fanaticism.

Microcosm Of Canada-USA Character

October 26, 2017 Leave a comment

I received an incorrect bill from The New Yorker magazine. I telephoned PayPal about it. After a few minutes of terrible, croaking music, a very cheerful young man came on. He asked what I needed, I told him, and he cheerfully asked permission to ask me security questions. We went through the routine, and when he was sure I was me, he asked permission to connect me with The New Yorker.

I wondered how this young man could stay so bright and cheerful, when his job is to deal with the problems of unhappy people. After a few moments, he came on and cheerfully asked permission to connect me with the USA office of The New Yorker.

The New Yorker guy sounded like he was hung over and pissed off that he had to deal with peoples’ problems. “Yah” he said. I told him the problem. “It says you gotta cancel before the sample end.” I reminded him that nobody reads the fine print, and he should cancel the charge and the subscription.

“Yah. It’ll be returned to your account. Depends on how long PayPal takes, it’s got nuthin’ t’do wit’ me.” All the time sounding like he resented me and my problem.

The late Robin Williams once said, “Canada is like a church group upstairs from a Crack House.” The contrasting behavior of the Canadian person and the USA person is typical.

If I Had Power

June 2, 2017 Leave a comment

There are some things I would do with power. Some rules would be made about television commercials. Some rules about society in general would be made, too.

Television commercials for automobiles, directed at adults, must stop showing the vehicles in dangerous, high performance attitudes. Four-wheel-drifting on the salt flats is not how you should sell your van. It is not a performance vehicle, and there should not be scenes that make it appear macho to dangerously abuse the family car.

Television commercials for children’s toys and treats must stop making the crappy little plastic palaces and whatever, appear to be magical. Mnemonic devises, like clowns, dragons, and superheroes must not advocate for a toy or a treat. It is abuse of the little person’s mind, and when Mom gets the crappy toy, and it comes out of the box and does whatever it does, it is very little like the example in the commercial.

Television commercials for household products must stop making  everything look impossibly perfect. Sellers of cutters, choppers, and dicers must admit that the blades do not last forever. Perhaps they don’t last very long at all. And when a product is offered for $29.99…  “But wait! We’ll include a second gimmick at no extra charge! What’s more, at no extra charge we’ll include attachments to spin, curl, and cook with your gimmick.”

Go to hell, you TV hustlers. Nobody needs two tub scrubbers or two waffle irons. Just offer the damn things for $15.00 each, and see how it works out for you.

If only we had the television opportunity that they have in England. They can buy an annual license that gets them entertainment, news, and sports, commercial free.

We Geezers Were Men

March 23, 2017 3 comments

You probably don’t know this scrunched old man. When you a see an old person who looks feeble and weak, remember that person was not always that way. This old man is Jack Brabham, and he wasn’t always old.

jack

Jack Brabham was a simple mechanic in his youth. He sometimes worked on racing cars. He had a better idea: he designed and built his own racing car. When he wasn’t satisfied with the performance of his drivers, he decided to drive himself.

Many old people achieved great, daring, difficult tasks. Some people were driven by need. Some were driven by desire. Some of us just love a challenge. Australian Jack Brabham went after challenges as if they were necessary for life. For him, they were.

jack 2

Formula One Grand Prix racing is the ultimate level and maximum challenge above all other forms of automobile racing. Jack Brabham is entitled to be a geezer… and so am I, although my achievements were much smaller than his were. Jack Brabham was a world champion driver/designer/builder in that most exacting sport.

Writing Is Like Acting On Paper

August 19, 2015 Leave a comment

I especially like writing for television. I’ve always sketched just as much as I’ve written so I get to direct the scene with stage directions on paper. I have to say that I don’t know if my way is the best way or even a good way. I’m a grade ten dropout who was driving a courier car when I took a YMCA Guidance and Counselling test. It suggested that I be an artist or a writer and should expect – actually said expect – to excel in show business. It blew my mind. I was in my twenties and working three jobs to care for my wife and daughter. My counselor suggested I try to break into an advertising agency creative department as a faster way to earn a living.

I got out the yellow pages of the telephone directory, looked up Advertising Agencies and started calling them from A to Z. I gleaned a few appointments during which the flaws in my presentation were pointed out to me. After each rejection I rewrote and illustrated my presentation for the next appointment. Inevitably I was eventually in the right place at the right time. I had succeeded in getting through to the Creative Director of one of the most creative, award winning agencies. He said he had no need, but perhaps their sales promotion department could help.

I immediately hung up and called back to the promotion department. I got an appointment. The creative director had a writer away on vacation and another off sick and he needed a sales brochure for a client immediately. I had no idea what to do so I glanced at sheets of yellow typewriter paper on other writers’ desk on my way out. I went to my father’s office at night to use the typewriter. I wrote the brochure and sketched a layout and went back to the boss in the morning. He loved it and immediately put it into production and gave me another assignment for a name brand kitchen appliance company.

I soon rose to a level where I was writing and supervising production of television commercials for national brand products. What I had seen on those copywriters’ desks was texts with a line drawn vertically down the center of the page. On the left side in all upper case letters is the visual description of the scene while the right side of the line, opposite the description is the audio, be it narration or dialogue. Dialogue on paper is acting. First I assume the character of X. I become character Y for the response and so on.

Learning while working in advertising, I took the skills I acquired to another level. I created a television series using the same techniques that I learned and used in making television commercials. My storyboards and verbal descriptions helped make the scenes emerge just as I wanted them to. It was wonderful working with the actors in the studio. We would have lunch in the studio cafeteria most days. Coincidentally, I looked somewhat like Kenny Rogers in those days, and he was taping his show in an adjoining studio. We’d sometimes meet during lunch and took some kidding about our looks.

The series aired on a national network for more than thirty years.
https://search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?p=The+Waterville+Gang&ei=UTF-8&hspart=mozilla&hsimp=yhs-001