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Sometimes Greenstein Didn’t Lie

April 16, 2018 Leave a comment

I want to make it clear, before I tell the story, that Greenstein is a very good man. He’s eccentric as Hell, and a gentle giant with strong moral values. The only problem with Greenstein is… he’s liar.

He doesn’t lie for any nefarious reasons. It seems like he reads something in a magazine, and when one visits with him, he regales all in his audience with awesome tales of financial adventure, engineering adventure, and medical adventure. It depends what’s in the news, and what he last read.

He sometimes told stories of unique mishaps, like when he was driving a stock car at a race, and his steering came loose. He claimed he went through the guard rail at the end of the straight and into a wall. The car was ruined, and Greenstein needed a metal plate in his head. It might not be true, because that’s Greenstein, but it certainly isn’t harmful to anyone.

Greenstein was such a sweet guy, we never challenged his stories. Even when he told us he was part of a team that is going to raise a treasure ship off the bottom of the ocean, we acted impressed, and he was happy.

On another occasion, he told us he had a contract to do some underwater welding on a landmark installation that stands on iron stilts offshore on a lake. Again, no reason to argue, ‘cause that’s Greenstein.

He said he had opened a bank in the Cayman Islands, and it’s doing great. It was always like that with Greenstein, but he was a good friend and totally trustworthy. He told us he’d built a Harley-Davidson motorcycle in his back yard. It’s possible, I guess.

I was visiting a speed shop for some parts. The guy saw my Jewish-sounding name, and asked if I knew Greenstein, as I was in a speed shop he used. I said I knew him, and the guy began to regale me with a story about when he saw Greenstein go through a guard rail and needed a metal plate in his head. So… it seems Greenstein sometimes tells weird but interesting stories that are true.

I opened the Daily Star one day, and took out the second section. There on the front page, second section, was a half- page photo of Greenstein with his old-fashioned, hard-hat diving rig over a caption that read, “Underwater welder to shore up Ontario Place”.

I visited Greenstein one summer afternoon. We went out to his back yard, where he was growing beans. Right there in his back yard, an older model Harley-Davidson motorcycle sat on a jack, and construction was obviously just completed. There was an ample crop of beans, as well.

In the end, I guess it could be true that he raised a treasure ship from the bottom of the ocean, but I doubt it. He could have a bank in the Cayman Islands, but I doubt it. However, his welding story was in the newspaper, and the motorcycle is right there in his yard.

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30 Successful years in the Wrong Profession

March 6, 2018 2 comments

I was a taxi driver, which is a job in which I was barely competent. I can drive very well, and I know the city well, but I was not sufficiently interested to learn where and when are the best places to be to pick up fares. I preferred to take it easy, and pick up fares that seemed to need the ride more than others. Driving a cab was a job for which I was ill suited, but not the one of which I write.

I was put on the right track by a wonderful YMCA Guidance and Counseling test. It told me I should be a writer and could excel in show business. I’m a grade 10 dropout, and this information seemed misplaced in a bad cab driver. My counselor pointed out that as I had a family to support, I should get into writing advertising to begin making a living.

I knew nothing about the world of advertising, so I took the yellow pages phone book and looked up ad agencies. I began calling and calling. Finally, one day I called a guy that had one writer ill and another on vacation. He was desperate, and so he called me in. As I walked out with an assignment, I looked at sheets of copy on other writers’ desks and saw what a sheet of advertising text looks like.

I know how to type because I took a typing course in high school to avoid a course in German. Luckily for me, I had a gift for writing ads, and especially television commercials. In a fairly short time I learned TV production and excelled, as the Y test had suggested. After a couple of years of success, I took the education I earned making commercials and used it to create a television series which I wrote and was able to get produced by a national network. The series aired across the country in reruns for about 30 years.

This was the profession that was wrong for me, even though I was something of a wiz at it. It was wrong because I don’t belong in advertising. It’s full of mendacity, politics and liquid lunches. I don’t do politics, I don’t do mendacity, and I never drink. I also didn’t dress properly. Corduroy pants, sometimes well worn, sneakers and garishly printed T-shirts. So the “regular” sort of people in the creative departments didn’t like me, and I didn’t like them. However, I was able to knock the clients’ socks of, reliably, time after time. As well as being a round peg in a square hole, I was able to produce more top creative in less time than all the rest of the department put together.

It’s a gift, and I can’t really explain it except that it’s very easy for me. I think that my life as a “regular person” enables me to relate to the wants, needs, hopes and aspirations of the average consumer. In any case, I was just so happy to make a living at something that was so much fun compared to driving a taxi, I didn’t give a damn what my so-called co-workers thought of me. It paid well too.

Eventually I became fed up with the baloney and backed away from the profession that was fraught with superficial values. Now I hate the interruptions by commercials in any program I might be enjoying. I regret all the commercials I made for so many well-known national brand products. My innate talent brought me success in a cesspool, and my innate moral values took me out of it.

If Only God Was Real

March 2, 2018 Leave a comment

If God was real, it might mean that Hell and Heaven were real too. Most of us know of people that we’d like to see go to Heaven or Hell. I don’t believe there is a God, and I fear that too many people that deserve to go to Hell won’t. They’ll just die, like anyone else, and that’s too good for them.

Imagine the really good people you know that should live in Heaven for eternity. If God was real, they’d have a chance. Unfortunately, they’ll simply die, like everyone, be they good or bad. There would be many benefits in life if there was a God and Heaven or a Devil and Hell. They’ve been written about for thousands of years, but who wrote the stories?

The bible is referred to as “The Word of God”. But of course, that’s a fantasy. There is no god. God is just a fabrication of simple, primitive people, two thousand or so years ago. So Christ, the Jew, started a huge movement and accidentally created Christianity which has been accepted by so many millions of Christians.

Then there’s the Old Testament which is more than 5,700 years old, having been created by Jewish clergy. The stories in the original testament were adapted and altered to create the New Testament. Both versions of the word of the Lord are just fake stories and it’s foolhardy to believe in them. There is no God, and all the stories have been created by ancient, superstitious people for reasons of control.

It’s a great business, the religious business. Although the Christ character was presented as a humble individual, dirt poor and endlessly generous, the present day clergy has amassed vast fortunes in art and priceless metals and jewels. Rich brocade gowns, ridiculous crackers presented as the flesh of the deity and cheap wine as the blood of Christ. It’s all nonsense, as silly as the tall, fancy hats worn by senior clergy. Although gambling is decried as immoral, churches take in profits from Bingo games. What is it that makes this particular game of chance not immoral?

Wouldn’t we all like to make a living selling an invisible product? Huge churches and cathedrals proliferate throughout the Christian world, all of them free of property tax. It’s a brilliantly developed con-persons’ hustle.

SUMMER DAYS

January 9, 2018 Leave a comment

Poetry form: (PROSE 1)

[1]

NOT A BEACH DAY

Round stones and dark, loose dirt forced several inches of backslide after each step upward. The struggle was an essential part of the adventure for the pubescent girl, and she laboured up the long abandoned trail almost every day of every summer at Sanctuary Bay. Her thin legs, seeming too long for her tiny torso, carried her upward in a staggering rhythm as she picked spots to place her feet.

[2]

SURRENDER IN THE FOREST

The higher up she struggled, the darker and cooler the forest became. The trees closed in close around the narrow trail, and the thrill began to permeate every cell and sentiment within the child. Her heart pounded in her narrow chest, the blood rushed in her ears, and she almost trembled with ecstasy as she gave herself up to the comforting security of aloneness. Minute sounds and scents were clear and rich to her in this aroused state. She let the familiar feelings fill her, thrill her in that peculiar way that she was certain no other person ever felt. She tingled somewhere down inside. She felt the heat flush in her pale cheeks; felt the burning of her ears.

[3]

SANCTUARY WITHIN

She lay down on the warm, dry carpet of golden brown leaves. It was thick and springy after centuries of accumulated autumns. The rich, pungent fragrance of ancient forest filled her little lungs, enriched her coursing blood. Thirty meters above, the leafy canopy swayed in the high lake breeze. Flashes of sunlight flickered over her slight, prone figure. She closed her eyes and felt the peace of sanctuary descend upon her.

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.

A Most Infectious Virus

November 30, 2017 Leave a comment

It spreads like hate. The source is unknown, it infects young children who grow up and sustain it. The virus is perilously infectious and permanently spreads through families. Fathers and mothers tell sons and daughters about it, and so it spreads. The virus is destructive and insidious. Millions of people pass away every year, carrying the virus until their death. Specialists that minister to the infected wear cloaks or uniforms to signal their specialty.

Good parents work to prepare their children for life. Children are warned that fire is hot, do not touch it. Stay away from water because it can drown people. Be sure to look both ways before you cross a street. We are Christians, we believe in god and Christ. And so the child is ‘told’ the virus. If you had not been told your religion and your beliefs, would you have that religious belief? The loving parents that prepared you for some realities in life told you your religion and your beliefs.

I was told I was a Jew. I went to a synagogue school to learn the Jewish language. I had training to perform in Hebrew at my bar mitzvah, the ritual celebration when a boy reaches the age of 13, and he is taken into the Jewish fold as a man.

Immediately after my bar mitzvah, I quit the synagogue, the Hebrew school, and all the ritual nonsense about what to eat, what to not eat, how to behave on certain days, when to fast, how to honour the Sabbath and so on, to ridiculous extremes.

Common sense tells me it’s all bunk. The priest with the funny hat, long gown in brocade fabrics, holy water, candles, smoke, scrolls – it’s all baloney, be it Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, and so many other false gods.  It’s all made up bunk by superstitious old people far in the ignorant past. There is no god and religion is a con.

Looking For My Unique Woman

October 30, 2017 Leave a comment

There are some amazing women in literature. I need to find a woman as fascinating and desirable as Lisbeth Salander is in Stieg Larsson’s ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’. To find a woman like her, in my reality or in my fiction would be exciting beyond imagination. I need to find a woman equally unique about whom I could write.

In ‘The First Deadly Sin’ by Lawrence Sanders, a bold, sensual woman named Celia Montfort was unlike any other woman I had ever met in a story. She was completely different from Lisbeth Salander and fascinating in different ways. Both characters had large parts of their lives hidden. Not out of fear of attack or anything like that. It just was more comfortable for them to keep themselves to themselves. There was not a lot of soul-searching and plotting to be as unique as they are – it was just the way they are.

All characters one creates must quite naturally be based on characters one has known in life. Usually, one takes characteristics from several acquaintances and weaves them together into one interesting character. I am pondering my unique woman as I begin to create her. I remember a time several decades ago, when I found myself in a huge rockabilly nightclub in Savanah, Georgia. Center stage there was a young blonde woman singing and shaking. There were two physical characteristics of that woman with which I will begin my search for my unique woman.

She was more than six feet tall with a gorgeous avalanche of lively, radiant, bouncing blonde hair flowing out from the ten-gallon straw hat she wore. Her shape was hidden behind her large bib overalls. The effect was enticing, because her large breasts, narrow waist and parts of her hips flashed creamy white skin through various openings in the overalls. Bare feet projected out of the long legs of the overalls.

I hope to use her as a framework for my uniquely exciting woman. If I can properly imbue her with unique characteristics, I might be able to write stories about her as a heroine or anti-heroine. I expect a challenge because of her unique size. Admittedly, it does give me an open opportunity to use her size to justify some of her unique characteristics. At the same time, it might go against my ability to make her sexy or intimately appealing. I will just have to start a story and let it lead me to answers.