Saturday, December 29, 2007
Maya who I met on Toronto Island on the shoot this summer and who shot my video rap sent me a letter wishing me a good year. She added what follows:
"And on a side note, I've been seeing the Hollywood Survival Kit in circulation on several sets, and I must say it's definitely made my life easier more than once since the island! "
I cannot tell you how wonderful it is for me to hear people are using the kits and finding them a first line of health defense that works. The idea that this is happening in growing numbers is not only proof positive regarding the efficacy of the remedies it means that word is spreading that this technique of healing self is growing outward from my little seed.
2007 has been a great year for me and I hope for everyone else too. It has been difficult too and incredibly challenging and rewarding at every one of my pursuits. Film making, the new Pocket Pack, writing and increasing my energy. Lots of things too that did not manifest. I did not quit smoking, I could not get the first chapter of my on line book completed, and I still lack the office neatness I crave for but cannot seem to manage.
Lots to do in 008
I can hardly wait.
Have a great New Years Eve and a fabulous 2008!!!
Monday, December 17, 2007
A Social Entrepreneur. Think about it. Yes a profit but also a great gift to the buyer and a flag for others to see and examine and opt into perhaps: a neat and gentle and inexpensive way of dealing with acute every day health situations personally without incurring any side effects in the process.
Saturday, December 1, 2007
The mist on my window is melting. The day is warming. I am going out to rake up the last leaves from my front yard and bag them. It is a good day to do it.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Here it all is.
The positive and negative of the word pet. From pet name to pet person or pet animal and onward to pet peeve and pet anger.
Have a look. http://thesaurus.reference.com/browse/pet
I'm going to do that right now and savor all the thoughts and feelings surrounding the action verb Pet - to stroke, gently in a comforting, camaraderie sort of way.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Bad day at work??? This is even funnier when you realize it's real! Next time you have a bad day at work, think of this guy.
Rob is a commercial saturation diver for Global Divers in Louisiana. He performs underwater repairs on offshore drilling rigs. Below is an E-mail he sent to his sister. She then sent it to a radio station in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, who was sponsoring a worst job experience contest. Needless to say, she won.
THIS IS THE LETTER:
Just another note from your bottom-dwelling brother. Last week I had a bad day at the office. I know you've been feeling down lately at work, so I thought I would share my dilemma with you to make you realize it's not so bad after all. Before I can tell you what happened to me, I first must bore you with a few technicalities of my job. As you know, my office lies at the bottom of the sea. I wear a suit to the office. It's a wetsuit. This time of year the water is quite cool. So what we do to keep warm is this: We have a diesel-powered industrial water heater. This $20,000 piece of equipment sucks the water out of the sea, heats it to a delightful temperature, then pumps it down to the diver through a garden hose which is taped to the air hose. Now this sounds like a darn good plan, and I've used it several times with no complaints. What I do, when I get to the bottom and start working, is take the hose and stuff it down the back of my wetsuit. This floods my whole suit with warm water. It's like working in a Jacuzzi. Everything was going well until all of a sudden, my bum started to itch. So, of course, I scratched it. This only made things worse. Within a few seconds my bum started to burn! I pulled the hose out from my back, but the damage was done. In agony I realized what had happened. The hot water machine had sucked up a jellyfish and pumped it into my suit. Now, since I don't have any hair on my back, the jellyfish couldn't stick to it. However, the crack of my bum was not as fortunate. When I scratched what I thought was an itch, I was actually grinding the jellyfish into the crack of my bum. I informed the dive supervisor of my dilemma over the communicator. His instructions were unclear due to the fact that he, along with five other divers, were all laughing hysterically. Needless to say I aborted the dive. I was instructed to make three agonizing in-water decompression stops totalling thirty-five minutes before I could reach the surface to begin my chamber dry decompression. When I arrived at the surface, I was wearing nothing but my brass helmet. As I climbed out of the water, the medic, with tears of laughter running down his face, handed me a tube of cream and told me to rub it on my bum as soon as I got in the chamber. The cream put the fire out, but I couldn't poo for two days because my bum was swollen shut. So, next time you're having a bad day at work, think about how much worse it would be if you had a jellyfish shoved up your ar*e. Now repeat to yourself, I love my job, I love my job, I love my job. Remember whenever you have a bad day, ask yourself, is this a jellyfish bad day? May you NEVER have a jellyfish bad day!!!!!
The third day there we were to do shots in a parking garage where the cars were driven onto a platform which was on a revolving chain so the cars moved up until there was a circle of 8 cars. Robert Joy was to be killed as he tried to escape on the revolving platforms. The sun was not bright enough and so we had to go to cover as they say in films. Cover in this case was Burt Lancaster walking along the boardwalk and meeting someone in front of the shop. I had two policemen and 4 Production Assistants who knew very little about film making. Louis and I walked the half block to the boardwalk and I asked him what he wanted to see. He said the whole boardwalk in both directions. Impossible I said for I did not have the people to expedite the pedestrian control. Louis went away and I looked at it all to see what I could do. I realized I could give him enough boardwalk on either side of the store front so he could bring Burt in and out of the scene with the feeling of seeing lots of the wooden walkway but still be under my control. When I turned to suggest this I could see Louis sitting on the street curb with his head in his hands in despair. I could feel his energy all gone. It is a horrible feeling to sense your leader is in a hopeless state for it is like looking at a dead person: no evergy is coming off. I went over and in the a gentle but positive way asked him to come with me for I thought maybe we could do something that would satisfy him. Reluctantly he got up and went up onto the boardwalk again. I showed him my plan and he said that is what we would do. Despair comes to us all at times and along with it comes angels who want to help move you away from the feeling of hopelessness that surrounds despair.
The cold has come with the beginning of winter and Christmas is looming and I must now use all my energy to sell my Pocket Pack which is a perfect Christmas gift. I have used incredible energy up getting it to the market in the 8 weeks that it took me to design and create all the written material and make all the deals with the suppliers and measure my paltry bank account so everyone got some little bit of money for what they did to make it all possible. But this morning I despair of my task and so in writing this blog I gain some energy to realize that even great artists can despair and I can be a good angel not only to him but to myself as I coax myself back to action.
Friday, November 23, 2007
I think often about age for I belie my years and can still hotfoot it around a set with the best of them. I look at those younger who do not move as well as I do and feel sad for them. I also look at those my age and older for role models as the years mount. Eli Wallach has to rate as an all time role model. I worked with him only once. In Halifax on a film called The Book Fair Murders. It was about a man who had stolen millions in paintings from a Jewish family in the second world war and at last was being caught for his crimes although they seemed somewhat justified. Eli Wallach was to play the old man. He was born in 1915 and we were going to film with him in 2000. He was 85. It was hard to arrange for him to come to us from New York as he was rehearsing a new play and his day off was Monday so we could fly him up on Sunday, film with him on Monday and he would fly home on Tuesday early in the morning so he could be at rehearsals that day. He did not miss work for any reason it would seem. He had two scenes to play supposedly by the sea where he had a sumptuous house. Robert Joy who I first worked with on Atlantic City was to play opposite him in both scenes. They were pivotal to the plot for Roberts character was the man who discovered the theft and one scene was an interview and the other reminiscences of his life as a young man in the employment of the rich and kind Jewish mogul. Both scenes were long and had very long speeches in them. I mean more that one page of Eli just talking about his past. He was arriving at 9 on Sunday evening and he asked that the final script be left at his hotel so he could check it against the script he was given to make sure he had the changes if there were any. He also asked to have a limo take him to set the next morning for he would polish his lines during the drive.
So this 85 year old man was going to fly to us on Sunday evening, although in the midst of play rehearsals which are not easy for there is script to learn and changes to be made in words and feelings and new people to deal with: a full time job and difficult time for any actor.
We were lucky for Monday was a sunny day although the temperature was around freezing. We had decided to go to Peggy's Cove, the famous tourist attraction that is on a rocky point that juts into the Atlantic ocean. With clever placement of the camera we could see just the roof and chimneys of the large pavilion there and it played as the rich man's house. We laid a dolly track in front of the bench where the two men were going to be seated. Wolfgang Panzer who was our director and a wonderful man as well as a great director could shoot the whole scene just moving up and down the track. A dolly back and forth while the scene played and then close ups. Wolfgang started with the close up of Ely's whole speech. We are talking about three minutes of straight monologue with the odd question thrown in. We had everything set up and lots of blankets and hot shots to keep Ely as warm as possible. He strode out and only his carefulness about where he was walking told us of his age. He was chipper, happy, friendly and met everyone with a handshake. He sat down with Robert and first discussed a couple of the changes that had been made in the script with Wolfgang. This only took a few minutes and all was ready. He rehearsed once with the camera so we could get our moves. He never missed a line or word in any of the speech. It was awesome as we went through shot after shot in one or two takes and always with excellent results. After we finished with Robert Joy's close up which was our last shot of the scene Eli called me over. He leaned forward and whispered to me. "Do you think we could do another take of my close up. I think I can do it better." I was awestruck that after three hours of sitting in the cold repeating this speech over and over he knew the nuances so well and remembered how he had delivered his first attempts in such detail that he could know this and that he wasn't tired or bored with it all. I went to Wolfgang who immediately said yes and we did one more take of the close up.
It was worth the effort. We did the next scene in the afternoon and finished the day with flying colours.
That evening Eli Wallach took the director, the actors the producder and me too out to dinner at a fine restaurant; about a dozen people. He regaled us with stories and talked quite a bit to Samantha Bond one of the more memorable Miss Moneypennys from the James Bond films. Eli I think had worked with her father who was a well known British actor. He could recall events clearly. He was a wonderful host and it was an honour to be at his table and to meet and be with such a gracious young old man. To this day no one of his age has matched him in my eyes. A very special person to me and a role model in every way.
By the way he made two films this year that are now in post production. Lets see now, he is 92 and I am sure still all here.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Sunday, November 18, 2007
It is Sunday and the day is bright and friendly where I am just north of Orangeville. I am enclosing a picture of the view to the Bruce trail. This morning a flock of turkeys crossed the field, all in a neat row eating their way back to the forest they call home. We always look at them for they are beautiful.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
I went to the Property Manager, two months before we were to go there to open offices and she accommodated all my requests. She made the leases easy and the rates as fair as I could ask for we were not rich. When she came to the "Burn the barn" request she looked up at me and said, "There is no way you will burn a barn down on our properties. No way!" I was shocked by the stridency of her reply. I thought for a couple of seconds and said that I understood she could not give me permission and would she give me her supervisor's number as I wanted to pursue my request. She laughed a bit and said sure and gave it to me.
I called this man the next day and sent him all the information about the film and made the same request, to burn the barn down.
He was more relaxed and not strident at all but said he could not really give me permission. I said I understood and asked if her would give me his supervisor's name. He said he would get back to me.
Two days later a P.R person for the Government called me back and I knew I was going to be dealt with. He said that it was impossible to burn down the barn as it was designated as was the house as historical. He gave me the name of a lawyer who had been assigned to me who would in future deal with me.
I called her and after hearing my story. She said it was impossible as there may be artifacts in the barn that should be saved before anything could even be thought about. She told me there were two Heritage organizations that would have to agree to all this and gave me contacts to each. She said the insurance would have to be dealt with as the Government would want deep coverage. Most importantly the county Fire Department had to respond to the request and be there when we did our barn burning. She was neutral to my plight but open and helpful in leading me toward resolution.
I went through the process with each of the Heritage organizations and they wrote letters to the lawyer regarding my request.
Both letters chastised the Government for not caring for the barn properly since they took over the properties and their inspections could find nothing of value to keep and in fact supported the burning of the building so at least it would not be a hazard to kids who might explore it and get caught in the collapse. The county Fire Department also agreed to attend and protect the main house and those involved.
I put the burning toward the end of the shooting period and now dealt with the difficulty of the insurance. Who would be in charge was a main question as special effects pyro is not for amateurs. By great luck the woman handling the legals was quick to pass things on and we sorted through each detail. We got our final permission the day before we did the burn.
The burn went off without a hitch and the first lady who said never was there representing the Property Management department. She sidled over in the middle of the blaze and shook my hand and said congratulations. It was a fine reward for my perseverance. The lady lawyer became a professor of law and uses my case to demonstrate the road blocks of Government red tape and that if you stick to the work you may get to the resolution you want. Henry and Verlin is a beautiful film to watch and feel and the viewer ends up having two new friends; one autistic and the other mentally retarded. It is a film about acceptance and I am proud to have been a major part of its making.
The next day
Friday, November 9, 2007
Merck Agrees to Settle Vioxx Suits for $4.85 Billion
Three years after withdrawing its pain medication Vioxx from the market, Merck has agreed to pay $4.85 billion to settle 27,000 lawsuits by people who claim they or their family members suffered injury or died after taking the drug, according to two lawyers with direct knowledge of the matter.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
I lifted this article from todays New York Times. It is about the defeat of a tax on tobacco meant to help pay for health care for uninsured children. It is worth reading for it makes one recognize the depth of the corporate strength to continue to overpower the People. Corporations are run by people like you and I by and large. They have children and parents and friends like you but they also have Company policy which is to increase the bottom line of profits no matter who suffers. The corporation is a cruel anti-being with no moral code that it adheres to. We no longer live in countries with the power to lead people into better ways if it is not in the corporation's best interest. Our world is being stripped of its overall humanity in this way. It is a shame and the answer to it I do not know except that poverty and sickness will slowly erode profit and the corporation will perhaps lose its grip on mankind for there will not be enough money to support it. The stock market as a gambling den supports the corporation and the game played is like going to the race track and reading the cheat sheet to see who will win today. What a sorry state we find ourselves in when we are slaves to legal gambling that can alter our lives in a heart beat. When I was 21 I worked in a Toronto brokerage house as a cage clerk. I had a great time and there were "penny stocks" that some dealt in. These were stocks that were driven solely by rumor and speculation. There were mostly companies and corporations who were stable mature and caring "corporate citizens". They did not rise and fall on news so much and felt they had real obligations to their workers and the public. This is no longer the case as each company now scrambles for any news that will garner higher stock prices. Read the article below and imagine how the money spent to defeat this sensible tobacco tax could have been spent for the betterment of our condition as citizens.
Big Tobacco Defeats Sick Kids
One of the biggest disappointments in Tuesday’s election was the defeat of an Oregon ballot initiative that would have raised the state’s cigarette tax by 85 cents a pack to help pay for health care for uninsured children.
The outcome is a testament, more than anything else, to the shamelessness of the nation’s big tobacco companies. They spent an obscene amount of money on deceptive television ads designed to protect their profits, even at the expense of poor children. The results should not be allowed to diminish national concern about insuring those youngsters.
Tobacco firms led by Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds poured $12 million into defeating the initiative — about $3.33 for every Oregon resident, or $24 a vote. That’s about a dollar more per capita than the $60 million tobacco companies invested to defeat a similar California measure last year, according to The Associated Press. The health and civic groups fighting for health care for children were able to spend only a quarter of that.
The purveyors of Marlboro and Camel cigarettes did not win by disputing the urgent health care needs the initiative was meant to address, or the benefits higher cigarette taxes would bring by deterring smoking. They sought to hide behind a benign-sounding front group called Oregonians Against the Blank Check and proceeded to barrage voters with unscrupulous TV ads and mailings. Among other things, they stoked doubts that the funds raised would actually be used for children’s health care, and they manufactured an overblown controversy over amending Oregon’s Constitution.
The referendum said a lot about the power of money in any election, and not much about what the public thinks about the issue if given accurate and balanced information. The vote should neither deter Congressional Democrats from continuing to confront President Bush on expanding children’s health care under the S-chip program nor discourage other states from trying to do more to take care of the health of their children.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Here I have missed a day. I am so busy getting all the details of the manufacturing of my Pocket Pack finalized. The printing, the French pamphlet, the tube labels done, and the selling and the elation of people really loving the pack. I am also working hard on the promo for my on line book. It is going to be great fun to put together. So many things and last but not least is all the paperwork to satisfy the Health Departments on both sides of the border. So that is the reason or the excuse. I am not sure which for I did do some crosswords this morning. Two only. My mind does not give up habits easily. I know this from my past experiences. I have given up smoking twice. Once in Israel when I was in Tiberius on Yon Kipper. A beautiful silent day when from the 11th floor of the CPR (Canadian) hotel I could look across the water and see how close the Golan Heights are. You could hear children playing in the streets far below as no engines run on that special day. I was with my eldest son Jason who was on the Special Effects team. The first time he ever was in that department and now he has just finished Hulk 2 as the Effects rigging master. Wow. I had just bought a new can of Drum Tobacco and found it a bit stale and I could not find my rolling papers and so had resorted to a newspaper wrapper which when smoked tastes all chemical and horrid. I turned to my son and said, "What better day than this to give up smoking." I did from that moment for over 5 years and started again when someone gave me a Beedie(SP) from India. It is a piece of tobacco leaf with a little pink thread wound round the top to hold it together. Hah, I didn't think it was tobacco. But I got hooked. So it was a snap to stop and a snap to start again. The last time I quit was several years ago when I went to my brother Stefan's farm. Now Stefan and his wife Ann have a wonderful honey farm. Here is their web site: http://boardshoneyfarm.com/
Stefan was also a Ski area manager in his early days and is an awesome trainer. The Picture is stefan with my two sons, Simon and Jason who was in Israel with me. Simon worked with me too when he was younger and is now in Morocco filming on The Traitor. He is a first assistant director like me.
I was terribly out of shape and could not run up a flight of stairs without panting and I asked him to treat me like a patient recovering from a terrible sickness. He did and in one month starting by just having me go back and forth from the barn with light loads and me cutting back on food intake until I was just eating a bit of salad every day I went from ill to running a mile a day and loading concrete blocks and losing 25 pounds. On August 1st I was emotionally strong enough to say I will now quit smoking and I did for several years. It was a long month in a way, certainly much harder than quitting in Israel but I did. So there are at least two ways to quit smoking. I am again in the throes of getting strong enough emotionally to quit again for I started up on day about 4 years ago for a reason or an excuse I cannot remember now. It is an addiction no doubt about that and I will throw it off again for it does not give me a decent sum of self respect that I encourage others to have. I never think of myself as a role model but in this case maybe that will help me get the smoke monkey off my back. It is not impossible at all. I know it. It is just getting rid of the reasons and the excuses.
Monday, November 5, 2007
Sunday, November 4, 2007
I got to sleep an extra hour last night as we have moved back to Standard time. This morning,well rested and relaxed in my 3rd floor attic/office, I heard the church bells ringing the Sunday morning call to service. It is an old ritual and there is something peaceful and embracing when I hear it.
Last night in the kitchen the guys were making food and we all relished in the fact that we would have the extra hour of sleep. It seemed like such a gift especially to the others as they are young men who go out on a Saturday night. My roomers are all in their 30s and work at restaurants or bars for wages and spend their free time pursuing their more difficult goals. One is acting and one is a bass jazz guitarist who has just returned from a contract in Germany and who is recording an album. It is exciting for me as we trade stories and ways of being and doing things. I have lots of experience because I am a freelance worker in a on and off profession and so have always had other irons in the fire. Even now I make smaller films while I write and work to introduce my wares to the public. I guess I would be classed as a multi-tasker. I have a kit called the Hollywood Survival Kit and one of the remedies in it is coffea 30 c. It is great for multi-taskers who just get jangled with too much information ending up with an overactive mind. Its also great when to stop the overactive mind at bedtime when thoughts seem to impede sleep in a palpable way. I was working on "A Hole in One" in Halifax that starred Michelle Williams and Meatloaf and some very fine actors. Meatloaf is a wonderful man, full of life and energy. He has great charisma and a work ethic not to be believed. While he was on the film he was writing and had his band up and was recording and even flew to gigs on weekends. He is a good actor and has such a good memory that he can remember what he physically and emotionally did on every take. It was uncanny when we came to do close-ups and he would ask which of the wide shots was best so he could repeat the action precisely. One night we made rain outside a door for a climactic scene where he stabs someone. We had to stop after two takes as we had run out of time and the next night when we came back to do the close ups he showed us his actions for both the takes of the night before so Richard Leeds our director could choose which set of movements were best. Not too many actors can do that. One day he came into my office that was on the main floor of a deserted hospital in Dartmouth across the bridge from Halifax. He said he heard I had some stuff for sleeping. I did not have to ask much to know he could not turn his mind off and he needed his sleep. I gave him a baggie of the little pellets that look like white BBs with the instructions to take one a half hour before going to bed. The next day he came to me all happy. "That stuff really worked. I took about 5 of them and slept well."
I feigned anger and said he disrespected me by taking more than one pill as I had prescribed. I told him that it did not change anything by taking two and the whole bunch only represented one dose if he took them at once. Well, he apologized and said he would follow my directions and only take one. Two days later we spoke again and of course being me I asked what happened and he grinned and said it worked.
Homeopathy works, it seems to be a kind of vibration that goes where it is needed to get the body moving in the right direction and one pill is the same value as two. Easy to understand the idea but very hard for many to accept it.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
Impending strike the New York times headline says looms over the Writer's Guild in America and so thousands of people wait for Monday to hear if it is on or off. Long months ago the studios began to stockpile movies and the series rushed through episodes to ensure product for their many fans. It is like preparing for a long hard winter and putting down preserves to last. And all those who will be affected, the actors and the crews and the catering services and the hotels where visiting stars stay, wait to find out what will happen. It is too bad that we have not learned how to share appropriately with each other and now we are beholden to profit margins in board rooms that have no windows. I wish it were otherwise but it is not. The ultimate casino, the stock market now rules. Alas. And the Pharmaceutical industry is front and centre when it comes to profit at all costs. I read today too that now they are being called to task over cold remedies that are being used on children and that they are not as safe as once thought. They should be tested on children before they are deemed good, is the cry. I do not think I would want any child to be a guinea pig for a medicine of any kind. Sounds dangerous. But then drugs today are becoming more and more dangerous and companies try to fight against disease in more and more exotic chemical ways. The damage done to the wonderful animal, man, in order to get him better is amazing. I seem to be a chemical, electrical machine of some sort, beautifully crafted and balanced to work perfectly. To change the inner balances by killing parts of it which are deemed bad is to deny ourselves the chance to let our bodies rebalance themselves. To mask areas of discomfort with drugs is to deny us our birth rights to my mind. To use antibiotics on the body we seem hell bent on changing the natural dynamic of the body. I endorse and use Homeopathic remedies when I am ill. The remedies encourage the vital force of the body to wake up and do the work necessary to rebalance things. I cannot speak of chronic ailments with any studied background but I have experience in acute illnesses and how they were alleviated through the use of Homeoapthica and Flower remedies. I can tell you that the arthritis that plagued my left hand in 1987 does not bother me today. I can tell you some with experiences I gained on sets where I work, that for pain I use Arnica Montana in a homeopathic dose. It does not mask the pain like a pain killer does but the pain goes away. It has no side effects and I have watched many a sufferer feel better before my eyes. Working on cement floors of studios, standing for hours my lower back begins to ache. I cannot count the times I have taken a pill of Arnica to relieve the pain and succeed every time. On sets people often call me Dr. John which makes me laugh for I am not a doctor but do carry many remedies and diagnosing books and if people come to me for help I show them the page for the problem they have and they pick the remedy, and if I have it and they want it, I will give it to them. I then watch what happens and I have shared some huge laughs with people who never in their wildest dreams thought the pill taken would bring any relief. In truth, I am often amazed too. But my hundreds of experiences personally and with others has lead me to embrace the remedies wholeheartedly.
The first shot we took on "You Stupid Man" was in New York city on the West Side Running Track. A long dolly had been set up and our three main actors were going to walk and talk as they cooled down from jogging. William Baldwin and David Krumholtz were two of the players in the scene. Just as we were about to do our last rehearsal my constant companion Dana Ishiura came running over to me. "Your dolly grip is over there on the bench. He sneezed and his nose started to bleed. He says it has happened before and if it does not stop in a minute he will have to go to the hospital and have it cauterized. He shoved kleenex up his nostril and says the blood is running down his throat. Do you have that remedy that was used on the horse?" "Yes, it's in my bag in a milk white plastic bottle. Its Ferrum something or Phosphorous something." She went running and I went back to work wondering what I was going to do without this man who was in charge of the dolly that was key to the shot.
I began to get everyone ready and the same grip ambled over. There was no kleenex up his nostril. "I never thought that pill would do anything. I've taken tons of pills. I just took it to make your girl friend happy. What's in that stuff." The moment was devine for me. The horse story goes like this. I was in Budapest at the hotel in the coffee lounge trading stories bout homeopathic cures I had seen and our sound man's wife said she had a horse that was in her stable and someone had broken a pop bottle and not cleaned up the pieces and the horse bit into the glass and lacerated its palate and was bleeding profusely. She called the Vet and he came at once but said there was nothing he could do to help for even if he knocked the horse out he could not repair the damage done to the roof of its mouth. The horse would either stop bleeding on its own or would die. The lady remembered she was taking a Homeopathic remedy for excessive bleeding during her menstrel cycle and in desperation ran and got the pills and put some in the horses mouth. She said the horse stopped bleeding within two minutes much to the Vet and her surprise. I was lucky Dana was there and remembered the story for the remedy worked as well on that grip as it did on the horse. That man treated me with the utmost respect for the 5 days we shot in New York and whenever he had a spare moment he would tell me about medical problems he or his family members were suffering from and I would get out my books and find the page for him to read and he would read and make notes. It was most gratifying for me and I am sure if he followed up on his notes that he too would be admired for the cures he helped exact. Below is a picture of Denise Richards who was painted to look clothed for a shot in You Stupid man. It was a two hour paint job and she was patient and relaxed through the whole boring proceedure.
Friday, November 2, 2007
"Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are." I was maybe 12 and living in Hamilton, Ontario. when she said those words. That was 1946.
I was hanging out with a great group of friends and a couple of the boys had been in reform school. We got into little troubles like cutting through back yards and stealing apples off trees. But my grandmother after some incident said this too me as dire warning as to where I was headed. One of those boys saved me from a terrible beating by a bully who I challenged because he was picking on a smaller boy. I was on the ground being booted when he came around the corner just by chance. I was screaming in pain. I watched him grab my assailant by the pants and shirt collar and throw him right up in the air and into the middle of the road. And then he picked me up in his arms and carried me three blocks home. It remains one of the kindest acts anyone ever did for me.
Lately, for the last about 15 years, I have thought more and more about the idea of Friend and extended my grandmothers statement beyond the idea of human Friend. For me the idea, "Friend", has evolved to mean anything that I embrace, whether it is the food I eat or the music I listen to, the books I read or the politics I tout. And that is just a start of the idea and the importance of personal Friends for these Friends are in my brain and body define me. If I hate some person or group it defines me. If I follow the lurid details of a murder trial or watch only movies of violence or a SWAT team lock-downing down a street and having a shoot out, it pervades my thinking until I can become fearful and wary of people around me and become defensive in my thoughts and actions. I think this isolates me and so I steer clear of those kinds of programs as continual inputs. CNN from my point of view gets everyone crazy with fears and like the first news papers and those today as well, thrives on the disaster and news that has negative connotations. So Friend is what we put into our minds and dwell on, and export to others as to who we are. We all have choices about these things if we are aware and take a few moments to review our thinking. Examine if you will who we are. Just like changing your food intake from a high starch diet to something else to lose weight. so we can change what we are thinking about in the front of our consciousness if we choose all our Friends. I can get obsessed sometimes by input that I really don't think helps me be the person I want to be and maybe this happens to you too. Look at yourself and see what is dominating your own thoughts and ask is this how I want to define myself. How I want myself and others to think about me.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Halloween is gone and the goons and goblins put away in cardboard cartons to await another airing. I love the idea of dressing up and having a different face. It has always been my fun to do so and often on set I dress to my own dress code. I suppose that the strangest incident that brought out this idiosyncrasy was in China when I was there filming MButterfly. It was totally an awesome trip with Jeremy Irons and Jon Lon and of course David Cronenberg and many of our Canadian crew. We even filmed on the great wall. I remember my first visit to the wall when we climbed the steps to the tower we were going to film from. Every step was a different hight and a different depth so you had to look down or you would trip. I could not believe what seemed to me to be very bad workmanship until I realized if I was an enemy I would have to look down on every step to see where I was going and at night it would be impossible to go up without tripping. I guess the Chinese defenders were trained to go up and down blindfolded both forwards and backwards giving them a tremendous advantage in defending the wall. On the day that we filmed we saw about a mile away at the next tower a bright reflecting light. We investigated as it was spoiling the picture. It was a film crew just like ourselves filming a fashion show. Can you imagine the laughter that in the thousands of miles of wall two film crews would be so close to one another. Luckily they were gone in an hour and out scene was as it should be. In Beijing we shot streets and comings and goings which would be used in the film. We did most of our interiors for China in Toronto. That was odd to in that the studio we filmed in used to be Toronto Iron Works and in 1960 one of my last jobs before I went into show biz was as an xray technician at Toronto Iron Works and I worked in the same huge building back then xraying large boilers to make sure their welds were perfect. Shooting MButterfly was the next time I ever went there so it had a certain special meaning for me.
In Beijing we did the play in a local play house. It was down an alley and on first look hard to imagine that a 400 or so seat theatre could be anywhere nearby but then that is the surprises found in the city. So Jon Lon was going to sing with the Opera group and we loaded in and prepared for our first day. We had about 300 extras and the scene was the first time Jeremy sees Jon and is infatuated by him. One major problem we had was that it took Jon about 3 hours to do his makeup. He was trained in classical opera and rehearsed himself tirelessly to bring back the skills he had learned as a teenager and young man so that in the end he could once again perform his own singing. He did not take kindly to the heat and because alll the make up was pancake make up we had to worry about him sweating. After much fuss we were able to get two air conditioners put in the room he was to use as a dressing room. I planned the day to use 4 hours of insert shooting of the other singers and the players to give Jon time to do his makeup without rushing. Everything was going along swimmingly until one of my assistants came to me and said that a spot of white had flaked off Jons cheek and he said he would have to begin again as there was no way to repair it.
I thought for a moment and told my assistant to tell Jon that I would only do wide shots and a small blemish would not be noticed. It was disaster to the day if I could not film him for it would have meant turning all the lights in the other direction to do the audience and Jeremy's side of the scene. My assistant came rushing back and said it was too late and Jon had already begun to strip off his white face. I was distraught to say the least. Not my fault but now my problem to reorganize the shooting to satisfy the bad situation. We all discussed what to do and the orders were given and in a moment of I frustration I ran behind the stage to the large room that the other singers and performers were using as a dressing room. I said I had two minutes to spare and I wanted them to make up my face. It would make me feel better. And they did. Two of the singers came over and after a quick exchange decided on what character they would make me up as. It did only take a couple of minutes to do and for the rest of the day I ran the set looking an odd mixture of things. The Chinese audience laughed when they first saw me but took my orders to watch and clap and enjoy so we accomplished Jeremy's entrance and all his close ups and the day was saved. When I was doing The Bay of Love and Sorrows in New Brunswick it was Halloween and there were some lovely make ups done and the make up lady there did my Chinese face once again for me to enjoy.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
I was working in Halifax on a little TV series called, "Local Heroes". It was about people who were for the most part unsung except for their 15 minutes of local newspaper fame. Some were quite heroic and others just seemed to happen by chance and really be about being someplace at the right moment. Well we were at the end of a small river leading into the Atlantic ocean and the story involved a daughter in her twenties out for a row with her father when the boat capsized. A man on the beach swam out and saved them. Easy to see in one's mind but not so easy to capture in the fall of the year in the Atlantic ocean with tides to deal with and on top of that weather that could be good or just awful. A low budget was also a great impeding factor at times. So we got the two zodiacs (inflated rubber boats) for filming, and found a river that ran into the ocean with a sand beach that went out about 150 feet before it was over your head. Good to do most of the work in shallow water and not drown anyone. Drowning has a lot to do with the last breath out.
What happened in the story was that when the row boat capsized the daughter and her father clasped hands over the keel and yelled and yelled. The man heard them from shore and swam out. We put the upside down boat across a 14 foot zodiac and towed it with our bigger zodiac. Video cables were run from the bigger zodiac to the smaller one where the camera was locked down. The trick was to keep the locked camera with the two people hanging on to the keel in the foreground and the hero swimming toward them in the background. Sounds easy but with the outbound current from the river and the ocean current moving inward it was dicey. I was wearing a dry suit as I had been standing in the water where it was shallow. It was not done up and sealed. We rolled camera and I could see we would not get the shot, the man was not in the right alignment. This meant steering the camera boat a little this way or that to keep him in frame. I knew if we stopped and lined it up again the whole resetting would take 15 minutes or more so I jumped off the stern of the larger boat and got between the two zodiacs. Perhaps a dumb move but I had quickly sensed I could not be hurt by the rubber sides of these two craft squeezing me and I knew exactly what I had to do to keep the boat facing the right way. Perhaps not the job of a 1st Assistant Director which is what I was at the time and still am. But with a tight schedule and no money for overtime, every second saved to spend wisely later is worth it. That is the job to make the seconds count. Tough job.
So I jumped in and grabbed the ropes joining the crafts and delicately steered the smaller zodiac to keep the people in the shot. We got the shot in one take which was great. We broke off the cables and one cable they gave to me to swim the few feet to the large Zodiac that held a dozen people and was very fast and powerful with its engines and propeller well under the keel. It slowly started to pull away and remembering the fun of being towed by a rope in the water I lay on my back about 30 feet behind the craft and enjoyed the trip. In a sense it was a small reward for getting the shot and I knew I had a few minutes to kill before everyone was on shore and we could set up the next shot. I knew the water was shallow and I could stand whenever I let go of the rope so I just was having fun. The zodiac driver was not aware I was a freeloader enjoying the fun of it all. I let go and sank not to my shoulders as I expected but down, down, down about 8 feet. I jumped up off the bottom and popped to the surface and I could not kick with my feet in the dry suit all filled now with water. I was worried and I realized I did not know how to signal that I was in distress. I sank again and this time when I came up I raised one arm which seemed a logical sort of signal for attention. Nothing. I raised both arms nothing. I sank and jumped up once more now panicking that I was going to drown. I for some reason remembered that I should watch my breath and try to get under control. I do not know exactly why this came to mind but it relates directly to those two statements at the start of this story . Well when I watched my breath and I was immediately reminded of laboratory mice used for feeding boa constrictors hyperventilating when they were being squeezed. I was terrified that I would not get my breathing slow enough to really get any air. I was beside myself with fear and panic. There is no other feeling so profoundly debilitating. My arms started to paddle frantically underwater as they did when I was probably 5 or 6 when I was learning how to float on my back and this tiny action kept my head a bit above water and I slowly my breathing slowed down and I regained some control of things. I steered myself toward shore and people came and helped me out. They turned me upside down in my dry suit and I must have had 20 gallons of water in it which made me realize that the joy ride on my back had filled the dry suit with water from the neck down. Everyone laughed as I was deluged with water. I was happy to be alive. It was a lesson and I think the only time I have come close to death and had time to think about it over a minute or so. Fear led me to tense actions and in the end panic. I have experienced accidents but they happen in a trice and you either make the right move or bite the bullet. I have so far made the right moves and each motorcycle and bicycle accident I can remember in minute detail although none took more than 10 or 15 seconds to materialize and come to a conclusion. Each is a miracle of luck for other than a couple of cracked ribs I have never been hurt. Each seemed to go on a long time with many decisions being made mid air or in the moments leading up to the actual contact of the crash. It is amazing how fast the mind really is and how it remembers vividly what takes place in milliseconds. I do not think computers are faster. They just can keep the pace up for a longer time in a narrow simple task.
Monday, October 29, 2007
I am a survivor. In fact you all are, or at least all of you who are reading the beginning of my blog. It is something I am joyful for as it allows me to experience my life. Somewhere in the early 60s I decided I did not want to Work as a Sales Rep. for Office Overload which was a temporary help agency. I know it was heavy on my mind for several months but I had no skills really and was coping at best. Not everyone knew that for at heart you can tell my mood in a millisecond, but you cannot tell my inner feelings of confidence or the lack of it, even if I claim to be one way or the other. I am a convincing liar to get my own way. I would not consider it malicious lying but just 'staying alive' lying. Since I was 4 I have been considered headstrong. I consider myself curious and just wanting to do what I want to do. After 73 years around here on earth I have to say yes, headstrong is an honest evaluation. It was spring and and sunny warm. I was driving to an appointment in my bosses Lincoln town car which was mine to use when he was not in town. On the radio, CBC was talking about the new Television station that was being built called CFTO, the new television channel is the core of the CTV national network in Canada. They were designing and building all the flats and sets for their regular programs out at some studios in Kleinburg just north west of downtown Toronto on Highway 27. It stuck so in my mind that I got a road map out of the glove compartment and found out were Kleinburg was. I drove there in by business suit, which was standard wear for me. Remember the image of the IBM executive and you pretty well sum up how I looked. I now have suits for weddings and funerals. Well, I went up to Kleinberg and talked to several departments who would only take experienced people but the man in charge of the Art and Paint Department said he would hire me to wash out paint brushes for 50 dollars a week. I said I really, really, wanted the job but I could not pay my bills earning so little. I followed that with "I can manage at 60". He gave me the job and the money I asked for. I remember when I walked out I was excited that not only did I have a new life ahead of me I had also proved myself as a salesman.
As I am writing this in my third floor attic office, I looked up on the wall. I have a framed picture of John Ritter. The caption is "Hey John - Have I told you how I got started in Show Business? Well... It all began as a kid with a dream" He would say that very slowly like the beginning of a long, long story and laugh and then get up; kidding me because he knew I wanted him on set. We worked on a TV movie called Lethal Vows. It was the only time. He was such a nice and thoughtful, happy, person. His vibrations just joined with my own and I am sure with other peoples in a most harmonious way. The whole experience of that movie is etched in my mind and milestones in my life happened during the shoot. It lead me to try a flower remedy for lack of confidence which can overtake anyone, and did me for about a week before I took the flower remedy, called Larch, prescribed for exactly that feeling. I was fine in less than 3 days and aced the picture. I fasted for 12 days during the shoot. Green grapes and water and towards the end of the 12 days some hot water with lemon and unpasturized honey in the evening. We were doing 12 hour days. Solid director, Producer and script with a great cast and an excellent crew. Smooth sailing. The producer Robert Phillips, I have lost touch with was an awesome producer on our project. Such a gentle man who knew his stuff and could and did exert his judgement when necessary. We would drive at night after the days shoot through different parts of Toronto and I would point out the highlights of buildings and houses and parks. It was summer and wonderful to do. I looked forward to them as the perfect way to come down from all the adrenelin use during the day. We talked about politics and life freely together. Very special.