The Vinyl Cafe in Hamilton

December 20, 2012

My mother and I went to see Stuary McLean and the Vinyl Cafe Christmas Tour last night, which is something of a holiday tradition for us. It was a great evening – Reid Jamieson performed, as well as John Sheard, Dennis Pendrith, and a vocal trio dubbed “The Vinylettes”. Stuart retold the classic story about Dave building a snow machine, gave us two brand-new tales, (or at least ones that haven’t been featured on the radio show yet,) and was very funny organizing the prize giveaway just before intermission, with the help of a young child from one of the first two rows.

Stuart has an unfair reputation in some circles for telling long, pointless stories very slowly. Last night I think I really appreciated just how funny he can be, and how good his sense of comic timing is, especially when describing a scene where things are about to go very, very badly. Yes, he’ll dole out one sentence and pause, long enough to let us rev our imaginations into gear, and then drop another little tidbit. But it works. The heartwarming ending is also a big crowd-pleaser, of course.

One fun little moment involved what Stuart called ‘losing control of the show.’ The set-up began before the intermission, when Stuart said that he was giving out a prize for the oldest person in attendance. One lady called out 87, and before taking any other contenders he told the crowd that he wanted to talk with her a moment; Stuart asked her if she’d ever won anything before, she said no, (which could be a natural lie in the circumstances – you wouldn’t want to get passed over because you’ve won something before.)

‘Really, never won a thing in 87 years? I wonder how you get out of bed in the mornings.’ Paraphrased, but that was the sentiment, and we all laughed a little.

Then there was somebody else who won the prize for being 88, and Stuart gave the 87-year old lady his regrets. After the intermission, he checked with his young helper to make sure that everybody had got their prizes, and a sort of chant emerged from somewhere off to audience right. The people wanted the 87-year old woman to get a prize.

Stuart went along with it, making wisecracks the whole time. The woman got a Reid Jamieson CD, autographed by Stuart and each of the performers for the show, and also signed by the delivery kid. Somebody called out that it was his birthday at this point, and Stuart fished out one more prize CD, but drew the line at having anybody sign it. Enough was enough, at that point.

So it was a really fun evening, and definitely helped me get into the Christmas spirit. Less than a week left!

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Workshop is drawing to a close…

July 4, 2012

How’d that happen? I feel like it was only yesterday that I showed up here at Krehbiel Scholarship Hall, dragging my suitcases behind me. It can’t have been a week and a half already!

I’ve learned a lot and had a blast, met some great new people, learned a lot about my craft and my stories, and I’ve started planning for the trip back to Canada – which is going to be a little bit crazy, since I need to get picked up by the airport shuttle at (gulp) 4:30 am on Friday.

And I’m both excited and daunted by the fact that I’ll be charging directly into the Polaris convention experience, instead of going home, once I return to Canada! 😉

Certainly getting my money’s worth on vacation days, at least.

How’s your summer going?


Blog the Cat, Chapter 2 – Story Genres

January 22, 2011

Blog the Cat post index.

So, in Chapter 2 of Save the cat, “Give me the same thing… only different!” Blake Snyder talks about how to dance with cliche – you have to be in the vicinity of a cliche, because otherwise your script is probably so out there that most viewers won’t be able to relate to it at all, but not too close. He ties this back into the scenario of pitching your movie – that not only do you have to be able to explain what your movie idea is, but also what it’s most like – and that you have to be very familiar with other movies in your genre, so as to know what the specific cliches are and put your own spin on your story.

He then starts going into detail about his own working list of ten genres or categories, which aren’t organized along traditional lines, because a term like ‘Romantic Comedy’ or ‘Hard Science Fiction’ doesn’t explain anything about the storyline, which is a good point. To run down the story genres quickly, we have:

Monster in the house: Dangerous ‘monster’, (who could be a person,) and people trapped inside an enclosed ‘house’ with it. Lots of running and hiding, usually at least one of the people is morally responsible for the monster being there, and they die while others manage to escape at the end.

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