My weekend in the city.

August 7, 2011

I didn’t end up getting much editing done so far this weekend. But I had a pretty great time, met some new people, and got out of my comfort zone a bit to spend time with people, which is something that I generally see some value in, as opposed to shutting myself up in my apartment and writing – or writing on public transit with my headphones in, for that matter.

So, the fun kicked off with my brother picking me up on Saturday afternoon. I drove his car along the Lakeshore route up until around downtown Oakville, which seemed to be having a festivity of some sort that shut down the main road, and I stopped to switch places with him, and he drove the rest of the way to North York, and a Karaoke fundraiser for charity that somebody on the Toronto Whedon-fan mailing lists had mentioned. I do like Karaoke when I can go in a situation where I don’t feel like a complete outsider, and Jason mentioned that there were several special Firefly and Buffy themed songs in the program.

It was a lot of fun. I sang four numbers:
Rest in Peace, Spike’s solo from the Buffy musical
The Downeaster Alexa, by Billy Joel
The Impossible Dream, from ‘Man of la Mancha’
The Hero of Canton, from the Firefly episode ‘Jaynestown.’

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Final Polaris round-up.

July 18, 2011

Okay, my sleep schedule’s a little wonky at the moment, work stuff kept me up last night, but I’ll share some of my favorite moments from Sunday at Polaris 25, after I signed off from yesterday.

The writing workshop with Julie Czerneda was really cool – it was oriented for beginners, but I learned some cool stuff – working in groups to come up with science-based ideas, develop them, and then start to add in protagonists, settings, emotional reactions for the reader, and figure out how to explain the science to the reader. I also thought it was interesting that she didn’t see much value in writers critiquing other writers.

The meeting with the other writers from Ad Astra was nice – hi guys, if any of you are dropping by to catch up on my blog!

And then, there was the Jewel Staite stuff – she had a fun Q&A, didn’t want anybody recording video or sound so that she could ‘trash talk’ without fear of it coming out to haunt her. I actually asked four questions:

  • What were you thinking of when filming the strawberry scene? (She said that she had cheeseburgers on the brain when Joss told her to imagine it was the tastiest thing ever – and that he really loved the very first take she did.)
  • What was your favorite outfit of Kaylee’s? ‘Not the birthday cake dress!’
  • Favorite episode of firefly? ‘I really loved filming The Message, even though we’d found out we were cancelled by then, because we decided to have a great time and make as much fun for ourselves as we could.’
  • If Firefly came back, what would you like to have happen next in Kaylee’s life? ‘I’d love to see her and Simon have a baby together, I think Kaylee would be a really great mom.’

And I got a picture signed, and also had her sign the ‘Those Left Behind’ comic book, which is starting to accumulate nearly as many Big Damn Signatures as the Firefly Blueprints Book.

After going through the signature room again, in only 20 minutes or so, I hit a few panels, covering Starship captains and Smallville season ten, (which I haven’t finished watching, and got spoiled on a few details, but what the heck?) Then it was time for the Geek-off Championships, where I scored a single point, which meant I was in a four-way tie for fourth place or something like that.

Then my brother had arrived to drive me home, and I drove half-way myself, along Lakeshore road from Oakville through Burlington, and then across the Burlington lift bridge.


Polaris update – Day 1

July 15, 2011

Let’s see. Woke up very early this morning, rushed around making sure that everything was packed before work. Work was rather dull.

My brother got me to the hotel around 3:30 this afternoon despite Toronto traffic, and then I spent some time waiting in line for the hotel check-in at the Best Western desk; there were more than a dozen people waiting when I got there, and it took nearly half an hour to clear the line. Then rushing around to get my badge for the convention and a few other things, grabbing a bit of food, and wandering past some of the kiosks and through the Dealer’s room, which was a lot of fun.

In the dealer’s room, I considered buying many things, including doctor who sonic screwdrivers, t-shirts, and promotional photos of some of my fave actors, but only ended up making one purchase – a collection of Doctor Horrible comics, which I positively couldn’t pass up. Then I went to the opening ceremonies, which were rather good as an orientation session, and watched the screening of the Doctor Horrible fan-made prequel, “Horrible Turn.”

There was sing-along karaoke after the screening finished, and I stayed for two of my favorite songs from the Horrible sound-track, and then it was time to go to the Geek-off room.

I played in two Geek-offs tonight. The first was Battlestar Galactica/Caprica, which I’m not a complete ignoramus in, but I couldn’t catch a good question and ended in last place with zero points, but what the heck, I had fun anyway. Then came the Whoniverse geekoff (Doctor Who/Torchwood,) where I did better, just managing to survive the elimination round and ending up with a respectable but not incredible four points.

I’m really looking forward to defending my title in the Whedonverse geek-off tomorrow night. Last year, I was weak on Dollhouse, so I’ve been cramming for a few weeks, but I’ve still only really managed to get up to the end of season one.

Wish me lots of luck, not just in the Geek-off, but in making the most of everything that’ll be going on this weekend!


Can’t stop the Serenity 2011

June 17, 2011

The Toronto CSTS screening event is tomorrow afternoon. I’m so excited that it’s almost here!

Background: Can’t stop the Serenity is a charity fundraiser put on by fans of the ‘Firefly’ franchise, benefiting Equality Now, an organization that fights for the human rights of women around the world. (It’s a favorite charity of Joss Whedon, the creator of Firefly.) They run events in many US cities and other countries around the world, though I’ve only ever been to the Torotno screenings. Check http://www.cantstoptheserenity.com/ to see if there’s one near you!

The 2005 feature film ‘Serenity’ is screened, some of the attendees dress up in character, there’s an auction of some cool geeky souvenirs, (some of which have been signed by celebrities,) and then some of the fans move to a local restaurant for the ‘shindig’ party.

This will be my third screening. I actually found out about the first one, in 2008, more or less by accident, from another member of the Hamilton Nanowrimo writer’s group, who was saying that she wouldn’t be available to meet at a coffee hous that Saturday. I decided it was too cool not to go into Toronto for it. That was really the start of my participation in the Toronto fandom scene, though it took me a little while to actually go back in for another Shindig.

I didn’t actually make it to the screening in 2009, though I prepaid my ticket and my t-shirt, so I still contributed to the fundraising that year. (And I love the shirt.) I had some health issues that summer, and if I recall correctly I was out of the hospital by that weekend, but not feeling up to much more than sitting around the apartment and going out for my clinic appointments. I did have a little Firefly DVD marathon to console myself for what I was missing.

And last year, I went in costume for the first time, having put together a thrift-store outfit that looked recognizably like one of Simon Tam’s suits. Picked up a great needlepoint at the auction that I still have sitting on my desk – and that’s the day that I had a bit of unexpected excitement getting home on account of the G20 riots.

This year, I’ve got my eye on a Serenity mousepad as well as some other goodies at the auction. And I’d like to actually put myself out there socially and talk to more new people than I have before.


The Lost Ad Astra Notes: part 1

May 20, 2011

So, it’s been nearly a month since I went to the Ad Astra science fiction convention in Toronto, but I didn’t post that much about it because that was in the middle of the A-Z challenge, and the good letters like A for Ad Astra and C for Convention had already passed. And I didn’t pull my notes out as soon as May started. So here are my somewhat scattered thoughts.

My overall impression of Ad Astra was that it was ‘more Polaris than Polaris.’ Polaris 24 was my first hotel-based convention, and in some ways it was crazier than the conventions with bigger celebrity guests at fancier venues, like Wizard World or Fan Expo, because there were so many really cool panels going on, always something interesting happening, the action starting relatively early and ending really late, scrambling to find some time to grab a bit of food in between panels that I really wanted to get to. Those are all the ways that Ad Astra was moreso than Polaris.

And it was at least as much crazy fun.

So, my Mom picked me up at work this time to drive me into the city, on the condition that I at least try to buy any of a long list of Mercedes Lackey books for her. The drive went reasonably well, except that we got somewhat lost actually looking for the driveway into the hotel, though we spotted the building quickly enough. Then there was a bit of a wait for my room to be ready when I was checking in.

I registered, started going over my program and the schedule to see what panels I thought I’d be able to make, and a friend from the Firefly fan group, Colleen, spotted me sitting in the lobby and asked if I could keep watch over her suitcase for a few minutes, and I agreed. Then she got dragged outside by her grandkids and I had to hang around for a while until she got back.

My first panel was with Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon, who were a lot of fun; that one was about continuity in an ongoing series. Then a panel on how to find good beta readers, which had lots of interesting tips. I was making notes like crazy on whatever came easily to hand – the iphone for one panel, a palmpilot for the next, and so on. I’ll put together as many of the notes as I can and share them with you all.

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Toronto

April 23, 2011

T is for…

Well, I’ve already dedicated H to my true hometown of Hamilton, but Toronto is sort of a half-adopted hometown, a place that’s also very dear to my heart. I didn’t really pay it that much attention for the first eighteen years plus of my life, except for a place to occasionally go to ride up the CN tower or see a baseball game or get government records, and really I suppose I was really ignorant of the benefits of living so close to such an amazing city. But then, I was young.

I moved to Toronto, to the suburban wilds of North York at least, for university, in the fall of 1995, and spent four years at York University, commuting back home to crash at my parent’s place every other weekend or so. (For some reason I still have dreams about finding my way across the big city on the TTC and looking for a new room to rent in Toronto.) I spent the first year, including the summer, in residence, and then spent the regular school term in rental places found on the housing board and summers back in Hamilton.

After seven months spent trying to find a job with only a bachelor’s degree and no work experience, during the consolidation days of the Y2K scare, I ended up going back to school in Toronto, taking the applied IT course at the Herzing institute in the Eaton center, and commuting into the city and back every day from Hamilton on GO transit – which would have been much more stressful, except that regular classes only lasted for four hours a day when I wasn’t doing teaching assistance or tutoring or grading for the school, so a lot of the time I could head back to Hamilton early. It was really a worthwhile experience, rounding out my university education with some more marketable skills, and also giving me a few useful connections, including the referral that led me to the job that I’m in now, (indirectly.)

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Scripts

April 22, 2011

S is for…

Yeah, I know that Rach has extended a special Crusader challenge for Showing, but I couldn’t avoid doing a second Script Frenzy check-in for S.

Overall, writing my Alien Mafia Script has been going really well since I last mentioned it, with “F is for Frenzy”. I went up to Toronto twice last weekend to meet with other Frenziers and work on my red netbook, and on Tuesday evening, in the Central branch of the Hamilton Public Library, before the Hamilton Writers’ meeting at Chesters Beers of the world, I actually got to THE END.

The trouble was, I was only up to page 89 by that point!

Hamilton Writers’ was an interesting experience this week, by the way, because there was a Rush concert in town, so Chester’s was full of Rush fans grabbing dinner and a drink before the show. But that’s off-topic.

So, for the past few days, I’ve been working on inserting or expanding scenes in the middle of my script, in an effort to get to the target page number. I’ve borrowed a trick that was mentioned on the Script Frenzy website, and calling them ‘deleted scenes’ just because that gives me permission to have them be really bad and not keep them in the second draft, though some of them might be better than that. If I need to draw on them, I’ve got a few other tricks up my sleeve, like writing fake ‘out-takes’ and a making of documentary or other featurettes.

But that brings me to another point.

The Script Frenzy website has been down yesterday morning, a victim of the Amazon EC2 Cloud crisis. Hopefully it should be up later tonight, but I’m really missing the forums and the Script Frenzy staff video diaries and pep-talks and all of that stuff. I’ve made plans to meet somebody who’s not doing Script Frenzy at a coffeeshop, and wanted to extend the invite to Frenziers as well, but can’t contact them without the website.

So – come on, Amazon! Get your frakkin’ cloud pulled back together, toot sweet!


Hamilton

April 9, 2011

H is for…

I’m not sure if it’s irony or serendipity that the A-Z schedule has me on H for today, because I’d like to write a little about my Hometown of Hamilton, and I’m not there at the moment, nor will I be all day. (I’m up in Toronto for the Ad Astra convention, whoohoo! More about that some other day.)

I was born in Hamilton, grew up there, and through my life there hasn’t been a time where I didn’t have my permanent address there. Even in my university days, I might sleep most nights in a dorm room or rented room in North York, but every other weekend I’d be taking the trip back home.

Hamilton isn’t a really big city, or a small town – the population signs have slowly climbed up over the years to cross the half-million mark though. It has the reputation of being this really gritty blue-collar city, but I guess I’ve never really seen that, unless I’m taking the bus on the Bayshore route past the steel plants. Half of them are shut down now anyway.

Hamilton is a college town – my Dad taught for years at McMaster University, and we have Mohawk community College and a lot of smaller schools as well. It’s a popular filming town, (The train station scene in the X-men, anybody?) It’s a city with a small, but determined and stubborn artist community. It’s the biggest hockey town in Canada that will never ever get its own NHL team for real. (We’re just a bit too close to the Maple Leafs and the Sabres, alas.)

I suppose nearly any city or town has all of those different neighborhoods and places that can surprise you and jump-start your imagination. But Hamilton’s are the closest to me, and I’m satisfied with that. Well, again, except now, because Eglinton avenue is close to me now, and if that can’t jumpstart a story I don’t know what can.

So, what’s your hometown like? (Either where you live now, or where you grew up.)


My Wizard World diary, day Two

March 26, 2011

I arrived not long after 11. Went down the row of Buffy stars for autographs, and Julie Benz and Mark Metcalf were both there. Julie had a long line of people (twisting hack and forth,) but there were only a half-dozen people waiting for Mark.

Some of those guys ahead of me in the line were apparently from a video blog or small tv show, and they wanted to do two seperate interviews with him. I waited patiently, and got him to sign my Buffy RPG book when they were done. Then grabbed a slice of pizza and water, and brought it into Julie’s Q&A.

It was very cool having the VIP pass to get into the front rows of the Buffy fan Q&As. I remember thinking that the reserved seating wasn’t worth much for me, when I was considering getting the VIP upgrade, but it was definitely much appreciated. The MC was a guy from this Stan Lee superhero reality show – he was also there at Nicholas’ Q&A and the costume contests, and was very funny.

Back to Julie’s Q&A. Read the rest of this entry »


My Wizard World diary, day One

March 24, 2011

I wrote down most of these notes on Friday night, after getting back to the hotel after my first evening at Wizard World Toronto Comic Con, but they’ve been somewhat edited for clarity:

I’m starting to get the hang of planning my time for this convention stuff – remembering to anticipate plenty of time for getting from place to place and waiting in lines and so on is key.

I left from work around 2 in the afternoon, pulling my suitcase behind me down Fairview street to the GO train station. Got some editing done on the train, using the Aspire netbook, and when I got off the train, I headed over to the Via rail concourse, planning to grab a double burger at the Harvey’s.

Whoops. The Harvey’s location on the Via rail concourse has apparently closed forever. There was a little sign letting me know that their nearest location was only minutes away, but I didn’t bother looking for it – headed back to the GO concourse to grab a Big Mac, then headed off onto the CN Tower skywalk, and from there south to Queen’s Quay and checked into my hotel.

After taking a few minutes to unpack a few things from my gray laptop bag, (including the netbook,) it was off via streetcar to the Direct Energy center. Paid for the upgrade from an ordinary weekend ticket to Buffyfest VIP pass, got my fancy lithograph VIP souvenir, and out onto the convention floor.

I didn’t do that much wandering Read the rest of this entry »


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