Sunday, May 28, 2006

from the "Belize Tunes" dept.


My pal Ivan Duran (above)and his Stonetree record label were featured in the Sunday May 28th edition of the Los Angeles Times.



Friday, May 26, 2006

S is for Saturday

S. Crow
Originally uploaded by borderfilms (Doug).

What a week!

Online news all week, and the fun continues with a weekend of TV news.

Some random thoughts:

- saw a doc on eastern European film musicals from Soviet times. Fantastic doc. It's called East Side Story. Go rent it!

- finally watched ALL of "The Last Waltz." Wow! Must own this!

- Lonely Planet continues to churn away. More news soon.

- Another gig has come my way, and if I'm lucky and play my cards right, this could be a six-figure year. Imagine!

- Going to book Cuba this weekend. Details soon.


Thursday, May 25, 2006

from the "out of gas" dept.

It's a short post tonight.

Same excuses apply: too much work, not enough time.

I'm in the midst of an 11 day stretch. 3 down. 8 to go.

Another gig is on the horizon.

Heard from Lonely Planet today. Nothing definitive, but the process continues.

Looking forward to sleeping in Saturday, instead of getting up at 5:30am. I would make a bad milkman.

Do they still have those?

Waffling on Cuba again. Needs vs. wants.

Damn you, responsible Doug!

Yadda, yadda.


Monday, May 22, 2006

from the "new country" dept.

Yesterday, May 21, 2006, the residents of Montenegro voted for independence from Serbia by a razor-thin margin. This means, barring any serious challenge or errors, that Montenegro will leave its partnership with Serbia and become an independent state this year.

I visited Montenegro (Crna Gora) last year and was absolutely blown away by the beauty of the tiny former-Yugoslav republic that sits on the Adriatic.

Sveti Stefan, Montenegro
(Sveti Stefan, Montenegro - May 17, 2005)

So now I have an idea. And, of course, it relates to travel.

As we all know, I am infatuated with the Balkans. I've visited all of the former-Yugoslav republics (Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia, Slovenia and Croatia) and find the area incredibly fascinating. I must have lived there in a former life.

My idea is this: travel to Montenegro for independence day. Enter when it is still Serbia-Montenegro and leave after it becomes the planet's newest nation. And, be there in Podgorica, for the moment a country is born (or re-born, as Montenegro was independent prior to being part of Yugoslavia).

These things don't happen everyday, and I am sure it would be a memorable event and a hell of a party.

So that's the idea. I'm accepting donations.


Saturday, May 20, 2006

from the "organic" dept.

I'm midway through a long weekend, and enjoying having 3 full days off. Add to that the change that comes with housesitting for my pal Lisa in her South Granville condo.

For those of you who care about such things, I used to live in South Granville. I was over at 12th and Fir and lived there from 1999 through 2001 or so. It was a nice joint (and used to be Brent's) and I miss much about the neighbourhood.

The 'hood has changed a lot in the past few years. Lots more money, and much of the Granville strip caters to those with far more dough (or credit) than I. And some of the things that made South Granville a neat place to be are gone. No more Normandy Restaurant. No more Tanglewood (used) Books.

But Oscars Art Books remains, despite being across the street from a sterile Chapters book store. And Caffe Barney still stands. It's like a neighbourhood pub -- in fact, it is a neighbourhood pub. Good food. Little pretention (if that's a word!). And a fine tap. Even Strongbow.

So it is that whenever I house sit for Lisa, I'm drawn to Barney's. I haven't lived nearby for years, but they still know my name. And it's always a good time.

Today I went there with Lorne and Katrina for a late afternoon brunch. The food was outstanding, and the people great.

It's very organic.

And that leads me to another train of thought.

My buddy and business partner Randy Walden (who is touring bunkers and missle silos in the SW USA -- BASTARD!) produced a documentary on the history of Canadian popular music from the late 50s through 1973 when CanCon regulations came into force.

I'd seen rough cuts, final cuts, and two television broadcasts. Tonight it aired on CBC again. And I watched like it was the first time. It's called Shakin' All Over and it is beyond excellent. If you haven't seen it -- SEE IT! You'll be proud. Really!

So that got me thinking -- why do I like the music in Shakin' so much? And why do I listen to the 70s channel on XM?

I hate oldies, I hate classic rock and yet, I am drawn to this older stuff. Not that I dislike new music... the more the better. But there is something about the music of the 60s and 70s and until tonight I couldn't put my finger on it.

But now I can: it's because that music is organic. There isn't lots of fancy processing. It's pretty much the real deal. And the songwriting was so strong and original.

And I'm not anti-processing. I like electronica, drum & bass, ambient, etc. I own several DJ Food discs.

But that old stuff... well, it rocks!

And with that... time to pull the pin. Looks like a one day trip to La Conner, WA to take pictures of tulips. And another day off Monday. And -- hoo boy! -- do I pay for 3 days off: I have 10 in a row.

All the more reason to throw caution to the wind and go to Cuba with Lorne, Katrina, Debbie and John in late June.

Can you say country #46?


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

from the "time flies" dept.

Originally uploaded by

I can't believe it's the 17th of May already.

Last week blew by:
- worked 7 days
- got LP done

- had 2 days "off" and played tourist in my home town.
- back at work again, though went for bike #2.
- Weekend off coming up -- hurray!

More words this weekend. Photos too.


Saturday, May 13, 2006

from the "done like dinner" dept.

What a week.

As mentioned previously I was working away at writing online news all week. And in the evening I was working on my not-so-secret Lonely Planet project.

Today, Friday, was the deadline for that -- and I had a video shoot where I was playing my old role of soundman. That went well, and we were done early.

Then it was home to get the LP submission under 2000 words (1998!!) and put the final touch ups on it before sending it via email to Melbourne, OZ.

At 11:50pm, with 10 minutes to go, I hit SEND.

And now the wait.

The first version was reviewed a month ago -- and some parts were good, some less so. But, the good folks at LP recognized that there was something there, and invited me to resubmit.

It's funny how calm I am about this. Years ago, I would have been a nervous wreck. Now I'm just a tired wreck.

But when I step back and think I am actually being considered by Lonely Planet as a guidebook writer -- well, that's pretty big.

Maybe there is something to this travel writing after all.

Well, the waiting begins! And I'm through with writing until... Saturday at 2 when I have to go to work writing TV news. Ditto Sunday.

Then two delicious days off Monday and Tuesday.


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

from the "writer's block" dept.

Yes, it's true. I am brain cramped in a big way. And it's a bad time for that!

The travel piece deadline hovers (Friday) and I am nearly done (Wednesday), but I am slamming my head into the wall, table and floor, trying to get those last few creative words down.

They're not coming, the bastards!

And they're in my head! And the dictionary! It's not like I have to invent them. No, I just have to choose them.


Ah, because creativity is supposed to be hard, I guess. And, the pressure usually defeats the block. And it should be no different this time.

But really, surely it shouldn't be this hard?

On another note...

I finally had a bunch of prints made from my digital picture files. I've not done a lot of that to date, and when Futureshop was offering 15 cent prints and $3 8x10's I jumped.

Now I have images of various travels -- Dubrovnik, Croatia 2005; Livingston, Guatemala 2003; Caye Caulker, Belize 2006 -- on the mantle to remind me of what was, and what will be again.

It's easy to forget the trips sometimes. I mean, they're always there -- I doubt more than a few days go buy without me thinking about the Spain/Portugal bike trip in 1993 (13 frickin' years ago!!!!!!!!).

But now with memories staring me in the face, it's comforting in a way.

Many of the prints I had done prior to Photoshop tweaking. This I now regret, as I have learned a few techniques that make photos sing. Ergo, this short from last fall, somewhere along the South Shore of Nova Scotia:

No Service

Cool, no?


The XM Radio is blasting out tracks from the new Donald Fagan album. Tasty stuff. Must buy... Fagan is too damn cool for his own beeswax.

Well, hopefully this little exercise has shaken loose some words... and I can get that project done once and for all.

More soon...


Saturday, May 06, 2006

from the "couch dept." dept.

I've been more than a little slack in writing here. As always, it boils down to time. Despite being handed some 80 years to muck about with, and having only used just over half, I still find it difficult to find spare time.

That's not true.

I do find spare time, that is, time when I'm not working. But I use this time for other things. Eating. Sleeping. Bitching. Avoiding lists. Accounting. And so on.

However, I find that when I find time, I find that the last thing I want to do is write. After writing all day, writing all night is just not a high priority. Why?

Because it's not easy.

Sure, it sounds easy. But really, at the end of the day, I always find writing a challenge. More so work writing that writing like this.

I like this kind of writing. But, it's not fun if it's forced.

I need to be in the proper headspace (ie: not tired) and have some spare time. The two are almost mutually exclusive.

When I returned home from Belize, I had a fairly open schedule, that quickly filled up. For the past 3 weeks (!) I've been writing web news, starting daily at 6am. Fortunately, I have the weekends off, a nice change.

Coming up: at least 7 straight. And then an open schedule again.

So I hope that the open schedule stays somewhat open, so I can write fun (my) stuff, but not feel forced to do it. It seems when I feel obligated, I often write about how busy I am.

And that, I bet, is boring.

Right. So, now my obligation to the blog is covered off. And I can go fetch my car that I left downtown last night after hoisting pints and downing fries with Lorne and Katrina at Caffe Barney.

"Snakes on a Plane"


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Gimme 5

Thumbs Down
Originally uploaded by

The weekend was fab. Like having a real life! After the big day out with Mr. P. Saturday, Sunday was a repeat.

In the morning there was a suprise brunch for Lorne's wife, Katrina. She was pleasantly surprised, and it was a great chance to wag the chin with a tableful of people I've not seen in a while. Now I know why working weekends sucks. You lose your life.

After the big feed at Cafe Deux Soleil on Commercial Drive, I zipped home and pulled my dusty old bike from the garage.

After swaping out my knobby tyres for slicks, I drove out to Kitsilano and met up with Leanne. It was a sunny, though cool, day and we cycled for about 2 blocks before my new slick came off the rim.

No biggie. We visited a nearby gas station -- and after some fighting with the rubber, we got it all sorted. And we were mobile again.

We cruised around Kits, the various beaches, and basically enjoyed a fine day off.

We ended the day looking at pictures from Tofino.

Monday was a return to the 6am grind writing webnews followed by a single beer and lots of conversation with Cheryl and Lisa. Unfortunately I had my car, so I was limited to just the one Red Truck. A fine brew none the less. To say nothing of hanging with Cheryl and Lisa, of course.

Tuesday: work. Tough day because it was budget day. Then watched the Sopranos and found myself depressed to learn that Tony is 46. Sheesh!

That's the latest. Something more interesting/creative soon!