Friday, 2 March 2007

Death by Misadventure: The Screenplay - Part 4


Yes, I know.

Part 3 of my screenplay ended rather abruptly.

We followed Grundman (from a safe distance) across a mile of desert and watched while he littered the ground with beer cans, cigarette butts and a half-dozen saguaro corpses until he reached Ha:san. Then he and the story stopped dead.

No, our narrator didn’t walked out on us. I just wanted to add suspense. Hey, that’s show-biz.

(FYI. I may not be able to get Tom Selleck to narrate after all. He’s not returning my calls. Maybe Al Gore will agree to follow up his solid venture into film making with a guest spot in my movie. I’ll make a note to phone him. And there’s still been no word from anyone about a pet coyote.)

The narrator (Tom, Al, whoever) will next read three short sentences directly from the book upon which my screenplay is based. (pg. 192, Jack Ruby’s Kitchen Sink, Tom Miller)

“Finally David Grundman encountered Ha:san. A couple of rounds didn’t do it. Ha:san, 125 years old, remained erect.”

The camera will move in for a close-up of Grundman’s sweaty face as he surveys the damage he has wrought thus far.

Seconds slowly tick by. He casually takes a last swig of beer, a final draw on his cigarette and flicks the butt onto the bare soil.

We have time to ask ourselves, What’s he thinking? Is he going to wise up? Curse himself for doing so much damage to other living things? Go get a bigger rifle?

Grundman bends down, reaches for the box of shells sitting at his feet.

The narrator reads, “He moved slightly to another angle and pumped a few more slugs into the splendid 3,000-pound saguaro, but it refused to fall. He tried again from farther over.”

Though Grundman’s face registers frustration he is determined to best the cactus. So he picks up a saguaro rib from the ground and starts poking at Ha:san’s lowest arm, which has grown almost five feet in its 70 years.

(To those who are surprised by the man’s stubbornness or stupidity, or both, may I just say for the record that you shouldn’t be. Mankind has been doing much the same thing to the planet for the last 100 years in countless other ways. You should be used to it by now. Sorry, back to the screenplay.)

Grundman’s poking finally dislodges the arm, which rests about four feet above him and weighs close to 500 pounds.

I could stop right here to build more suspense but that’s so old, so been-there-done-that.

No. Instead, what follows will take place in ultra-slow-motion in true Sam Peckinpah-fashion.

The 500-pound arm falls to the ground. It breaks Grundman’s neck on the way.

Then Ha:san, suddenly unstable, starts wobbling, and falls onto the lifeless man as well, piercing his face and torso in hundreds of places.

As the movie screen gradually fades to black three things will happen simultaneously.

We’ll see the county medical examiner fill in Grundman’s toe tag with the following words; cause of death – external compression of the chest - 04/02/82.

We’ll hear the ballad Saguaro that contains the line “One mighty arm of justice came hurtling toward the ground”. (Michael Stevens, Austin Lounge Lizards)

And we’ll be asked by the film’s narrator, “How will mankind’s movie end?”

Thursday, 1 March 2007

Let it Rain...Ice Pellets


As I write I can hear ice pellets tapping on my windows, and occasionally the overhead light flickers off and on. Even so, I pray for the bad weather to continue long enough to cancel school tomorrow. With temperatures hovering around the 0 mark I know I won't freeze to death if the hydro goes out and I have a lot of blankets. I don't mind missing my morning hot shower if it means a few precious hours to huddle inside a sleeping bag with a good book.
I've been thinking about how unprepared I really am for a hydro outage. I have no alternate source of heat, no radio that doesn't need electricity, no gas stove, no extra batteries for my one flashlight. I do have a package of 100 tealights (I could sit in my wok and light a few but there wouldn't be enought room for my daughter...?) I could run out to my car when I get really cold and sit idling in the driveway and catch up on the news at the same time, doesn't seem environmentally friendly however. My clothes dryer is gas but would be a tight squeeze!
My fellow blogger Espresso recently wrote (blogged?) about how we've become accustomed to a comfortable way of life, and that sacrifices would be required to live a "greener", potentially planet-saving lifestyle. Can we, will we, make those sacrifices? I've been thinking about that alot, and maybe our thought patterns need to make a shift. Perhaps we can look at personal (and hopefully industrial) changes as a challenge, a game, a competition. For my brother, it could mean hours and hours of crazy fun with computer graphs, pie charts and pages of statistics! I like statistics too, though I'm not nearly as compulsive as he, well almost, maybe, no, not at all.
So, I've been looking into Bullfrog Power (www.bullfrogpower.com ) which provides electricity from totally renewable resources. My current hydro company charges me 5.5 cents per kWh for the first 1000 kilowatt hours, and 6.4 cents thereafter. Bullfrog Power charges 9.1 cents per kWh. If I used 1000 kWh in a month I would pay an extra $36.00 for Bullfrog Power, peace of mind - priceless! The game then is making up the difference ($36.00) elsewhere - I haven't figured out the savings yet (I'll get my brother working on it) but by using compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) instead of the incandescents I now use I might save enough to cancel out the hydro increase. CFLs use 2/3 less energy than incandescents. Let's make the switch now, before incandescents get banned and there's a run on CFLs, otherwise we could all be in the DARK!

Death by Misadventure: The Screenplay – Part 3


In my last post I described, in brilliant detail if I do say so myself (and I do), the slow growth of Ha:san, a stately 125-year-old saguaro cactus (found in the Sonoran Desert an hour’s drive northeast of Phoenix, Arizona) and one of the two main characters in my screenplay (hopefully, a soon-to-be released motion picture worthy of several Oscars).

The second character is David Grundman, a 25-year-old man wearing a dark-blue t-shirt, dusty jeans and scruffy leather boots, last seen “slipping a shotgun shell into his 16-gauge and preparing to blow two empty beer cans into smithereens”.

Twenty minutes before our protagonists meet for the first and last time, Grundman finishes loading his rifle, takes aim and confidently pulls the trigger.

The noise alone would have knocked over the beer cans had the red-hot stream of buckshot not found its mark. Before the large spray of dust and gravel settles every tiny creature within a one-mile radius of the blast has skittered off to find safe refuge.

Grundman spits toward the middle of the dirt road, opens his third beer, lights a cigarette, turns and walks into the desert.

As he hikes unknowingly but unerringly toward Ha:san he passes several wolfberry shrubs and squat mesquite trees but shoots not a one, intent on shooting saguaros only. They make easy, immobile targets, almost humanlike with their arms in the air.

He starts with smaller saguaros and works up to bigger ones, each time shooting at their ribs, so that without support, the cactus falls over dead.

In the silent desert the final fall of each cactus makes a thunderous noise and as Grundman’s sixth victim, a statuesque 18-footer, crumbles before our eyes, we hear Johnny Cash singing the chorus of a gritty funeral dirge, as follows;

“And you could have it all, my empire of dirt. I will let you down. I will make you hurt.” (Hurt, American IV: The Man Comes Around)

Pretty darn dramatic, eh? (I’ll be right back. I'm going to go reserve a tux for next year's Oscars.)

Finally, after leaving a filthy trail of beer cans, cigarette butts and dead saguaros, grundman encounters Ha:san.

Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Two Approaches - Same Message


Hazel-Nut and creme ... your thoughts on the environment are topical and certainly thought-provoking. Hazel-Nut ... the looming oil shortage has been debated for some time and may soon be upon us. Changing our ways and using common sense are easier said than done. We have had a lifetime of living with the benefits of the world's resources but actualizing the fact that they are finite requires sacrifice.
We use resources ... we are increasing in population ... we strive for an'improved' lifestyle ... Is it possible to change any of these otherwise our discussions are for not. Perhaps by using what has been provided for us in a wiser manner, limiting our population (a politician's dilemna) and changing the psyche of the world population ... we may have a chance. The odds seem long.
(I think Kirk Anderson's cartoon sums it up very well)
Creme, your proposed screenplay is a great metaphor for what I believe will eventually happen. Nature will rebound and thrive regardless of the destruction wrought upon it. It is here for the long haul ... we may not be!

Death by Misadventure: The Screenplay – Part 2


As B.B. King’s wailing fades into yesterday we are briefly introduced to the film’s protagonists 30 minutes before they meet on Feb. 4th, 1982 for the first and last time.

The first is a splendid 125-year-old, 3,000-pound saguaro cactus situated one or two miles east of a dirt road that passes through the Sonoran Desert an hour northeast of Phoenix, Arizona, in an area governed by the Bureau of Land Management.

The cactus is called Ha:san (pronounced hah-shin), the word for saguaro within the Tohono O’odham nation.

The second is David Grundman, age 25. He is slightly over six feet tall, has brown hair and blue eyes and weighs 200 pounds. (Note to self - Ryan Gosling, a recent Oscar nominee, is perfect for the part. Give him a call.)

Grundman parks his old Ford pickup at the side of the same dirt road and leisurely collects several items from the dusty and cracked leather seat beside him. Juggling a cold six-pack of beer, a 16-gauge shotgun and a large box of rifle slugs in both hands he exits the truck and expertly kicks the door shut with one scruffy boot.

As the noise from the truck door races across the desert we magically seem to follow (through the miracle of modern motion picture technology) and are escorted backwards in time to 1857 and to the small patch of parched soil where Ha:san’s birth took place.

A narrator (Tom Selleck - he’s not doing much these days) will tell the story from this point onward.

Tom will say that the saguaro flowers fertilize each other under particular conditions only, some of the resultant fruit occasionally falls to the ground, is eaten by a bird or animal (Has anybody got a trained coyote?) and is deposited throughout the desert.

He’ll also say that a seed may germinate under perfect conditions and if it can survive for two full years (which is highly unlikely - one slight bump and it will be dead) the new plant will be the size of the period at the end of this sentence.

Fortunately, in our case, Ha;san did survive and by 1867 is one and a half inches tall.

In 1887, at age 30, the saguaro is two feet tall. (Don’t worry. I’ll get Tom to read these parts in dramatic tones. It will be gripping. Especially the close-ups.)


In 1912, at age 55, our cactus is eight feet tall and weighs 800 pounds. A flower crowns its top for the first time, providing nectar for its airborne visitors. Soon seedlings from Ha:san’s own fruit will reach the desert floor, the same ground upon which Ha:san’s 39,999,999 siblings have perished.

In 1932, at age 75, the saguaro is in peak form, with one mature arm growing nicely and another on the way.

In 1957, in Ha:san’s centennial year, David Michael Grundman is born in New York State.

Mr. Selleck will pause and we will be swept away from the base of the proud Ha:san and back to the side of the dirt road where, 25 years later, Grundman is slipping a shotgun shell into his 16-gauge and preparing to blow two empty beer cans into smithereens. cb

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Minilogue/hitchhikers choice - short version (Longer on DVD)

Wow! If a person can do this with nothing but a whiteboard and a couple of markers, how can we not solve the problems of the world. After my previous pompous doom and gloom blog watching this video has totally revived me. Hope it revives you too!

Spouting off about Books, Gas & Oil


Two things popped out at me in the news today and became connected in the strange workings of my brain.
1) Good News Story: the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, the Hon. James K. Bartleman was in Fort Severn today (the northernmost community in Ontario) to watch thousands of books being dropped by the planeload. The children of Fort Severn are desperate for books and desperate for a school. Their elementary school and contents were lost a few years ago due to a problem with mold. Since then school has been held whereever a spot could be found, currently in a portable. They have no highschool. The price of milk is $13.00 and gas is going at $2.00 per litre.
2) Not so Good News Story: many gas stations in Toronto and surrounding area have closed down due to a shortage of gasoline because of a refinery fire. Resolution of this problem varies depending on who you listen to from the middle of next week to the middle of April. Everyone is complaining about paying $1.00 for a litre of gas.

See the connection? Yes, it isn't just me. We have millions of books to give away and we pay 1/2 as much for gas as they do in Fort Severn. We are rich beyond belief!
What the hell are we whining about?
One day there will be NO GAS!! NO OIL!!

This week's current shortgage is a precursor of future shortages and eventual "dry well syndrome".

Consider the following excerpt from the SPE International website (Society of Petroleum Engineers www.spe.org )
At 2003 consumption levels [2], the remaining reserves represent 44.6 years of oil and 66.2 years of natural gas. Does this mean that the world will be out of fossil fuels in 50 years or so? That theory has been around since the 1970s. In fact, the figures for years of remaining reserves have remained relative constant over the past few decades as the industry has replaced consumption with newly discovered oil and gas deposits and has developed technologies to increase the amount of oil and gas that can be recovered from existing reservoirs.

Hey, that doesn't sound so bad; we'll just keep finding new deposits to replace what we've used up. Sounds OK. What was I going on about?

The following is an excerpt from an article entitled "How Much Oil is Left?"
Bringing this discussion down to a practical and personal level, it seems that Americans need to make several important realizations:
1. Oil is not an infinite resource.
2. Remaining supplies of oil should be used wisely.
3. Alternative sources of energy need to be brought on line soon.

Think of these issues the next time you fill up your tank or the next time you buy a car.
(Read the entire article at www.edmonds.com/advice/fueleconomy/articles/105512/article.html )

Looking on the bright side, once our oil and gas reserves are finally depleted we can burn our books for fuel.

A Recipe for Resilience

As the dreary winter weather continues to present us with gray skies and sloppy weather, we must remind ourselves to remain positive. Several years ago, I scribbled some brief notes while listening to a presentation by Dick O'Brien about resilience. Although not originated by him, I would like to borrow several points from his presentation.
Lists are pervasive in our every day life and for many of us contribute to the structure of our days, weeks and months. Hopefully this neat list of ten will help.
Some points to ponder on a slushy day ...
1. It just is.
2. This too shall pass.
3. "Be the change you want to see in the world." Ghandi
4. Write the bad things that happen to you in sand; write the good things in mortar.
5. You can only become better or bitter.
6. Life will never change to make you happy.
7. Every thought you have is hardwired to the rest of your body.
8. Always drink upstream from the herd. (I am not sure of the context of this one but it sounds good)
9. Stress is caused by the thoughts you have of the events in your life.
... and lastly
10. In life you are allowed far more than three swings at the ball. The only thing that matters is how many times you are willing to get up to bat.

Monday, 26 February 2007

Death by Misadventure: The Screenplay - Part 1

I recently reread Tom Miller’s book Jack Ruby’s Kitchen Sink (Offbeat travels through America’s southwest) and now want to produce a short black and white movie based on true events described in the last 12 pages of the 6th chapter, Death by Misadventure.

I’m pretty excited about the whole project. I smell an Oscar. I smell millions of dollars. I smell the pleasure of signing autographs until my right hand falls off. I smell something from the kitchen. Gotta run.

Okay, I’m back and my tuna casserole is under control.

The movie is too. I’ve got the intro all worked out.

First, I’m going to save up a lot of money and pay 140 bucks for the use of the cartoon described in my earlier blog entitled I’m with Stupid.

The movie will begin with a blank screen and the crisp, clear sounds of B. B. King singin’ some heart-rending number like “I’ve Up and Lost Everythin’ for the Tenth Time Blues”, then the cartoon will slowly appear, a few pixels at a time (dramatic, eh?), and fully come into view just as B. B. belts out his last line – “Oh, I can’t, oh no I can’t, I’m tellin’ you right now that I can’t, you hear what I’m sayin’?…I can’t belieeeve that I’m sooooooooo stupid.”

Absolutely perfect so far, eh? No wonder the smell of Oscar is in the air!

Sunday, 25 February 2007

Five Limes


Here's more positive news. Check out www.fivelimes.com ,
featured in the Free Press today, a site that offers a wide
variety of green products along with reviews. Readers are
invited to add any green products that they are aware of
and that aren't currently listed. Products range from hydro,
smart cars and organic food, to clothing, cosmetics and wine.

The Beaver is Back and the Squid is Gone

Not all is doom and gloom my fellow cafe' members. A beaver was recently spotted in the Bronx River - New York city for the first time in 200 years. It is one small step for nature considering there were approximately 60 million beavers east of the Mississippi at one time before they all vanished.
The beaver named Jose' may have a short life span unfortunately once the crowds appear to view this 'novelty'.
On a sad note, the largest squid ever caught was reeled in by fishermen in Antarctic waters. It was approximately 33 feet long and weighed close to 1000 pounds. It was munching on a toothfish at the time it was caught (its last meal). Unfortunately, according to the fishermen, by the time it was brought to the surface it was almost dead. It is now being preserved for science and future generations (maybe Jose' the beaver will be on display beside it).

Saturday, 24 February 2007

I'm with Stupid

I read the following on an online newspaper site recently;


The cartoon that’s taped to the wall beside my computer is speaking to me every day and what it says isn’t very complimentary.
It says I’m stupid. (By the way. It says you’re stupid too. How do you like them apples?)


I thought it was a pretty good intro to the rest of the article, some of which follows;


The cartoon, by Thomas Boldt of Calgary (Feb. 3rd), features Mother Earth in an XXXL t-shirt standing beside a short, chubby male character (with his finger up his nose) who represents mankind. Earth’s t-shirt is emblazoned with the words “I’m with Stupid” and an arrow that points toward – you guessed it – mankind.
You didn’t see it? I’d reproduce it in this space but I don’t have $140 kicking around and I was politely informed if I used it “without payment” I’d end up in the slammer.
Anyway, after I saw the cartoon I pretended I was an investigative journalist for about 30 minutes (I read the paper, listened to CBC radio and watched some news on TV) and came to the conclusion that we’re being called stupid not because we go ‘diggin’ fer gold’ on occasion but because a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated mankind’s activities are ‘very likely’ causing global warming.
Along the way I discovered that a ranking of ‘very likely’ means, as far as some of the world’s brainiest scientists are concerned, there’s a 90 per cent chance humans are fully to blame for the mess we’re in and, as far as I can tell, there’s only a 10 per cent chance we can blame global warming on El NiƱo, under-productive trees or high-octane gas from cows.

Ok, back to me.

(If you want, read the rest of the guy’s column some time later at www.thelondoner.ca/city/harris.htm but for now read below. Please.)

I think that same cartoon would make a great opening shot in a short movie I’m thinking of producing based on the last 12 pages of Death by Misadventure, the 6th chapter of Tom Miller’s book entitled Jack Ruby’s Kitchen Sink (Offbeat travels through America’s southwest).

The movie will be called Death by Misadventure as well (as long as buying the rights is a lot less than $140) because it’s a very descriptive title and would instantly catch people’s attention.

Upon hearing the title someone would undoubtedly ask, Who’s going to die? Is it really gory? Is there a lot of gunplay?

The answer is, Buy a ticket and find out, yes and you’d better believe it, boyo.

I’m working on the screenplay now. It will be ready in a couple of days. cb

Picture a Rose


A walk around the pond yesterday has me
yearning for Spring.

Sometimes I wonder how long it will be before
nature is just a screensaver pocked with icons.
Photography is my way to use technology
while connecting with the environment and honouring and experiencing the images
before me.



doubledouble and more soon

Friday, 23 February 2007

Sunrise on Himalayas

Check out this beautiful sunrise - this is the same sun that I saw this morning while driving my Frenchie to school. We are all connected.

The Nature Challenge

So I had a look at David Suzuki's website the other day to see what the Nature Challenge was all about and if there were any practical suggestions I could actually apply in my tiny little part of the world. Sometimes the environmental problems that we have caused seem overwhelming to the point of thinking that anything I could do wouldn't make any difference so why bother?
But today I was listening to a speaker at a PD session put on by my schoolboard; she quoted Mother Teresa: "None of us can do anything great, but we can all do small things with a great deal of love." I liked that thought, it made me feel that if everyone did something, no matter how small, but with the right spirit, together we could make a difference. So one thing I'm going to do is provide the link to Suzuki's website, and challenge everyone to have a look. Go to www.davidsuzuki.org and read about the Nature Challenge yourself. I guarantee that you will find a "small thing" that you can do.