Ollie and Emma is now online!!

 

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What makes this webseries different than all the other indie films and romantic comedies?  Is it just because she’s First Nations and he is a white suburban guy like myself? 

Well, there’s that.

But to me as one of the writers on the show, Ollie and Emma is something that needs to happen.  We need to see cultures coming together and making connections.  We need to see First Nations characters played by First Nations actors in day to day life.  And while there is certainly very serious and sobering realities about Native culture that everyone should research, there is also laughter, love and friendship.

My working partnership with Saulteaux comedian Cheri Jacobs is an example of this.  We started work together almost four years ago now on a previous project and the subject of her being of Indigenous heritage never really came up until we started the first initial sketches of Ollie and Emma.  I didn’t inquire before that or think “How do I work with this person?  Do I have to be careful how I talk here?”  It was more like “let’s write something funny!”

Since Ollie and Emma, and with some of the other First Nations projects we started (some more serious in tone, some set in earlier times) I have been asking more, reading more and listening to Elders speak about culture and holy cow…I have been just overwhelmed by the diversity of history, language, complex social structure, traditions and folklore.  It is such a steep learning curve that for anyone to think “I’m going to learn about Native culture”, I like to say it’s a little like saying “I’m going to learn everything there is to know about Europe, Africa or Asia.”  Dude, they’re all huge!  You’re going to need an absurd amount of Red Bull, and even then you won’t get through it in one lifetime! 

So yeah, I’m mostly focused on Coast Salish culture now.  And even then, I have stacks of books to plow through (and being mostly an oral history, books are more of a tip-of-the-iceberg starting place!)…(whew!)

Returning to my point thought, Cheri and I are an example of where we are right now and how we all could one day be, all over the world.  We can all make connections like this.  I grew up on shows like Robotech where the whole world pulled together to make the impossible possible.

But don’t get scared after my little(ish) rant!  Ollie and Emma is fun.  It’s non-political, get’s a bit meta and plays with stereotype.  I am so lucky to have worked with not only such a kickass co-writer/co-producer but also such a hardworking and talented cast and crew and of course our production team of Less Bland Productions and Telus Optik.  I still stand in wonder how they took us on (not that we’re not good, but wow!)

To me, I’m still Jim and Joan Pogson’s kid whose somewhere in the rumpus room, sitting crosslegged somewhere amongst the storage boxes in the old house we had in Langley, BC, reading books and making up random stuff.

Enjoy the show!

Just click the link below!

http://www.ollieandemma.ca

Cheers,

Tom  

 

Government Street, 1910

 

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                Janice was the last person Samuel ever expected that afternoon. Outside the drowsy city moved on, the street cars, carriages and passersby oblivious to the moment she emerged into his store barely upsetting the chiming of the bell Samuel had nailed into the frame.

                There was nothing to prepare him for the moment.  That Thursday in mid September the morning sun glinted off the bottles on the west side of the room like they always did when he arrived to unlock the dispensery.  Sun poured across the street between the buildings on Government street.  The younger clerk arrived in a rush under the slight scowl of Samuel’s gaze, the key his was given lost somewhere in his coat pockets.  Samuel waited for a moment, looking over the rim of his steel frames as the man outside continued to fumble, his movements jerky and his face occasionally looking up to stare contrite at the older man in the white coat behind the black cash register.  Finally, pushing the latch to open the low swinging gate he came to the young man’s rescue, with the boy in the long coat and felt riding hat looking regretfully at the older face on the other side of the pristine, clear glass.

                “Eight thirty, Joshua,” the older man said simply as he opened the door.

                “I’m sorry sir, I mean…it’s not an excuse but the tram left early…I tried to run after it but…”

                “Well, at least you’re here,” he said as they both went back behind the counter surrounded by vials and bottles, the disinfecting alchohol in the large teardrop shaped glass and the wall of pestal and mortars.  The room smelled only slightly of lavender and the disinfectant that was used to clean everything in the white walled dispensary that sat near the corner of Broughton between the café and the grocery.

                The young man scurried into the back quickly as Samuel continued to go over the notes he made the day before on Mrs. Wensten’s prescription for anti-fungal cream and her Humalog diabetic insulin supplements.  He kept all his notes in perfect order, his handwriting as clean and clear as the Colonist’s printing press, with every necessary note organized within the confines of the single black leather book.  The book remained in the same place of his low front shelf, it’s corner’s frayed and smooth like the skin of a well worn leather shoe.

                Samuel had just finishing entering the journal notes when he realized they were getting closer to opening time.  Exactly fifteen and half minutes away by the pocket watch which never left his favorite red waistcoat, the watch a gift from a friend of the St. Andrew’s and Caledonia Society which he met with on Wednesdays like so many others who had come from Scotland or, like in his case, had parents from the old country. 

                Soon, Joshua emerged from the back of the dispensery in his white coat, doing the regular cleaning that was his job first thing each morning, only the young man was trying to do the same cleaning at twice the pace, quickly rushing over the furthest corner with the store’s straw broom.

                “Slow down there!” Samuel said firmly with his eyes never leaving the black book and his smaller notes ledger beside where he wrote down the specific notes for that day.

                “I’m sorry Sir, it’s just…we open in just over ten minutes and I was late.  That’s my fault.”

                “I’m very aware of the time, Joshua.  You can continue to clean after opening hours just this once.  I can’t afford for anything to be damaged,” he explained.

                “Yes, Sir.”

                “Now, can you please open the front door and clean our exterior walk?  Mrs Amberson will be by early this morning to pick up her supply for the St. Joseph’s dispensary.  I’ve already laid out the packages on this back table with the documentation.  I hate to keep the lady waiting.”

                “Hallie Amberson!”  He replied suddenly with a desire to straighten his coat and tie, pushing his hair back, looking at the mirror that hung over the topical creams on the south wall “She is beautiful, isn’t she?”

                “None of that, if you please,” Samuel said to the smirk of Joshua.

                Soon the young nurse from the Fairfield hospital arrived to the smiles of Joshua who continued to sweep door the outside walk.  Samuel felt back the urge to roll his eyes at him as the young man then came in to gather all the parcels for her to put in the large case that she had brought.  She smiled back at him and he just stood there for a moment, mooning like a cat.

                “Now you can sweep the back of the store, Joshua.”

                The young man managed one more smile at the young lady before going to fetch his broom.  Samuel could swear the young man was one step away from being better off as a coal miner like his brothers.  It seemed if he wasn’t prattling on about this or that he was talking about his new accommodation over by the bird houses. 

                Samuel could only just remember those younger days in his life when he was still studying under Mr. Hainsbury.  He now owned a small house down Moss Street which was perfectly situated near the Foul Bay streetcar line.  Each morning he woke quite early in the quiet when the sun had not yet risen, having his breakfast in the front room that was shaded during the day by the two arbutus trees he had planted himself out front.  After his morning routine was finished he would head out early, paper under his arm to the corner of Moss and May where he would meet Scott Cook driving the first street car run of the morning, a fellow member of the Scottish society and a recent arrival from Aberdeen.  The red and white sided car would click and clack its way along the smooth rails towards Cook Street and the park before turning it’s way towards the heart of town.

                Lunch was the small café just next door run by Annie and Nathanial Humphries, which had been a family business since the earliest days of Victoria.  She was always happy to see Samuel and frequently insisted that she could offer him a discount for her famous coffee and sandwiches that always comprised his meal.  This was due to Samuel looking into a diagnoses that he found didn’t square correctly with what she had been diagnosed before.  Samuel had actually visited and discussed with the physician so the prescription was changed to medication that took her relentless migraine headaches away.  Samuel appreciated the offer of the discount each time she brought it up, but respectfully declined, not out of a dismissal of charity (which he also did not approve of) but due to the fact that it was his job to do exactly that and that he would stop practicing the moment he ever cut corners.

                Back in his shop, with Joshua over by the other side of the room cleaning the tables where the recent shipment had just arrived by train, the door chimed softly.

                That was the moment when Samuel’s eyes went wide.  He felt something inside his chest that he had not felt since he was the same age as the young man across the room.  He set his pen down and walked slowly to the front of the counter as the two people entered, their presence in the room raising Joshua’s eyebrows as well.  They rarely ever saw people from the Songhees inside their dispensary.

                Behind Janice, whose brown eyes fixed on Samuel, stood her large framed brother, George Andrews Jr.  She was dressed in a shawl and he was dressed in the clothes of a labourer.  Samuel pushed his glasses back slightly.

                “Good Afternoon…George…Janice,” he said trying to steady his voice.  He could only hope that his voice didn’t sound wrong.  Beneath the cotton white coat, waist coat and shirt, his heart thudded hard.

                “Samuel,” George replied, with Janice just looking at him before averting her gaze to look around the room.

                “Um…what can I do for you both?”

                “Janice?” George asked his sister.

                “Yes…sorry,” she said before looking at Samuel sorrowfully and then looking down into the pockets of her shawl and finding a written paper.  She walked up to the counter and Samuel swallowed slightly as she came close, her shawl brushing the other side of the white wooden counter.  She handed him the prescription, Samuel looking down at her soft slight brown hands covering the doctor’s scribbles.  He looked up at her and then back to the paper which he took.  Coughing, he studied the paper.

                “I can…” he said before coughing again “set up an account for you with us, if you want so we can track…”

                “That won’t be necessary,” George said firmly.

                Joshua came over the side of his employer, looking at him with his head slightly tilted to one side.

                “Can I get you something, Sir?”

                Samuel just looked at the notes on the paper, his head focused on returning to his work immediately.  People came to him because he was a professional.  In truth, he was considered the best pharmacist in the finest run dispensary on the south island, but he always refused to accept this notion.

                “It’s…it’s a prescription for Miss Janice Lynn Andrews for the following medication,” he said beginning to write a note for Joshua to follow in his usual precise handwriting so their could not, would not be a mistake.  One was an expectorant…one 250 mg of Azithromycin…another special tropical cream that was less commonly used but otherwise benign.  At least, he thought for a moment, it was nothing really bad.  Most of these were for simple ailments.

                “These are for yourself?”  he asked.

                “Yes,” she answered.

                He cleared his throat and with his hand slightly shaking he wrote the note and passed it to Joshua who rushed off with a small bag to fill for her. 

                “How much this gonna be?” George asked, his voice firm.

                “Shouldn’t be too much.  These are fairly common medications and from what I understand the physician you met set a one-week trial dosage.  If anything feels wrong, stop taking them immediately, but they should clear up things within one week,” he explained consulting the pricing book next to the register and entering the numbers. 

                She handed him the forty-two cents it cost for the bag of medication that Joshua produced.  He fingers brushed his only slightly when she gave it to him which set a rush of fire through Samuel, something he felt in his legs so strong, he had to keep one hand flat on the counter.  For a moment, all for of them stayed put like they were posing for a photograph.

                “Come along, Janice.”

                “Goodbye, Sam,” Janice said with her eyes locked on him.  The rest of the world seemed to stop.  The rest of the world seemed quiet.

                “Take care,” Samuel replied.  He could not move.

                “Come along, Janice!” George said more firmly.  It was firmly enough for Joshua to look at the taller Native man with concern.

                As they left, the younger clerk looked at his employer who seemed dazed, staring out the door as they left.

                “You alright, Sir?”

                “Yes, perfectly fine.  Let’s get back to work.”

The White Wand

The White Wand Blog site  This is the story that has never left me.  Whenever I do morning writing exercises the world of the people of Tarsha comes back.  Yeah, it’s big old silly nerdy world but it’s a great place to explore all the possibilities in writing.

Fantasy gives you the chance to leap out in the full horizon of concepts but also bring in things from this world and make them shine.  My favorite thing about this project is that I have tried to depart from the standard fantasy repertoire to bring characters like the Jeekas people with the towering Tiki Tree, Si wands and the dominion of the Bly Forest.

The new blog is at

The White Wand

Come by and have a look!  Lots more to come!

The walk

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The first thing he heard was the scream.
It rang out cold and desperate, echoing far across the golf course and over where he knew was the shoreline.  The road ran straight through the course with home being still half an hour away.  He tried to peer into the dark to make sense of what he heard.  Nothing moved out there.  Ever direction was still.  The air itself froze until the cool sky.

Then came footsteps behind.
He could tell someone was back there.

He started walking faster, daring himself to glimpse back.  Behind him was just the road and the night which was liquid black.  Before him was the long winding road through the Oak Bay Golf Course.  He knew if he got through the course it would stop.  Nothing told him that but he knew.  Snubbed again at another house party and now this.  He walked fast.  Ashma wouldn’t let him run.  He needed his puffy as it was.  He looked into his coat for it as he walked faster.

He fell.  Something tripped him.  He hit the earth with his hands out to break his fall.  He went to rise and something shoved him hard down as he attempted to rise.

“Why?” a woman’s voice hissed in his ear on one side.

“Why?” that voice shrieked again but on the other.

He got up and ran.  Behind him he heard the sound of running.  He could barely breath.  His heart was bursting.  Tears ran down his face.  To one side he heard a shriek.

“No!  Don’t leave me damn you!”

He looked over.

The shape of a woman in tweed running was just a few feet beside him.  It ran through the brambles on the edge of the course, bursting through and then running ahead of him only to vanish and reappear on the other side.

The edge of the course neared.  He closed his eyes and ran like his lungs would burst. 

Suddenly a car sped around the corner.  He glanced in horror and dove out of the way.

Last thing he saw was the woman’s face, miserably sad as the world burst with pain, then black.

Created by TomPogson.com

Living Languages

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Cece Sawyer exploring interactive exhibits

History is like a rising sun.  As our world gets closer and interacts the stories pour out from every corner.  The light floods every alley, every crag, every paper strewn gutter.  History is the great equalizer in a way.  It’s like a secondary version of glory or not.  What we do now ripples out into the galaxy.
My girlfriend and I went to the Royal British Columbia Museum as she hadn’t been there since she was little and I wanted to do some research into First Nations mythology, especially the section with the masks.  It’s best to do that on a weekday I found out as the section was crowded and hard to get notes.

But what was exciting was when we got off the escalator onto the 3rd floor.  There is now a permanent exhibition on First Nations language and stories called Living Languages.

Situated in the entrance to the 3rd floor in what was previously an empty space is a beautifully designed vibrant display of how the language that was nearly silenced is on the rise.  Films created in part by contributors from our community and across the province showcase the language, it’s importance and how it is still being taught despite the years of the schools attempt to suppress it. 

It reminds me of my own Catholic faith which I argue with all the time but I’m sure when the chips are down I will ask for last rights.   The Romans originally tried to silence us (lions played a part here) because they thought we were cannibals with the “body and blood of Christ” bit.

As the sun continues to rise the darkness washes away.  Our schools now explain the story of the residential school system which never happened at my age.  I am glad to see this happen as it has to.

Faith while debated should always be respected as should culture.  It is the lush fabric of our beautiful world.

Tom

Check out the exhibit now at…
http://royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/our-living-languages/

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Listening to stories

Created by TomPogson.com

Me and Max

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     Ever wanted to slip back like a shadow in time?  There’s points in my life I would like to visit and put on a rolling guitar effects loop.  Others naturally I would like to just take a Pink Pearl to and completely obliterate.  But I can imagine they are there for a reason.  They are hard lefts and rights.
     Max is a mishmash of the past for me that I liked the idea of revisiting.  I haven’t worked in my parents garage wanting to be a bike mechanic since I was twenty two but writing gives me the chance to play with that world, with a character like Max and allow other crazier things happen.  I don’t think I’d want to write an actual autobiography…ever.  Most of what I do is actually pretty boring and mostly by myself.  Not the best copy but there you go.  Most of what I do is just beavering away at this sort of thing or bass (hey, who wants to here a scale?!) or what have you.  It’s the end result I’m after…like with Max and his dream of being an awesome self employed bike mechanic.
And along the way to that I can take him on all kinds of adventures where he can show his simple honest spirit.  I love Max for that.  In an age where things are getting lean and too complex for words he is just Max.  His dreams aren’t palatial and he always tries to put a positive spin on things.

So if you’ve gotten this far thank you very much for reading!

Please check Max out at…
Journal by Max

Cheers,
Tom

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