Writing prompt : the walls

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They sprinkle around the place, changing with the years like my life is marked by sections.  It’s an apartment in the morning before a shift.  I’m hardly a wealthy man but I’m less and less tolerant of posters.  I had one in a bathroom with a part torn for the light switch.  Far less acceptance of white walls then.  I accept them now.  The change in the sky colors against the bare slate of the bedroom above our heads.  It rumples soft peach over the folds of the strewn sheet.  It’s a good place to have coffee.  I need to go.  My cups almost empty.  Later today is laundry day.  I’ll have lots more to say about them, hung up like soft soldiers in the failing light.

Created by TomPogson.com

“Quiet City” teaser

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     The carriage pulled up at exactly nine am.  The polished black buggy with its springs like dull silver swayed lightly as the horseman pulled back on the twin tan and white horses that looked more like they belonged at the Sandown races than at work.

The owner of the carriage descended from the unmarked door, down the steps that one could pass right by without noticing,  his young moustached face vanished behind the carriage door.  No signal was needed as the driver in the tuxedo sprung the strong horses to action, following just behind a Government street trolley car.

On board a man with a newspaper tried not to notice.  He looked at his pocketwatch and made a note, tucking the pad and pen back into the tweed coat he originally bought in the Vauxhall high street.  It had served him for over twenty years that summer.

Now he had the new boy to consider.  One man had stumbled upon far too much and he would have undoubtedly left traces and questions behind for Mr. Baels, the junior clerk from Ottawa not to notice.  The passenger knew he could not be get off the street car until he reached the new Legislature. 

The car clicked onto the new road beside the grand hotel with the warmth of the harbor sun pouring through the windows.  The shadow-like carriage driving behind turned towards the Empress Hotel, driving up the immaculate lawns to the stone steps of the front door.  Outside a sturdy woman in white with bags waited by the door, two giants of men flanking her sides.

“Miss Penny has arrived,” he whispered to himself with his eyes just over the unkempt edge of the Colonist “God help us.”

Quiet City is one of the projects I’ve been working on set in Victoria, British Columbia in both modern times and in 1910.

Created by TomPogson.com

Little bit about coffee

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This is one of those posts that I think was inevitable.  My day work is as a barista and has been with some exceptions like janitorial and university for some time.  Behind the counter is much like playing music.  You certainly don’t know it the first day and their isn’t any official training.  The more you’re standing behind the portafilters, steam wands and coffee sprinkled counters the more you pick up.

The challenge with coffee is the three factors, namely the product, the water and the equipment.  I like to think that the real drink of a barista would either be a light roast taken black or a single shot of well pulled espresso.  These drinks give you the inherent flavors of the source at its fullest and the wine like subtleties that are otherwise masked.  It’s sounds all fancy but it’s like anything else.  The more you drink the more you notice how bright or not, bitter or not, ect.  The coffee menus are actually simpler than they seem as well.  It is simply “how do you want your milk prepared?”  I won’t get into all of them but with a Latte it’s simply steamed milk over espresso.   A cappuccino is steamed milk and milk foam over espresso (with its name derived from the brown and white outfits of the Cappucine Monks).  Americano….just hot water…you add the milk.  Africano…half hot water and half steamed milk.  Then the other variables come in and yeah…you get those drinks that a barista needs to take a deep breath before announcing.  I can understand the fun of fine tuning like that.  The first coffee I had was at the age of 12, helping in the kitchen at church so I could get out of…well… church.  I remember taking lots of sugar and cream while I helped get ready.  There wasn’t actually much to do in that big square room of counter tops and fridges attached to the hall.  It was mostly about being outta the church sipping coffee.

Naturally your water source should be clean and filtered.  Your best bean choice is from a cafe or local roastery.  Supermarkets rarely throw out old beans and they do go stale eventually.  With the machine you want it to be as clean as you can possibly make it and one trick is to run a pot of water through first to heat the machine (like pot scalding with tea) and to improve the machines ability to extract flavor.  It is also common for people to use to much coffee in the ratio of coffee to water.  One teaspoon of beans per cup of water is perfect.  Your lighter roasts also have more caffeine as the roasting process extracts the caffeine and also gives it that shiny coffee oil look.  Lighter roasts also go better with savory and dark with pastries (sweet).  Chocolate is a great pairing, famously with the mocha which got its name from the port of Moka which traded beans around the world from places like the original source of coffee in the hills of Ethiopia.

There’s a bunch to consider.  Coffee’s almost done.

Cheers,
Tom

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

The Sober Guy.

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It's. ..yummy..

I’m not just sober.  I’m just got off work sober.  They’re all laughing and talking and playing the music so loud my drink is doing that thing that meant the TRex was coming in Jurassic Park.  Actually I think it is TRex playing on the multi cd carousel.  Earlier TRex.   I know the little facts like that.  They can ask me about Marc Bolan if they want to.  Go on anyone.  Give it a go.

I’m in the same place…I’m with the same people.  I hardly think I’m in anyway better than anyone else.  I’m the same way with weed.  I have no interest in it.  Only tried once when I was in a room of musicians and the first two fingers of their right hands were never empty.  It only gave me a stomach ache.  I tried using a jacuzzi once.  When it was full of warm water and the jets were spraying around me I sat there thinking “Ok.  Now what?”

Yeah, I’m a riot a parties.  I’m usually the one at the end who is helping people to cabs.  I actually do like beer and wine (I’m planning on a blog about Georgian wine and I’m still trying to find if anyone sells the Korean beer “Kite” that I had at the Pho Ever Restaurant just off of Shelbourne. )  Buts that’s just it.  I like ‘get togethers’ with friends and trying new things.  I like to come up with things and create.  I had a 24 pack of beer once.  The thing lasted like a month. 

Very weird. 

Tom

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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Thirty years of British Comedy

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Cook Street Village...Home of Pic a Flic Video

                    “Here we come…”

     British Comedy and the even broader subject of British culture started for me with the Monkeeys.   And it was a long fun journey since then.

     I do have some heritage from the U.K. so that probably helps but it basically started from growing up with the Monkeeys on television which I would try to never miss (along with the usual collection of Saturday morning cartoons where I would use the TV Guide to map my morning from 7 am to noon like Faramir reviewing a map of Mordor.)

     I was especially a fan of Davey to the point where I was playing Tambourine at church and incorporating as best I could the dance that also became known as the “Axl Shuffle” of Axl Rose.  Almost wonder if he’s a British Comedy fan?  He was mentioned in Depeche Mode 101 where not only was he slammed with a fan exclaiming “guns and posers” but he went to the premier with Dave Gahan trying to distract him when the  cheeky line appeared on film.  Anyways. ..

     The next stage in my britishizing was when I accidentally turned on public television and came across someone who looked and sounded much like Davey Jones minus the red suit and tambourine.  It was Hywel Bennett and the show was Shelley.

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Shelley and Mrs. H.

    It wasn’t Davey.  He didn’t do Daydream Believer.  There wasn’t a decent tambourine in sight.  But it made me laugh.  And most importantly…it made me curious.

     Shelley was smart, fast talking and talked about things I’d never heard of.  There were obagines, the foreign office and the dhss, and Chinese take-aways whatever that was.  Naturally these were all the British equivalent to talking about eggplant, welfare and ordering Chinese food and picking it up.  But for me at eleven it was this whole new world where people talked different about mysterious probably cool grown up things I had no idea about. 

     The next step was a classic.  I watched a number of Fawlty Towers episodes in a row with my Dad and Grandfather.   Well.  Enough said there.

     Eventually I started watching for the two back to back Britcoms that would be on the station from Seattle from 10 to 11 pm (I didn’t use a VCR because that would be wrong.  The record feature is meant for…meant for…uh…nevermind…)

   These included the classic but new to me…ok…deep breath…Butterflies, Red Dwarf, Never the Twain, The Manor Born, Yes Minister, Yes Prime Minister, Good Neighbours, Monty Python (naturally), Are You Being Served, Blackadder, Mr. Bean (eventually though that came to us first via CBC), and more Fawlty Towers.

     With the mixture of YouTube and the British Section of Pic a Flic pictured above I discovered an army more of titles which would be silly to start listing and discovered the world behind many of the shows like Only Fools and Horses (huge in the U.K. but strangely lesser known here) The Young Ones (born of the comedy club beginnings of The Comic Strip Presents…its name taken from its proximity to a strip club) which like many comedy projects began as two person acts such as Fry and Laurie, French and Saunders, and Rik and Abe.  One of my most favored movies “The Tall Guy” with Jeff Goldblum is based on the partnership of Rowan Atkinson and Richard Curtis.  It also featured “Must be Love” by Madness.

     Which brings me to my strange equal fascination with British Music.  Beyond one of my favorite first bands having a British singer (Davey) and the next being Queen I have no idea.  I do know that in the case of bands like Embrace and Elvis Costello I would like their music first and then find out they were from the United Kingdom afterwards.

     I would like to go there someday but I almost wonder if the mystery is more intact we me over here.  To me they’re still that cool, strange place of Factory Records (New Order), Mute (Depeche), Black Books, Adam and Joe, and (saving the best for last) these three gentlemen who turned the idea I had of writing a sitcom myself into a huge, huge obsession with the idea.

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Stephen Merchant, Ricky Gervais, Karl Pilkington

Cheers,
Tom

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The world of waiting

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I like the quote that Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode used to talk about the years he had already worked in the music business.   He got the quote from Keith Richards originally but I don’t think it’s only true for rock stars…

“It’s five years of work and the rest is waiting.”

We wait so much of our lives and you just know for a fact that there is…oh lots more to go.  As I write this (originally) I’m early for work and so I’m simply waiting as well.  Some folks naturally don’t like to wait.  I probably don’t much of the time as well as there is lots of things to do with creative work where it’s not one event after another.  So much of what I do is scheduling (as my many employers can understandably talk about) and that naturally leads to those in between times when you are simply waiting on the green light to get going.  But since we know that the waiting is going to happen I think that it’s almost empowering.
I mean, we now have these sometimes leash like mobile devices and if you “do social media” that is certainly one way to use up that time when we line up for a ticket, a coffee, purchasing a new shirt but there also just that opportunity to be more present in the moment.

This is one thing that is great about kids.  They are utterly self aware and in the moment.  They notice everything, and as we know, they are only too ready to tell you about it.  Ok, this shouldn’t be confused with patience as spending any time at a religious (or otherwise) service can tell you but that’s just because they have been told to quell their natural exuberance.  But as a busker, kids are awesome because they will often halt their parents who are cannoning from one very important thing to the next very important thing to pull at mom’s coat and exclaim…

“Mommy!  Look!  Guitar!”

I owe their union a lot of money for this.  It’s about being relaxed that things will work out and just setting off early so you’re not late.  Don’t line up if you can’t.   Don’t take on more than you can.  You don’t need to be perfect.  You’ll have plenty of time to wait tomorrow too.

But then I’m probably just an early bird.  Victoria is wonderful first thing in the early morning.  Give yourself the time to enjoy those little details of her city because there is lots of them.  That’s actually one thing I’ve really enjoyed about working on my own twitter and my project accounts…when reaching out to the city to tell everybody that we are here I’ve learned how much is really going on that you can get involved in.  This city was founded on a Gold Rush and a sudden influx of people from all over the globe.  With a background like that set on the Pacific Coast there is always another thing to see.  So step out of your own blinders when you have no option but to wait.  You could be surprised to find out where your really standing.

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Work in the arts.

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“There’s a job…there’s a gig here” Billy Joel

It’s probably one of the hardest things about a career path that’s already not the easiest choice.  If you do any other kind of work and let’s say you’ve just started and you’re not making that much coin people still respect it because it’s still considered “real work”.  In the arts though it’s seen strangely as not being given the same accolade unless you are one of us fortunate enough to have a creative field as their primary source of income.  But the trap here I think is that we run the risk of treating it like a pipe dream or a hobby.  Having a hobby is fine but for those of us who think of ourselves as artists we have to give our craft that same attention as any other tradesman who puts in forty hours a week.  Will this immediately pay off?  This I can’t say but there is certainly a pride in putting serious determination behind what you do and one thing I have found is that you never know where your creative road will take you, but the more work you do on your craft, the better armed to fight you will be when you get there. 
Our role is different from some trades as just hammering the same thing again and again can work against us so being creative you have to find ways of still focusing on your craft without making yourself bored (creative death here!)  As a writer I like to play with different forms or ideas like this or my other blogs, narrative experiments, prose, non-fiction, or a thing I sometimes do called morning stories.  In this one I do a thousand words (usually ends up being more) of something.  In the same way as a Artist Way morning page you just go with what pops in your head and roll or riff on that.  Writers probably have it the worst for practicing because there’s the natural assumption that everyone can write so it’s easy to get complacent.  The great thing about it is the portability though and I have so many of those little Hilroy 300 page books just full of material and even a little mini one that fits in my coat.  And just like a musician who listens and transcribes what they hear the more well read you are, naturally, the better.  Check out some of the books on writers and writing as well.  Try a new form like creative non fiction or poetry.  Poetry is not to be sniffed at as people think of folks in berets musing on the moon.  Taken to its highest level poems are the writing equivalent of making every shot count.  This fine art, and the origin of all writing in western civilization, is all about specific details and sense and particularity.  Trying to write in a non ambiguous way and connect with people at gut level is genius.  That’s one thing I found with well crafted (and you’ll laugh) country music.  You can’t be ambiguous in that form.  It’s from the hip and for a musician it’s usually written in a bright major key which makes it just that much harder to emote in a way that connects with listeners.  And that’s why some of that style can hurt.
Don’t shoot the country pianist.  He’s doing his best.
A good idea is to set up your work at a time when you know you are at your most alert and won’t be too distracted.  Set that as a daily habit that you don’t intend to break even if the building is burning down around you.  Ignore the fireman.  You’re working. 

So pour yourself a coffee, punch the clock and rock. 

Cheers,
Tom

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Mid December Madness!

Hey everyone!  Been a really busy week and right now I am up ridiculously early (got up at 3:30)…doing things that sort of qualify as work, but yeah it’s mostly puttering.  I can sleep later.  I’ll get to it.  More coffee!

This time of year is not only the gift buying but so many projects are going full tilt.  When I’m not working Cheri and I writing the first season of Ollie and Emma, getting ready for promo shoots and then of course you fit in being a returning student at Uvic which is in those exam things and the band http://www.Cookeilidh.com is getting geared up for Chrismas, including a show at the Mary Winspear center that I am totally stoked about being that I grew up on the Peninsula!

Here’s a recent photo from the Ollie and Emma shoots before I just go off on a tangent about defining “growing up on a peninsula”.  Yeah, that’s probably for the best…

http://ollieandemma.wordpress.com

 

Cast shoot for Ollie and Emma at Cinevic

Cast shoot for Ollie and Emma at Cinevic