November 3

Accepting Today

Liane
Liane (Photo credit: adreson)

Ring . . . ring . . . ring.

“Hello?”

“Hello, my name is Emily, and I’m calling from Empire Credit Card. Is Ryan home today?”

“Yes. I’m Ryan.”

“Hello Ryan. How are you today?”

“I’m feeling a little melancholy for no particular reason. This is fairly common though. I’m also a tad bit peckish, and I’m frustratingly horny, so much so that I can barely stop myself from getting an erection, even if I think of my grandmother nude, who is not a bad-looking woman, but she is much older and related to me. How are you today Emily?”

“Um . . .”

I hear her shuffling through notes. I’ve put her off script, and she’s only just begun.

She begins again: “um . . . I’m good. I’m with Quality Control Customer Service, and I’m calling to see how your recent phone call went with our Customer Service representative Jessica.”

“Swimmingly.”

“Swimmingly? Sir?”

I hear her shuffling again.

“Ryan,” I say.

“Sorry Mr. Ryan.”

“Ryan is my first name.”

“Sorry sir.”

“Emily, please call me Ryan.”

“Oh, of course. Are you able to take a short survey?”

“What’s your definition of short?”

“I have 20 questions.”

I laugh, heartily.

“That’s funny,” I remark.

“What’s funny?”

“20 questions – like the game.”

“Sir?”

“Ryan, not sir. Say Emily, how old are you?”

“I’m 22. Why?”

“I kinda wanted to extend that whole grandma theme. The little guy is really starting to wake up. I’m afraid 22 just won’t do it. You even sound young on the phone. Can we pretend that you’re older?”

“I don’t think I’m supposed to do that. I’m just supposed to ask you 20 questions.”

“Right, but while you ask me, can you try to sound a bit older?”

“How old?”

“80!”

She starts giggling like a school girl.

“Ah, you want me to do an old woman voice?”

“Precisely.”

“Like this?”

“Wow. You sound like Carol Burnett. That’s kind of a huge turn on.”

“Whose Carol Burnett?”

“Never mind that, just keep talking in the old woman voice.”

“OK, sir.”

“Perfect, but don’t call me sir.”

“OK, Ryan – the survey is kept anonymous, but we do ask for your first name.”

There’s a long pause.

“Ryan, are you still there?”

“Yes, and I love the voice.”

“Oh, OK, I thought you had gone somewhere. So first question is what’s your first name?”

“Ryan.”

“R-Y-A-N. OK, Ryan from a 1 to 5, 1 being not satisfied and 5 being completely satisfied, how would you rate the service that Jessica gave you?”

“Well, she didn’t talk to me like an old woman.”

“You shouldn’t rate her based on that.”

“I was just joking. I didn’t ask her to talk to me like that.”

“You didn’t?”

“No, I didn’t even talk to her.”

“It says here that you spoke on October 31 at 8pm for 30 minutes.”

“I didn’t. I didn’t call in at all, and I haven’t for months.”

“Oh, there must be some mistake. I’m sorry Mr . . . I mean Ryan.”

“Don’t be sorry you’ve been delightful. Say, would you like to meet?”

“I’m in Montreal.”

“Great, so you’re only 2 hours away. I’ll see you in 2 hours.”

“I don’t think I’m allowed to.”

“Emily, if you don’t want to, that’s cool, but who cares if you’re allowed to.”

“It’s not that I don’t want to. It’s just that I have a boyfriend.”

“You have a boyfriend, and I have a grandmother; it’ll never work out.”

“You don’t really like older women do you?”

“I like women as young as you, but not quite as old as my grandmother.”

“I guess I should let you go. It’s been fun,” Emily says in her normal voice.

“Em, don’t think about yesterday, and don’t think about tomorrow. Think about what you want to do right now, today.”

“My friends don’t call me Em. I like you calling me Em though – it sounds nice.”

“Em, I’ll meet you at the Biodome in 2 hours.”

“Why shouldn’t I think about yesterday or tomorrow? Why today? Today is just a yesterday waiting to happen – that’s what my dad always says.”

“Today isn’t a yesterday. Today is today. Yesterday doesn’t actually exist. Have you ever visited yesterday? It’s just a memory of today. Tomorrow doesn’t exist either. Everyone tries to visit tomorrow, but by the time you get there, it’s today. Tomorrow is a hope and a dream but not a day,” I say.

“So, you’re saying that I have a memory. I have today, and I have a hope and a dream.”

“Yes. Will you be with me today? It exists. It’s here.”

“I think, um . . . yes, Ryan. I’ll see you in 2 hours.”

“I will be holding a single red rose, and I’ll meet you at the main entrance. Until then.”

“Goodbye.”

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November 2

A Hole . . . Lotta . . . Drugs

Green Door

I’m outside the world’s sketchiest house. I feel that I’m running from something, so I open the world’s flimsiest green wooden door and go inside. There’s music playing, but it’s turned down real low, so I can’t make out the words in the song, and even if I could, I expect I would have never heard that song before.

I hear a man yell: “I’m going to get you.”

I run quickly into the nearest closet, another flimsy green wooden door. The paint is peeling off and the edges are worn. I slowly shut the door behind me when I hear a loud stomping noise come down the stairs. The stomping ends at the closet door. He yells out my name, “Ryan . . . I’m going to get you.” Then he moves on.

A woman’s scream bellows out from the basement. What if he is torturing her? What if he’s killing her? I run downstairs to an unfinished basement to see a woman wearing only an expensive new red bra and matching red panties. She has dark brown hair, a plain face, and the body of a 40-year-old office worker who doesn’t exercise. She isn’t overweight, but she isn’t exciting to look at either.

There are hypodermic needles spread out over the grey floor, and there’s an old man wearing tight white underwear and sitting down on a very old, unpainted, wooden chair that has four distinctly round legs.

“Who are you?” I ask the lady.

“I’m Lotta.”

She comes over to me and starts touching my chest. I’m not really attracted to her, but as a man, I’m programmed to never shrug off female attention, especially if that female is in her underwear. I kiss her cheek, grab her back gently but firmly just above her panty line, and just at that moment I hear stomping on the stairs.

A man with crazy anger in his eyes, thick dark hair, and a meat carving knife comes raging towards us. The old man runs away in terror, and the crazy man heads towards him, as though he will run upstairs after him. I move towards the crazy man, but he runs around me in the opposite direction, straight for Lotta, and he plunges the knife directly into her heart.

I run for Lotta, trying to help her, but I know it’s too late. I’m down, kneeling on broken needles, next to her fallen body, trying to hear the last few words that she’s gasping out. The crazy man breaks some sort of small vial on the floor next to us, and a puff of smoke comes up into the air, clouding my eyes. I see the smoke, but I don’t run away from it. I inhale it deeply, but I don’t know why. I’ve been poisoned.

My journey has begun. I see my wife and kids running out of my funeral. It’s the end of the world. There are these weird giant frogs, the size of dogs that keep eating up small children. A wise looking man comes to me and says: “get to a church; you’ll be safe there.” He seems to be the only one who can see or hear me, so who am I not to listen.

I’ll be at a church soon, and my trip will be over.

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November 1

Where’s the Muse at?

Hesiod and the Muse
Hesiod and the Muse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometimes when I’m writing anything, a story, a poem, or maybe even a clever email, I run into a touch of writer’s block. I even ran into writer’s block while writing this writing tip. Here are five ways that I battle writer’s block.

  1. Write down ideas through out the day when you have them.
    Writing is often a very “mood based” type of activity, but you can’t always write when you have inspiration. If you jot down the basic ideas you have while you are in the mood to write, you have already got yourself passed most of the writer’s block (the idea stage).
  2. Read and get inspired.
    Reading and even watching TV can help you with style and stories. If you have free time while you aren’t writing, fitting in a small amount of reading can give you that inspiration you need for writing time.
  3. Set aside time everyday to write.
    If you can legitimately argue that you can’t make the time to write because you are too busy, the harsh truth is that you probably aren’t a writer. Most of us already set aside time for eating, sleeping, using the washroom, and working. If you set aside time to write when you aren’t doing anything else – truly nothing else at all, you will find your muse. Sometimes I can only find half an hour to write, and even if I only come up with one good idea or one good sentence, I’ve started to push the idea snow ball down the giant mountain of literary snow.
  4. Get your mind right.
    This is my way of saying that you need to clear your head of all the bad juju. If you feel stressed, go for a run. If you’re mad at a friend, talk to him/her about the issue. If you can write better when your mind is in angst, go for it. For those of us who can’t do anything when we feel that way, clear it up, fix it – do whatever you can to get past the feeling and just write.
  5. Write what you want.
    If you’re writing the greatest novel that ever was and you’re stuck on Chapter 2, try taking the time to write a short story or a poem. Get your mind off of Chapter 2, but keep writing. I know this doesn’t mesh well with deadlines, but if you’re at risk of blowing a deadline because of writer’s block, the best thing you can do is write about something completely different. It will sometimes cure your writer’s block and allow you to get back on target with Chapter 2.
October 31

How much does it cost?

Capitalism
Capitalism (Photo credit: Juliano Mattos)

Come steal from us;
And give to them.

Please take freedom;
I say take our
Teachers, doctors.

Appropriate;
Land and water.

I’m your soldier;
She is your whore;
Meek get nothing.

Category: Poetry | LEAVE A COMMENT
October 30

Her

Woman with long black hair
Woman with long black hair (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Her thick tar black hair radiates steam;
And Her powdery anthrax white skin spores.

She carries no farm tools;
And She wears no robe.

She bares no skeleton;
And She forgives no man.

Her hand roles the bones;
And Her eyes pierce him completely.

He has no destiny;
And he’s simply random.

Category: Poetry | LEAVE A COMMENT
October 29

Half Past

How to Stop Time
How to Stop Time (Photo credit: smartwentcrazy)

The big hand guides the little hand;
Pulling it forward, racing through time.

The innocent little hand follows blindly;
It never knows how fast things will change;
It never knows how bad things will get.

That little hand is now big;
Pulling another little hand out of innocence.

The clock keeps moving forward;
In a circle.

How can we stop time?

Category: Poetry | LEAVE A COMMENT
October 27

Meeting Goals

Empty Net
Empty Net (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For the last few years, I’ve been struggling to meet goals. The goals are simple, become a writer and get into shape. Neither goal is particularly difficult; they’re both just long and time-consuming.

I’ve never been what you would call overweight, but getting into really good shape would still take a lot of dedication, maybe 12 months of working out 6 days week. Well, I’m about 6 months into this schedule already. This wasn’t an easy task for me, since I’m not, by any means, a jock.

It’s easy enough for me to sit down and write here, but to make it my life and career is a longer goal. I need to treat it like exercise and just keep devoting time to it, no matter what. Right now, I’m going to volunteer for some writing jobs to build a portfolio.

As for this site (sonofsappho.com), you can expect to see stories, writing tips, and perhaps just general musings in the weeks to come.

Category: Diary | LEAVE A COMMENT
October 24

Time for a Change

Writing
Writing (Photo credit: jjpacres)

Today my daughter (Aphra) was sick, so I stayed home with her. She’s ten years old, so she pretty much just wanted to stick herself in front of the TV all day. I love Aphra dearly, and I wish we could have just taken the day off together, hung out and done something awesome, but instead we got stuck inside doing nothing.

On top of that, I lost a client today . . . as if I care. It’s a web development client, and I’ve been trying to make the move from web developer to writer for years, but it’s been difficult, since I have a family. As a writer, I would make less money than I do as a developer. I would like to pick up some freelance jobs, but it doesn’t seem very easy or financially worthwhile.

I’m just starting this blog today, and the name is a pen name that I started using in the 1990s. I’m not trying to hide my identity, but I don’t want people who I work with today to know that I’m trying to transition out of web development, so if you do want to know anything about the real me, just ask.

I hope to make the diary category a true representation of my life as it unfolds, and as for the other categories – I’m just going to write what I feel and go from there.

Category: Diary | LEAVE A COMMENT
December 19

Interview with Tiffani Thiessen

Below is an interview I did with Tiffani Thiessen, originally written for Events Quarterly.

Ryan: I understand that you have started a production company, working closely with Dean Johnson. What can you tell us about him and the production company?

Tiffani: Dean and I have worked together for almost ten years. But it was in 2003 that we re-connected professionally and partnered to form Tit 4 Tat Productions — a full scale production company that would allow us to identify, develop, and produce a range of projects across diverse mediums, whether it be a televison series, a film or even a collaborative effort on a children’s book.

At the time we formed the production company, Dean had just released his first book, “Life. Be There at 10 ‘Til.” And with that momentum, we jumped in and decided to not only start the company but produce our first project, the film “Just Pray,” which Dean also wrote and I directed. Interestingly enough, now on the verge of our children’s book series and the release of the film, Dean’s book is being re-released this month.

Ryan: Does your production company work on “Indie” type films or is your aim straight for Hollywood?

Tiffani: Independent films are Hollywood as much as studio or mainstream films. They (independent) very much define the path that Hollywood has taken over the past few years. Look at the OSCAR winners over the past decade.

Independent films, many times, celebrate the true essence of film making. The labor of love behind these projects represents the same pioneering spirit that started Hollywood. Naturally, every director or writer would love to have their project set up at a major studio. Being able to say that you have a project at Paramount or Dreamworks is significant and powerful. But, the ability to tell a story despite limited budgets, zero marketing dollars, scale wages and very little pomp and circumstance can also be equally empowering. Movies such as Monster, Good Will Hunting, and Sideways are all Hollywood . They’re also very much of the independent geneaology.

Ryan: What made you decide you wanted to start a production company?

Tiffani: It’s not uncommon for actors to get involved in the development and production side of the camera.

Look at Drew Barrymore and her Flower Films or Sandra Bullock and Fortis Films. The list goes on. Having spent so many years on sets, working with different levels of material and building so many relationships with people, I felt capable and prepared to create a business entity that would allow me to direct and produce while complimenting my acting career. To remain stagnate and only focus on acting would be short sighted. And since I love the business and it’s all I’ve ever known, it was a natural progression to start such a company.

The pursuit of good material, making beautiful films while growing and evolving as a well-rounded talent can never be the wrong thing to do.

Ryan: I had heard that you were working on children’s books. Is this a side project or something you intend to get more involved with?

Tiffani: It is our plan to develop and write an entire series of children’s books. The series, titled, Fins & Tales, is designed to offer life lessons for the young at heart. Our stories are told through the voices of my pets which include two dogs, two cats, and a fish — hence, the title of the book. I don’t consider it a side project at all. It is a significant collaboration between Dean and me. Writing for children is a responsibility.

There is great care taken to fashion words, messages, and instructional values so that there is learning in addition to entertaining.

Ryan: Do you write for your films as well?

Tiffani: At this time in my career, I have not added screenwriter to my professional resume. Working on the children’s book with Dean is my first writing initiative. While I enjoy reading a really good script, directing has held a far greater interest for me than writing a screenplay. With my first directing project under my belt (The film, “Just Pray”), I am eager to direct again. The process of transferring words on paper to live action cinema is a wonderful opportunity to contribute and share my storytelling abilities.

Ryan: So, now you are a director and producer; have you made a transition away from acting, a sort of career evolution, or will you continue to act?

Tiffani: I think my entire career has been a deliberate process of reinvention the past two years — especially with the incorporation of Tit 4 Tat Productions. The entertainment profession, most notably acting, is not so generous to women as they grow older. The roles are fewer and consequently, competition increases over the dwindling number of roles. It would only be in my best interest to diversify just like any company or organization who desires several profitable lines of business. Pursuing other interests doesn’t mean I’m transitioning away from acting. Acting is my first love. But to better craft my own path and create opportunities for myself, I want to use what I’ve learned over the past twenty plus years in this business — it’s a very valuable education I’ve received, and it’s only appropriate that I put this education to use.

Ryan: There were two shows that I remember you most for, “Saved by the Bell” and ” Beverly Hills 90210.” Were these shows like families to you or just jobs?

Tiffani: Both shows ran for a number of years. Each respective cast spent a great deal of time together and shared so many memories. For that period of time you spend together, there is definitely a familial sense of belonging.

Ryan: Do you still speak with any of the cast of the old shows, maintain friendships?

Tiffani: Yes I do.

And the best surprises are when I run into someone who I haven’t seen or spoken to in so long. I was thrilled to have Jason Priestley, Tori Spelling and Lindsay Price at my wedding as I stay in touch with them rather closely.

Ryan: I understand you have a film, entitled “Just Pray,” that is finished production. Are there any exclusives you can give us about this film?

Tiffani: The film is currently exhibiting on the 2005 film festival circuit. We are very proud of its success and the audience response. The film was accepted into the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival and Seattle International Film Festival. Most recently we were accepted into the Academy qualifying festivals, Rhode Island International (the film won Best Score), Palm Springs, and Los Angeles International Short Film Festival.

These films are recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as qualifying festivals for the Oscar nomination consideration, should you win the Jury Award of “Best Short.” The film itself is a coming of age story about a young boy in the rural South who is asking some pretty tough questions of God. He wants answers to these very grown up questions. You can log on to www.justpraythemovie.com and you’ll see pictures of the cast, the sets and the behind the scenes action. There’s also a press link that gives you an idea of the film’s activity this past year.