I learned the basics of Chinese chess (Xianqi) while in China. Now I still play regularly with my friend Danny, an American living in Shenzhen. I also play almost daily against Chemist in the U.K., losing with disturbing consistency but still enjoying every game. Here’s where our latest board stands.
I find Chinese Chess much more interesting than International Chess. This board is particularly delightful. It’s Chemist’s move but he’s been sitting on his hands for several days now. Soon he will emerge with a counter to my threatened mate, and no doubt will defeat me yet again. But this position is just so much fun. His Pao (canon) on D8 is in position to take my Zhu (chariot), usually the most valuable piece, on F8, but he will know that doing so will give me a mate with my Ma (horse) saying check on C9 followed by mate with my Pao on B9.
I expect him to counter with his Shi (adviser) from F10 to E9 but from there it’s anybody’s guess. I await his response with ‘bated breath.
It’s getting late to wish you a Merry Christmas, but still on time to wish you all a Happy New Year.
We’ve had a great Christmas this year, full of warmth and affection and a certain acceptable amount of gluttony. I bought Ruth a rowing machine to replace our elliptical trainer that had finally burned out after years of keeping us fit. I started with five minutes on it and have been increasing by a minute a day. Yesterday I rowed for seven minutes and it left me with very sore quads and biceps, so I know it’s working. I have been far too inactive over the past year, and it takes very little to tell me I need regular exercise.
Ruth bought me a new laptop. I’m not sure how I will like Windows 11, and I am sure I’m in for at least a week of computer hell as I get used to the new machine. But my old laptop, running Windows 7, just can’t handle the video editing programs I want to use. I really miss Final Cut Pro and am frustrated by the learning curve of Adobe Premier Pro CS6. As a result, I skipped the refinements I would have given to to this video I made for the grand kids and just slapped it together to get it off in time.
There’s lots going on right now, mostly good, often frustrating. My quail egg hatching project has come a cropper with only four chicks hatched and none surviving after trying with two batches of eggs. I’ll try again in the Spring. The operation on my right hand, involving cutting off the arthritic bone on my right thumb and gluing on a tendon from my forearm, has been remarkably successful and I can now practice the violin again without immediate pain in my bow hand. Instead I have immediate pain in my right shoulder from the rotator cuff repair. I’m hopeful that the rowing machine may also address that problem.
I keep promising myself not to take on any new learning curves, but I’ve just purchased a new grinder and polisher and will shortly dive head first into knife making. The very last thing I need is a new hobby, but here I go again. There’s always something causing pain, much an unavoidable part of getting old but also self inflicted like running a finger into the band saw just before Christmas. It will heal, and hurt like hell until it does.
I’ve never been one for New Years resolutions, but I do intend to gain some consistency in my exercise, my music practice, and the projects I pursue, including more frequent updates to this personal website.
For you, my presumed reader, I wish the very best in 2023. Stay interested. Carpe the fuck out of each diem. Enjoy another ride around the sun on this amazing spinning globe. As my friend Danny in China would say, love ya tons.
Those of you who know me from “Skip Tracer” and my television work might find it strange that I’m a big fan of gentle movies and soppy romcoms, films like “Four Weddings and a Funeral”, “Love Actually”, and my very favourite of all time, “Searching for Bobby Fischer”.
My wife, Ruth, and I have been binge watching Christmas movies. We’ve seen several we like, and even more that we’ve bailed on after a few minutes of bad acting, terrible dialogue, or plot tropes that are terminally lazy. I figure I could do better.
This is my elevator pitch to producers. It’s the first time I’ve felt inspired to write and direct a movie in about twenty years. With the recent re-release of “Skip Tracer” (1976) on BlueRay disk, and purchase for broadcast by Hollywood Suite for Amazon Prime, I think this just might be the time to try for a comeback.
There’s a pattern I developed during my working years. I would have an idea, spend a year writing and polishing the script and then another two or three years trying to interest either a producer or a money person in letting me make the film. Then, in frustration and despair, I would give up and stick the script at the back of my filing cabinet and get on with my life as a journeyman television director. That’s a pattern I’m not willing to fall into again. So this time, I intend to throw heart and soul into the script for its own sake, while investing minimal emotional energy in whether I get to make the movie. If luck happens to be with me and I find a path into production, wonderful. If not, well… I’m having a heck of a lot of fun developing this story line, and I’m sure writing the dialogue will also keep me entertained. So running this up the flagpole to see who salutes is a low risk enterprise. It’s fun to take my creative brain out of storage and see if it still works.
I should mention that I’m also blessed to have my brilliant wife contributing ideas. She’s a very knowledgeable fan of the genre, and is adding a lot of heart to the story already. So it’s a marital bonding experience. And that has a lot of value.
I think this poster mock-up suggests the story quite well. It was inspired by a picture my son, Casey, sent me in his paramedic uniform, looking ever so movie star.
It feels good to be energized by an inspiration again, after all this time. Whatever comes of it, I hope you all enjoy the holiday season — my favourite time of the year.
And now… Forty-seven years after my first wife and producer, Laara Dalen, scraped the funds together to make my first feature, it’s now available on Amazon Prime for a month, free of charge. Don’t miss this opportunity to watch a bit of Canadian film history return from the dead. It may be a zombie movie, but I’m told it’s getting a great audience response.
Also, thanks to the attention I got from Gold Ninja with the BlueRay limited edition release, and the Hollywood Suite broadcast license, I was contacted by David Voigt to be interviewed for his In The Seats podcast program. David was a great interviewer who asked interesting questions, and that made it easy for me to have fun and sound knowledgeable, almost like I was there. Please give it a listen and let me know what you think in the comments.
*of course this title is ironic. I don’t consider myself a genius, and if I did I sure as hell wouldn’t admit it. I got lucky, is all. But it is really validating to get attention after all these years. I’m sincerely grateful to Golden Ninja and Hollywood Suite for making this happen. It takes a bit of the sting out of being an old hasbeen. Now I’m going to sit back and wait for the telephone to start ringing again.**
**Also ironic. It ain’t gonna happen. My enemies have long memories.