Getting Ready

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Yesterday I bought a digital bathroom scale.  It took a long time to decide which one to buy, because they didn’t seem to be consistent.  Every time I stepped off and back on again, I’d get a slightly different weight reading.  As much as half a kilo, which is a whole pound.  I’d like my scale to be consistent at least.  After a lot of testing, I finally settled on a model that seemed to give the same result every time, though I’m not convinced it does.  But short of getting a doctor’s office style scale, this is as good as it’s going to get.

We got the scale at Aushang, the large modern grocery store near where we live here in Wuxi, China.  It cost 109RMB, which at today’s exchange rate is $17.28 CDN.  While my wife filled the grocery cart, I went off in search of a tape measure, the flexible kind used in dress making.  After a lot of wandering up and down the aisles I finally found one.

You can’t start a new project without spending money.

Yesterday and today I’ve been getting this site up and running, setting up the domain registration, installing WordPress for the blog software, putting together the gateway page.  Now I need to have some pictures of my current physical shape, and some measurements.

Official launch of the website and the project is tomorrow, April 1.  That seems appropriate.

This project terrifies me.  I’m going to have to change my lifestyle, and a huge part of me doesn’t want to do it.  I like eating whatever I want whenever I want.  I like my shot or two of scotch before I go to bed.  I love the way the campus restaurant cooks shu tiao, French fries.  Is my current weight and appearance really all that much of a problem?

Well, yes it is.  I’m down to the last hole in my belt.  I’m starting to feel crowded by my own belly, like I can’t really get a deep breath.  I’m starting to lose mobility, having more leg pain and joint pain, feeling more uncomfortable.  I don’t like the way I look, and while I can feel good when I compare myself to many men my age, I am all too aware that I’m packing a lot more pounds than I should be carrying.

But I don’t want to do this.  I really don’t.  Why do I have such a fucking ego that I think I need to look like a teenager?   A part of me is afraid I won’t be successful at this.  I’ll just make a public fool of myself, and blog about it while I do it.  This whole idea is stupid.

And damn it all, I know I’m going to do it anyway.  Fuck.

3 thoughts on “Getting Ready

  1. Thanks for the inspiration David. I started yesterday, Monday 9th April, no cheating. “Before” pictures are a good idea. You provided my “before” pictures in the photos of pudgy little (not so little) me on our lovely day out in Suzhou. One month till my 60th. Will I hide from the photographer once again on a landmark birthday? (Oh the vanity).

  2. I was co-producer on ‘Skip Tracer’ with you back in ’77. I was surprised to see what you are up to these days. I really thought you would carry on with your talent in the movie business. How is Lara and are you a grandfather yet? I have 3, all the apples of my eye. Did you ever get anymore income from ‘Tracer’? (I wrote it off years ago so this is not a solicitation (har har), Just curiosity. Anyway would like to hear from you.
    Cheers, John

    • John? John Milner? Wow. Now that is a voice out of the past. How wonderful to hear from you. A bit strange that you found me through this site, which is brand new and not promoted at all. I only set up this site to document my current body transplant adventure, with the expectation that it will develop into a portrait of Zale Dalen some time in the future. For now it’s a bit embarrassingly personal.

      To your guestions: Laara is doing very well, as far as I can tell. We don’t have much contact anymore, to my great regret. We separated around the turn of the century, after 32 years of a good marriage, and I went off to a new life, and new wife, here in China. But we are on good terms, and keep in touch mostly through the children, and recent addition of two grand children.

      I haven’t had any income from Skip Tracer for many years, but the film refuses to be forgotten. There was a screening in Vancouver last year, with very good press. It seems it is becoming a historical artifact, much to my surprise. I still consider it the high point of my film career, despite all the subsequent work. Also, a fellow in Montreal tracked me down recently and put a long interview up on their website. You can read it all here: I think you’ll find the last paragraph on page 1 particularly interesting.

      Speaking of the film career, it was generally good. I went on to make more movies, two movies of the week for television, and a great number of episodic television shows, as well as special projects like the Saskatchewan film for Expo ’86. I managed to pay the mortgage and feed the family, with some great luxuries thrown in like my fifty foot yacht and our big house on the ocean. Unfortunately the television work was not very satisfying artistically, and the more money I made the less I felt like a film maker. And then it all started to go away. My clients retired or died. I found I was no longer the enfant terrible of the Canadian film industry, in whom everybody saw great promise, but had become the old television hack. I had a chance to play it safe and retire, but that has never been my way so I blew all my money on digital equipment,founded something I called “the volksmovie movement”, and made a feature film the way I’d always wanted to make a movie. That was a great artistic experience, but a business disaster, and I ended up bankrupt and unemployed. My kids had grown up and didn’t need me anymore. Laara and I had a “financial divorce” some years earlier, and she had gone into a new career as a nurse, so there wasn’t much of the marriage still functional when I finally left it. Tough times. I thought about moving to Toronto, or L.A., and felt I could get back into the film business if I hung around at parties and talked to the right people and acted normal. But I just didn’t have the heart for it. Been there, done that, got the awards. So I shipped out for China and started teaching English here. Best decision I ever made. You can read all about my life in China at

      John, that’s the cocktail napkin version of my long and exciting career in the film business. I really appreciate your contribution to Skip Tracer, and my career. It was a great ride. I’m pretty sure it’s over now, though one never knows. I love making movies, and if the opportunity came up, with the right project, I’d be back at it in a flash. But life is good. My family is well and Laara seems happy now. I’m open to anything, but we’ve signed contracts for September in China next year. So that seems like a plan for the near future.

      Now it’s your turn. How has life treated you? I’d love to hear from you.

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