Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Job application

I've been working on a job application for a couple days now (no thanks to a couple split-shifts at work that have interfered with my timing) but I'm almost set to send it out this morning. I had to finish it up last night - but I was real tired ... probably a good idea to sleep on it before submitting.

Writing gigs require a lot of material when you're submitting a job application, mostly because they want work samples from you. I'd love to have three or four "go to" pieces to submit (which I do) but each writing position has a different focus, so you've got to go back through all of your clippings to find the appropriate stories that best relate to the position you're applying for.

Kitchen jobs
Kitchen jobs: you just call and ask if they're hiring.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I can't, in good conscience, post this on Facebook

But - it's only about 9 p.m. and for some reason ... and this is really odd to me ... 8 people have posted that they're excited about Glee tonight. I honestly can't recall when someone has posted a "I like television" link on their Facebook account, though I'm sure it's happened before.

But for suddenly 8 people to do it, all at once, when I can't recall something like this happening before, it strikes me as very odd. AND ... is Glee even popular?
Television phenomenon “Glee” returned last night to open is sophomore season with more than 12 million viewers, and a exceptional 5.5 in the 18-49 demo, leading all shows for the night. That’s way above it’s first season average, when about 9 million viewers tuned in with a 4.0 in the demo. “NCIS” had a strong showing as well, with 19 million viewers and a 3.9 in the demo, good for second at 8 p.m.
Well - shows what I know, I guess.

This is how the "new" shows fared in the ratings:

1. "Hawaii Five-0," 14.2 million (11th overall)
2. "Blue Bloods," 13 million (17th)
3. "$#*! My Dad Says," 12.6 million (20th)
4. "Mike & Molly," 12.23 million (22nd)
5. "The Defenders," 12.17 million (23rd)
6. "The Event," 10.9 million (27th)
7. "Detroit 1-8-7," 9.3 million (35th)
8. "Undercovers," 8.7 million (40th)
9. "Better With You," 7.9 million (45th)
10. "Outsourced," 7.5 million (47th)

"The Event" has had a serious radio advertising campaign going on - but with middle of the pack ratings, and a heavy dependency on following along - I can only imagine that the ratings will shrink week after week. suckas!

Here, just so this post isn't an entire waste of your time:

Job in Peterborough?

My wife has directed my attention to a job in Peterborough out on King Street that might be very interesting - of course I'm going to throw in an application. I spoke with a woman there yesterday, and, as with almost every job listing in this field of work, there are a lot of applicants.

Here's hoping I can at least get an interview.

Here's the place, if you've ever heard of it or know someone who works there, let me know.

here's the link.

Transylvanian meat-eating dragon

My morning has been hijacked a little with a call from work to come in on a pinch, so I had to spend my morning with them making sure everything was up to par, and now it is. BUT this puts me behind in a series of other things I was planning to do - including posting all this dinosaurs stuff!

I will being by arguing that the title of this post is more intriguing than what the NPR decided to title their story on the same subject with:

Stocky dinosaur with menacing toes
I've edited this a bit - someone lost focus while they were writing this and veered heavily into the "Island Effect" which would be tremendously more fitting in an article about Charles Darwin, not a new dinosaur. While this link goes to the NPR website, I actually pulled this article from a different site, and I don't recall which one - my apologies.
Balaur bondoc ("stocky dragon")

That's the name scientists have given a new meat-eating dinosaur unearthed in southern Transylvania.

The team reporting the results says Balaur ... provides fresh evidence for the so-called "island effect," in which geographic isolation spawns unique body forms. In some cases creatures shrink, in others they grow much larger than their continental cousins, and they can evolve to display some truly unique body forms.

Balaur "is really highly specialized and unusual," says Mark Norell, a paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and a member of the team reporting the results. The research effort was led by Zoltan Csiki, a paleontologist at the University of Bucharest. Matyas Vremir, a prehistoric tortoise expert at the Transylvania Museum Society in Cluj-napoca, Romania, made the find.

Balaur inhabited Hateg Island, now part of a geological formation in Romania. Some 70 million years ago, however, Hateg Island was a patch of terra firma in the Tethys Sea, forerunner to the modern Mediterranean.

"Some people had even argued that the top of the food chain on this island wasn't dinosaurs at all, but crocodillians," Norell says. "Now we've found a carnivore."

If Balaur represents the island effect, it's more for the creature's highly specialized features than a puny or gigantic size, the researchers say.

[seriously? It takes until NOW to get to the part where we finally describe the dinosaur? Isn't this article about the dinosaur, not the f-ing "Island Effect?"]

Balaur stretched some 6 to 7 feet from nose to tail tip, comparable to its nearest contemporary continental relative, Velociraptor. Both shared a common ancestor more than 112 million years ago. The dwarf plant eaters, by contrast, had no close relatives living at the time, suggesting they had been isolated much longer.

Yet Balaur is beefier than its movie-star cousin. Among Balaur's unique features: two sets of readily extended sickle-like claws on each of its hind feet [this is not a unique feature - these sickle-like claws are in fact the prototypical feature on an entire species of dromaeosaurs - someone has to learn what "unique" means], and hands that host three fingers, only two of which function, instead of all three.

Dinosaur bones found in Edmonton sewer
Ninja Turtles kicked their ass and left them to die 75 million years ago:

EDMONTON—Workers digging a sewer tunnel in Edmonton have unearthed the bones of two species of dinosaurs, including one similar to the Tyrannosaurus rex.

The city drainage workers were hand-tunneling last week when they found the fossils.

Experts from the Royal Tyrell Museum and the University of Alberta believe the bones are from the Albertosaurus and the Edmontosaurus.

Albertosaurus was a smaller cousin of the carnivorous T. Rex that roamed the Earth about 75 million years ago.

An adult would measure about 10 metres from head to toe and its large head would be filled with sharp teeth.

The Edmontosaurus was a large, plant-eating, duck-billed dinosaur from the same time period that used to be preyed on by the T. Rex.

What on earth they were doing fighting in a sewer, we may never know ;)

Giant Terror-Birds used their heads like hatchets

Phorusrhacids have been extinct for millions of years, yet the so-called terror birds just got a bit more frightening.

The flightless birds stood up to ten feet (three meters) tall and had hook-beaked heads the size of horse heads. Now a new study has apparently deciphered how the birds used those fearsome skulls—employing a fighting style like that of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali.

Researchers used CT scans of terror-bird skulls and biomechanical computer models to conclude that the birds likely used a speedy, graceful, strike-and-retreat style, killing their prey with a succession of punishing, hatchet-like blows.

Cool - they need to make a horror movie with this kind of monster in it. These things are pretty scary. Or even if it were just a twisted cassowary - those things are tough and scary. Just as scary as snakes, spiders or wolves, I would argue. They're bad-ass. Plus, if they used their face as a hatchet, that's even better. That's begging to be made into a slasher-flick.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Busy week

Looking forward to getting a lot of things done this week - there's the usual routine of things that we all have to do most weeks, but we've got a wedding this weekend, which should be fun. So we've got some of that to plan for.

wait! This comic is funny:

Cyanide and Happiness, a daily webcomic
Cyanide & Happiness @

Next - I've got a comic I'm almost finished almost ready to go, plus I'll be starting on another due out at the end of the month, which I've been meaning to do for a long time. At the end of the month (Sept. 30) I fully intend on drawing the Tomb of the Undead script I've been developing for all of this time. This means that before too long I will be able to start posting pages of the comic - which is very exciting. The hardest part is definitely worrying about what the first page will look like - it has to awesome, but ... maybe it just has to look like it fits with the rest of the story.

Also - each week I am going to be editing/taking notes on a chapter of Lefevre's Redemption. This week is chapter five, which I'm looking forward to. I've read a lot of good fiction over the last few months and read a lot more on the art of fiction writing - and I think there are some great new influences and ideas to include to make the reading much smoother. So that's exciting - once I've completed the first 50 or so pages of the manuscript - I might immediately edit it again and submit it to publishers for consideration (they usually only take the first few pages .. hopefully they're interested and ask for more pages).

Beyond that - I'll be booking a bed and breakfast for our first anniversary at the end of October - which will be wonderful. We'll head out to Ottawa and tour around for a day and a couple of evenings. Should be nice (and it will definitely be nice to not be stuck there in early January this time!)

Lastly - I spent some time reviewing the last 30 years of the NHL draft to make "all star" teams from each one. The challenge will be to you - which team is the best? Rank them in order of awesome. Perhaps I'll just post one at a time for a while - and integrate them into a list of excellence as we go? Maybe that will be more fun - as it will draw the game out a little, and not overwhelm with too much information all at once.

I'm sure there's a lot of stuff I'm missing - but I'm going to head to the library to see if I can find some inspiring National Geographic issues to help with Tomb of the Undead.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Leafs game

Man - that game against the Flyers last night was awesome. The shootout was like 12 rounds or something like that - 20+ shooters. Kris Versteeg looked awesome. The world is a better place when the Maple Leafs are winning. Winning anything - show me the Maple Leafs winning at cribbage, I don't care, as long as they're winning.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Two movies to look foward to

Lindelof Re-Writing Alien Prequel?
And maybe another film for Ridley Scott

His big day job on a little show called Lost might have come to an end, but writer/producer Damon Lindelof has only allowed himself a few scant weeks off before diving back into meetings on various high profile projects. And the biggest of the moment? Locking in a deal to do script polishing on at least the first of Ridley Scott’s planned Alien prequels.

The movie’s screenplay was originated by Jon Spaihts, though with it being A) a big studio film and B) part of what Fox is no doubt hoping will be a new space-set franchise, it’s not a shock to see the screenplay going through several keyboards on its journey to the screen.

As for the plot, it’ll focus on events around 30 years before we meet Ellen Ripley and co, and will finally reveal more about the “space jockey” and the vicious xenomorphs. Oh, and how the Weyland company factors into it all.

And that’s not all: apparently Lindelof and Sir Ridders had such a productive meeting that the writer may actually end up writing another project for the director, an original sci-fi pic that they discussed.

Lindelof is of course part of JJ Abrams’ regular team of collaborators and is right now working on the script for Star Trek 2 with Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (he was a producer on the first one). He’s also co-written the latest draft of Cowboys and Aliens with the pair, which actually managed to get the thing into production.

And the interesting thing about Cowboys and Aliens is that it will feature both Sam Rockwell and Harrison Ford - which should be very cool. I really like Sam Rockwell.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Open letter to The Brick

I drafted this up a long while ago - but the timing shouldn't affect the sentiment it represented back when it was written. After a fiasco with the delivery of some rare parts for our bedroom set (courtesy - well, not courtesy - in exchange for cash via The Brick) we were left with a sour taste in our mouth. I sent this out to them yesterday. I'm not entirely sure what will come of it, but we were definitely unsatisfied with them.

If you're looking for furniture - trust me - it is my recommendation that you try everywhere you can and seriously consider purchasing from The Brick if you have alternatives. We're not shopping there anytime soon.

Also - we were at a United Furniture Warehouse, which apparently is owned by The Brick. This is where the damaged floor models wind up - so ... if you're boycotting The Brick, be aware that United is also a part of the beast - granted I can't imagine they actually profit very much from clearing overflow at less than cost.

Anyhow - on to the letter...

The Brick, Regional Vice President, East
Wednesday, September 22
6765 Kennedy Rd.,

Attention: Customer Service

To whom it may concern,

I am contacting you to express my frustration with our most recent purchase from Peterborough location of The Brick. My new wife and I have just moved into our first home together, and we purchased a new bedroom set from The Brick to make our master bedroom in our new home complete. We shopped around and found that while most of the stores carried similar products, The Brick’s delivery date matched our moving schedule perfectly. We were pleased with our purchase and excited to include the product in our new home together.

The timing was perfect. We would move in on June 18, paint the master bedroom over the weekend, and receive the bedroom set on June 22. We’d be comfortably adjusted into our new residence in just a few days. However, after the delivery, we discovered that some special screws for the bed were not included as they should have been. I double-checked the boxes to be sure we hadn’t misplaced them ourselves. The parts were not included, and thus not delivered. This begins our six weeks of frustration and disappointment with The Brick.

I would like to stress, I was happy to live up to our end of the bargain – we liked the bed, paid full-price for it, and weren’t interested in going back on our decision. I did not threaten to return the product or try and manipulate our customer service representative into further compensation. I simply wanted the parts so we could finally quit living in the little guestroom in our own house.

I called our local Brick and they told me they would send new screws and that they would arrive in the mail early next week. By mid-week (and no parts) I called back. They double-checked and found that the parts would have to be delivered to them, and then mailed out to us. It being Thursday already, they expected the parts in by the end of the following week. A week later I had to call back to inquire on the status of our delivery again.

During these weeks, the store became familiar with our situation. We were continually told the parts should be in early next week. Each week we would wait until Wednesday evening, and when nothing arrived, week after week, we’d call back. I think the most disappointing part of this was that the employee was unapologetic (never said sorry for the inconvenience once) and non-committal, therefore deferring. I say ‘deferring’ because, while she had no idea when the parts would come in, she would defer our complaint for a week by saying that the parts should arrive in a week’s time. This would lift our hopes on a dishonest statement, having us believe that we should receive the parts by early next week, when, in reality, the Brick representative did not know when the parts would arrive.

Ultimately, I wanted details and an open line of communication keeping us in the know regarding our delivery situation and, of course, some sort of apology. Rather, our customer service rep was not being entirely honest with us – and we continued to live uncomfortably in our guest room.

The delivery was schedule for Tuesday, June 22. The new parts didn’t arrive for over a month, on Tuesday, August 3. You can see our inconvenience and empathize with the disappointment we felt with our customer and delivery services.

After a few weeks, I resorted to speaking with the manager, Barb, directly. Barb was initially much more communicative about the situation. She explained that the parts were very uncommon and difficult to acquire, and that the manufacturer didn’t have the parts (though they were delivering the product without the parts anyhow). Barb explained that there were no parts anywhere, and this was the explanation for us not receiving the parts. This was edifying, but not entirely satisfying. I could understand why we didn’t get them, but … as I said before, if The Brick couldn’t make the June 22 delivery date (and we knew we’d have to wait until August 3 for a Brick delivery) then we certainly would have turned to any other furniture supplier, who could have easily met a delivery schedule more accommodating than nearly six weeks.

A few more weeks went by. There was no change in our situation. We were continually told that the manufacturer was unable to provide the appropriate parts, and all we could do was wait. Of course, the story ends with the parts eventually arriving. The story ends with us happy in our bedroom set – but it also ends with a change in our perception of The Brick.

The bedroom set is very nice, and we’re quite comfortable with it. It’s what we paid for, however, the six weeks of continuous phone calls, disingenuous delivery assurances and unapologetic customer service has significantly soured our opinion of The Brick. I really don’t know what it is you can do to make it up to us, but as a result, we are seriously committed to both never purchasing from another Brick outlet again and recommending to all of our friends and family to avoid buying products from The Brick as a result of our experience.

Disappointingly, but truly yours,


Monday, September 20, 2010

North in the south, and south in the north?

You'll find in just a moment that there is a lot of 'not really dinosaur' news over the last little while, which can often be just as interesting as real dinosaur news. BUT to start off - I'll mention a tyrannosaurid that is expected to only be found in the north, discovered in the south; and a carcharodontosaurid normally only discovered in the south, found in the north! Strange days - I'm sure this is because of global warming from 150 million years ago.

Prehistoric egg 'found' just outside Geelong [northerner in the south]
A PREHISTORIC egg found in the Brisbane Ranges National Park could unravel the mystery about dinosaurs' existence in Geelong.

This article is almost long - and riddled with problems from an uneducated reporter - so to recap: this fossilized egg indicates that tyrannosaurids left eggs on the Geelong coast of Australia - even though it is believed that tyrannosaurids never migrated to the southern hemispheres.

The ancient egg, which is estimated to be 25 million years old [what the f***? - that would mean this egg was layed 40 millions years AFTER dinosaurs went extinct], was discovered near Steiglitz Rd, kilometres from Anakie.

Geelong subterranean historian Alan said he had contacted the Melbourne Museum, who confirmed the history of the egg.

"There's been no evidence of dinosaurs it that area before," he said. [EXCEPT ...]

"There has been some found before in the south of Melbourne and down on the coast." [my emphasis - refuting his own above statement quickly]

A study earlier this year conducted by a group of paleontologists claimed the feared Tyrannosaurus rex may have roamed the Otways coast.

"This is an exciting discovery because tyrannosaur fossils had only ever been found in the northern hemisphere before and some scientists thought tyrannosaurs never made it down south," said Roger Benson, from the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Cambridge, who identified the find. "The bone is unambiguously identifiable as a tyrannosaur because these dinosaurs have very distinctive hip bones," he said.

"Although we only have one bone, it shows that 110 million years ago small tyrannosaurs like ours might have been found worldwide. This find has major significance for our knowledge of how this group of dinosaurs evolved."

Alan said his find could re-write the history books in Geelong and the surrounding region if the egg was proven to be the real deal. [IF? This egg hasn't been proven to be real yet?]

Terrible, F.

Hunchback of Notre Dinosaur [southerner in the north]

A 'hunchback' dinosaur that roamed the Earth 130 million years ago has been unearthed in Spain. The meat eater was almost 20ft long, about 6ft tall and weighed around four-and-a-half tons.

It has been dubbed the “hunchback hunter of Las Hoyas” where it was found near the city of Cuenca in western Spain. The previously unknown creature which has been officially named Concavenator corcovatus is one of the most complete dinosaur fossils yet dug up in Europe.

Professor Francisco Ortega said the “exquisitely preserved” skeleton represents a new species of carcharodontosaurid – a member of the predatory theropods that included T Rex.

They were previously believed to be only confined to south of the equator so the discovery described in Nature provides insights into the early evolution of theropods.

Prof Ortega, of the National University of Distance Education in Madrid, said C corcovatus has “two unusual features” – the pointed humplike structure on its back and a series of small bumps on the forearms.

This unique 'hunchback' has never previously been described in dinosaurs whereas the bumps are similar to 'quill knobs' found in many modern birds where wing feathers are anchored to the bone with ligaments.

As well as its peculiar spine C corcovatus could help shed light on the origin of feathers on theropods from which today's birds descended.

Scales do not have follicles so it is believed the structures on the arms were pieces of skin similar to birds' feathers.

Prof Ortega said: “Carcharodontosaurs were the largest predatory dinosaurs, and their early evolutionary history seems to be more intricate than was previously thought. “Here we describe an almost complete and exquisitely preserved skeleton of a medium-sized theropod from the Lower Cretaceous series.”

He added: “Concavenator shows the combination of scale and non-scale skin appendages exhibited in present-day poultry was already present in large theropod dinosaurs 130 million years ago.”

Dinosaurs in Papua New Guinea

Is there a legitimate flying reptile from the past soaring over the little islands in Malaysia (or where Papua New Guinea is)?

Bat-like wings, a beak full of razor sharp teeth, tearing claws, a long tail with a flanged end, is this night-flying reptile a figment of the imagination? Or does it provide living proof that dinosaurs still exist today in far-flung and obscure little corners of the world. Researchers have unearthed the pterosaur, 2010.

The Ropen (Demon-flyer) has terrified the people of Papua New Guinea for thousands of years, a monster of the skies that swoops down on its unsuspecting prey, often at night, and carries them off to its lair.

The world is full of tales of mythical beasts (the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, the Yhetti) and expeditions costing millions of dollars have been carried out, often with the same result: little or no evidence, so the myth lives on.

Not so with the Ropen, or Dimorphodon Pterosaur, the flying reptile which is supposed to have died out 65 million years ago with the rest of the dinosaurs, because, according to American-based researcher Terrence Aym*, “Eyewitness reports – collected by determined exploration teams seeking strong evidence of the creatures – have led serious researchers to the conclusion that two distinct animals exist”.

Meet the Ropen and the smaller Duah, a relative. Eye-witness reports from teams of researchers go hand in hand with local folklore, telling of terrifying flying beasts with long beaks crammed with razor-sharp teeth, a long tail with a flange on the end and huge bat-like wings. Now, (see the original story from the link below) graphic real-time video evidence has been added, shot by intrepid researchers Jim Blume and David Woetzel, who have explored Papua New Guinea and several Pacific Isles.

It would be awesome to see something like this, I would agree. If there are a few different species living out there, zoologists should get over there and find them. Of course, if they were there, someone would have likely reported it for real - and it would be in zoos and shit. Too bad.

Reports of Jurassic Park 4 are likely confused with Terra Nova
And of course, PerezHilton manages to lure us in by using catching tags in their HTML, in this case, "Jurassic Park 4." Hit whore desperate for traffic to his/her site.

The series will be shot in southeast Queensland, Australia, at a budget of a mere $4 million per episode.

We’re definitely intrigued, although this seems like the type of project that might be better suited for a larger screen. (Unrelated, but awesome, is this portrayal of the tyrannosaurus rex (featuring some feathers on its tail).

Head hunting for dinosaurs

This is a shame.

NORMAN, Okla., Aug. 18 (UPI) -- The owner of an Oklahoma gas station where thieves beheaded a fiberglass dinosaur is pleading for the head's return "with no questions asked."

Jerry Masters, owner of the Sinclair gas station in Norman, said he arrived for work Friday to find vandals had sawed off the head of Dino the dinosaur, a 500-pound, pea-green Apatosaurus statue, The Oklahoman reported Wednesday.

"I think it was a prank, but we'd sure like to have the head back," Masters said. "He looks kind of sad without it."

Wii dinosaurs Strike!
I hope this is cool - I'll be interested to see some video of it on Youtube some day.

Dinosaurs Strike is the latest in the series and offers players the ability to control giant creatures and fight other monsters in order to survive. The Wii exclusive features 18 different breeds including T-Rex and Triceratops and a four-player multiplayer mode.

Gamers can use the Wii Remote and Nunchuk to attack within the game’s three separate environments – tropical forest, desert and mountain stages.

Dinosaurs Strike will arrive in stores on Wii this November.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Killer cliches and writing 10 minutes a day

This is fun - these aren't necessarily "cliches" but rather, old advice that (according to this blogger) no longer apply to creative writing. The final blurb is another writer sharing their process. Interesting, and better left said by them, than me trying to recap - comment or anything like that.

13 Writing Clich├ęs That Will Kick Your Ass

One of the best pieces of writing advice I’ve ever heard – or repeated – is to forget much of what your high school and even college creative writing teacher told you about storytelling.

No, you do not need a three page description of the setting of every scene prior to beginning any action or dialogue. Watch how fast that will get you rejected.

Everybody already knows what a bank lobby looks like. Give it a rest.

There’s a significant pile of such misnomers still lingering out there, most of which used to be labeled as conventional wisdom.

Nothing about publishing or movie making is the same as it was even ten years ago. The enlightened writer continues to evolve and to reinvent themselves to keep up with the changing times.

Here are a few things to consider… all of them dead wrong.

Character is plot. Plot is character.

No, it’s not. Either way. That’s like saying that salad is dessert, or if you prefer, that your dessert is salad.

This rusty old truism tries to sell the same type of convoluted belief system where storytelling is concerned. It’s as over-simplified as it is misleading.

Plot is the catalyst, the stage, that allows characters to show themselves and to grow. Without plot, character is without reason to be, and without a means of revealing itself.

Character is what makes plot interesting, because we care so much more when we can feel the pain or the thrill of it all. Otherwise the story reads like a press release.

Adjectives are evil.

So sayeth many writers, including Elmore Leonard in this list of writing rules that apply mainly to him and no one else.

Adjectives may be many things – risky, self-indulgent, unnecessary, redundant, insulting, etc . – but they can also make a narrative moment sing.

That’s the art of it. As a writer of stories, you have to learn how to carry that tune.

Your characters will begin to talk to you.

Ah, the mantra of the pantser. Waiting for the completely fictional construct of your imagination to take over the story.

This is like asking your nine year old to drive so you can enjoy the scenery.

If you have to wait until the character figures out what’s required in the story before you do, then your story is already broken.

Because the story isn’t completely and solely about the character. It’s also about the narrative landscape upon which a drama unfolds – conflict and tension – which may not yet be fully realized within the character’s perception.

Bestselling authors are better than less-than-bestselling authors.

Absolutely wrong. But you have to read both to know this.

Bestselling authors have a different standard than new authors or B-list authors. They need to be pretty good to stay on the A-list, that’s true.

But for a B-list author to move up, they have to be better than good. They need to deliver something that the publisher – long before the reading public discovers it – will decide to promote at the level of a bestseller.

Everybody sets out to write a bestseller. Once you submit that manuscript, however, you have no control whatsoever over whether it becomes one or not.

Published authors are better than non-published authors.


You have to be better than good to break in. The slush pile at any major publisher is full of good and even great manuscripts.

Good isn’t the point. Market upside is.

If you write a good story, somebody will eventually buy it.

Right. And all good dogs go to heaven, too.

Sorry, that’s not what happens. There is a hefty handful of factors involved that have nothing to do with your story – your agent, timing, the mood of the acquisitions editor, what they just bought, what just hit the bestseller list, and in no small measure, pure blind luck.

Publishers and producers are looking for new talent.

They say that. They’ve always said that.

Take a look at the crowd during the keynote address at your next major writing conference. Among the 800 people sitting there, a handful will end up being published. Enough to fit into a booth at Denny’s.

Is the rest of that room untalented? I don’t think so. And neither do you.

What publishers and producers are really looking for is the next home run. Which has very little to do with talent.

Writing novels is different than writing screenplays.

The format of the page itself is definitely different. The way the script reaches its intended audience is also completely different.

But the principles that drive the effectiveness of the story on that page… almost identical.

Writing novels is a better, higher art than writing screenplays.

The average advance for a first-time novelist is a few thousand bucks, at best.

The Writer’s Guild minimum for a motion picture screenplay will buy you a new Mercedes. The kind with a retractable hardtop.

Better? Depends on who you ask. That’s like saying becoming a dermatologist is better than becoming a podiatrist.

Depends on what itch you need to scratch. Better is always relative.

Writing what the market wants is a sell out.

Call it what you will, you’ll never sell what the market doesn’t want.

Friends and family will be the first to read your published work.

An informal poll of published novelists says this just isn’t true. Don’t count on it, you will be sorely disappointed.

It doesn’t mean they don’t love you. It means they don’t love what you love: books.

The batting average is much better for screenwriters. Everybody loves a premier.

Literary novels (and art films) are different than commercial novels (and art films).

On one level, yes. Character trumps all in a literary work of art. Which means the reading experience is indeed different.

But the writing experience isn’t different. Same six core competencies, same sleepless nights and insecurities. Just a matter of emphasis and depth.

You can try for Moby Dick or you can try for The Lovely Bones, which is literary as all hell. Or you can swing for the fences with Dan Brown and Janet Evanovich. Your call to make.

There are no rules.

No, there aren’t. You are free to fail as you please.

Trouble is, too many people interpret that statement to mean they can write a viable story any damn way they please, too.

If they hope to sell it, they can’t.

Because there are principles involved – which at a glance look an awful lot like rules – that define the nature and parameters of a successful story.

It’s like music. Unless you’re riffing contemporary jazz, you have to concede to a baseline and a beat. The rules of the song, one that hopes to play on drivetime radio.

Symmetry, rhythm and flow – principles – are the hallmarks of all art.

If doesn’t matter if you buy this, or not. What matters, and critically so, is that the people who write checks for manuscripts do buy it.

If you wish to attach some weird sense of nobility to your unpublished status, that’s your call.

If you are writing for them, then you must play by the rules and expectations of solid storytelling – principles – that they hold dear.

Write your Screenplay in 10 Minutes a Day

By Pilar Alessandra

I know you’re busy. Trust me, I’m with you. You’ve got work, school, kids, you name it. Family counts on you, friends need you – someone’s probably e-mailing, texting or instant messaging you right now!

So how in the heck are you going to find time to write? Well, look down at that smart-phone or computer. You already are.

Be honest. How many times a day do you sneak in a Facebook post, send a brilliant thought through Twitter or entertain a far-away friend with a text? Every time you do, you’re writing.

You’re relating an anecdote; describing a person you met, engaging in a conversation. In other words, you’re focusing on story, character and dialogue all day long.

So, you might as well do it for your screenplay.

Try it. Apply those same stolen moments of time to your script. Instead of telling your friend what happened that day (really, she can wait), quickly synopsize your movie idea. Instead of texting gossip about that person you met in an elevator, create a piece of scene direction that might describe that person as they enter a movie scene. Instead of engaging in a cutesy I.M., write a “cute meet” between two characters.

Suddenly, your stolen moments of time are productively moving you towards a screenplay.

Think it can’t be done? Let’s try it out. See how quickly you can actually outline your movie by choosing to focus on one element per ten-minute break.

  1. Commit 10 minutes to telling a simple story with a great idea. Describe it in a paragraph or two as though telling a friend about a great movie. That’s your synopsis.
  2. Commit 10 minutes to dividing that story into four sections. Give each section a title. Those are your acts.
  3. Commit 10 minutes per act to brainstorming the major events that happen in each section. Those are your sequences or “beats.”
  4. Commit 10 minutes per sequence to brainstorming the cool details, character moments, and smaller actions. Those are your scenes.

Congratulations. Outline finished.

This isn’t to say that you need to cut all of your Facebook, Twitter and texting time. But look at how quickly you just moved through your outline when social networking suddenly turned into screenwriting.

Do keep texting, though -- because you’re actually teaching yourself to write. Yeah, you read that correctly. All of this texting and tweeting has taught us how to focus our stories and edit.

You choose your words carefully and well when you “tweet” a joke using only 140 characters. You’ve learned how to create urgency or coax a smile with only a few choice words sent in a quick text. You edit your e-mails to make sure that you’re not burying an important point.

All of these skills are the same ones a writer brings to scene honing and dialogue doctoring. So why not try a rewrite on your script with the same attention to detail?

  1. Commit 10 minutes to hone in on the main point of a written scene. Then quickly lop off the excess that threatens to bury it.
  2. Commit 10 minutes to finding new words for your action lines; words that have enough impact to sum up the action and emotion of that moment.
  3. Commit 10 minutes to turning an overwritten monologue into the perfect one-liner.

There’s an argument that all of our social networking is dumbing us down as a society. I say it’s created a generation of writers. We communicate through the written word more than we ever did before. Now, we just have to use those skills for our art.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

What they might be doing with Jeff Finger

The Leafs have bolstered their defense as heavily as they can. While they may not have the premiere defensemen in the league on the roster, they still sport the most accomplished 6,7,8 and 9 defensemen in the league.

The top 4 of Mike Komisarek, Tomas Kaberle, Dion Phaneuf and Luke Schenn is formidable. Those should be four solid defensemen that work hard - galvanized by the support of Francois Beauchemin, Carl Gunnarsson and the newly acquired Brett Ledba. So what does this tell us?

I read an article in the Toronto Sun yesterday:

Jeff Finger will not have to take a hard right turn to the Marlie dressing room Friday morning when Maple Leafs’ training camp opens.

Though a summer of speculation has the veteran defenceman and his $3.5-million US contract getting demoted for cap relief, Leafs senior vice-president of hockey operations Dave Nonis said nothing has been decided.

“That would be unfair to players who have spent the summer working hard (to make the main roster),” Nonis said Thursday.

Finger is a good reserve defenceman, but has had a target on him since then-GM Cliff Fletcher overpaid $14 million for four years back in 2008. The Leafs enter camp about $200,000 over the NHL cap of $59.4 million.

“We’ll have to do something, make a roster move or put someone on waivers, but there is not a great deal of issues at this point,” Nonis said.

Most teams do like to have a couple of million dollars in cap ceiling in case they have to add someone in a pinch.

So - even though it's been argued that Lebda is somewhat overpaid to be the Leafs' next Garnet Exelby (basically plays 40 games / season) what it may do is push the $3.5 million per Finger into the minors. Frankly, Finger will do one of two things: Play like a $4 million player or play in the minors. Bad on me, I guess, but I hadn't foreseen this strategy until just last night - and it's clever.

We spoke yesterday of there being very little pressure at the centre position, but with so much competition on defense, they may be able to save some big money to use up front at some point in a trade. Could be interesting. Being able to take on 2 or 3 million dollars in a trade could mean the Leafs can move for an expensive (thus, theoretically, talented) centre.

Phaneuf - $6.5 per
Komisarek - $4.5 per
Kaberle - $4.25 per
Beauchemin - $3.8 per
Finger - $3.5 per
Schenn - $1.45 per
Lebda - $1.45 per
Gunnarsson - $.800
Lashoff - $.550

So - by replacing Finger for Lebda - the Leafs make space for $2.05 million on the cap. In this case, the Leafs would be interested in moving another defenseman for space up front. Believing that Phaneuf is off limits - we can believe that the Leafs could trade anyone from Komisarek to Beauchemin (ranging from $4.5 per to $3.8 per). We know that trades have to basically comprise of equal $ value or else teams get into tough spots taking on salary. And the Leafs have been very vocal about using their ability to take on salary to increase the value they receive in a trade. By bumping Finger with a deep blue line, and then exploiting that depth to trade for a talent forward - the Leafs will be able to pick up a forward (hopefully a centre) who's value ranges from $6.55 million per to $5.85 per. This is the same value that Phil Kessel is priced at - meaning we should be able to expect another 30+ goal scorer in exchange for that much cap space relief.

Consider that the Leafs are over their cap limit by $274,167, so we should subtract that from the trade limit, bringing us down to a range of $6.276 - $5.576 million per year.

Who falls into this category?
Mike Richards (PHI) ($6.4), Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin (VAN) ($6.1), Ryan Malone (TB), Anze Kopitar (LA), Alexander Semin, Niklas Backstrom (WAS), Ilya Kovalchuk (NJ) ($6), P. Bergeron (BOS) ($5.75), J. Pominville (BUF), Ryan Smyth (LA), Jeff Carter (PHI) ($5.5), Corey Perry (ANA) ($5.375), Simon Gagne (TB), Martin Erat (NSH?) ($5.25), Andy McDonald (STL) ($5.2), Ryan Getzlaf (ANA) ($5.125), Johan Franzen (DET), Mike Ribeiro (DAL?), Zach Parise, Patrik Elias, Brian Rolston (NJ), Mike Cammalleri (MTL) ($5).

Which of those players might be traded? That's a tougher analysis. I'd bet Malone, Kopitar, Semin, Bergeron, Pominville, Erat, McDonald, Riberio, Elias and Rolston the likeliest of candidates (even though the likelihood is still low).

Who would be interested in relieving cap space in a trade with the Leafs?
The NY Rangers are over the cap by $4.06
The Canucks are over the cap by $3.15
The Bruins are over the cap by $3.09
The Devils are over the cap by $3
The Flames are over the cap by $2.35
The Maple Leafs are over the cap by $0.27

Who on the Rangers could provide what Toronto is looking for?
Maybe Dubinsky (if they can't resign him? Though you'd think NYR would sign Dubinsky)

The Canucks
Kesler at $5 mil.

The Bruins
Bergeron at $4.75 mil.

The Devils
Elias at $6 mil. or Parise at $3.125 (if they can't resign him - though I can't imagine NJ would do that)

The Flames
Daymond Langkow makes $4.5, but I can't imagine they'd trade for him.

The Redwings, Flyers, Senators, Canadiens and Blackhawks are up close to the cap within a million dollars, so they might be interested in making a move. Though it'd be a surprise if MTL or OTT made a trade with Toronto. CHI has already made a trade so it'd be a surprise if there was much left to pick off their roster. So - DET and PHI are the options that might be opportunists - what have they got?

The Red Wings
Franzen at $3.96 mil. (who has a 8 year contract or something, unlikely they'll trade him)

The Flyers
Mike Richards at $5.75 mil., Carter at $5 mil. (but I don't think Philly is moving these guys either). Ville Leino might be a bit too expensive for them to resign - though someone will definitely give a good package to get him if Philly's moving him).

In Conclusion:
Not much out there even though the Leafs could make a big swing for a centre.

Writing screenplays, extensions, and seven successes

I've been sitting on this post for a while now. I've had to trim quite a bit out of it to keep it as long as it is, which is too bad. But the data is worth a read, whether you agree with it or not. That being said, a review, then consideration, or what other people have learned about writing is good practice for me.

One of the things I worry about when I'm writing something is adhering to form. Now, this might seem ridiculous to most - but all through my work as an undergraduate, there were basically three things that you HAD to pay attention to - each of equal importance.

1) answer the question being asked
2) adhere to the proper form
3) edit heavily

That being said - any writing of scripts that I've done have been copied from a script of a Sawyer-centric episode of Lost from Season 1 (which is fine). I used the layout from that script t influence how set up the rest of what I was writing.

Anyhow - before a scene there is something called an "Extension" which establishes the setting and time of day of that scene. It's abbreviated and brief, though detailed. In any case - I'm not entirely certain how to do something like this, so here's a reference:

How to write an extension - by Steve's Digicams
Writing Extensions
Extensions are part of a screenplays format. There are instructions that appear one space next to the characters name that tell the reader if a character is speaking in Voice Over (V.O.) or Off Screen (O.S.). Sometimes Off Camera (O.C.) is used instead of Off Screen but it means the same thing.



The lights are off. MARY, 30, is going through a filing cabinet.

JIM (O.S.)

What are you doing here?

Mary turns around to see JIM pointing a gun at her.

Voice Over

Voice over is a technique that allows a narrator to speak to the audience while some action is appearing on screen. When used properly it can connect the audience with a character on a very intimate level as it allows them to hear his thoughts. It's a very powerful tool but a lot of beginning writers tend to use it as a crutch to give exposition to the audience. Instead of a dynamic connection the audience becomes bored.

Most screenwriting gurus claim that you should never use voice over, even though there are tons of great movies that use it. Instead, voice over should be added to the script in a rewrite when the story is solid and the characters are developed. It should be used to add something to the story rather than supporting it.

Off Screen

Off screen is a great tool because it helps you as the writer direct the reader's attention. You can get more dramatic impact when a one characters startles another by surprising them with off screen dialogue. This also helps keep the reader involved with the story. But you should also use these sparingly. Too much off screen dialogue can get a little annoying, especially in a visual medium.

Thanks, Steve's Digicam. This all sounds good to me - I've been on sets before where we joked about different types of shots that can be established with the Extension, like: FBTL (From between the legs) or BHBS (Beside his ball sac) or FIHU (From inside his urethra). Gay, I know.

Steve's Digicam also says:

Study Screenplays
Screenwriting is a difficult craft to master, but anyone can try their hand in it. All you need to invest is time. Watch great movies and study how the story unfolds. Then go online and look for the screenplays. You can find a lot of free screenplays to read over the internet. Immerse yourself in screenwriting. Once you get the hang of it start writing your own work.
- this is sort of what I recommend. Obviously you'd prefer to have a textbook or reference guide that outlines exactly what to do, and then you could use other screenplays or scripts as examples of the theory in practice, or what Paulo Freire called Praxis [granted, Freire was more interested in pedagogy than screenwriting, no doubt.]
Give Your Script the Proper Formatting
Screenwriting is a lot different then other forms of writing. The most noticeable difference is the amount of white space that exists on a screenplay's page. There is a universal industry format that screenplays must adhere to. As a screenwriter you need to adhere to these rules. The market is over saturated with screenplays because anyone with a word processor can read them. You could have written the most brilliant screenplay ever but if it's not properly format then the guy with ten scripts to read isn't even going to look at yours because to him it screams amateur. So follow the proper format.
- hell yeah! This is exactly what I'm saying. You absolutely require the proper format for whatever it is you're doing. This is tremendously important whether it's in sports (called "form") or in business, banking, and of course writing. You need to use the right form or else you're just not committed to that particular craft.

The rules to writing a screenplay
Susan Dunne at has a great post about what rules to follow while writing a screenplay.

To hear Peter Fox tell it, there are five essential conflicts in life:

1. A problem of conscience.

2. It ain't fair.

3. Man against the mountain.

4. Life or death.

5. Stand and deliver.

"You need to have at least one of those as the root of the conflict," Fox says. "Some movies have all five of them. It's rare, but some movies do."

Fox, vice president of production at Tripeg Studios, a film production company based in Hamden, wants to spread his savvy to up-and-coming film writers. He is one of the teachers Saturday at Bushnell Filmmakers' Forum, which unites people who have "made it" in the industry with people who hope to make it.

Q: Define "A problem of conscience."

A: When a choice has to be made between furthering one's own desires or sacrificing those desires to help people at home or people that you love, such as, "Do I take the job in Los Angeles or stay here to raise my kid?" For example, "Dr. Zhivago" had to choose between his wife and his one true love.

Q: Define "It ain't fair."

A: In "The Verdict," we find [Paul] Newman's character discovering that an attending physician had doctored the document to make it look like the woman had eaten nine hours before the surgery, not one hour before. That's not fair. The family of the victim had been railroaded up to that point. That's not fair. … Through the character's actions … a solution will recreate balance in his universe and get him back to a state of well-being.

Q: Define "Man against the mountain."

A: When a character faces insurmountable odds from something that has to be overcome physically, emotionally, psychologically or spiritually, a situation that looks absolutely hopeless with no chance of success. For example, "Norma Rae" — the lead character is a perfect "woman against the mountain." She works in a mill and the odds for getting a union are absolutely hopeless. Through her character's actions, the solution comes.

Q: Define "Life or death."

A: That's straightforward. It's also called "fight or flight." A character's actions will determine whether the character or people around the character live or die. As an example, "Midnight Express," where the kid was busted with hashish in Turkey. It was very plausible he would be killed by these ruffians in prison. Or "Platoon," that's life or death.

Q: Define "Stand and deliver."

A: You see this in a courtroom type of setting, or where a person has to present their case. … "Working Girl" used the stand and deliver principle with that scene in the elevator where she has one minute to convince [a client] that she has the smarts to make an improvement in his company. She does this under threat of being fired by her immediate supervisor.

Q: How does "Rocky" have all five?

A: It has the "problem of conscience" when the question is posed to [Rocky] if he was interested in fighting Apollo Creed. He doesn't answer it right away … then he answers no. He is asked why, and Rocky says "I'm strictly a ham-and-egger and Creed is the best in the world. It wouldn't be much of a fight." "It ain't fair" happens because [the fight] is a publicity stunt. Creed is using him … the plan is to humiliate Rocky in the ring. "Man against the mountain" happens because the story is "Bambi vs. Godzilla," a ham-and-egg club fighter against the greatest in the world. "Life or death" is not a literal life or death, but if he doesn't go the distance, it will be a spiritual death for Rocky. "Stand and deliver" happens when he has to go there and prove to the world and himself that he's not just a bum. All of the subplots and characters receive deliverance from Rocky when he makes it through that 15th round."

Screenwriting getting serious - you want it? Are you willing to answer these seven questions?

7 Steps to Screenwriting Success

by Izzy Frost on August 8, 2010

Script Tip #4 – Seven Steps to Screenwriting Success
In order to succeed in Hollywood as a screenwriter, you should seriously consider the following Seven Steps to Screenwriting Success…
1. Keep The Seat of Your Pants to the Seat of the Chair.

If you want to write a screenplay, you need to write! You must ‘plunk’ your ass in a chair in front of your word processer [sic] and write. If you don’t already have a writing regimen, you need to start one now. Start with 15 minutes a day. If that’s comfortable, keep on increasing your writing time until you have reached your max potential, and keep it there!It is the regularity that will produce work for you – not the duration!

It’s better to write for 15 minutes a day, then to write for 3 hours each Saturday. It’s the regularity that will do the job. Don’t wait for for the muse or inspiration to strike before you start to write, that’s not going to happen. But, if you faithfully stick to your writing schedule, your muse will show up much more often than if you write irratically [sic]. Every single day you must write. Seclude yourself and work only on your screenplay. (That means no web surfing, no game playing, no IMs. Only writing!) This will exercise your left brain and your creativity will flow much easier.

2. Watch Every Major Release That Comes Out of Hollywood.

You need to watch every single major release that comes out of Hollywood, and watch the good ones twice. Because it’s the second viewing that will enable you to analyze the movie using the principles of screenwriting that you learn.

The first viewing will be emotional. You can lose yourself in the fantasy and excitement of the film. You watch it for the sheer joy of entertainment. Then, the second viewing will be done from an intellectual viewpoint.

Make it your goal to watch one movie a week in a theatre, and at least one video a week. If you can afford it, Netflix Online or Blockbuster Online are both wonderful memberships for screenwriters. They will keep the movies coming to your door on a regular basis.

You can no longer view movies as something you do on Saturday nights, or as something that you need company to do. It’s better to do it by yourself. You will be into the movie more.

This is your career! You have to see examples of the principles you are learning so you can internalize them and incorporate them into your script.

- I think this is bull-shit. If you've got a cool idea, go for it. I can't imagine that you have to inundate yourself with the competition to be able to compete.

3. You Have Got To Read Screenplays

Read screenplays for recent Hollywood releases in the market that you are pursuing. You will learn much more about script writing styles than you can ever learn from a class or a book.

You will learn what concise, simple writing is. How to go back and forth between action and dialogue. You will learn how to create a vivid story in the mind of the person who reads your script.

- It can't hurt. Maybe if you were doing this 24-7 these tips are more important. But I think you'd be spending more time watching every movie and reading every screenplay than actually working. Plus, how many of these movies are all that great? Why would you want to internalize the middle-ground when you should be aspiring for the best?

4. Join A Writer’s Group
Writer’s groups are very advantageous. They can lead you to scripts to read. Some of them even have script libraries. They are also a great source for critiques of the scripts you are writing. You can get feed back on your ideas and writing by letting others read your scripts. And, you can learn techniques and downfalls of script writing by reading and analyzing other people’s scripts.

Not to mention that you may meet some very interesting people who share your love for writing. You might even meet a ‘connection’ who can get your script read. Stranger things have happened.

My two favorite Screenwriter Workshop are, Zoetrope and MoviePoet Once you read and critique screenplays, you can submit your own scripts for critique.

- Or you may have to START a writers' group. These things are probably easier when you're in a major city than if you're way out in a little town. Might have to travel to the city, maybe?

5. Educate Yourself on Screenwriting

You need to take classes, attend seminars and read books by professional screenwriters. I would suggest starting with screenwriters who are big in the business like Michael Hauge, Syd Field, David Freeman, John Truby, Blake Snyder, Linda Seger, and Robert McKee to start with. But, don’t become a professional screenwriting student or you’ll never get a script written.

Like I said in an earlier post, take a class or seminar and and then write a complete script with the new techniques you’ve learned. Once you have written that script, or at least a draft for your screenplay, you can reward yourself with a new class or seminar.

Balance is the key! You must balance your learning with your writing!!

- Yeah, you've got to learn about the craft, that's for sure.

6. You Must Educate Yourself About the Hollywood Market.
You have got to be familiar with what’s going on in Hollywood!!
You need to know:

Who are the producers who are making movies?
What stories are in vogue right now?
What’s getting produced?
The best way to learn what’s going on in the business is to read publications on the subject. The publication I like the best is Premiere magazine Online. Other excellent resources are Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, and The L.A. Times.

- fair enough.

7. Ask Yourself; ‘Am I Getting Joy From Writing Screenplays?’

If you’re not getting joy from the writing process, find another game to play. Life is to short to spend doing something just for the fact of gaining a reward down the road – a reward that you probably won’t achieve anyway if you don’t really love writing. If your heart is not into it.

It is the writing itself that must bring you joy. If you aren’t getting feelings of satisfaction from creating characters; or developing stories; or letting those characters emerge from your creativity; or digging in and finding what their inner conflicts are; or imagining how that will look on the screen; or those things into something that would be a movie. If those things, in and of themselves, are not bringing you satisfaction, then don’t do it. Find some other pursuit that will bring you joy.

But, if you are getting satisfaction from the process, then go for it. You can’t lose. Sooner or later you will suceed [sic]. You will suceed [sic] because you have either sold a script and are making a living, or you will suceed [sic] because you can look back at all of the satisfaction you got from the writing.

If you decide that screenwriting is what you want to do and what you love doing, regardless of what other people think you must stand up for your gift. You must work hard using the steps I’ve listed above. Then, you can offer your gift to the world.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Leafs prospects

So - there are a few reports that are exciting for us Leafs fans moving forward. Of course, with the preseasaon and training camp and the rookie tournament right now - it's all about the prospects and not about the new additions (yet).

I've spent too much time on the site, "Hockey's Future" and reviewing what their interpretations of the players are. Much of their data is superficial (especially on the youngest or newest prospects of which they know very little). Not to be rude - it's a great site, it's just that most of the prospects do not have a deep and thorough account, thus merely superficial.

Anyhow - as reviewed earlier - we've seen what the prospects are expected to be like from Hockey's Future. To recap:
1: Nazim Kadri (First round, 7th overall, 2009)
The hope for the future. This is the Leafs premiere prospect - he's the talent that's going to come from within. After dealing away any possibly offensive help from Chris DiDomenico and Viktor Stalberg, Kadri and Bozak are the Leafs hope.
Prospect Ranking: 1
Rating: 8.0 C

2: Jonas Gustavsson (Free agent, 2009)
He's still listed as a prospect, despite already serving as a bonafide back up last season. And if not for the heart surgery every once in a while, he'd likely have been anointed the starter over POS Toskala.
Prospect Ranking: 2
Rating: 8.0 C

3: Tyler Bozak (Free agent, 2009)
This is the make-or-break year for Bozak, I think. Same with Christian Hanson. Can he make the strides necessary to show that he's got a future in the league? He'll be given every chance to make it happen (including being ranked as the No. 1 in depth at Centre-ice on the team - YIKES!)
Prospect Ranking: 3
Rating: 7.0 B

4: Carl Gunnarsson (Drafted 7th round, 194th overall, 2007)
Two tickets to the Gunn show. I'm looking forward to seeing what he can dish out this season, though on a crowded blue-line, he may get no ice-time and wind up as trade bait for offensive support last on (probably in a package-deal). More likely to move this prospect than Kaberle or Komisarek (the only other attractive dealable players the Leafs might move for realistic help up front).
Prospect Ranking: 4
Rating: 7.0 B

*5: Jussi Rynnas (signed as a free agent, 2010)
Prospect Ranking: 5
Acquired: Free agent out of Finland, late last April.
Rating: 7.5 C

6: Luca Caputi (Drafted 4th round, 111th overall, 2007)

Prospect Ranking: 6
Acquired: 2010 Trade with Pittsburgh for Alexei Ponikarovsky
Rating: 7.0 C

*7: Brad Ross (Drafted 2nd round, 43rc overall, 2010)

Prospect Ranking: 7
Acquired: 2010 Trade with Chicago for Jimmy "Purple" Hayes. 6-5, 7.0 C player.
Rating: 7.0 C (also)

8: Jerry D'Amigo (Drafted 6th round, 158th overall, 2009)
Prospect Ranking: 8
Acquired: the 2009 draft, 6th round
Rating: 7.0 C

9: Keith Aulie (Drafted 4th round, 116th overall, 2007)
Since the summer, Keith Aulie's depth on the Top Prospect list has dropped from 6th overall to 9th overall. This likely is due to the inclusion of Jussi Rynnas, Brad Ross and Jerry D'Amigo making great strides over the summer.
Prospect Ranking: 9
Acquired: The Phaneuf trade with Calgary, 2009.
Rating: 7.0 C

10: James Reimer (Drafted 4th round, 99th overall, 2006)
Prospect Ranking: 10
Rating: 7.0 C
Size: 6'2 - 208 lbs - goalie
Now, The Hockey News's "Future Watch Zone" tells a different story for the rankings of the prospects for the Leafs. They read as such (all credit to The Hockey News for this research):

1. Nazem Kadri (spells Nazem differently than Hockey Futures).
A gifted scorer with soft hands, Kadri narrowly missed making the Leafs last year. The speedy center added much-needed weight during the off season. His versatility and drive make him a constant offensive threat. Projected to make the team this year.

2. Luca Caputi
Sizeable winger can create traffic in front of the net. Projected to make the team this year.

3. Brad Ross
Tenacious, in-your-face player can put up PIMs and points. Projected to make the club in 2013-14

4. James Reimer
A big body in net, Reimer isn't afraid to challenge shooters. Projected to make the club in 2012-13.

5. Keith Aulie
Towering D-man moves well for his size and demonstrates good skills. Projected to make the club in 2012-13.

6. Jerry D'Amigo
Sturdy winger can rise to the occasion and get it done when it counts. Projected to make the club in 2013-14.

7. Marcel Mueller
Rugged power forward was on German Olympic team. Projected to make the club in 2012-13.

8. Greg McKegg
Good passer and scorer with two-way center potential. Projected to make the club in 2014-15.

9. Juraj Mikus
Big guy has exceptional puck skills, but still needs to fill out. Projected to make the club in 2012-13.

10. Sondre Olden
Hard working, two-way player needs time to develop. Projected to make the club in 2014-15.

This ranking tells us a few things. That offensive help won't be coming out of the draft in any other form than Kadri or Caputi. No one else is expected to make the team for another two years! At which point the roster will have to be able to yield to a goalie (Reimer), two defenseman (Aulie and Mikus) and a left winger (Mueller). After that, those prospects will push out a few regulars and yield room for the rest of the old drafted rooks with another left winger (Ross), a right winger (D'Amigo). They won't have a drafted prospect for centre until McKegg comes through in 2014!

So - they're stuck with Bozak, Kadri and Grabovski to carry the load unless a trade or free agent signing is possible. Nothing is coming to help motivate or challenge them to be better than the next guy for a long time.

How about gifted centre-man Taylor Seguin now? The Leafs would have been desperate for the second-overall choice, no doubt!

Reasons for disparity among the lists?
As I've mentioned earlier - Hockey Future's website is a bit behind the pack. They haven't really updated their thousands of pages thoroughly yet. No doubt, it must be intensely laborious to update (in detail) the ratings of all of these prospects - and keeping up to date with all the trades that occur around prospects as well.

In any case, Gustavsson, Bozak and Gunnarsson are not considered prospects in THN's list, which Hockey Future keeps them as so. This significantly affects the top 5 of the list. THN likes Caputi much more than HF - 2. v. 6. Goalie Rynnas is ranked 5th, behind four NHLers, while THN doesn't even list him in the top 10? So, very interesting differences in opinion.

Kadri making the team?
There has been some talk on the radio stations that you still have Kadri develop a little in the minors for the beginning of the season, even though the Leafs need offensive creativity like a fish needs water. An NHL position is his to lose - BUT might he really not make the team? Well - TSN doesn't think so.

They have released their project top scorers for this season, topping the charts are Ovechkin, Crosby and Sedin - no surprise. Kessel comes in later in the season: 32 goals, 59 points and only 77 games played. That's fine - 60th overall in the league. Here's the important part - Kadri is listed 111th overall: 78 GPs, 18 goals, 51 points overall (second in team scoring for the franchise in his rookie year). Obviously TSN has faith that Kadri comes in and is a regular contributor ("regular by comparison to other Leafs, not the NHL standard).

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

THN's NHL Team Reports

The Hockey News's Sept. 13 issue had a small segment called "30 Wacky Off-Season NHL Tales" that basically was a little blurb that was somewhat interesting about each team. They were mostly banal little bits about players or coaches or trainers or things like that. One of those unimportant, less-than-interesting and not-wacky-at-all "tales" was actually very relevant to me.

Capitals Radio voice Steve Kolbe calls ice action all winter, then heads for shimmering waters each summer. Kolbe is an avid bass fisherman, competing in tournaments along the Potomac River near Washington, D.C.

"I can't do anything for fun," said Kolbe, who will do his 1,000th Capitals game this fall. "I figured if I was going to fish, I might as well be challenged by the best."

Kolbe fished three tournaments on the Potomac this summer, but didn't cash out. But in a Canada Day celebrity classic on Lake Scugog in Ontario, he hooked five bass totaling 11 pounds, finishing second to Nik Antropov in a fundraiser for cancer research.
- Peter Kerzel

Hell yeah! We were there for that! It's odd the article names the body of water, but not the town. I guess that's normal. But the Canada Day celebration was here in Port Perry and we got to see some past Maple Leafs. Kolbe contributed an autographed Ovechkin jersey for a silent auction for charity at the tourney, too.

And yes, we got to see Nik Antropov. He is very big. Those are normal kids by him, and he still towers over them. Antropov was also with Owen Nolan and Alexei Ponikarovsky, but Antropov got the big round of applause. The fans respect him a whole lot for what he does around Ontario still after being a Maple Leaf for all those years. Yeah, he's been traded and has to play in Atlanta now (but .. maybe they'll be in Quebec or Winnipeg in a years time anyhow?) but he still calls Canada home (better than calling Kazakhstan home, right?) and contributes to Ontario-based fundraisers which goes to show that he's a great guy.

He may not have been able to live up to the Maple Leafs-first round pick standard that was hoped of him, but he's still (it would appear) a dedicated and honourable Canadian. So that's really great.

It was very cool seeing pro-NHLers out and about.

crocs, museums, footprints and cryptozoology

Lots of dinosaur news over the last little while. Although this posts starts off with a crocodile which isn't a dinosaur at all - then about museums, cryptology and footprints, not really dinosaurs BUT it's in the same vein as dinosaurs, so this is still really cool.

Cat-like crocodile roamed earth with the dinosaurs

The discovery of the bizarre, lanky creature had mammal-like teeth and skinny legs shows that bony plated reptiles were once far more diverse than they are today.

It enjoyed land-based lifestyle on the African floodplains far removed from its aquatic descendants, preying on dragon flies and other insects and small animals.

The new species' fossilised remains were dug up from 105 million year old rock by palaeontologists scouring a river bank in Tanzania.

Professor Patrick O'Connor, of Ohio University, said: "At first glance, this croc is trying very hard to be a mammal. Its head would fit in the palm of your hand.

"If you only looked at the teeth, you wouldn't think this was a crocodile. You would wonder what kind of strange mammal or mammal-like reptile it is."

"This gives us a number of interesting evolutionary-developmental research questions to begin addressing using living crocodiles as models."

He said it wasn't as heavily armoured as other crocodiles, except along the tail. This suggests the creature was quite mobile and probably actively foraged on land, unlike water-dwelling crocs.

Pakasuchus means "Cat" (from Paka, the Ki-Swahili word for cat) and "Crocodile (from souchos, ancient Greek). Over the last year or so there have been a lot of very interesting crocodile "discoveries" (I only use brackets because these specimens can be uncovered 15 years ago, but the papers aren't published for many years while the researchers remove the fossils from rock, study, compare, classify and then theorize over their research - the process is a long and difficult one). So many neat crocodiles - they were as diverse over the millenniums (iz dat spelt rite?) as finches are today - just amazing.

Guinness confirms world's largest dinosaur museum in China

JINAN, Aug. 2 (Xinhua) -- A dinosaur museum in east China's Shandong Province has been confirmed by Guinness World Records as the largest of its kind in the world, a museum official said Monday.

The Shangdong Tianyu Museum of Nature in Pingyi County, which opened in 2004 and is devoted to dinosaur and other prehistoric fauna, applied for a Guinness World Record in early June and received the confirmation Monday, said Yin Shiyin, deputy curator of the museum.

"It contains 28,000 square meters (301,389 sq ft) of exhibition space, housing 1,106 dinosaur specimens and thousands of other ancient fossils," the London-based agency said in a certificate to confirm it as the world's largest dinosaur museum.

The dinosaur specimens are all represented by almost complete skeletons, including 368 psittacosaurid specimens, 391 dromaeosaurid specimens, 255 Anchiornis specimens, 22 Jeholosaurus specimens, and 70 other rare dinosaurs and unnamed dinosaur fossils, the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences said in a certification document.

A ceremony to mark the recognition as the world's largest dinosaur museum will be held on Sept. 28 at Tianyu, and officials from Guinness World Records headquarters would attend, Yin said.

First off - this is really cool. BUT just because it's big, doesn't mean it's necessarily cool. For example, 368 psittacosaurid specimens? First off - ONE psittacosaurus is almost one too many - what the hell do they need hundreds of them for? Psittacosaurs are the worst dinosaurs - even stupid mammals would eat this species of dinosaur! What kind of dinosaur get eaten by a sub-mammal? A lousy one, that's what type.

However, some of the most fascinating and unbelievable fossils with feather impressions have been procured from the fossilized muds of China. So incredible that the pigment representative of the colour of the feathers has been preserved. It's incredible - and I'd be astonished if those weren't on display - meaning this should be a very awesome exhibit.

Stay tuned for an update around Sept. 28!

Fox Bumps Spielberg’s Dinosaur Show to 2011

You're gonna have to wait a little longer for your TV dinosaurs: Fox just announced that it's pushing the premiere of Steven Spielberg's big dino-drama Terra Nova. The show had been set to debut this winter, but today the network said it won't be ready until May. And even then, we'll only get to see the pilot episode, since the actual series premiere of Nova — which stars Jason O'Mara (Life on Mars) as a dude who takes his family back in time in order to save the Earth — won't be until fall 2011. It's the same scheduling strategy the network used to launch Glee, so maybe it'll all work out. Plus, it means we'll have more time to think up Land of the Lost jokes.
I'm looking forward to see what comes up. I haven't any idea what they're going to do with this - but I hope they have a legitimate awesome dinosaur as a main character that they team up with, which has a personality and stuff like that all to itself. But better than in Land of the Lost.

Royal Tyrrell featured on newly minted 50-cent coin

Royal Tyrell Museum will be honoured on a newly minted 50-cent coin. My only advice, watch out! Fifty Cent will come looking for that eventually and you probably don't want to get shot over a coin.

Celebrating its 25th birthday this summer, the Royal Tyrrell Museum seems to be getting nods from all over the country.

The latest came from the Royal Canadian Mint which rolled out a new dinosaur collector-coin in honour of the museum.

“We’re thrilled to be a part of the Mint’s series of dinosaur coins,” says Tyrrell marketing coordinator Leanna Mohan.

With a lenticular Albertosaurus in front of the museum itself, the brass coin is sure to be a favourite of local and visiting dinosaur enthusiasts.
and more with the Tyrrell Museum ...
Royal Tyrrell Museum ready to welcome 10-millionth guest

With 9,979,065 guests having marched through the doors by closing on Thursday, and the Drumhellerarea museum averaging around 3,000 visitors daily, Royal Tyrrell staff are bracing to hit the milestone very soon.

"Twenty-five years went by really quickly. To actually host 10-million visitors in that time is pretty exciting and, we feel, a pretty significant achievement," said executive director Andie Neuman.

'Secret location' of dino skeletons found in South Dakota Badlands

A palaeontology team is hoping to find a Triceratops skeleton from a 'secret location' they've found in the South Dakota Badlands.

Phil Manning, from the University of Manchester, and his team believes there are at least three skeletons of this iconic dinosaur gently weathering in 65-million-year-old rocks at the undisclosed site.

"We have been working on the exceptional preservation of soft tissue and the biomechanics of dinosaurs from the Hell Creek for over five years now, but this is our first major Manchester-led expedition to this very promising field area," Discovery News quoted Manning as saying.
I'm really interested in what makes this location a secret, and why it's important that it remains a secret. Whoever wrote the headline didn't read the story, or whoever wrote the story didn't know what made this article so exciting.

Do Dinosaurs Inhabit The Waters Off The UK Coast?

Short answer: no

Written By: Ken Hulsey

For centuries, strange creatures that resemble aquatic dinosaurs have, allegedly, been washing ashore in the UK. One of the most famous of these was the infamous "Gurock Beast" whose body washed shore during the second world war. Several eyewitnesses described the creature as having a long neck, wide body, short tail, and flippers, a description that strongly resembles a Plesiosaur, a species of aquatic dinosaur which went extinct millions of years ago.

Unfortunately, the carcass of the "Gurock Beast" was quickly chopped up and disposed of by the British military, who were, rightfully so, more concerned about defending the island nation from the Nazis than proving that dinosaurs were still with us.

Amazingly, it is a creature with a long neck, wide body, short tail, and flippers, that was reportedly seen by several witnesses off the coast of Devon just yesterday.

Reportedly the mysterious creature was 'fishing' some 30-yards off the coast when it was spotted by some local residents. At first, the group believed the animal to be a very large sea turtle, that was, until a long neck with a reptilian head came out of the water snapping at a school of fish.

Reportedly, when this happened, the fish scattered like mad, with some even trying to escape the creature by trying to come onto the sandy beach.

One of the witnesses, Gill Pearce, had the forethought to snap a quick photo of the animal before it swam away, and to file a report with the Marine Conservation Society.

Clare Fischer from the MCS describes what Ms. Gill saw:

"Gill Pearce spotted the creature about 20 metres from the bay at Saltern Cove, near Goodrington.

"It was observed at about 15.30 on 27 July but by the time she had got her camera it had moved further out.

"She spotted it following a shoal of fish which beached themselves in Saltern Cove.

"The creature remained in the sea, then went out again and followed the shoal - this indicates it's not a turtle as they only eat jellyfish.

"We would love to know if other people have seen anything like this in the same area and can help clear up the mystery."

Experts at the MCS are baffled by the reports coming out of Saltern Cove. The creature being described by witnesses doesn't match any marine life that is known to inhabit the waters off the British isles.
Awesome story, eh?! I'm excited about where we are as a society - and I'll clarify that by saying, with everyone carrying a camera or video camera at basically any given moment all over the world, we are undoubtedly bound to have a film of a Sasquatch or loch monster at some point very soon. And that's very exciting to me.

Ancient footprints represent a 'giant leap' for life on land
Dozens of fossilized reptile footprints left behind 318 million years ago in present-day New Brunswick [right here in Canada! Hell yeah!] will rewrite the history of animal evolution on land, says a team of Canadian and British researchers whose discovery along a Bay of Fundy sea-cliff is detailed Friday in a major scientific journal.

The ancient trackways are not only the world's earliest evidence of reptilian life, they are also the first known signs of vertebrates — animals with a backbone — living in a continental interior, far from any ocean shore.

But the new reptile footprints are proof that these creatures ... had adapted to dry, inland ecosystems at a time when the world's continents were fused in a single mass called Pangaea and the future Canada was located in tropical climes near the Earth's equator.

Now situated at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, the sandstone strand was once an inland riverbed located 500 kilometres from the ocean when several reptiles up to 20 centimetres in length — and looking "a bit like a gecko," says Falcon-Lang — made their mark more than 300 million years ago.

"The footprints were found as I tripped and fell while climbing," he told Postmedia News. "The boulder I grazed my knee on was covered in reptile tracks."

Falcon-Lang, who has made several important discoveries in Eastern Canada over the years, added: "While looking at the rocks, I could imagine the earliest reptiles scampering around a contracting water hole — the first pioneers to invade the dry continental interiors."

At least three separate creatures, all from the era when certain amphibian species were morphing into reptiles, are believed to have left trackways at the site: Hylonomus lyelli, Dendrerpeton and Calligenethlon.

The world's earliest reptile-body fossils come from a 315-million-year-old coastal setting in Nova Scotia. And reptile tracks of a similar age were found by Falcon-Lang and other scientists in New Brunswick in 2007.

Neat stuff - I would really like to fall down, but only if I was felled by a fossil-rock covered in lizard tracks. That would be great.

And that's it - cool dinosaur news from a few weeks ago.