Sunday, October 31, 2010

Our first snow fall this season

Well, it's official - we've had the first snow flakes of the new season. Granted, we saw snow earlier in the year two weekends ago while we were in Ottawa for our anniversary - where it was snowing lightly. But this afternoon big happy flakes whipped around the yard for a little while - and we were happy to see them.

Here you can see some of the flakes on my arm - and inspect how my second-degree burns are healing. Still a little off-colour, but they aren't flakey, scabby or sore anymore, which is great.

If you click on this picture you can get a better feel for how big and flaky the flakes really are.

Now our trick or treaters are coming to a slow. We had maybe 25 or 30 this year. Nothing too big - but it's still a small town, so maybe this was a good year. Hope everyone had a nice Hallowe'en.

All-Draft Teams - 1985

It's been a while since I've done an All-Draft Team entry - so let's move on to 1985! A lot of good players joined in on this draft as well. (I didn't know that Gilmour was drafted two years earlier than Joe Nieuwendyk - didn't realize he was that much older).

Check the draft for yourself!

The first line: Randy McKay, Joe Nieuwendyk, Wendel Clark
2nd: Ulf Dahlen, Igor Larionov, Craig Simpson
3rd: Nelson Emerson, Brent Gilchrist, Benoit Hogue
4th: Randy Burridge, Robert Kron, Kelly Buchburger

D: Calle Johansson, Steve Chaisson
Eric Weinrich, Dana Murzyn
Billy Houlder, Dave Manson

G: Mike Richter
Sean Burke
Billy Randford

After the 1985 draft, it'll be almost impossible to follow it up with something that will surprise you. However, this draft wasn't particularly strong no matter who followed it, if you asked me. I had to take a few players out and put in new ones, mostly because after reviewing a popular name (like Tim Sweeney) I found out they barely played 200 games at the NHL level. So - they come out of the lineup and we put in someone a bit better. A tough draft this time around.

This team has a great first line that had incredible offensive punch, but lacked in consistency of potency throughout their careers - then the talent dwindles in the second line, dwindles significantly more into the third, and tapers into obscurity by the fourth line.

The defense was a consistent bunch of solid, strong and lengthy careers - with some success, but nothing flashy or offensive to help out the forward lines.

The goaltending is solid, though not spectacular, even though Richter was among the league's (if not the world's) best goalie for a season or two. This isn't a powerhouse, but it is definitely a stable contender through and through.

Among forwards: 11,654 games played, 2,773 goals, 3,509 assists, 6,282 points, 10,187 PIM, 812 PP goals, 432 Game Winners in the regular season.
In the playoffs, 1,120 GP, 276 goals, 324 assists, 600 points, 984 PIM and 75 PPG and 42 game-winning goals.

11 Stanley Cups, 2 All-Rookie teams, 1 Conn Smythe Trophy, 8 All-Star appearances and 1 King Clancy Memorial Trophy.

Among defensemen: 5,804 GP, 495 G, 1,670 A, 2,165 PTS, 7,226 PIM, 185, PPG, 70 GWG.
In the playoffs: 473 GP, 55 G, 125 A, 180 PTS, 753 PIM, 22 PPG, 5 GWG.

1 Stanley Cup, 3 All-Rookie Teams, 3 All-Star appearances

Among Goalies:
2,133 GP, 865 wins, 878 losses, 250 ties, 77 Shut outs
Playoffs: 167 GP, 81 W, 81 L, 14 SO

7 All-Star appearances, 3 Stanley Cups, 1 Conn Smythe Trophy.

Total: 18 All-Star appearances, 16 Stanley Cups, 5 All-Rookie teams, 2 Conn Smythes, 1 King Clancy Memorial Trophy.

The first line of Dhalen, Nieundyk and Clark would have been strong, feisty and dangerous, for sure. A lot of heart and determination in those three guys. The next line has some incredible depth with McKay, Larionov and the second overall pick in Simpson on deck. Yet after this, the third and fourth lines are a bit weak and are absent of star-power. This is more of a Brian Burke team, with top six forwards on the first two lines, and then bottom six forwards on the bottom two lines - however, this is supposed to be an 'all-star' team from this particular year's draft - so not too impressive.

The defense was sturdy and long-lived. Lots of games played for long NHL careers in guys like Johansson (1,109) Weinrich (1,157), Manson (1,103) rounding off the top. No, they weren't flashy super-stars, but they were salty tough fellahs on the back end, which is fine.

There is a real surprise deep in this draft, and I'll explain after the jump.

Draft numbers from 1982:
  • W. Clark (1)
  • C. Simpson (2)
  • D. Murzyn (5)
  • U. Dahlen (7)
  • D. Manson (11)
  • C. Johansson (14)
  • J. Nieuwendyk (21)
  • S. Burke (24)
  • M. Richter (28)
  • E. Weinrich (32)
  • B. Hogue (35)
  • N. Emerson (44)
  • S. Chaisson (50)
  • B. Ranford (52)
  • B. Gilchrist (79)
  • B. Houlder (82)
  • R. Kron (88)
  • R. McKay (113)
  • R. Burridge (157)
  • K. Buchburger (188)
  • I. Larionov (214)
So here we've got Igor Larionov (one of the greatest players from the USSR and the Soviet league, drafted near the bottom of the draft. Only Vancouver had the guts to take a chance on him. Now, it would be my guess that North American leagues would be cautious in drafting a Russia because it would be unlikely that the players could transfer away from the USSR, right?

But Larionov had at least five years of pro hockey under his belt - he was a super player who (if he made himself eligible for the NHL draft) was at least interested in joining the NHL. Why wouldn't someone have selected him sooner on the off chance that he MIGHT make it to the NHL and be great? Why should James Jr. Sandlak (4), Brad Dalgarno (6), Craig Duncanson (9) and Dan Gratton (10) be drafted in the first round?

Then again, if you KNEW that such a quality player wouldn't be selected until the 8th round, I guess you can afford to wait a few rounds before picking him. Oh well, another mystery of the league for every team to not use him that could have used him.

I feel like the '84 team is just too unbalanced, but you can't argue with supreme star power of that first line and in net. You just can't. I gotta rank this team higher than '82 and '81.

(1) 1983
(2) 1984
(3) 1982
(4) 1985
(5) 1981

Player of the Draft:
My "Player of the Draft" from 1985 is: Joe Nieuwendyk. What an incredible record: he was named to the all-rookie team in '88, won the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in '95, the Conn Smythe Trophy in '99, had 4 All-Star appearances, and the greatest achievement is winning three Stanley Cups with three different teams (in three different decades, if you can believe it!). All while maintaining a sterling reputation around the league through his whole career (plus 14 game winning goals in the playoffs, pretty awesome).

Honorable mentions go to Igor Larionov, Wendel Clark and Mike Richter.

Notes of Interest from this draft
One of the players on this list, Steve Chaisson, died in a drunk driving collision after the Hurricanes were eliminated from the playoffs. As Wikipedia says:
On May 3, 1999, after the Hurricanes were eliminated from the playoffs in Boston and returned to Raleigh, Chiasson wrecked his pickup truck on the way home from a team party at the home of Gary Roberts and was killed on impact. According to teammate Kevin Dineen, Chiasson refused to call a taxi or accept a ride home, insisting on driving himself despite a blood alcohol content later found to be 0.27, over three times North Carolina's legal limit of 0.08. Chiasson was survived by his wife, Susan, and three young children: Michael, Ryan and Stephanie. There is a small statue and plaque in his memory in Millennium Park, Peterborough, Ontario, the town where he was raised.
I'll have to go check that memorial out some time next time I'm in Peterborough (on Wednesday, believe it or not - I'll try and snag a picture and link to it).

Also, a Maple Leafs connection to this draft that isn't Wendel Clark: Paul Maurice, one time head coach of both the minor league and major league versions of the Maple Leafs, has the dubious distinction of being drafted last by the Flyers in this draft. Cute.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Talking Heads, True Stories

I have updated the next scene for Tomb of the Undead, titled Talking Heads, True Stories - it introduces us to our protagonists (briefly) and we'll certainly get a chance to learn more about them over the next few pages. I hope you like it. Again, once you've gone to visit, it would definitely make me feel awesome if you clicked on "Follow" on the top right hand corner.

I'm beginning to find that hosting the scanned images up on Blogger is taking up quite a bit of my space limits. For example, I think I've already used 9% of my limit, but I've only posted six pages - and haven't barely scratched the surface of the first act. SO - perhaps I'll find another place (like Facebook, perhaps) to host the images and then just link them from there. Who knows.

Anyhow - thanks for reading the blog, and if you're into Tomb of the Undead, thanks for reading that, too.

Making Jacko - lanterns

This is it!

So ... after all, I wound up making a Jacko lantern anyhow. It didn't seem like a good idea at the time - I mean, how do you carve a pumpkin to resemble the Prince of Pop? Well, turns out that the This is it! tour/movie that was released posthumously has a wonderful graphic that's simple enough to stencil into this. So good for them, making Jacko! lanterns.

As for my costume, I haven't put it together yet, and I'll have to do a little artwork to make it look like I bothered putting any time into it at all - but it should be alright. Low-budget, but relevant is the name of the game this year. Wifey is presenting herself as Spiderman, so we're going out 'couples style' and I'm going to try and match her costume.

No spoiling the surprise, but I hope to have a picture of it soon. My greatest failure as a blogger on Hallowe'en was to not get a picture of my Rockin' Ronny costume - it was marvelous. Now we've got a great digital camera (thanks to the in-laws on our anniversary) and I can get pix of things all the time.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pot roast and pumpkin soup

Usually when I get to making a roast in the slow cooker, I'm unwilling to let it cook slowly. Usually I put it in, and I hope to be able to eat it before too long, and slow cookers/roasts just don't work that way.

This morning, I totally browned some seasonings in a pan, then rubbed them on a roast, before stewing up some fresh vegetables and onions with sauces and cooking wines - before dropping it all in the slow cooker by about 11 a.m. this morning. What's the important part?

I'm not taking it out of the pot until about 9 p.m. tonight. That means it's going to be so juicy, marinated, tasty and moist! Man, I'm excited.

I'm on a split shift this afternoon, so I definitely had time to pick up some pumpkins, cream and garlic before I head back to work at 4 this afternoon. When we start cutting our pumpkins this evening to make Jack'o Lanterns ...
(POW - just had an awesome idea! Make a Michael Jackson pumpkin, and call it the JACKOlantern. Maybe that's a better pun than a pumpkin?)
... and use the pumpkin meat to make some creamy soup.

Should be a great, seasonal meal - even if it won't be ready till about 11 p.m. Even if.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Down with Amicable - up with Amiable!

It's absolutely ridiculous to have two words that mean the same thing, be spelled differently.

What's the difference between Amicable and Amiable?

Amicable: characterized by or showing goodwill; friendly; peaceable.
having or showing pleasant, good-natured personal qualities; affable.
- and you might be able to throw affable into this equation, too.

So, why the extra c? And what does it add to the word. I mean, obviously it adds nothing to the meaning of the word. It's just a waste of letters, if you ask me.

Amiable's origins:
mid-14c., from O.Fr. amiable , from L.L. amicabilis "friendly," from amicus "friend," related to amare "to love" (see Amy). The form confused in O.Fr. with amable "lovable," from L. amare . Reborrowed later in proper L. form as amicable.

Amicable's origins:
1530s, from L.L. amicabilis "friendly," a word in Roman law, from L. amicus "friend," related to amare "to love" (see Amy).

So - you can see that Amicable is from the 1530s, while Amiable is from the 1300s - obviously Amicable is redundant, dated and useless in the bigger scheme of things. I think we should all go out of our way to eliminate this waste of letters.

Honestly - what's the point in having two words sound alike, mean the same thing, and exist at the same time? It's time to kill one of these words.

Down with Amicable - up with Amiable!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Opening Image for Tomb of the Undead

It's taken almost four weeks, but I've completed the Opening Image for my graphic novel, Tomb of the Undead. You can see it here, and I hope you'll do two things: like it, and 2) by virtue of liking it, you'll click on the "Follow" button at the top right of the blog, demonstrating to me that there's more value to me finishing this project because others are interested in it, than simply doing it to amuse myself.

I hope you like it: and if you don't, be sure to leave comments letting me know what you think.

Anyhow, ultimately - I'll update this as I get images completed for it, but I won't post the updates on this master page unless I've finished an entire scene (which is what I've done now). So I hope you like it. Let me know what you think of the characters, what you think of the story, and let there's a special bonus behind-the-scenes contest if you can guess which celebrities I've designed the characters to look like. Hint: my wife has already guessed who is portraying "Lazarus" so ... see what you can come up with.

Thanks for reading.

Dinosaurs: where and when, then by what name, are they on your iPhone and ... what you may not have known of T-rex

More monsters in Papua New Guinea: I made mention of dinosaurs in Papua New Guinea before. Here is another report on a dinosaur sighting there from Ghost Theory.
The creature was described as having a long tail and a long neck and was 10–15 metres in length, with an appearance like a ‘very large wallaby’ and having a head like a turtle’s head.

It walked slowly on two legs and had smooth, shiny brown skin. The top of the head was estimated to be as high as a house and the underbelly of the creature was as high as an adult.

The creature was described as being fearful-looking, with the sighting being made from a distance of about 50 metres. The sighting was made in the late afternoon and was observed for a considerable length of time (not sure of the exact duration of time) and the creature was eating vegetation. Robert and Tony followed the creature from a distance and watched it go into the water after it finished eating.

When shown the handbook by Hazel Richardson, Dinosaurs And Prehistoric Life, Robert identified a picture of a Therizinosaurus as closely matching the animal he observed, with the exception of one feature, i.e. the creature’s head.

Pretty neat, I guess. Whether it's a dinosaur or not, it's cool that people are seeing big awesome things out there. There's still some mystery in the world, let's hope.

Imagine bumping into this mofo in the woods!

Encyclopedias for the elementary

Encyclopedia Britannica has decided to develop iPhone apps to teach kids about dinosaurs, which is cool. I don't have an iPhone, but the idea that you could learn more about dinosaurs by simply having one is good, for kids. For me, you don't need (nor have you ever needed) an iPhone to learn about dinosaurs.

Top dinosaur hunters are worst at naming
Those palaeontologists who name the most new dinosaur species are the least likely to get it right, a survey of nearly two centuries of research has found. The trend is as true for modern researchers as it was for their nineteenth-century forebears.
This article goes on to suggest that the "top" 10 paleontologists who named the most dinosaur species, have had many of their discoveries become invalid. For example, the teeth or toes or in some cases, entire species, just aren't useful enough to stick.

The famous example is the brontosaurus v. apatasaurus snafu, where one species was identified two years before the other (1877 v. 1879) and HAD E.D. Cope bothered to compare his discovery with the research of others, he would have discovered that the species were the same.

Why are there problems with validity?
[Michael] Benton [a palaeontologist at the University of Bristol, UK] suggests two reasons for the trend. First, prolific namers may have been, to use the taxonomic slang, 'splitters' rather than 'lumpers', meaning that they tended to subdivide species rather than ascribing small differences between similar fossils to, say, sex differences or individual variation.

Second, dedicated dinosaur hunters may have been especially driven by the kudos or extra funding that can come with naming new species and so may have jumped at each chance. Authors with wider interests, who named fewer species, may have felt less pressure and so might have taken more care, suggests Benton.
I've read an entire book on the feud between Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh, who basically went neck and neck to name more dinosaurs for their respective museums. In any case, they would basically spend all their time desperately trying to name a new species to say that their museum had the greatest dinosaur collection and greatest dinosaur researchers - in this instance, they were not necessarily interested in identifying or analyzing the bones and species, but simply just cranking out the names.

This type of "research" obviously doesn't help the scientific field in any way - and we can see with the success rate of their validity that it didn't help their causes, either. BUT - they're both long, long gone - so what do they care?

T. Rex Ancestors Turned Out to be Tiny Rex
Stephen Brusatte of the American Museum of Natural History in New York, one of the study leaders, says:

"Up until about ten years ago we only knew about T. rex and a handful of its closest relatives - all colossal, apex predators from the end Cretaceous in North America,” Brusatte explained. “Now we know of about 20 tyrannosaur species that span a time period of 100 million years, most of which are very small.”

Indeed, just in the last year scientists have discovered six new species. The team writes in the study that one of those newly discovered species was “100 million years older and 1/100 the size of T. rex.” University of Maryland tyrannosaur expert Thomas Holtz, Jr., added: “I like to call [early tyrannosaurs] the jackals of the Jurassic and Early Cretaceous. “They were tough little guys, but they were little guys, sort of hanging out in the wings and taking out young dinosaurs and small dinosaurs but leaving the big prey to things like Allosaurus,” said Holtz, who was not involved in the new review.
So it goes to show, predictably, if you ask me, that Tyrannosaurus developed from a smaller version of itself. There has been a lot of Chinese discoveries that show that these small (well, small compared to the final version of Tyrannosaurus) actually had downy feathers at one point, as well, which is ... crazy/weird.

Weird, right? Or is it right, and that's weird?

Some believe that the feathers might have existed while the animal was in its infancy, while others believe that the feathers might have been specific to an entire species, where you'd have tyrannosaurs running around with feathers all over them all the time. Weird stuff.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

It's about 3:30 right now

meaning I officially swore in to my position as Husband about one year ago to this very moment. Pretty neat. Ottawa was nice, we saw some neat stuff, and picked up some things for Hallowe'en on the way home - so we're going to be set up for a cool evening on the 31st.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Back to Ottawa

My wife and I are heading out to Ottawa to hang out for the weekend - it should be nice. I had ambitions of being "The Exorcist" for Hallowe'en, but I don't think I'll be able to get the cool hat and doctor's bag necessary to pull it off, which is too bad. Because I was going to sprinkle water on people, and tell them that the "Power of Christ" compels them.

In any case, I have a new idea that will "couple" with my wife's extant costume. So we can be the type of couple who dresses up together for Hallowe'en. I think my costume is going to be kinda ... bland, but it definitely fits with the theme.

Hopefully over the weekend in North-Eastern Ontario we can do some shopping, culture consumption and have a refreshing time. We hope everyone has a great weekend.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hawaii 5-0

It was about this time last year that we went out to Hawaii for our honeymoon - and we got to tour all over Oahu for a few days. Oahu isn't particularly large, and basically there is only one big city, Honolulu. And we went on the Lost tour, where a production company films all over Oahu- anyhow, the important part of this story is -

Hawaii 5-0 is also filmed all over Oahu, and when you watch the show, no matter the quality of the show, it's kind of thrilling to revisit the places we visited during our honeymoon, while watching the show. When they run over to the "market" we go: hey, like, the one between the hotels on that main strip? Yup - then they run through it. It's kinda cool.

Shorelines and things like that are all pretty familiar, and you can easily see our hotel and other common sites just watching the show. It's really neat.

anyhow - we were there about a year ago, and it's fun to "revisit" our honeymoon in some small way on Mondays at 9. Sorta.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Simple - well, simpler

So - putting the iPods and mp3 players aside - I had some time to sand and prime one window in the basement. I ran out of painter's tape, so I didn't get too much done. However, the sanding took quite a while - I hope that it was just this piece of trim that had a little more mud on it than usual - and that the rest don't take as long.

The lighting isn't too great in this photo - but I think this'll look pretty sharp when it's dry.

But nothing is too easy around here - no sooner had I painted it and grabbed the camera, a little devil hopped up and slipped through the opening (and of course it's still wet). The little bastard then stopped in the stairwell. I made eye contact and tried to keep her attention while I scanned desperately for a towel or blanket, or rag or ANYTHING to wipe her feet with. Of course, there's nothing - closest towels are in the kitchen.

Little white footprints on the stairs? Uh, oh.

I'm standing there - no towel or anything, just a camera. I'm not not going to take a picture of her. So I did - then back to problem solving.

So ... do you think the cat sits still while I walk past her in the stairwell and grab a towel to wipe her feet? Hell no. She's ready to play school-yard tag. Up the stairs, around the corner, through the dining room, back through the kitchen, over the new chair, onto the new couch, down and back across the new rug, back through the kitchen, into the dining room (she didn't hop all over the old couch or chair, just the new rug) then up the stairs and through the hall and onto the bed.


It could have been a lot worse - luckily her feet weren't too wet and there were only a few footprints at the top of the stairs. Everything else is fine. Could have been a lot worse. Anyhow I hope she doesn't hop on the damned thing and walk all over the house while I'm at work and my wife is out.

technology can go fuck itself

So I've got an iPod. It's from a while ago - I'm not sure when. Apparently I cannot add songs to it because ... it's not charged? And not only can I not add songs, the songs and playlists that were on it have been replaced by a few TSN podcasts from 2006 that happened to be on my computer?

Hell, I can't even tell. I just get a .. random image that looks like a power bar being plugged into an outlet to appear on the damned thing. A power bar I've never seen before that I certainly do not have being plugged in - I can't imagine I'm ever going to figure this out.

Fuck technology. I fail - some 6-year-old knows how to do this and they statistically won't read a book in their life. ... shit.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cool contests, an issue of inspiration and then the key to success

First off, it's fun to see some competitions that aren't taken too seriously. Here are a few that might pique anyone's interest:

5 Fun Writing Contests You Can Enter (And Win)

1. Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest

This is the perfect contest for bad writers. Being bad is actually the point of the competition. In one sentence, write the worst opening to a novel you can think of. There’s no entrance fee and there’s no limit to the amount of times you can enter.

This contest was started in 1982 by a professor at San Jose State University. It “honors” the nineteenth century writer Edward George Bulwer-Lytton. He is known for writing one of the worst openings to a novel in his book Paul Clifford. His opening is familiar to any Peanuts fan.

“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”

Make your opening worse than this and you have a shot of winning.

2. National Novel Writing Month

It’s said that everyone has a novel inside of them just waiting to come out. This competition gives you that chance to get it out. Every November the non-profit organization The Office of Letters and Light hold this competition (also known as NaNoWriMo) where people start and finish a novel.

It’s 30 days to reach 50,000 words. That’s 1667 words every day for 30 days. That is a very demanding schedule, but the competition has exploded in participants since 1999. When it first began, it had only 21 people. Last year it had 170,000.

Participants can use any genre and in any language. You don’t even need an ending as long as it reaches 50,000 words. To put it in perspective, The Great Gatsby is about 50,000 words.

No official prizes are awarded. If you reach the 50,000 words, you are declared a winner. If you want, you can submit your novel to receive a printable certificate, an icon you can display on the web and get included on a list of winners.

3. Three Day Novel Contest

If one month is too long to dedicate to writing, you can try just three days in this competition. Mercifully, there’s no word limits; however, you’re expected in this competition to have an ending. You’re also allowed to have a general outline before you start writing, but you’re not allowed to write anything until the traditional start date of Labor Day.

The competition started in a bar in Vancouver, Canada. Writers gathered there bragged about their abilities. This bragging lead to the three day competition that lives on today.

There is an entry fee of $50, but it is open to anyone in the world in any genre or subject. More than one person can even work on the novel since the registration fee is per novel not per person. The novels are written using the honor system; however, a witness is asked to sign confirming your adherence to the rules.

Unlike the month long novel contest, there is a first place winner who has their novel published. Second and third place winners get cash prizes. The rest receive certificates of participation.

4. Why Mom Deserves a Diamond Contest

The only contest on this list specifically designed for children – and also the only writing contest (or any contest I can think of) where the winner’s mom actually gets a diamond. It’s the largest mothers writing contest in the country.

It started in 1993 when founder Michael C. Watson, owner of a jewelry store, decided to honor mothers across the country. He asked children to write essays explaining why their mother deserves a diamond. The first year saw 250 entrants. Today there are 250,000 entrants. In 17 years of the contest, 48 diamonds have been awarded. In addition, other precious stones are awarded to runners up.

Entering is easy. Children need to write a poem saying why their mom deserves a diamond in 25 words or less. The poems are then judged on creativity, originality and sincerity.

5. Script Frenzy

This competition is similar to the National Novel Writing Month. In fact, it is run by the same organization. This time, participants are asked to put themselves into a “screnzy” (nickname of the event) and write a screenplay, stage play, TV series, graphic novel or anything else that requires a script.

The rules are just about the same as the National Novel Writing Month.

People are given one month to write 100 pages of a script (or multiple scripts depending on what they’re writing). However, they’re allowed to collaborate with others to reach their goal. In this competition, people often communicate with each other through Facebook and Twitter to participate in “page wars” (a timed challenge to write a certain amount of pages).

Every person who finishes their script is declared a winner and receives a certificate and web icon they can display.
Michelle Rodriguez Writing a Screenplay

Actress Michelle Rodriguez is writing a screenplay about women breaking out of prison.

The Avatar star is putting pen to paper to draft a remake of 1997 German movie Bandits, about four female convicts on the run, and hopes the script will impress Hollywood bosses.

To be honest, if I were trying my hand at a new craft, even if I were simply writing an adaptation of an existing story - I wouldn't start with a film that was already made by someone else. Honestly, how hard will it be for her to take each scene, rewrite some new dialogue to 'modern it up' and then submit this to an exec? I seriously doubt this will see the light of day on a professional level - it just lacks far too much effort on her part.

Where might Rodriguez find inspiration for an original screenplay? ...

The Screenwriter's Guide to Finding Inspiration

The screenwriter's guide can help you to find inspiration where you least expect it. Will writers block have you down within the dumps, stumbling over the empty page with nothing to say? Like an artist gazing [at] a blank canvas, the empty words on a blank page can haunt a writer, and keep you up at night. It can be frustrating when words elude you. When [after] all, you are a screenwriter, and words are your business.

Whoa! Let's stop there - I had no idea this was written so poorly. It's a little embarrassing. Check out this next paragraph of atrocity:

Generally all you wish may be a very little respiration space to work out inspiration a lot of clearly [what?]. Clearing your head will [do] the trick sometimes. Therefore go ahead and take the weekend off and just have fun. Head to the park and play. Or go to the beach and play within the sand and surf. What ever you opt to try to to [ holy shit], create certain to spend your time unwinding and actually relaxing [hang on, maybe English isn't this writer's given language]. You're trying to clear your head and realize inspiration around you [it's this simple?]. Therefore leave all the cares and woes of your screenplay behind. You'll go back to to writing and re-writing your screenplay on another day. Except for currently, you are merely taking in a breathe [breath, perhaps?] of contemporary air and enjoying your surroundings. You will be amazed at the inspiration you may find, simply by clearing your head and taking every day or two off. [To be inspired, stop working every day or two - great advise for success, pally.]
Yikes, pretty awful. The rest of the article is shite - so forget about it. Sorry to have brought it up.

You want good writing advise? 'Cut The Crap and WRITE THAT DAMN SCREENPLAY!'

Pretty much like anything in the whole world that takes more than 45 seconds to do - you have to put in the time and just do it. Staining the deck - I've been dragging my feet on it for a month - if I just did it - it'd be done.

That being said, this book focuses on the idea that there are too many books that help writers write that have way too much detail and instruction:

Books on writing are driving writers away from the craft of writing and turning them into authors of "stereo instructions" or causing them not to write at all. The state of writing instruction in the modern era focuses too highly on generating a massive amount of supporting material (little of which will ever be used in the final draft) and sucks all of the excitement for writing out of the would-be scribe. The passion for writing has been lost in a sea of technical outlining that pervades every aspect of writing from fiction to marketing. What is worse is that most wannabe writers get so frustrated with the entire mandated minutia surrounding the art that they abandon their efforts altogether.
Indeed - my advise is do it. Just take time, whenever you've got time, to just do it. BAM you're on your way. If you can make a habit of doing it often, you'll get things done. No secret to success, if you ask me.


First up - on Friday we were up until 2 a.m. assembling the television stand and shelving unit that goes beside it. They look pretty good, and fit the room very nicely.

We could have purchased two shelves for the tv stand, but ... you can see that there just wouldn't be room for it. Anyhow - it looks great, and we're happy about that.

The next day we set to work framing the doorways and window wells in the basement.

We also installed three doors while we were at it.

I hadn't done any mudding in almost 9 years, but things like that come back to you faster than riding a bicycle. I haven't sanded anything down yet, but once we do the primer is ready to go on and everything should look nice and smooth.

This window was framed exceptionally well - it looks great, even if you can't quite appreciate the detail from this picture.

On Sunday we had to get a different door that fit at the top of the stairwell - once that was swapped in, my father-in-law sawed a tricky hole in the door for our cat to get through. She didn't hesitate to use it for even a moment. You'd think she'd thought it had been there all along. Honestly, I think she likes the little hole and she knows that it's just for her.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Trade Centre - Burke edition

The premise:
I always wanted to stop and see how trades have affected the Leafs, but never really went into too much detail about it.

For example:
Doug Gilmour was great, and the Leafs traded him for Sullivan and McCauley (I'll say Jason Smith was straight up for Dave Ellett). Smith, Sullivan and McCauley were good Leafs, took them to the third round of the playoffs twice (just as far as Dougy took 'em) and then McCauley was never resigned after multiple concussions, Smith was traded to Edmonton for their 4th round pick in '99 and 2nd round in '00 (Jon Zion and Kris Vernarsky???), and Sullivan was released on waivers after the Leafs decided to sign Dmitri Kristich.

But New Jersey didn't get that much out of Gilmour after the trade, so it worked out in Toronto's favour. Who wins the trade? I'll argue that Toronto did - they made better use out of the players that were involved than New Jersey did.

Therefor, how have Burke's moves favoured the Leafs so far?

So, beginning at Free Agency back in 2009 - Jul. 1 - I've gone over each of his trades and considered which team got the best of it.

By my record, Burke's win ratio in the trade column is: 14 wins, 2 losses and 4 ties. The two losses: Stempniak to Phoenix and Kubina to Atlanta - those players were better than the players Toronto received in exchange.

1. Exelby Trade [Jul. 1, 2009]
To Toronto:
Garnet Exelby and forward Colin Stuart
To Atlanta: Pavel Kubina and Tim Stapleton.

Evaluation: Exelby played part-time for the Leafs, keeping the press box warm while he was sitting out most games. Exelby played 51 games, scored 1 goal and 3 assists for 4 points and 73 PIM. Toronto didn't make the playoffs with him, and he is still looking for work after requesting a trade from Toronto. He didn't hold enough value to be traded.
Colin Stuart never played a game for the Leafs, being spun over to Calgary in a 3-player trade a few weeks later.

Kubina played 76 games with the Trashers, scored 6 goals and 32 assists, 38 points, 66 PIMs and then left the team (after missing the playoffs) to return to Tampa Bay.

Advantage: The Leafs dumped a lot of salary by shipping Kubina away - but he played better for Atlanta than Exelby did for Toronto. Atlanta wins.

2. Primeau Trade [Jul. 27, 2009]

To Toronto: Wayne Primeau and a 2nd round pick in 2011
To Calgary: Anton Stralman, Colin Stuart and a 7th round pick in 2012.

Evaluation: Primeau scored 3 goals, 5 assists and 8 points in only 59 games with 35 PIM for Toronto and wasn't resigned in the new season. The 2nd round pick in 2011 remains a mystery, but if Calgary struggles, it is to Toronto's advantage this season.

Stralman never played a game for Calgary, and was dealt away for a 3rd round pick. Stuart never played a game for Calgary, and was never resigned by the team. The 2012 pick has yet to be made, of course.

Advantage: Toronto, decidedly.

3. Paradis Trade [Dec. 3, 2009]
To Toronto: Philippe Paradis
To Carolina: Jiri Tlusty.

Evaluation: Paradis still has yet to play an NHL game. However, more valuable to the Leafs, he was a part of the Kris Versteeg/ Keith Aulie trade a year and a half later.

Tlusty had a promising start to his career with the Leafs [he was a 1st round pick, 13th overall in 2006), scoring 10 goals in 58 games with the Leafs in 2007-08, but never performed strong enough to crack their roster in the following years, never scoring for the Leafs again over 16 games in the next two seasons. After the trade to Carolina, he scored once in 18 games, with merely 6 points. He has not made the Carolina starting roster this season either.

Advantage: Toronto! We're definitely happy to have Kris Versteeg, and this trade was a small part of that. Carolina wished they could have packaged something together to get Versteeg, I'm sure of it. Suckas!

4. Conditional Pick Trade [Aug. 10, 2009]
To Toronto: Conditional pick in 2011
To Anaheim: Justin Pogge

Toronto was tired of Pogge - he just wasn't cutting it. A superb junior star, Pogge was held to high expectations, and it was believed that the pressure in Toronto was too much for him, so he was shipped away. He only played 7 games for the Leafs, his only career NHL win, with a 4.35 GAA and .844 save percentage on a middling Maple Leafs roster.

While Toronto's new 2011 pick has yet to be decided, Anaheim sent Pogge to Carolina for a piece of Aaron Ward, who has since retired. Ward had only 2 assists in 17 games with Anaheim last season.

1 NHL win and a draft pick vs. 2 assists in 17 games. Advantage, Toronto: for milking all of the value out of Pogge before swapping him for some future considerations.

5. Kessel Trade [Sept. 18, 2009]

To Toronto: Phil Kessel
To Boston: 1st round pick in 2010 and 1st round pick in 2011.

Here's a touchy one, that surely will require more time to evaluate. However, as it stands, we can only really measure the impact of this trade as it currently stands, and I'm happy to do this for now. Here we go:

Toronto wound up trading their second-overall pick (and next year's first round pick) for Kessel, who was injured for the beginning of the season, and continues to not be ranked in even the top 50 NHLers in the league by any NHL analyst. However, Kessel has played 74 games, scored 34 goals, 27 assists and 61 points for the Leafs so far, while Tyler Seguin (2nd overall, 2010) has only 1 goal, 2 points and three games played for Boston.

As it currently stands, Toronto has generated more immediate value out of the transaction, and likely will continue to hold the advantage in the immediate results of this trade for another season or so. Then again, the impact of Seguin and whatever comes to Boston in 2011 should technically combine to give Boston the advantage in the end.

6. Giguere Trade [Jan. 31, 2010]

To Toronto: J.S. Giguere
To Anaheim: Vesa Toskala and Jason Blake

To start off: Blake was hated in Toronto for being so damned expensive, and signing to score 35-40 goals per season, yet never even coming close to that (15 in '08, 25 in '09 and only 10 in '10 ugh!) - while Toskala was just hated for being the worst goalie on one of the NHL's worst teams.

Giguere premiered as a Leaf with back-to-back shutouts! Good start. In 18 games as a Leaf, he has 9 wins, 7 losses, 2 shutouts and 2 overtime losses. Last season his save percentage as a Leaf was .016 better than as a Duck, and his GAA was 2.49 vs. 3.14 with Anaheim. He was immediately improved as a Leaf than a Duck.

Blake has six goals in 31 games with Anaheim, 15 points and is pointless so far this season. Remember, he's wicked expensive on the roster as well. Vesa Toskala never played for the Ducks, and was swapped with Curtis McElhinney in Calgary. McElhinney played 10 games last seasons, with 5 wins, 1 loss and a .917 sv% and 2.50 GAA (pretty good). He's played only 24 minutes this season so far.

Goalie for Goalie - Toronto wins, adding the cap relief and freed up roster spot from Blake, advantage Toronto. Toronto wins twice - and Anaheim is blessed to have acquired a quality back-up for Hiller for Toskala. What the hell is wrong with Calgary? It is in Toronto's advantage for Calgary to struggle in the standings from the Primeau trade in July, 2009. Toronto has Calgary's 2nd round pick in the next draft.

Advantage: Toronto.

7. Phaneuf Trade [Jan. 31, 2010]

To Toronto: Dion Phaneuf, Fredrik Sjostrom, Keith Aulie
To Calgary: Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman, Jamal Mayers, Ian White.

Okay - a lot is tied up in this trade - but ultimately, it's important that the Leafs finally were able to acquire a player whom they dubbed acceptable for their next captain. That makes this trade pretty worth-while. But who got the best of it?

Phaneuf - he's since been named the captain of the Leafs, who are undefeated since he was named. He has only 2 goals in 30 games played, and 12 points total - not overwhelming, but the Leafs are greatly improved since he joined the franchise. They were 13 - 12 - 1 with 27 points in 26 games. Four more wins and 8 points more and that's a total of 35 points in 31 games. Projected over 82 games, that puts the Leafs at over 92 points. You need about 98 points in the Western Conference to secure a playoff spot, I would imagine. Colorado got in at 95 points last year, Montreal made it with only 88. A pace of 92 points last year would have put the Leafs in sixth seed, 4 points up on the 8th seed.

Calgary on the other hand was 13 - 13 - 1 to finish their season after the trade also with 27 points. So far this season the team is 2 - 2, with four points. Since the trade they are 15 - 15 - 1 with 31 points. This puts them on schedule for an 82 point schedule, which wouldn't get them into the playoffs. Just saying. You'll see later on that the value of the Leafs' pick in the second round which they acquired in the Wayne Primeau trade is improved with Calgary's struggle in the standings. 82 points would put Calgary in the 13th spot in their conference, low on the list.

Moving on: Fredrik Sjostrom has performed as a solid penalty killer for the Leafs, in 23 games he has 2 goals and 5 points. Keith Aulie has been injured since his acquisition and through most of the summer. He has yet to play an NHL game for the Leafs - and he may not for a while, considering their depth at defense. He's performing for the Marlies right now.

Ultimately, the leafs needed more defensive strength and the ability to defend a lead in the third period. Sjostrom and Phaneuf are doing this, so far.

Stajan has 3 goals in 30 games with the Flames so far, including 16 assists and 19 points. Hagman has 7 goals and 13 points in 31 games for the Flames; Jamal Mayers scored a goal and six points with 53 PIM in his 27 games with the Flames before signing with San Jose. Ian White has 4 goals, 12 points in 31 games with the Flames as well.

As a whole, the Flames looked to increase their offense to push themselves into the playoffs, but failed last season. With Hagman under contract, they resigned Stajan to a huge deal ($3.5 mill per four years) and have retained White for $3 million this season. That's a lot of cash for these guys. Put this together, and you've got an 18-goal scorer in Hagman, an 8-goal scorer in Stajan and a 10-goal scorer in White. While Hagman has a $3 million cap hit, too - this means the Flames have invested $9.5 million into a projected 36 goals (from players expected to provide offense). Yikes. Kessel's going to do that job for only $6 million this year, suckas!

In the end: Calgary spends $9.5 million while Toronto spends $7.250 (Phaneuf $6.5 million + Sjostrom at $750,000). The Leafs have an improved record over the Flames, they have secured their needs (defense + leadership + penalty killing) while the Flames have not addressed their needs (not enough offensive production + they've spent $9.5 million on not solving their problem, too). Advantage: Toronto - but the season has yet to be played - I will continue to evaluate this.

8. Peluso Trade [Mar. 3, 2010]
To Toronto: D Chris Peluso
To Pittsburgh: Sixth round draft pick in 2010.

Peluso hasn't played in anything other than the CHA since the trade. Pittsburgh selected D Joe Rogalski and D Reid McNeill in the sixth round, but neither have played in the NHL either - so there's no clear advantage to the Maple Leafs on this trade either ... yet.

9. Seventh-Round Pick Trade [Mar. 4, 2010]
To Toronto: Anaheim's 7th round pick, 2011
To Anaheim: Joey MacDonald

Toronto doesn't know what they've got in Anaheim's 7th round pick this year, but they can rest assured that Anaheim didn't use MacDonald last season, or this season. MacDonald was signed by the Red Wings later, basically providing no value to Anaheim in the long or short run. Scratch your head on this one.

Advantage: Toronto

10. Caputi Trade [Mar. 2, 2010]
To Toronto: Luca Caputi, Martin Skoula
To Pittsburgh: Alexei Ponikarovski

This should be interesting to start, and we'll see how long it takes for this trade to slide into Toronto's favour. Caputi came over to Toronto, playing 19 games to wrap up the season. He only scored 1 goal and six points, acquiring a few minor penalties along the way (10 PIM). Not a big impact ... yet. He is sure to get some more ice time and games played over the next little while, which is exciting. Martin Skoula never dressed as a Maple Leaf and was swapped for a draft pick later on.

Poni Boy didn't have as much fun in Pittsburgh, unfortunately. In the final 16 games of the season, he had only 2 goals and 9 points with 17 PIM (that's hardly better than Caputi was doing) and he was a - 6 on a playoff team, finding himself a healthy scratch in the playoffs - NOT what PIT was looking for in this trade. In 11 games in the playoffs, he only scored 1 goal and 5 points. Too bad, PIT probably won't be trading with TOR for a while after this one left such a bad taste in their mouth.

Advantage: Toronto.

11. Fifth Round Pick Trade [Mar. 4, 2010]
To Toronto: New Jersey's 5th round pick
To New Jersey: Martin Skoula

Skoula played 19 games to end last season with New Jersey, with only 3 assists and 4 PIM. He didn't make much of an impact, but was probably only acquired to provide some depth and protection for a Devils playoff run. Too bad for them the run didn't last nearly as long as they had planned.

Toronto selected twice in the 5th round, so they either picked C Sam Carrick (42 points in 66 games in the OHL last season) or LW Daniel Brodin (5 points in 30 games in Sweden) with New Jersey's selection.

As far as I can tell, Skoula is not with NJ anymore, and may not be on any roster anywhere. I'm not sure. I can't find him anywhere.

Advantage: Leafs

12. Matt Jones Trade [Mar. 4, 2010]
To Toronto: Matt Jones and Phoenix's 4th and 7th round picks for 2010
To Phoenix: Lee Stempniak

Matt Jones doesn't have a lot of stats to his name, which is no surprise. I can't find any record of him on any Maple Leafs roster, but his link remains on their official site.

For their fourth round pick, the Leafs selected D Petter Granberg (9 points in 40 games in Sweden). The 7th round pick was RW Josh Nichols (49 points in 71 games in the WHL).

Stempniak is doing swell in Phoenix, though. He's scored 14 goals in 21 games, 5 assists and 19 points while securing an additional 7 games played and 2 assists in the playoffs last spring. [Lee scored 14 goals as a Leaf, but it took 62 games to get there, believe it or not!]

Advantage: Phoenix!

13. Brown Trade [June 26, 2010]
To Toronto: Mike Brown
To Anaheim: 5th Round pick in 2010

The Leafs must have had a serious surplus of 5th round picks, because we know they selected twice. So they had a surplus, and sent one of them away for Mike Brown in Anaheim. Brown is gooning it up with 12 PIM in 4 games already, while rocking a Parros-like moustache that the entire league is proud of. He already has an assist on the season, and is well on his way to surpassing his total of 7 points (6 goals) with ANA last season.

Anaheim had two 5th round selections in the draft as well. They selected RW Christopher Wagner (83 points in 44 games in the EJHL - where?) and D Tim Heed (37 points in 32 games in Sweden). [ANA's 5th round picks sound a lot better than TOR's]

Advantage: Toronto - for now. We'll see how that 5th round pick turns out.

14. Versteeg Trade [June 30, 2010]

To Toronto: Kris Versteeg and Bill Sweatt
To Chicago: Viktor Stalberg, Chris DiDomenico and Philippe Paradis.

Toronto picked up the sexy Versteeg who's tallied a goal and assist in 4 games as a Leaf so far. His Chicago partner was Bill Sweatt, who never played an NHL game. Basically, Sweatt was a non-factor in the long run.

Chicago picked up Stalberg who has 1 goal in 6 games as a Blackhawk, DiDomenico who has never played in the NHL and Paradis who as also not played in the NHL. So far, 1 point for Stalberg vs. 2 points for Versteeg. Toronto wins!

15. Lashoff Trade [Aug. 27, 2010]
To Toronto: Matt Lashoff
To Tampa Bay: Alex Berry and Sefano Giliati.

Toronto picks up Lashoff, who hasn't played for the Leafs yet, but is going at it for the Marlies right now, while Berry and Giliati hasn't either. This trade was to free some roster space, so there's nothing really to worry about here. Both teams win!