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My EXTRA EXTRA Dream…

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Holy Jesus, the roaring sound is deafening, black-grey smoke surrounds me; large clods of dirt, mud and rock pummel down like hell’s hailstones from above.

The writhing guy scrunched next to me in the trench lies soaked in blood, lacking a good portion of the right side of his body. The rub of wet, itchy wool on my skin is barely noticeable in the mayhem…

CUT!!!

The director calls out loudly through a megaphone (not a MAGAphone!).

“Torn bloody body” guy next to me smiles, then stands up and leisurely stretches.

That was a totally fictional scenario (based on very real occurrences) I imagined in my sleep last night.

I had been hired as a soldier extra in the movie 1917, the barbarous story of British soldiers on the front-lines of World War I.

There are scads of TV and movie productions (yes, even now in COVID world) that require bodies of men, women, and children… extras as they’re known… voiceless ordinary people who make a story appear genuine by merely walking on streets, drinking in bars, or even shooting rifles in war scenes.

I’ve never been an extra, and I get it that I’ll never be a featured actor in ANY film scene… my acting chops were chopped during the gene edits in utero.

However, as an appreciator of cinematic creation, I’d love to have the experience to prance before the camera and have a Walter Mitty’ish experience: “Bond… James Bond”, I’d say in my deepest Sean Connery voice.

OK… no speaking parts, but… as I ponder the notion and scenes in my head, I wonder to myself, what are the preferred productions that would be most appealing… the most relevant and fun for me?

Which show(s) would I like to be cast as an extra? How about you, do you have a scripted opus out there that might be improved with your face lurking in the background?

And BTW, if you live in Vancouver or Toronto, here are 2 links that could make you a part of my screen viewing enjoyment sometime in the future:

Vancouver: http://bcfcasting.com/extras/home.html

Toronto: https://torontofilmextras.com/

I love the idea and fun of dress-up, so many of my choices revolve around “period” pieces where I would get to live for a few short hours in another world and time. But not The Walking Dead, or “Boy Car Crash” movies, not for me. For women, could you see yourself marching in pairs in a Handmaid’s red and white outfit?

Let’s get to it… here are some shows, or scenes that I would have liked to have shared my immense “extra” talents within:

  1. WHEN HARRY MET SALLY – The Deli/Orgasm scene. Hell, I don’t mind sitting in a restaurant, eating smoked meat sandwiches and listening to a cute woman fake an orgasm… this might be the first recorded episode of FAKE NEWS to a man (any man) who will likely never know it’s fake, right? Thanks for robbing us of our manhood Meg!
  2. DEADPOOL – Super-hero movies would usually be out for me, but this movie enterprise is so campy and crazy, I would happily stand on a Vancouver street (where it’s filmed) while Ryan Reynolds eviscerates the bad guys.
  3. SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION – I (usually) enjoy Stephen King’s fertile imagination, so becoming a part of his fictional world and life inside a prison yard would be a vicarious experience I would hope never to experience in real life.
  4. ELF – it’s an adult child’s world with vivid colours, a ton of sugar topped with syrupy sweetness; the perfect chance to release my inner child.
  5. BUTCH CASSIDY & THE SUNDANCE KID– one of my all-time favourite movies, and yes, an opportunity to throw on chaps, a 10-gallon hat, ride a horse and carry a 6-shooter on my hip, all the while humming Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head. Maybe I’d have even glimpsed Paul Newman’s blue eyes close-up.
  6. SAVING PRIVATE RYAN– a chance to be near my director hero Steven Spielberg… the opening 23 minutes of the movie with the landing of troops in Normandy during World War II is about as terrifyingly dramatic a war scene that could be made and not be real. It scared the shit out of me to watch and should be required viewing for any young person who thinks that war has a romantic side to it. I would cry for 3 nights after being an extra, but it would be worth it.
  7. TITANIC – the heart pounding drama of the “sinking” scenes would likely terrify even an extra to the core. The systemic injustice of the class system and who would be saved and who would cling to the ship until it plunged into the icy Atlantic would make me an angry “extra”.
  8. MY AMERICAN COUSIN – how often do small town folks have a quality film produced in their own backyard, and the story is actually all about their backyard? Director Sandy Wilson put together a lovely recollection of the 1950’s, beach fun in Penticton, and a teenage girl’s crush on an older American cousin. A local version of…
  9. GREASE – slick back my hair to bunny hop and jive with bobby-socked cuties like Olivia Newton-John? Sign me up Casting Director!
  10. MONTY PYTHON anything – similar to Deadpool, the slapstick humour would make it a challenge for me to NOT giggle non-stop in the background. My silly walk would look normal to these guys!

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and finally, another musical interlude, based on lyrics I wrote and posted here on July 19th.

It’s a rule-breaking piece of songwriting – the long song – that has been used by other far greater songwriters than myself eg. Bob Dylan, Harry Chapin, Don McLean, Arlo Guthrie. I haven’t yet absorbed Hemingway’s advice on brevity in writing…

Each Glass of Romance (THEO’s Song) is a song of young romance, desire, and even some sexual tension playing out in the Greek restaurant (THEO’s) where I bartended for 4 summer seasons post-retirement.

Just over 6 minutes long, it doesn’t hit its first chorus until the 2:34 mark, interminable by pop song standards.

I don’t know if it’s a hit or a miss, you will have to be the judge. Maybe “EXTRA” work will be my salvation! Thanks for listening.

The BOLDNESS of Stepping Over Fear

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Do you ever wonder who that person inside you is that calls him/her/themself YOU?

The wonder seems surreal… maybe dream-like… or perhaps even an ephemeral but distant memory.

Surreal and real are mirror images if we summon the courage and boldness to make them so. Today I feel this even more deeply with the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I’ll miss her immense courage, her intelligence, her boldness…

A life with a rich garden of special treasured moments, I believe, takes a willingness to harness the BOLD when you would so much rather run in the opposite direction.

I’m a self-professed introvert… OK, maybe I cross the line a bit, so let’s call me an ambivert (anything but a pervert!)

I was not a bold person in my youth, and honestly, I’m not overtly a bold person now. But I’m surely bolder today than I once was. You can be too.

I’ve known a few fearlessly confident types, and I don’t pretend that I’m one of them. I lean towards equating boldness with extroversion. A small life lesson: it doesn’t have to be.

Hell, I remember sobbing in the aisles of Towers department store when I was 4 or 5 years old when I lost sight of my Mommy. It’s likely that we reunited in less than 2 minutes, but I was a nervous child.

I loved reading and the idea of adventure, a voyage… it’s wired into the construct of what it means to be human. To live vicariously through the eyes of others is entertaining and enjoyable but it doesn’t linger and tingle in the same way as personal experience.

I didn’t believe I was daring enough to set out on my own adventure, but I was pretty sure I wanted to experience it all the same. I just wasn’t convinced it was in me to make it happen.

Fast forward to today and I’ve done some bold *cough cough some might say foolish/crazy* things; this hubris allows me to close my eyes and visualize myself in the mirror wearing a “mini” cape.

Looking back, it’s a mere two seemingly small steps I took in one short period of time of my early adulthood that freed up the inner BOLD guy inside me, giving me the confidence to push ahead despite fear.

Yes, they were infinitesimally small steps in mankind’s history of courage, but they taught me the lesson that many small fears overcome are the path to larger, bolder ones.

What were these steps?

1. September 1977 – roaming around the small apartment I shared in downtown Hamilton with my sister, preparing to head off for a job interview for my first professional position as a lab technologist. The job: Immunohematology (simply put: Blood Banker) technologist at the hospital where I had recently finished my internship year to qualify as a “tech”. I showered and dressed for the interview for a job I really didn’t relish, but one that stroked my young male ego and offered stability and security. If offered the position, I knew it was the easy choice and I would be on my way in life and adulthood.

Then the phone rang: Hello? “Larry Green?” Yes it is. “This is ____ at the hospital laboratory in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. We have an unexpected opening for a technologist and wondered if you’d be interested in the position?” (Voice in my head: you sent me a letter just 2 weeks ago saying there were no jobs available). Ummm, I’m interested but need some time to think about this. “OK, but could you let us know of your decision in the next day or two?” Yes, I can do that. Thank you for your call.

The voltage in my heart skyrocketed like a defibrillator with this unexpected offer. Yellowknife… 4900 km. away and located in the cold, dark Arctic. Land of Inuit and Igloos. I figured I was crazy… but… I’ll let you guess which choice I made that day with 2 very different job offers burning in my head?

(Aside: when I prepared to venture off to Yellowknife for the job, I was told to book a flight with PWA (Pacific Western Airlines). This naive/ignorant eastern Canadian lad had never heard of PWA and thought I was told to book with TWA (TransWorld Air). I phoned TWA to book my flight and the operator there said not only did they not have any scheduled flights to “Yellowknife”, but she had never even heard of the place! At this juncture, I envisioned a dog-sled trip to my new northern posting…)

2. Not long after stepping over the fear of the unknown and flying off into the Great White North to work in a small Arctic hospital, I had an unexpected message from a high school friend, Richard. Was I interested in flying off on a backpacking trip through Europe?

Three months of daily travel and adventure? Hostels and train trips? Eiffel Tower and Checkpoint Charlie? Hell… that sounds scary I heard the voice in my head saying. A hundred decisions to make every day of where to go, where to stay, which alleys to avoid, which foods to eat.

My head filled with frightening scenarios of strange people speaking to me in a dozen different languages when I knew only English and a modest amount of French. My comfort zone +1,000. I went over the “on one hand” and “on the other hand” debates in my mind… before swallowing hard and saying … YES! Three incredible months followed.

But… more than the excitement and adventure and the inner fears… those two hugely small decisions launched me on a life journey that showed me the strength I hadn’t known existed inside me.

Somehow I found a way to step over the often paralyzing dread. I now knew that fear was to be respected and accepted, but not a home of prison bars and roadblocks.

I’ve stepped over the unease a hundred times since and it always gives me the knot in my stomach, the race in my heart.

Each step forward can build on the one before.

Here’s a fairly recent example. A few years back, playing my guitar and singing other peoples’ songs on stage was a giant obstacle. Today, I still feel the nerve-racking butterflies as I climb the stairs to the stage and see the audience faces before me… and then launch into playing my very own songs. Despite the initial fear.

And to be perfectly honest, I’ve stepped back occasionally because in the moment – feeling almost like when I cried with separation anxiety as a child – I lacked the mental strength to go forward… absolutely… but…

… most times, I recognize that I’ve been to this cliff-edge before and made the step over fear… and…

… COWABUNGA!

R.I.P. Ruth Bader Ginsburg – your wisdom will be sorely missed.

THE NOT SO DUSTY ROAD – The Song

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OK my friends… I’ve had a couple of weeks of fun and frivolity in my recent blog posts… recess is over for today… so…

Back to the harder work of lyric and songwriting.

Time to get back to some serious reflection and contemplation. Thoughts viewed through the poetry and filter of music.

In these COVID times, it’s quite simple to see our time, our lives, as difficult and maybe even unfair. There are so many sad and unfortunate stories across the globe that push us towards a feeling of despair.

I can only imagine not being able to hold the hand of a loved one dying in a care home or a lonely hospital bed. I can only imagine being held in a desolate refugee camp with little hope for the future of my small children.

It’s fair to say I’ve lived a sheltered and charmed life.

My good fortune was being born in a time and place, along with a gender and skin colour, filled with advantage. I’ve known little other than peace, health, and abundance.

There have been real fears over my years, such as nuclear war, but for the most part – in historic context – my life has been low on dire threat to me or my brethren. I’m not a great believer in random luck, but in this way, I truly have been lucky.

………………….

The lyrics I’ve written in today’s song The Not So Dusty Road – the road that you and I have walked as children of the late 1900’s and early 2000’s – are my attempt to strike a comparison of life 100 years ago with today’s western world.

One hundred years ago, life was lived on the edge of survival, with hunger, war and disease readily prepared to snatch away the breath of any who ventured too close to those ravages.

My images lean in on childbirth and war, gender issues, schools and technology.

The first half of the song is written viewed from the year 1920, the second half from 2020. Each consecutive verse is constructed from the angle of woman, man and child.

Let’s dive in:

THE NOT SO DUSTY ROAD

by Larry Green

(1920)

1.Woman

You heard the baby cries through ether fog
Victorian images, blooded queen in silken sheets
whose fate and fortune bestowed by God
whose joy to live and breed

2. Man

Childs’ faces pocked, lungs assailed by smog
crushed sons in mud, infected feet in bogs of icy thaw
returned at last
to steal the bread from kitchen ledges

3. Child

Stand in line and heed the bell
no shoes to wear, lunch from fields soaked in your sweat
your blood-red hands declared
from shaming eyes, the severe Judas prayer

CHORUS

The not so dusty road
so few have ever seen
the tarnished one that others strode
lost afar on the not so dusty road

(2020)

4. Woman

Ads tell me “Baby, you’ve come so far”
I aim the gun, I own my house, I drive my car
I cross my X, I boot my Ex
I squeeze my thighs with MeToo flex

5. Man

My baby’s fed, makin’ bacon in the house,
swapped the plow a few years back for bits and mouse
Sim life just moved onto my street
Sweet Niagara, the carpet’s moving under me

6. Child

What’s it like outside today she asked
wind or rain I’ll check the weather cam
smartboard lessons since burnt the chalk
wisdom’s candle, the cellphone aftershock

BRIDGE

The troubled bridge that brought me here
from where so many tumbled
dim voices distant in the tunnel

CHORUS

The not so dusty road
so few have ever seen
the tarnished one that others strode
lost afar on the not so dusty road

 

 

Happy Humpday!

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I was born on a Wednesday… Happy Humpday!

Monday’s child is fair of face,
Tuesday’s child is full of grace,
Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
Thursday’s child has far to go.
Friday’s child is loving and giving,
Saturday’s child works hard for a living,
But the child born on the Sabbath Day,
Is fair and wise and good in every way.

I’m trying to get my mind away from the negative humps of TrumpWorld and Coronavirus… this temporary season of suck… with featherweight blog posts that refresh and leave a light spearminty taste in your mouth afterwards. Let’s label it an attitude reset.

Anyway, I am a Humpday Baby… sounds kinda appropriate given the way people say babies come about (although, much like you, I know with certainty that my parents never did the Dirty Deed!)… but who can really trust science, it might be FAKE NEWS!

A couple of thousand years ago on a dark and stormy night, I wiggled my way into this world in the very early hours of a Wednesday (1:52 am to be exact).

Good thing my Mom was a night owl… she was probably awake writing letters to family members when I popped out.

Just a few nights back, I awoke in the quiet blackness of some ungodly hour thinking about weird (and strangely, non-sexual) things as we all do, and it occurred to me that we seem to know that our birth order has an effect on who and what we become… sure… but does birth day of the week also mark us equally?

It’s not crucial to know this stuff, but our mind doesn’t seem to care a scintilla about what is or isn’t important when it goes off on oddball tangents in the middle of the night.

Of course the zodiac has something to say about all of this.

I’m a religious skeptic, and a zodiac skeptic too.

But let’s face it… a little mystery, a little supernatural, a little esoteric wonder gives us a little bumplet of enthusiasm about the magic of how we became US.

It’s harmless metaphysical meandering that adds a pinch of spice to our world of unknowable unknowns.

Hogwash?… yeah, maybe…. but let’s step through the looking glass anyway…

And because this isn’t a scientific or fact-based paper, but a loose creation from a mere blogger (me), the information below is sourced from a variety of (unreferenced) Google sources which may or not have a smidgen of credibility.

Numerology, which is a belief that numbers and events are connected, might hold some answers to the army of secrets in our lives.

There are multiple things that affect our personality, and the day of the week we were born, it’s supposed, might have something to do with it. There are lifepath numbers, which can be found by adding all the numbers in your birthdate. These can apparently reveal your strongest and weakest traits, but the day of the week you were born on doesn’t rely on numerology alone.

The seven days of the week are influenced by seven planets and other celestial bodies — Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.

Here’s what the zodiac says about me, a child of Wednesday:

Wednesday is named after the Norse god Wodan. This day, the fourth day of the week, is linked to the planet Mercury. Those born on a Wednesday are generally well-spoken and have an innate talent for improvisation… They love juggling with numbers. Those ruled by Mercury are the best improvisers. Children of this day will inherit the restless and questioning qualities associated with this planet. Wednesday’s child is communicative, logical, unreliable, careless and versatile. These individuals have a message to deliver to the rest of us and need to stay on the move, learn and communicate in order to prosper. Wednesday born people are very smart and have amazing communication skills but have also workaholics tendencies.

I’d have to say that description hits about half of me. The mists inside the crystal ball are a bit murky in some of those descriptors.

But here’s the important stuff for you… and to save you the bother of checking important “facts” the next time you awake at 3 am wondering….

… wondering what day of the week you were born and what that reveals about your personality, I offer you the following (and if your memory is weak like mine, and you’ve somehow forgotten, here is a handy site to plug in your birth-date and retrieve the day of the week YOU were born):

1. Sunday

Those born on Sunday are ruled by the sun, according to astrological zodiac signs. It’s seen as the first day of the week and those born on this day might become leaders. If you were born on a Sunday, you are someone who seeks something extraordinary in your life. Daily life is too mundane for you and you are forever searching for a better time. This also makes you a positive person to be around. You are likely to be creative, noble, self-centred, bold and loud.

2. Monday

If you were born on Monday, you are ruled by the moon, which might mean that you are sensitive, moody, intuitive, and emotional. You are also likely to be a romantic person who knows how to shower your partner with love and affection. The moonchild is also likely to be someone who loves being home and cares about their family life above all else. The stability of a home and the comfort it gives brings out the best in you.

3. Tuesday

If you were born on the third day of the week, you are ruled by fiery Mars. You might display traits that the most successful people have. However, you are likely to be sensitive to criticism, which can be a good thing if you are trying to change. You have a high amount of energy and you push yourself to work hard until you meet your goals. You are someone who doesn’t know how to mince their words and people come to you for an honest perspective.

4. Wednesday

This day of the week is ruled by Mercury. If you were born on a Wednesday, you have a questioning and restless mind. You are also great at improvising your way forward. You are a logical person who values communication. You are also someone who is versatile and you can’t sit still until you have the answers to your questions. While you are great at communicating, there is a tendency to overwork and tire yourself out.

5. Thursday 

Those born on this day are ruled by Jupiter. Optimistic, genial, and a generally fun person, you attract people to you. Thur is derived from the Norse God Thor, and just like him you display a strength of character. You might be the life of the party but sometimes you forget about the mundane things in your life. You are more likely to be planning a grand birthday party for your partner than take care of the dishes on a daily basis.

6. Friday 

Venus rules the Friday child, and that means that you are creative. There is an artist and a lover inside every one of you. Social, seductive, artistic, and sometimes, a little too reliant on people’s opinions are how people might describe you. You might be the quintessential epicure, who has a love of fine things. You love surrounding yourself with beauty and your home would be the perfect example of it. You cherish harmony and prefer not to ruffle any feathers.

7. Saturday

Ruled by Saturn, Saturday is traditionally the last day of the week. Those born on this day are important to their family and are unlikely to have an easy life path. You are wise, modest, practical, and studious. While there may be many challenges in your life, you also have the skills to go past them. You might find yourself being the person responsible for most of the important things in your family. You are also likely to be individualistic and freedom-loving.

There you go… You now understand the WHO and WHY of YOU.

So when you make a terrible mistake some day in the future…. just shrug and reply innocently… “… it’s not my fault. I can’t help it, I was born on a (your day of the week).

Ta-Daaaaa… you’re welcome.

PS. Three weeks ago, I posted a blog with lyrics I wrote to a song called The Vacant Chair, the story of my Grandmother writing a letter to my Mom less than 2 weeks after my Grandfather died in 1935.

Below is a recording I’ve made to a slightly amended set of those lyrics.

The music I’ve written to accompany it is aiming for – as my sister labelled it – “dissonance”… a feeling of discomfort and loneliness.

For the music and guitar nerds out there, I was going to use Beck’s unusual guitar tuning – from Heart Is A Drum – but couldn’t get the sound I was looking for, so I switched into the C tuning (CGCGCE) vs standard guitar tuning of EADGBE that allowed me to get the chords with the “jangled” sound I was seeking. Ta-Daaaaa!