Monday, June 29, 2015


The sayings are legion – “The early bird gets the worm”, “Early to bed, early to rise…yada, yada, yada…”.

Somewhere in our pioneer past, some Puritan spirit was always reminding everybody else that the secret to success was to get up and get at it earlier than the next guy.

And that works –- if you’re a morning person.

Take my dog… in the Summertime those three words are followed by “Please”!

She’s a herder and like all herders her instinct is to head to the fields as soon as there’s a glimmer of light in the sky. And that’s okay for most of three seasons.

But getting a cold nose in the middle of your back at 4:30 am the rest of the year isn’t that pleasant for the guy who has to go out with her.

If you’re a writer, the other belief that’s beaten into you is that you need to find the hours when you are most productive and strictly apply the butt to chair/fingers to keyboard lockdown during that time.

And oh so many writers will let you know that the secret to their success was getting so much done before the sun came up that they were having lunch while everybody else was still brewing their first cup of coffee.

For the most part, writers who are night owls are looked down upon. Oh, sure, you can burn the midnight oil waiting on your muse if you’re holding down a day job until the first break arrives.

But otherwise -- you’re just another guy watching Sportsnight repeats who’d be hanging around an Edward Hopper Diner if there was only a trendy enough one open and nearby.

And yes, I know the title of the painting is really “Nighthawks”.

The point is, all kinds of research into time management, creativity and Circadian rhythms tells us that we each operate on a different clock. But the world and its cheerleaders of getting-things-done insist that putting your nose to the grindstone before your toasted bagel goes cold is how goals are achieved.

Where is the Champion of the Night Owls, the sack-clothed seeker with a lamp searching for honest to God proof that working in the dark is actually something of which you can be proud?

Well, he’s here.

In the form of Productivityist Mike Vardy.

Mike has already mapped out a workbook and an action plan to help night owls into the light –- the light from the idea bulb which tells Nightowls how to use the wee hours to be more creative, more productive and more successful.

During my writing career, I’ve been both a night owl and an early bird. I’ve had to shift my writing time to suit production schedules, unexpected crises and faraway time zones.

And I had to learn how to do that and maximize my output on my own. But you don’t have to. Mike can help.

Find him here. I am certain you will find what he has to offer worthwhile.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Lazy Sunday # 382: Hotel 22

The other day I passed a maintenance crew welding dividers onto a park bench so it would in future only provide seating for three people.

This struck me as a poor use of public property as I’ve seen up to 5 people sitting on it watching a Little League ball game. But some civic official had now determined it would in future serve only three –- in an upright (and probably also preferably locked) position.

I knew it wasn’t because the city’s insurance provider had determined that too many people on the bench might cause it to collapse and lead to an injury lawsuit.

I doubted it was because somebody in the local bureaucracy had deemed that park visitors deserved more personal space, or that crowded benches implied a lapse in green space management.

It was obviously because somebody didn’t want some homeless guy sleeping on it.

I’ve seen old guys sleeping on it in the afternoon heat, slumped with their dog at their feet, tuckered from a jaunt through the nearby woods.

I’ve seen kids sleeping on it, next to a mom using the blessed silence to read a book.

I’ve even diverted my eyes from Teens making out and all but sleeping with each other on it.

And nobody’s ever had a problem with that.

But somebody on their way to City Hall one morning saw a raggedy guy stretched out and decided enough was enough.

I kinda wish the “enough is enough” trigger would’ve spurred whoever fetched the welding team to do something concrete to address the homeless problem. But we don’t seem to do a lot of that anymore.

We just do these little, “let’s make life a little less enjoyable for everybody” moves on most issues these days rather than sit down and actually solve a problem once and for all.

God knows whatever anybody attempts to do so these days causes somebody to become immediately upset or offended. But not even trying to fix something means that it inevitably gets worse.

Dictating where and in what position everybody has to sit when they go to a public park doesn’t contribute to anybody’s well-being and it sure doesn’t help out a guy without a home who just needs to lie down for a couple of hours.

It makes you wonder how long it will take for the whole world to turn into “Hotel 22”.

You’ve never heard of “Hotel 22”? Take a peek and then try to…

Enjoy Your Sunday.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Lazy Sunday #381: The Ultimate One Hit Wonder

Image result for one hit wonder

After garnering all kinds of interest in last week’s “Lazy Sunday” video, I figured it was worth making a trip back to the same music well of my youth, to both celebrate the first day of Summer and tell you about another artist whose music you’ve definitely heard but of whom you’ve not.

Tony Burrows. Ring a bell…?

I thought not.

But there was a time when Tony was charting more hits in the Top Ten than “The Beatles” and “The Rolling Stones” put together, bands he once opened for on the UK concert circuit.

Tony got his start in Bristol, England, playing in several bands and ultimately becoming a much sought after session singer.

His career path was not unlike those of “The Four Seasons” or “The Supremes”, spending years “20 Feet From Stardom” backing up known singers and bands or filling in the notes they couldn’t actually hit themselves.

Sometimes session players get a break. Usually because somebody with a song nobody else wants pays to have it recorded, or because a record producer decides to try out a sound nobody else is doing.

Such was the case in 1967, just as the “Love, Peace & Groovy” thing was getting started and everybody was wearing paisley. The session group was named “The Flower Pot Men” and the song was “Let’s All Go To San Francisco”.

Could the marketing message have been any clearer if Don Draper himself had left his meditation session in Big Sur to deliver it?

The song became Tony’s first hit.


Despite their initial success,“The Flower Pot Men” melted away into the late 60’s expanding Peter Max landscape and Tony went back to the studio, resigned to being just another “One-Hit-Wonder”.

He labored there for a couple more years, before once again being tagged for another manufactured group to sell another song on which everybody else had passed.

That tune, with a nonsensical title so long it almost wouldn’t fit on a 45, “Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes” went all the way to #1 in February of 1970 for a group called…


The song had been recorded almost a year earlier and so confused was the record company as to who had really been in the band, the video released for it featured somebody else they had under contract mouthing the lead vocals.

Said confusion may have been compounded by the fact that a week after Edison Lighthouse hit the top spot, two new songs debuted in the Top Ten, both studio bands featuring Tony Burrows –- “Brotherhood of Man” and “White Plains”…



Despite charting three songs in the Top Ten in the same week, Tony remained unnoticed and none of those three groups ever had another big hit. Tony Burrows now had the dubious reputation of being a “one-hit-wonder” four times over.

But his run wasn’t finished.

A month later, he notched his fifth “one-hit-wonder” title with a group called “The Pipkins” and a novelty tune “Gimme Dat Ding”. Now responsible for four tunes of that month’s Top 40.


Despite this unparalleled “success”, Tony went right on being a session singer, probably earning more money than he ever would have fronting a barely known band touring clubs and small venues.

Thus -- four years later -- he became a “one-hit-wonder” for the SIXTH time with a song that would be the biggest hit of that Summer, performed by yet another cobbled together studio unit called “First Class”.

It’s a song that just screams Summertime to anybody who hears it, most of whom don’t know they’re listening to the ultimate “one-hit-wonder”.

To further confuse things -- when the video was released to capitalize on the song’s success, somebody else once again stood in for Tony Burrows, lip-syncing his voice while he was back in the studio, helping make a hit for somebody else.

Enjoy Your Sunday, the first day of Summer and –- “Beach Baby”…


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Rachel and Caitlyn Save Hollywood

Mr. Big strode from the front door of his Bel Air estate wearing the new silk suit his First Assistant (the one who liked reverse cowgirl) had picked out for him at Barney’s. He loved the suit for the way it clung to his body and made his dick look really large.

Running a profitable multi-national Hollywood studio and network conglomerate was, of course, rewarding. But having people think you had all that PLUS a big dick was undeniably better.

The Chauffeur respectfully lowered his gaze as he opened the limo door. Mr. Big enjoyed how the little people instinctively knew not to make eye contact with him as he slid his silk suited rich-as-fuck ass over the soft leather of the limo’s interior.

The morning ride to work was one of the better parts of his day. Closeted from the world, the retinal screen tuned to Bloomberg, he could track the performance of his stock options and consider all the new things he might buy.

One time, due partially to a sig alert on the 5, his net worth increased enough during the drive to justify the purchase of a new Maserati. A couple more fender benders and he would have been able to order up a McLaren.

But the screen today wasn’t showing charts and graphs. It was taken up by a white woman named Rachel insisting she had the right to “identify” as Black, genetics and personal history notwithstanding.

How the hell, he wondered, if this kind of thing caught on, was the music division supposed to sell hip hop CDs with videos showcasing Black Gangstas partying with White Ho’s if ghetto kids weren’t sure if the Ho’s were really White anymore?

The woman annoyed Mr. Big, reminding him of all those activist groups and guild committees who besieged him on a quarterly basis to insist he wasn’t hiring enough people of color to direct his films or protest the lack of diversity in his writers rooms.

He snapped off the display and turned to the stack of scripts and reading material dutifully laid out for him on a daily basis by Assistant Number Two, despite the obvious reality that his car always returned to the studio without anything ever being read.

If that ridiculous woman turned down one more invitation for a weekend in Cabo, she was done.

To further suggest her imminent demise, atop the pile sat the latest issue of “Vanity Fair” and its Bruce Jenner “Call Me Caitlyn” cover. Bruce Jenner disgusted Mr. Big.

It wasn’t just that he’d grown up eating Wheaties and cheering on the man’s Olympic feats. It wasn’t that he’d passed on the Kardashian show because he didn’t think it had legs. It wasn’t even because Bruce was insisting he could still keep his Penis and date starlets.

Caitlyn reminded him of all those Diesel Dykes who disrupted his panels at ComiCon demanding he hire more female directors and that his writers rooms reflect a gender balance.

He was tempted to tell them he hired on the basis of talent, but nobody in town would believe that. Certainly not the agents and other studio heads who knew who really needed to be placated to get a picture made these days –- and it wasn’t just Stan Lee.

He had briefly considered saying he’d given all the jobs to members of the LGBT Community whose privacy rights would be violated if he out-ed them. But anybody who ventured into the stained sweat shirt and scuffed Nike world of any writers room would know that was a lie.

He’d long ago learned that unless he wanted to be the next Donald Sterling, one needed to speak in vague platitudes when it came to issues of race and gender, insisting there was progress and that it was really the audience and not him who determined the voices they wanted to hear.

Although it had got him thinking seriously about hiring a hot Asian chick as his Third Assistant. That might quiet some of the rabble AND make some friends in the Chinese Financial sector.

He searched around for a pen and paper to make a note, finding the previous day’s lengthy list of un-returned calls. It included that over-the-hill director who’d bitched to Variety about “Age-ism” and the two writing team clowns who maintained that two writers meant negotiating two separate writing fees.

They’d all been in to see him with a pitch so high concept it was in the Stratosphere. He’d loved the idea. But getting through a first draft before he could fire those three yahoos would truly define development hell.

The cost of overpaying the typing twins was irksome enough, cutting into the money he had left to pay the next 18 guys who’d be brought in to make it better.

More than that, he’d have to put up with Gandalf telling him how Peckinpah or some asshole named Ford would’ve shot it –- along with a diatribe on how Comic books were ruining “The Cinema”.

The world was full of entitled morons.

But what if…

The standard mantra of the producing class repeated itself subconsciously as THE IDEA came in a brilliantly creative wave.

But what if –- the old fart would be willing to identify as a woman.

This was clearly his last hurrah and when push came to shove no self-respecting director would allow one last possessory credit slip through his fingers.

The typing twins could likewise identify as Gay or Black or both. Who would dare argue with them? And anyone who did would no longer be welcome at Morton’s.

With one brief news release he could go from being the most reviled executive in Hollywood to a champion of diversity. There would be humanitarian awards. Dinners in his honor. Sean Penn would finally return his calls.

His mind reeled at the possibilities. Anybody who wanted their picture green-lit or their series renewed would be called upon to identify as whatever he needed to keep running the place the way he always had.

He couldn’t believe his brilliance. Well, of course he could. Everybody knew he was the best (insert skill here) man in the business. He sank back into the leather seat and smiled, silently blessing Rachel and Caitlyn.

It was good to be on top again.

And just as good to be on the bottom for a few minutes before lunch if that First Assistant wanted to work on her “Yippee-Ki-Yay” after the announcement went out.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Pool Report: The Hockey Gods Have Spoken…


…And they have chosen Will Dixon as the Winner of this year’s Infamous Writers Hockey Pool.

You want to know how enamoured the Hockey Gods are of their anointed one this year? He won the Props Contest too!

Chicago Blackhawks, 2015 Stanley Cup Champions. Captain Jonathan Toews hoists the cup above his head

Yes, Chicago may be celebrating their 3rd Cup in 6 years, a hometown win and surviving the gruelling Cup gauntlet of battle.

But somewhere in Saskatchewan (most likely on a windswept and sparsely treed golf course) a man who chose the obscurity of life as a Canadian film-maker knows he has reached the pinnacle of his hockey career and the apex of his existence.

Savor this day, my friend. Such glory will likely never come again.

Nobody has ever manhandled the rest of the Pool the way Mr. Dixon did this year, building a massive early lead that he never relinquished – and in fact, increased on a weekly basis.

Chris Sheasgreen hung on throughout to snag 2nd place and Barry Kiefl made a valiant late charge through the pack to take 3rd. But, quite honestly, the outcome was never in doubt.

Therefore it is now incumbent on all Pool participants to shower Mr. Dixon with his Pool booty. I’ll be emailing all of you in the next few days to let you know where and how you can get your offerings into Will’s hands.

And that will wrap the 9th Annual Infamous Writers Hockey Pool.

It was a season that almost didn’t happen and featured our smallest number of participants. But after careful consideration, we’ll be back for number 10 –- with some changes to tweek the format and turn up the interest levels.

Thank you to all of you for participating or following the action. A big thanks to Chicago and Tampa for an exciting final series and a special shout-out to all those good Canadian, American, Russian, Swedish, Czech, Germany, Finnish and from elsewhere boys who have entertained us for the past weeks of terrific hockey.

But for today, All Hail Will Dixon! Sir, we are humbled to be in your company.



Sunday, June 14, 2015

Lazy Sunday # 380: Apache

On Summer weekends, I twist the dial of the car radio to an Oldies station, a 60’s Oldies station to be specific. It’s an homage and a return to my youth when cruisin’ was the thing you did on Summer weekends and the music I listen to now was new.

By the time I got my Driver’s license, the Beatles had been around for a while and the British Invasion was being fought back by tons of new American bands and burgeoning Canadian bands given life by the first Cancon rules.

But as wide as the variety of bands and tunes and musical styles might be, they usually had one thing in common -- the Fender Stratocaster guitar.

Every great Rock guitarist, both then and now played a Strat.  Dick Dale’s “Misirlou”, Clapton’s “Layla” and Knopfler’s “Sultans of Swing” became massive hits decades apart using the same instrument.

Among the first, way back in 1960 was a British band called “The Shadows” on a song called “Apache”. It was voted song of the year by the legendary New Music Express and is listed as one of the 100 greatest Rock instrumentals of all time.

But North Americans never heard it. They got a version by Dutch guitarist Jorgen Ingman or The Ventures.

Nor did we get much of what The Shadows released, despite lead guitarist Hank Marvin being credited as the major influence for virtually every great British band from The Beatles onward.

That might be because North American record companies saw the band as merely the backing group for teen heart-throb Cliff Richards or because at one point some marketing genius tried to sell them as a Brit Surfer band.

Despite being ignored on this side of the pond, The Shadows had a hugely successful career elsewhere and a massive string of hits covered by dozens of other artists.

In the early 70’s, as Cliff Richards’ star began to wane, they broke up, only to reform a couple of years later due to public demand.

But for all their success, there’s still something uniquely creative about their first big hit, a number that has nothing to do with the local influences at the time and continues to work its magic more than a half century later.

Enjoy Your Sunday.

For more on Mark Henry and his first Strat, visit here.

For The Shadows and Cliff Richards try this.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Pool Report: The Lazarus Effect

We’re down to a best of three series in what might be one of the most closely contested Stanley Cup Finals in memory.

And if you caught that shot from game four of Jonathan Toews so utterly gassed he had to be physically held up by a teammate on the bench, you know these guys are giving it their all.

But some people still aren’t happy.

The same people who are never happy. Network executives. Namely one Mark Lazarus of NBC Sports, who believes more people would be interested in the game if the players –- shaved.

As anyone who has ever produced a TV series knows, at some point there’s going to be a long and painful discussion with the network about your lead character’s hair.

It’s too long, too short, would look better swept to the Left and could definitely benefit from highlights. All pointlessly subjective of course, with no consideration for the talents of the actor/actress being assessed; a lame encounter confirming suspicions that most network execs should work in a beauty parlor.

Given his lack of hockey experience, (Mr. Lazarus’ sport of choice is quail hunting) one assumes his desire to razor throats merely reflects the method by which he rose to the top of his corporate heap.

In fact, his only real connection to the game is that he began his career working on “Ryan’s Hope” and “All My Children”, shows favored by many NHL players as they drift off for their afternoon pre-game naps.

It’s my understanding that the hockey playoff beard first appeared because of how hard it is to shave a face covered in stitches. And like baseball managers never stepping on the baselines, it has remained a tradition.

An honored tradition, Mr. Lazarus can’t understand because it doesn’t fit his image of what NBC Sports content should look like.

That would be the familiar Olympic athlete image NBC has fostered where everybody is a fresh faced kid from a small town in Nebraska who has overcome all odds to compete but is now further burdened by a grandmother dying of Cancer.

So I’m willing to bet good money the beards stay and it’s unlikely the Cup winning team will comprise the contestants on next season’s “Celebrity Apprentice”.

I’d be just as willing to wager that by Monday or Wednesday evening a lot of prize booty will be on its way to Saskatchewan, where resident hockey guru Will Dixon now leads the pool by a full 40 points.

Chris Sheasgreen and Barry Kiefl continue to give chase, but I fear they are already fully outdistanced.

More next week.


Monday, June 08, 2015

Pool Report: It’s a “Best of Five”

And let’s hope it goes the full five remaining, because great hockey might be the only satisfaction all but one of us in this year’s pool get.

Because Uncle Willis continues to lead the pool by more lengths than American Pharaoh ever had in his favor. I make the comparison only because rumor has it that Mr. Dixon expects to be put out to stud at the end of the contest to sire future pool experts.

At the very least we’ve got hockey until Saturday. But I’m confident we won’t be crowning a winner until next week.

The only major shift in the standings is Barry Kiefl slipping past Wil Zmak, whis Chris Sheasgreen hangs on in second.


Sunday, June 07, 2015

Lazy Sunday # 379: Visit Saskatchewan

Image result for saskatchewan prairie landscapes

When I was a kid, we used to watch a lot of National Film Board movies in school that covered Canadian topics from coast-to-coast, always either relegating my home province of Saskatchewan to a couple of shots of tractors and combines or skipping over it altogether.

In an odd way, that allowed the rest of Canada to overlook one of the best kept secrets in the country –- Saskatchewan is a great place to visit. Especially in Summer when the days are balmy and the nights utterly spectacular.

Many of you may have flown over the Prairies this morning on your way to the Banff TV Festival. Do yourself a favor and next time (or on your way home) drop in for a just as (or perhaps even more) rewarding travel experience.

They don’t call it the land of living skies for nothing. And you won’t find a finer place to…

Enjoy Your Sunday.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Pool Report: The Props

The guys with the junk truck arrive today, meaning the reno is over –- mostly on time and mostly on budget, but mostly signifying that this season’s continuously botched pool reports have come to an end.

And just in time because…


wayne gambles

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, a little history.

Betting on sports has been around as long as there have been guys who needed to pump up their self-esteem by proving they were right about something.

And for centuries money changed hands based on who won or lost a contest.

Then Las Vegas and the Super Bowl were invented. Pretty soon the guys who ran the Casinos realized that while they could make millions on who won a football game, they could make BILLIONS with side wagers.

So Proposition Betting was created to give us sports gambling degenerates an opportunity to blow our money on outcomes nobody in their right mind can confidently predict.

You might be wagering on the coin toss (Janet Gretzky's favorite -- seen above at Caesar's Palace with absolutely non-betting husband and Hockey Great One Wayne) or if a touchdown is made by a player whose jersey number is over 30.

Props are also not one bet options. You need to pick at least a half dozen. The odds of collecting are infinitesimal. But then, you can't put a price on a good time, can you?

So here's how the "Infamous Writers Pool Hockey Props"  works…

There are six bets. All are related to the Stanley Cup Finals. Some require sports knowledge. Some only require guts!

The player with the most correct answers wins. And a special piece of Canadian Hockey memorabilia (currently treasured by Yours Truly) will be awarded to the winner.

Should there be a tie -- uh -- we'll figure that out if there's a tie.

But this contest will definitely not be decided until well after the final game!

Entry is open to all current pool players, everybody who’s been kicking themselves for not getting in on the original action and anybody who thought Montreal had this thing sewn up when the season ended.

Entries must be sent to anytime between now and the 7:15 pm Eastern faceoff for Game Two on Saturday June 7th in Tampa Bay.

Your six Hockey Propositions are:

1. The 2015 Stanley Cup winner will be decided in:

     a) Four Games

     b) Five Games

     c) Six Games

     d) Seven Games

2. The total number of goals scored in the Final series will be:

    a) Less than 20

    b) 20 to 30

    c) More than 30

3. Tampa Bay Goalie Ben Bishop enters the final round with a .919 Save Percentage. Chicago’s Corey Crawford’s is .921. At the end of the final series, the Highest Goalie Save Percentage will belong to:

a) Bishop

b) Crawford

c) Neither

4. "Hockey Night in Canada"  icon Don Cherry always confidently predicts the winner of each game prior to the opening faceoff. For the FOURTH game of the series, he will be:

a) Correct

b) Incorrect

For non-Canadian players -- CBC's "Hockey Night in Canada" is streaming all games at, usually in more languages than English.

Unless Bob Cole is calling the game, in which case your guess is as good as mine as to what language that is.

5. The Leading Goal Scorer in the final series will be:

a) Tyler Johnson (TB)

b) Nikita Kucherov (TB)

c) Jonathan Towes (CHI)

d) Patrick Kane (CHI)

e) Other

6. The Captain of the winning team is the first player to hoist the Stanley Cup and skate a victory lap. The Cup is then passed to each member of his team. And it's usually passed to someone the player holding the Cup feels is especially deserving. The Goalie of the winning team will be:

a) One of the first six players to hoist the Cup

b) The Seventh to Twelfth player to hoist the Cup

c) One of the remaining players to hoist the Cup

Tough enough? C'mon, suck it up! How often do you get a chance like this?

As for the standings in the Big Show after last night’s unbelievably exciting first game…

Will Dixon continues to own us all with Chris Sheasgreen and Wil Zmak continuing to chase and Barry Kiefl coming up through the pack.


Barry has pretty much everybody in a red sweater who can score on his roster, meaning he still has a shot of taking this unless we see a few more more incredible Tampa moments like this…