Saturday, November 21, 2009


Like a starter pistol’s report, the first Christmas Carol of the season always sets my heart racing; to me, the Holidays aren’t so much “holidays” as they are an Olympic Sport, with the finish line being a crumpled mountain of gift wrap surrounding a group of houseguests drunk on the joy of giving and several gallons of Mimosas.

After all, what better way to celebrate the birth of the proverbial “King of Kings” than maxing out your credit cards AND getting your family and friends royally sloshed by noon?

So it was that I found myself grinning with delight today while enduring an endless line at the rather ominously Kafka-monikered “Shoppers Drug Mart” in Toronto -

- waiting to pay for a tube of toothpaste which would cost me 75% less back home in California (and which is, ironically, MADE in Canada, but is taxed at an astronomical rate in order to pay for, among other things, the long line ups for the “free” services at medical clinics throughout the country) -

- when over the public address system came the dulcet tones of Bing Crosby crooning “Silver Bells”; the opening aural salvo of the Yuletide season.

I suddenly felt as if the world were a fresh and shiny place, and I its freshest and shiniest citizen! Not even the rather suspicious death of a fifteen month old boy at the local Toronto airport, the mother of whom apparently lost her grip on the child and let him topple over a four foot high railing -

- plunging rather perversely from the Departures to the Arrivals level, all while she managed somehow to keep a firm grip on her shopping bags -

- could get me down. However I must admit that pondering the fact that the child was enroute to Argentina to be baptized, and therefore died, according to their Catholic faith, without the benefit of a dab of holy water and ergo will now spend eternity in Hell just because his Mother valued her Juicy Couture carry-on over her kid -

- did give me pause. But I rose above it; after all, Christmas is on the way!!

And frankly, I needed the boost after someone named Richard Lawson declared, at a website rather presumptuously called “”, that the Disney movie I’m currently directing -

- here in Toronto, Canada is, well, not to his tastes, referring to it as "the worst thing ever made"

Now putting aside the fact that he has passed judgement on a film which hasn't even hit the editing room yet, the term “worst thing ever made” clearly also takes into account 9/11, The Holocaust AND the sex tapes of ex-Miss California/confirmed Christian/noted lying floozey Miss Carrie Prejean -

- so I suspect Mr. Lawson is speaking metaphorically – although having attempted to read some of his other writings, I’m not entirely sure he would be comfortable using a word with so many syllables.

But even if it does turn out to be “the worst”, it certainly won’t be a result of the marvelous work done by my crew -

- or my leading lady, the fabulous Miss Jennifer Stone -

- nor our "hunk" du jour, Wesley Morgan -

- these past three weeks. I've been so impressed, in fact, that at the end of Day 15 I treated the crew to a glamorous cocktail party in the Library Bar at our location hotel, The Royal York -

- one of the last bastions of glamor in this otherwise architecturally horrendous city.

(Don't just take my word for it -- the absurd and hideous "addition" to the city's historic Royal Ontario Museum, a steel and glass monstrosity jutting out of the classic original building like some sort of frozen projectile vomit -

- has recently been called one of the Top Ten Ugliest Buildings on the planet. Toronto becomes World Class at last!)

And as we reflected on what we've accomplished since we've begun, even I had to admit to a certain pride in the movie we're making.

Of course we ALL know what pride cometh before, hmmm?

So I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’ve even been TRYING to find something to complain about during this shoot, but so far the biggest problem we’ve had was when the studio asked for a bit player to get rid of the fake French Accent he employed during his audition, and then expressed shock during their viewing of “rushes” (the daily scenes filmed and sent back to our Hollywood Overlords in a hurry – ie: a “rush”…) when he didn’t have a French Accent.

(And speaking of accents – I wish I could travel back in time and sharply slap the face of the first Teacher who instructed a Canadian student to say “ou” as “ewww” instead of “ow”. There is absolutely nothing as annoying to a director as watching a completely flawless scene, brilliantly acted and gorgeously photographed, suddenly turn into an episode of the late and unlamented Canadian sitcom (to use the word loosely) “The Trouble With Tracey” by an actor’s mealy-mouthed delivery of the word “house”!)

Well, there was the time when the "honey wagon", the charming phrase used to denote any trailer or mobile dressing room which houses the actors, caught fire because of faulty wiring...

And then there was our "stunt" cake which began melting under the hot lights well before its close-up...

Not to mention the creepy shirtless guy on the balcony near our exterior set who kept his binoculars trained on a female member of the camera crew to the point where we suggested that perhaps they should start picking out a china pattern for their wedding gift...

But these, along with the occasional bout of the recently renamed “H1N1” flu (the biggest pharmaceutical cash grab since the invention of VD, resulting in the production offering us all free vaccine shots which, I should report, I have declined as I have no interest whatsoever in allowing myself to be injected with something rushed through production by a drug company who did it as cheaply as possible in order to provide the lowest possible bid to the government. Hello? Thalidomide, anyone?) -

(and doesn't this Kid look just a bit TOO happy to be getting a shot? I see a serious drug addiciton in his future...)

- and the fact that our Star is, by law, only available to us for six hours a day, thus requiring the usage of various photographic “doubles” of varying sizes to fill in for her (resulting in some rather alarming physical metamorphoses from scene to scene like a Carnival Sideshow Attraction – The Amazing Thespia! See Her Hair Grow In Seconds! Watch Her Legs Stretch In The Blink Of An Eye!), is nothing more than the usual nonsense associated with the production of any motion picture, and as such is barely worth mentioning.

What IS worth mentioning however is the radio show featuring myself and my longtime co-conspirator in cultural terrorism, Michael Rowe, aka The Duchess of Milton -

- is currently available on line at

While it was supposed to be a discussion of sexuality and horror in film and literature, it – not entirely unexpectedly – devolved into a a forty five minute stand-up routine where the two of us traded insults, launched politically incorrect assaults on sacred cows and generally misbehaved to the point where our Host was left breathless with laughter and barely able to get a word in edgewise.

But even with all of this to distract me, I still must admit to a certain amount of homesickness. A quick weekend visit from The Boyfriend helped to soothe me somewhat -

- and we managed to put quite a dent in my per diem (which is a latin word meaning "drug and hooker money") at Holt Renfrew, the only decent department store in Canada -

- but his stories of the ever-entertaining adventures of our miniature Manchester, Crawford The Perfect Dog, left me missing our desert paradise even more.

The only solution was to attend a late screening of a newly released cinematic treat known as "Ninja Assassin" starring Korean pop icon RAIN.

While it is not generally known, long before "Rain" became a music and movie star in the Asian world, he toiled for more than a few years as my houseboy, until his constant singing and "busting" of "moves" while he was supposed to be vacuuming got him fired.

It was quite interesting to watch the film, and remembering him fumbling around the house in the regulation uniform of ill fitting Adidas shorts and flip flops made me appreciate my current Ecuardorean (or whatever he i've previously mentioned, we can't understand a word the poor fellow says...) houseboy even more than I do now.

Sure, Panton can't wield a sword to save his life, but at least he keeps the dust off my lampshades.

As it were.


Blogger Sandy Montgomery said...

Fabulous, as usual.

And that monstrosity growing out of the side of that otherwise lovely building (tumor-like, as it were)looks like a building that fell over. Who on earth approved THAT!

Still have to pinch myself when I think I am coming down for Christmas!

Sandra xo

6:20 PM  
Anonymous Saskplanner said...

Actually, I have a second home in PS but live in Canada, regularly commuting between the two (flying down on Friday for the Barry Manilow concerts next week as he's my neighbour and all - I LOVE these $49 CAD direct flights into PS International) and toothpaste is 75% cheaper in Canada than Ralphs or Rite Aid in PS. I actually bring care packages of my Colgates and store them away in the house in PS so that I don't have to pay $4 for the same thing on the south side of the border. Which, with the way the American dollar is going, will translate to the same anyways fairly soon.

And what stores, as private businesses, charge for toothpaste actually has no relationship to Canadian socialized medicine or costs thereof. Except for maybe the teeny sale tax added on. OH, but right, California has an equivalent sales tax but NO health care for the masses. Hmmmmm. Right. And in Alberta, where I live there IS no sales tax.

Although, Shoppers is RENOWNED for punishing customers with their massive lineups. It's kind of like living in Russia before the wall fell.

MMMM. Holts Cafe for lunch..


3:47 PM  
Blogger ron oliver said...

hey Sask, thanks for the comment! as for the "teeny" sales tax, i'm not sure i'd say 14% is teeny, which is what is tacked on here.

and i beg to differ on toothpaste - my Crest Vivid is 2.69 at Target in PS and 5.99 at Shopper's in TO. So nyah nyah nyah....!!!

and don't get me started on health care - i understand the importance of a healthy population BUT i really hate the idea of paying tax dollars to support bad lifestyle habits (smoking, overeating, not taking exercise etc...)

but that's another conversation for another day!

of course i WILL agree with you about lunch at Holt's!!! divine...

4:43 PM  
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