Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Done

Posted in Uncategorized on December 21, 2016 by davegerry

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I’m done. So done. Done like a dinner. Finito Mussolini. Done!  For someone who’s been threatening to retire for years, it’s about damn time!

I always said I would quit when the job ceased to be fun and then contradicted myself for too long when the enjoyment lagged below full measure.

This is no rap against my last employer. CTV Vancouver handed me an expressive outlet on my own terms. The folks there made it so easy for me to do what I do. Except that, despite appearances, it’s never really been all that easy….and now I feel I’ve hit a qualitative wall of my own construction.

Let’s be clear, just for all those ‘grassy knollers’ out there. I was not asked, pressured, harangued, nudged, noodged nor shown any semblance of a door.

It’s just me.

Nevertheless, it’s hard to stop when people tell you to keep going. It’s flattering. And since the business of broadcasting is substantially about ego, it’s a very soothing and persuasive argument.

But I have always held that one should always be their own worst critic. No one has been tougher on themselves than me. That’s how you do good work. That’s how you maintain a bar. If you’ve become a cliché, well, you have no one but yourself to blame.

I started all of this by doing ten years of ‘hard’ News…something for which I had nary a glimmer of fire in the belly. So I set out to craft a career in human interest story telling…along with a fair measure of comedic idiocy. You have to make a job like that. No one is going to hand it to you. So I did. I thought it would absolute heaven to be unshackled from the protocols and demands of the daily News grind. I wanted to call my own shots.

You have to be so careful what you wish for.

When it was good it was absolutely terrific! Boy, have I had some fun. But when it failed, because when you take risks you invite failure, it was pretty grim. It was a creative hell of my own making. I burned out a few times over those decades. But I had a responsibility to my employer, my family and my bank account. So I managed to grind it out in those concept-lean troughs…when it felt like I was hitting a runway with no landing gear and no layer of cushioning foam.

I don’t need to do that anymore.

There was a sweet spot in that 40 year run when there was money in television for travel and production and I was in the right place at the right time with the right skills set. I knew it probably wouldn’t get any better than that. I really did. (Hell, they paid me to go sailing!)  I tried to make the most of it.

Now I can be satisfied.

I’m going to be funny for my grandchildren now. I’m going to put in endless hours of making strange faces and silly sounds, singing songs, reading stories and being goofy all over again. And some day, if those kids ever take a look at some of what I did all those years ago they can say ,”Oh, that’s where it all came from!”.

That’ll work just fine for me.

Dave

 

 

The Kid

Posted in Uncategorized on December 8, 2016 by davegerry

 

 

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I can’t believe it’s been just shy of a year since I last wrote for this blog.

Where have I been?  Nowhere. I was right here. I must have been waiting for something truly strange, something compelling. I have been a writer for a very long time and I can’t possibly recall every source of inspiration. Things come into my head and they go out. If I’m lucky I jot a few of them down. But this week, a series of coincidences collided to remind me of just how many stories I’ve written, how much I’ve completely forgotten and how terrible I’ve always been at mathematics.

Because, this week, I accidentally put 2 and 2 together.

We just got back from another lovely sojourn in Hawaii. I have been coming to the islands off and on for more than 30 years, but not always on vacation. I once spent a week here producing a series of feature stories for a Vancouver television station. It must have been around 1989. It’s still a little fuzzy.

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I do remember shooting a goofy segment on surfing. I also did a bit as a lounge singer who took unsuspecting vacationers for a car tour of Oahu. We also stuck stencils of our station’s logo on bodies along Waikiki and waited until the corporate image had seared itself into the still sensitive flesh. The tanner with the most pronounced results got a free tee-shirt and a coffee mug. They seemed painfully pleased. And I will never forget….could never forget… hovering in a helicopter, for more than an hour, over Kilauea on the Big Island while blinding neon lava plopped into the surf in sudden explosions of sulphuric steam.

But I’d forgotten about the kid.

How could I forget the kid? He was in our piece on Honolulu’s entertainment scene. His parents were popular performers and he was part of the act. When I met the family the kid was dressed in a miniature facsimile of Elvis’ famed white sequined jumpsuit. And he was great. He had the moves, the pompador. He had the lingo. Hell, he even had the sneer! And he was all of four….maybe five years old. We interviewed the parents, talked to the kid, and shot some of the show. Then we moved on to the next story.

And all of that left my mind, just vanished.

Now zoom ahead to this week. I’m back from Maui and I’m mercilessly reducing the inventory of recorded programming that has stacked up on my pvr. I’m enjoying a 60 Minutes segment on Bruno Mars. Lara Logan is asking Bruno about growing up in Honolulu and his family roots in entertainment and…well…you see where this is going.

Which means you’re whole lot brighter than me.

Because suddenly there’s some footage of Bruno at four or five in a white Elvis jumpsuit and I come off the couch in slack-jawed amazement!

Now, how dumb do you have to be to have missed this for 26 years? The kid’s nickname was Bruno. Yes, he was born in Hawaii. And all the time I was doing the white man overbite to the infectious beat of Uptown Funk it never occurred to me that this was, indeed, the same person. 

My wife, who remained emotionless while I had this palpitating celebratory revelation, knows that it’ll be a long retirement if I get this excited every time I remember something I forgot.

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Christmases yet to Come

Posted in Uncategorized on December 27, 2015 by davegerry
Set for tomorrow

Set for tomorrows

This December, after more than thirty years, my wife and I handed over the control of the family Christmas venue. No longer would we have to clean up for, nor after, company. If we chose to deck the halls it would be for nobody but ourselves.

The holiday menu was now in the very capable hands of a different chef. The presents would linger beneath a tree of someone else’s choosing. The stockings took their place alongside a new hearth. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day napping, noshing and nogging would all unfold under a different roof. Talk about passing the torch! It doesn’t get more generational than that.

How did it feel? Liberating? You bet. Lots of pressure came off (not to mention cost!). In some ways it reminded me of those days, now long gone, when the family piled into the car and headed off for my Grandmother’s house…at least for the dinner part.

Before we left for the Christmas Eve feast and sleepover, I did take a moment to stand in our darkened living room where the tree had been for so many years. I stared at the stairway where the kids had descended like lightning bolts once they got the go-ahead. I looked at the chair where Oma (who had survived all the other matriarchs and patriarchs) had sat and opened presents every year. It felt a little odd. But, of course, it is simply the tangible and demonstrable passage of time.

Next year there will be the first grandchild and a new daughter-in-law and fledgling traditions will take root and be nurtured by all who will carry on once I’m gone.

It’s a sweet spot in time. I feel blessed.

 

What Lies Within

Posted in Uncategorized on August 15, 2014 by davegerry

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After months of completely neglecting this blog I suddenly feel compelled to write about stools!

You know you’ve hit a truly marvellous stage of life when you have to be concerned about what’s coming out the other end. Couldn’t I just skip this part? (At my own peril, I suppose) It now seems that the annual physical at the doctor will require a sample. Oh, for the blissful bygone days of anonymous movements!

The last time I had to care about anyone’s bm was when one of my children, as a toddler, swallowed a penny. The doctor wanted proof that it had passed. It was my job to forensically find the buried treasure. I did, but I’ve never been the same.

Naturally, nobody wants to dwell on doo-doo. Once it’s out we want it gone..as soon as possible. No toilet flush is strong enough. No outhouse drop is deep enough.

If you haven’t faced the prospect of this most daunting harvest let me tell you how simple it’s become. In fact, I’d like to nominate the individual or laboratory team that has pared down the process for a Nobel prize.

When you go to a lab they give you the ‘kit’. This consists of your data sheet, a piece of biodegradable paper and a small vial containing a little plastic sample stick. The lab technician explains how it works…which has to be one of the most awkward seminars in history. Basically, they want the tiniest scintilla of stool. Just a little dab’ll do ya. The people who have to test this stuff as part of their job must have had a big party when they saw how little they now had to deal with. I can’t imagine what it was like before. Like a scene out of Borat, I guess. Technology has truly saved the day.

Despite the fact that you get a stool lecture and a complete instruction sheet (featuring anthropomorphic, cartoon-like humanoid figures who are sampling their stools)  you just know that there are many people who will screw this up. Too much. Too little. It get’s contaminated if it hits the water in the toilet bowl. I wonder what the world record is for negating a stool sample.  Do they cut you off after the 5th ill-fated attempt? If you can’t handle an allen wrench this might be a challenge.

It is possible for your sample to expire. You have to get it back to the lab within a week…but, don’t worry, they recommend keeping it in the fridge to preserve its…what? Goodness? Stoolability? What section of the fridge would be most appropriate? The cheese drawer?

The best part of the kit, for me, is the list of Frequently Asked Questions. I’m sure, people who work in medical labs sit around at cocktail parties and regale each other with what they heard this week. The FAQ’s generally centre around quantity and quality but there is one that is my true favourite : Can the test be mailed back by Canada Post?

Not unless you’re trying to make a statement.

It’s a blur

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on February 18, 2014 by davegerry
A moving tribute

A moving tribute

The Winter Olympics are half over and I’m all montaged out. There must be entire television production teams in Sochi completely dedicated to putting pictures to music…sometimes the sappiest music that has ever been penned. These are the montage teams, I guess.

After you’ve seen three or four montages on any single day, you’ve hit the montage threshold. By the way, some sports lend themselves to musical interpretation. Figure skating comes to mind…after all it’s actually performed to music. Curling..not so much. I can’t get weepy and sentimental over a series of curling edits…no matter how masterfully it is done.

The kiss of death for any Olympics is the weather delay. The time difference between major North American television markets and Russia is already working against live coverage…but if weather gets in the way, look out! That’s when you see a kaleidoscope of montages . The montage allows the broadcaster, who has been forced to yak endlessly, to take a breather and go to the bathroom. Gotta fill that air time with something.

On the last day of the Olympics, at some time during the closing ceremony show, we’ll get the Mother of all Montages. This will be a compendium of imagery collected from all the other compendiums. It will be designed to make us feel all warm and fuzzy…although I’ve never been a big fan of the fuzzy.

And then it will be over. For another four years. The editing teams will be off to Rio in 2016 for Summer Olympic montage production. There better be some girls from Ipanema in those montages. Gosh, I wonder what music they’ll use?

Shine a Little Light

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on December 29, 2013 by davegerry
Light me up!

Light me up!

You’re looking at an incomplete picture. It’s a lantern without a boat. The lantern came to me at Christmas…a gift from the family…with a tag but no note because, well, no note was really needed. The message was hanging right there as sure as one of the ornaments on the tree…and the message was, ‘Get out there and get your next boat!’.

I’m looking, but finding the right sailboat at the right length in the right place at the right price..is no slam dunk.

I had a lovely little oil burning lantern given to me by my wife three boats ago. There’s been a lot of water under the keel since then. This was before there was a house. This was years before there were children. That copper lantern was hung on the stern rail of my last boat and served me well. It provided a lovely warm glow…suitable for a snug reading session in the cabin below or for a relaxed round of late night drinks, on deck, at a quiet anchorage under the stars. I really loved that last little lantern. It connected me to all the floating islands of my past

One day, under a fresh breeze, heeled over somewhere in the channel between Bowen and Gambier islands, the strap that held the lantern to the stern rail let go. I was there when it snapped and it happened so fast I couldn’t grab for it. So I just stood there and watched helplessly as the lantern splashed into the wake and sank….just like Leonardo DiCaprio at the end of the movie ‘Titanic’. Only quicker. Gone. To the bottom of Howe Sound. My heart sank a little bit too.

A last glimpse of the last lantern.

A last glimpse of the last lantern.

Now I have a new lantern….all the way from a speciality manufacturer in Vermont. It needs to have its wick trimmed, oil reservoir filled and it needs to swing freely to throw that lovely warm light around a convivial cabin. This is now a lantern in urgent need of a vessel. Me too.

Can’t Stand It

Posted in Manly Ways, Uncategorized with tags , , , on December 15, 2013 by davegerry
The annual limbo beneath the limbs

Where I limbo ‘neath the limbs

Every yuletide, for as long as I can remember, I have struggled with the Christmas tree stand.

The Christmas tree stand is second only to the garden hose on my list of uncooperative inanimate objects. Some years are better than others. If I buy a fairly straight-trunked tree with fewer bushy branches down low, I am doing myself an immense favour. If you complicate just one of the engineering elements that constitute placing the tree in the stand…your life becomes a holiday hell!

I now have the tree in the stand this year but, because there are a number of attractive low-slung branches, which I am trying to retain, topping up the water reservoir has become a curious and painful blend of yoga and isometrics! I know there are stands out there with little plastic pipes and such that help deliver water to the tree…but I’m committed to this cast iron, rock solid, no-tipsy stand now….and I’m not buying another.

I still remember by father’s efforts at stabilizing the family Christmas tree using a a large bucket full of rocks. Once he had the trunk wedged into the rocks he would get on a ladder and wire the top of the tree to a nearby curtain rod. Sometimes the wire would loosen the trunk from the rocks and sometimes the rocks would pull down the curtain rod. Time for another rum and eggnog…oh, and hold the eggnog!

This year’s tree is sucking back liquid like Richard Burton. Every few hours I arm myself with a flashlight and a small ,long-spouted watering can, shimmy beneath the boughs and attempt to refill the reservoir. It is taxing muscles that I haven’t used in decades. It is ripping the teflon patch from my abdomen that was once placed there to contain a hernia. I am holding the watering can at arms length while propping myself up on one elbow and attempting to train the beam of the flashlight on the dark recesses of the reservoir so that I don’t overfill the container and thus make a mess on the carpet. I may make a mess on the carpet myself at this rate!  And to make this exercise even more uncomfortable, I am trying to see what I’m doing through a pair of progressive eyeglass lenses that are not remotely calibrated for this complicated depth of field.

This is why people buy plastic Christmas trees and spritz about the house with pine-scented Febreze.

Still, I find it oddly satisfying. As long as I can crawl under the tree I suppose I will. It’ll fall over one day and pin me to the floor with sap and tinsel. But there are worse ways to go.