Category: Writing (Page 2 of 23)

Nora’s Mental Tune-Up

Here’s another fun bit I got to produce on the summer replacement show NEXT with host Nora Young and producer Alison Moss.

We hired actor Andrew Gillies (Orphan Black) to do these bits. I’d worked with Andrew before on my adaptation of Tom Godwin‘s The Cold Equations. Andrew had played the captain of the Stardust for us. Now he played a Scotsman trying to tune up Nora’s brain.

I’ve pasted the script below, with the actual produced bits at the bottom of each one.

Photo by David Cassolato from Pexels

Part One

NORA: It’s easy to spruce up your body… okay, well maybe not easy, but you do have the option of going to the gym and hiring a personal trainer.  But what about your brain?  What if you could give your brain a tune-up too?




NORA: What?  What is it?


McSCOTT: It’s nae wonder you cannae do arithmetic in a brain like this.  Your neural net… it’s all gummed up.  Och, and that basil ganglia. (BLOWS ON SOMETHING)  Tsk tsk.

NORA: Oh my.

McSCOTT: But dinnae you worry, lass, I’ve seen worse.

NORA: You have?

McSCOTT: Aye.  This monkey once.  Couldn’t count to two if its life depended on it.

NORA: What did you do?

McSCOTT: Lipid soluble molecules past the blood brain barrier.  Before you knew it that monkey could count to five.  Nae… you leave it to me, lass…

SFX: Power Tool Roars to Life

McSCOTT:    You’ll be doin’ math in nae time.



Scottish Brain Guy Part One

Part Two



McSCOTT: That should do it.  Tell me, lass: are ya feelin’ at all perspicacious?

NORA: Excuse me?

McSCOTT: Peripatetic?  Cogitative?  Erudite, scholarly?  The least bit sagacious?

NORA: I’m sorry?

McSCOTT: Are ya feelin’ any smarter, lass.

NORA: Uhhh…

McSCOTT: I’m guessin’ that’s a “nae,” then.  Nae worries, got a few more tricks up me sleeve yet…


Scottish Brain Guy Part Two

Part Three


McSCOTT: Och!  It’s nae use.


McSCOTT:    I kin make ya smarter…

NORA: Uh huh?

McSCOTT: But… but not without changin’ the fundamental chemistry of your brain.

NORA:      I see.

McSCOTT: But if you dinnae mind me sayin’ so…

NORA: Uh huh?

McSCOTT:     I think you’re just fine the way you are…



Scottish Brain Guy Part Three

Spring Cleaning

Astute readers of this blog may have noticed that I have been sprucing it up a bit lately. Less astute readers will not have noticed anything. Don’t feel bad if you haven’t noticed anything; many of the changes have been subtle. Why, I myself might not have noticed anything had I not been the one doing the changes.

Angela Misri kindly did the heavy lifting a few years back, establishing the look and the template and so forth. Since then I’ve long wanted to do some serious tweaking, and lately have found myself in exactly the right head-space to do so. Head space that should perhaps have been directed at working on novel number two (working title Captain’s Away), but I’m at a part of that project that requires some extra heavy thinking, which I’m doing as I putter around this blog.

So what have I done? Well, first of all I’m generating posts at a rate I haven’t matched since about fifteen years ago. A lot of them are from rooting around my laptop, peering into old files, where I’m unearthing all sorts of interesting treasures (well, to me, anyway) that I’d long since forgotten about, and that have proven good fodder.

I upgraded from basic Dreamhost to DreamPress to ensure better stability, better support, and faster loading.

I added a newsletter sign-up form in the right side bar (though I’m still not entirely sure it’s working properly. If you’ve signed up, best let me know via [email protected] so I can double check that your sign up worked).

I added content to my Media/Interviews page. Allow me to reiterate here that this blog does not itself generate any revenue (other than indirectly selling a few books, theoretically) and all the content I post I do so under the Fair Dealings provision of Canadian Copyright law. I think some of it is of historical interest to some people. I do my best to give credit. If I’ve posted anything (pictures, audio, etc.) that you own or have anything to do with that you would prefer I not post, just let me know and I will take it down. Check out my disclaimer here.

And oh yeah, I’ve updated that disclaimer.

A while back WordPress changed the way posts are created (from classic to something called Blocks) which screwed up the formatting of a lot of my old posts. I’ve cleaned them up to make them easier on the eye.

I’ve tweaked some of the content on various Pages, editing and adding bits here and there.

And I’ve updated links to other blogs, removing stale links and adding new ones. I was sorry to see some go, but in some cases the blogs haven’t been updated in years. And there were a few blogs that I should have added long since, such as Dr. Robert Runte’s blog, and, and Pigdump, and the Five Rivers blog. And I just find everything Den Valdron writes inherently interesting, so I’ve added a link to his blog.

Is any of this worth it? Well, it hasn’t resulted in any additional book sales that I can see. If that was the only reason I was doing it there certainly wouldn’t be much point. So, it’s worth it only in the sense that keeping up this blog is something that I enjoy. It relaxes me. And from time to time I hear from people who tell me they derive some enjoyment from it.

And that’s enough for me.

A Host of Data

Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

I worked on a summer replacement radio series called NEXT once with host Nora Young and producer Alison Moss. They were so great to work with, and indulged my passion for high production radio with bits like this one, which introduced one of the episodes.

Boy I loved making stuff like this.

Here’s the script, with the actual produced version at the end.

NEXT: A Host of Data


NARR: Indefatigable Nora Young surfs the net, quietly sipping tea.


NARR: She is thinking furiously:

NORA: Hmm… I wonder what today’s show should be about? 

NARR: Friend and colleague Alison Moss appears in the doorway.

ALISON: Hey Nora!



NARR: Startled, clumsy Nora knocks her tea onto the computer.


NORA: Dag nabbit!



NARR: A freak chain reaction occurs.  Our hapless host is drawn inside the computer!

NORA: Noooooooo!


NORA: Oof!  (GRUNTS IN PAIN) Where am I?

NARR: Nora is trapped in a virtual landscape of ones and zeroes.  Drowning in a sea of binary information, Nora comes face to face…. with herself.

DRONING NORA VOICE: Nora Esmerelda Young, born nineteen sixty-four, daughter of Clem and Doreen, brothers John, Alfred, Immanuel, postal code L2N 3G5, (CONTINUES BG) 

NORA: (OVER VOICES) All this information… about me!

DRONING VOICE: (CONTINUING) Favourite food: schnitzel, last purchased July 28th, 2004 at Loblaws on the corner of Dufferin and Brock…

NARR: Clever Nora can only to come to one conclusion:


NORA: That’s it!  I’ll make the show about data!


Nora Young: A Host of Data

Meeting Minutes

I’ve rummaging through old folders on my laptop and unearthing all sorts of interesting artifacts, including these meeting minutes that someone who shall remain nameless wrote, possibly while inebriated (I’ve changed pertinent details and all the names)

If you’re a Production Hardware user and your livelihood depends on Production Hardware, you should (expletive deleted) well read this.

Betty Rubble

The long awaited meeting commenced at about ten-fifteen after all the usual suspects were hauled kicking and screaming from their morning double decafs and chocolate croissants.

In attendance, looking splendiferous one and all, except perhaps a shade grumpy here and there: Fred Flintstone, Wilma Flintstone, Ned Slate, bespectacled Don Knotts (elegant in summery pastels and sneakers), Tim Conway, denim clad Betty Rubble, Marilyn Monroe, Carol Burnett, the ever ebullient Doris Day, and myself, Jim, taking a few little notes here and there.

Fred Flintstone, who chaired the meeting (charmingly, I might add) opened with the startling observation that there are certain problems with the production systems that must, I repeat must, be rectified.

First on the agenda was Production Hardware. I shall elaborate:

  • Don Knotts spoke eloquently of the existence of four Production stations, plus Fred Flintstone’s.  The latter is apparently “obsolete,” while three out of the other four have Version 6.
  • In Studio C two of the systems can work with SCSI, but only one with Firewire, because some intrepid soul has busted the Firewire on the other one.  How they busted it is a matter of some debate, but likely it involved poor vision, questionable motor skills, and a reckless disregard for exactly how to plug things in.  This unit will be kept in service despite the busted Firewire because hey, the SCSI drive still works fine for the two and a half people still using SCSI
  • To rectify the problem of people breaking or losing cables, we are confiscating all cables and will install them permanently on each system so you only need to carry your drive around with you.  So there.  This includes both power and Firewire cables and will be done pronto and, according to Tim will include studio B.
  • As a result of this initiative, Tim will no longer be able to mock the amusing manner in which Don plugs things in
  • Fred in his fatherly manner issued the following caution:  ALWAYS take your drive out of the computer when you’re done, and NEVER fire the computer up with someone else’s drive plugged in.  If you want to know why, never mind, just do it, dammit
  • Producers were warned that they must initialize (erase) their drives on a regular basis (once every six months) or suffer the consequences; namely, their overloaded drives would begin to malfunction and/or call the producers names, in which case we recommend both erasing the drives and booking stress leave – don’t laugh, it happened once in Windsor. 
  • You should consider backing up your material regularly, to CD or DVD, in the event that you should lose your drive or break it
  • You should not lose your drive or break it
Photo by Manuel Geissinger from Pexels

Briefly, we discussed the issue of plug-ins. Currently, Jim and Ralph are researching the issue and will report back in a few years. 

In the meantime, producers are not encouraged to use plug-ins because plug-ins are only for people who have had considerable book learnin’ on the subject


  • Uniforms will not be required
  • Unicorns will not be permitted to use Production Systems
  • We attempted (being serious now) to decide upon a “neutral” state in which to leave systems at the end of each session
  • Users MUST return systems to this neutral state
  • Leave all cabling the way you found it
  • Leave all patching the way you found it

Desktop Folders

The Hard Drives of each system are divided into four count’em four volumes, the folders of which you can clearly see on the screens if you squint hard enough. 

Mac OSX HD is the brains of the computer.  Do not touch this folder.  Don’t load anything into this folder.  Don’t even look at it for more than a second or two if you can help it.  You never know what might leap out at you


  • Jim and Tim are only too happy to help with whatever problems you have.  Especially if they’re Production Hardware problems.  Call them.  Don’t forget to say “please”


  • Fred Flintstone volunteered the information that Studio F has a D-Cart system as well as two production systems with Firewires and that with three people working in there it was ridiculous – if things get busier, this could become a problem
  • Betty volunteered to “ponder” this information
  • Arnold further volunteered the information that studio B “sucks”
  • Betty volunteered to “ponder” this information too


  • Fred expressed the opinion that these notes (the very ones you are currently perusing) should somehow be helpful
  • Jim expressed considerable skepticism at this notion


  • Some people have (gasp) zero training
  • Betty suggested that in situ tutorials might help (I’m just guessing at the spelling of “in situ” – Betty and her fancy French!)

Th-th-th-that’s all, Folks!

You’ve come to the end.  If you’re still reading, phone 5555 and utter the code word “Rosebud.”  No, really.

Photo by Ana Arantes from Pexels
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