It should be banned from film. I listen to people who want to ban violent acts, sexual acts. Blasphemy. What should be banned from films is people brushing their teeth. You see it all the time. They stick that thing in their mouth and scrape like their trying to get the last month of meals off their teeth and then they… spit this white fluid into the sink. Makes me want to hurl.

It should not be allowed. Simple as that. Simple as NRA.

smallI Tea

Smoke gets in your eyes

September 26, 2012

The Republican’s new strategy. Act like President Bush. Junior.

Recently Mr. Romney explained how an airplane fills up with smoke (his wife’s airplane had to return to the airport after there was a fire aboard). Mitt said that airplane’s don’t have windows that roll down. That was dangerous, he explained. Perhaps they might consider putting roll down windows in airplanes.

DoubleYa couldn’t have said it better.

Ask the Pope.

August 6, 2012

Mitt Romney has made a mitfull of mistakes on his tour of Europe and the middle-east. Media centres in the U.S. are debating whether this should disqualify him from being President. But American ignorance of anything outside their own borders is legendary. In Windsor, Ontario across from Detroit there is the story of Americans crossing the border in the middle of August with skis on the roofs of their car. Or mid-westerners bragging about the size of the Mississippi the first time they reach a river in France. If you disqualified people for the office of President because they were ignorant, you’d disqualify most of the public.

Why you should vote for Mitt.

1. He has good hair. No one whose bald every gets elected for President.

2. He’s got big teeth. And they are white. Everyone who is elected for President must be able to pass the toothpaste commercial test.

3. He can say Massachusetts. Which means he’s not an alcoholic.

4. If he would grow a moustache, he’d have the gay vote.

5. He’s better looking than his wife. Every president after Lincoln has been better looking than his wife.

I know you expect 10 reasons in this list. But there are only five. Any more would be a waste of resources.




panic in an

air raid shelter.

4000 suffocate.

a woman had stopped

to sneeze.










Read the book…. The Black Bird

A lot of religious orders were created in the middle ages. People were highly religious. Or superstitious. Probably both. One group the Cistercians, or white monks, caught my eye. And not just their ales. They simplified their lives, returned to manual labor especially in the fields, and prayed. Prayed a lot. These were, I imagine, good men. But their life style, their devotions, are so far removed from the world as we know it as to be almost alien. In order to devote themselves to a lifetime of prayer and work, they must have had a very strong belief system.

I was trying to think of a parallel belief system in our day. What would we do that would look strange to future generations. Well for one thing, there is the rat race. The pursuit of money. People might ask why we suffered ill health, boredom, addictions (alcohol, meds) in order to become… I was going to say wealthy. Perhaps comfortable. Even our fun times are filled with stress and hurry. The rush to the cottage. What a terrible bore. Our game and ride parks. Lines and heat and vomit. Tours upon tours of old Europe. The obsession with new thrills. Bungy jumping. Why not just throw yourself off the roof of your house. But no one seems to know what else to do.

The monks life is starting to look more appealing.

Near The End

You’re laughing. Into your salad. And I think you owe me the courtesy of telling me what was so funny that you had swallow. For the second time. Everything that you had already digested.

I went out to a trout pond. With Vic and Ed. They threw out their lines. And I opened a book. And started reading your verse. And you said. Fish are like God. No one really believes they exist.

Someone was pounding at my chest. Like a knock at the front door. When you’re in the basement. Hiding behind the furnace. I held my breath. And hoped they would leave. But the girl beside me. Said she would have to go upstairs. And pee.

God keeps a special list. His Son as a stand-up comic. And the names of those who didn’t laugh at his jokes.

I had to say it

March 17, 2012

Like Plato’s cave. Blogging. What is on the screen does not exist. In the internet. The internet. Like a series of numbers.

The numbers are 1 and 2. On and off. But that is just translation.

The reality (to us) is chaos. Like watching the interference on your television when there are no channels.

A friend of mine spent hours watching interference. He was on acid. I asked him why. He said he couldn’t help himself. It was like a magnet.

The interference is where everything is. Not yet divided, tagged, and filed.  Interference is the treasure. The sun. The source of all light. Of reality. Except for one.

Consciousness. Consciousness creates reality. Creates the universe.

Not just human consciousness. Any consciousness.

If I read this on another blog, I would think that the author was pretentious. Explaining everything by saying nothing. Or. That he was mad. Speaking tongues. Drivel. Or that he was putting me on. Pulling my leg. Having some fun. Guilty on all counts.

But I had to say it. It was like a magnet.

Up in the air

February 27, 2012

I’ve been working on a visual project. Its about the invasion of the RijksMuseum in Amsterdam. Not a physical invasion or so it would seem. But a spiritual. Not on the actual paintings but on the whole mentality behind museums. Or mausoleums. Its a visual satire. I’ve done about 20 or so pieces. I intended to do one piece for every letter of the alphabet. Imagining that the perpetrators of a invasion had been caught and tried. And the pieces were evidence. But now, I’m not sure how to present them. As a book in themselves. Or with poems. Or a story line. Well, its all up in the air.


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She wants her way

February 11, 2012

Every so often a new stereotype appears on the culture beside the Jewish Mother, the French Waiter, the English Bobby. One I have noticed in the last decade or so is the young Indian daughter. She is very bold. Cant. Almost like the old tom-boy. Except that she is very feminine. And smart. And sharp tongued. And she wants her way.  Like all stereotypes this does not fit all young Indian girls. In some ways she represents all new young woman with their strong relationships to fathers.  I wrote this story with her in mind. It is part of the third book called The Graveyard Shift in the series called OPEN 24hrs. The first novel of the three Day Shift can be download here Day Shift




Its that. I can’t stand it. My father is all. Business. I cannot stand it. What is it. Money. Given up for time. For my father, always it is money. At dinner he counts the mouthfuls. How much must he take in. Minimum. To work all day. He belches with glee. The only time he is happy. I squirm. He asks me. He laughs.

“What’s the matter, my only daughter?”

“That,” I reply.

Look at his plate. The cost of a sad potato. Bought on discount. Ready to turn into mud. And the vegetables. Carrots soft before they dive into the soup. And the meat. More gristle. More salt. From the local butcher. In our neighbourhood there are no cats. There must be other ways to cut corners. Cannibalism comes to mind.

Father has mother bill him for the meal. Everything goes in the book. It’s like eating in a restaurant. Without the tip. And of course father compares our prices to those at the Canadiana Restaurant. Looking at the savings seems to help father’s digestion.

Our father will not eat Indian food. He says that we must become more Canadian. He says that we smell. Like what we eat. And we must smell Canadian. But my mother cannot cook spaghetti. Or stuffed heart. The thought of eating a heart makes my mother faint. Or Irish stew. What is Irish stew anyway? I have an image of a bunch of tiny leprechauns boiling in a big pot.

“And father makes us listen to the Beatles. My mother tries. She sings along with the song, With a little help from my friends. But she cannot get it right. She doesn’t understand the song. Why is it friends? She asks. Why isn’t it, family? And father makes us watch ice hockey. Field hockey, I can understand. I made the school team but father would not come out and watch us play. We are Canadians, he said. F*** the field. Play on ice.

Well, he didn’t say the ‘f’ word. But he wanted to. It’s Canadian. Mother gets very upset when she hears father curse. He said we had to learn. To speak Canadian. They use the ‘f’ word in every other sentence. My mother tried to use it. One time she used it. At the small Indian grocery store she likes to shop in. The manager got very upset with her.

“You must leave,” he said.

Mother told him to go ‘f himself.

She told my father. He got angry with her.

“Why do you use that language around our people?” he said. “You want to ruin my business!”

You cannot win with my father. It’s that. Which bothers me. But more.

My father forces me to work. For him. At slave wages. Under intolerable circumstances.

Paul told me to call the Ministry of Labour. Paul works next door in the pharmacy. A sweet boy. He will be my lover one day. He comes over to talk to me. When father is not around. We mess around with my hair. He likes to stick his tongue in my ear. Paul is my own little Q Tip.

Father has taken to meeting some friends. Canadian friends. Or so he brags to us. Over dinner. At the Canadian Restaurant. He meets them. Which he does not tell mother. Mother thinks that the friends are customers. In the shop. I do not tell my mother. It offends me not to tell her. And its that. I can smell the beer off father. When he returns. Sometimes he drinks so much that he takes a nap. On one of the sofas in the back of the store. When Paul visits he ask me.

“Does your father hit you?”

“Of course, he does not. Father is pathetic, but he is not a monster.”

Sometimes Paul and I fool around. Nothing serious. Kissing mostly. And feeling each others. Ups and downs. Outside our clothes. Never under. Paul says that he wants to see me naked. He has never seen naked brown skin. I don’t know how he dares to talk like that. But I like it. Sort of. I tell him that that is definitely not going to happen. This month. The word ‘that’ has replaced using the word ‘sex’ between Paul and I. I don’t know what I would do if father walked in. On us as we were fooling around. He’d probably be pissed that I wasn’t at the cash register. In case someone came in. Who buys couches in the middle of the day? In the middle of the week?

When Paul asks me questions, he writes everything I say down in a book. Another book. Like my father’s book. I asked him what he was doing. He said he likes to record other people’s thoughts. But those were not my thoughts, I tell him. I have one thought. And that’s that.

MAKING MOVIES. Believe it or not. This book was passed around for film options. I couldn’t see it myself. First of all it was written as a television documentary. A satire on those BBC documentaries. Filled with self-importance. But as I started to write it, a lot of the satire evaporated. Into scotch. I started to like the book. As fun. The first review of the book was in the national newspaper of Canada, The Globe and Mail. And they hammered it. The reviewer said that movies weren’t made in the way I represented them. It wasn’t a manual. It was a book of fiction. The reviewer died several years later. Maybe someone reviewed his column.

You don’t have to bother reading the blurb below. Its something the publisher drums up. It doesn’t sell the book but it makes the publisher sleep better at night. I think Making Movies was the best book published the year it was born. Not that I read all the other books. I’m sure some other worthy author ran off with all the awards. But no one except him and his surviving children will remember that.

[The magic of film is recreated, taken apart, examined and lovingly satirized in an unusual work of fiction. David Halliday imagines a BBC documentary about ‘the well known Canadian film maker Samuel Bremmer’. We see moments of the films themselves; we hear the words of the actors, the designers and the commentary of the director, Samuel Bremmer. The illusion of film, and how it is created against a backdrop of money problems, personality clashes, jealousies, ambitions, love and vanity. Originally published by Press Porcepic.]


The Gunfight



Around a table four men playing poker

one is a squat man close to the earth

a farmer curly red hair invisible eyebrows divided by a scar

shirt sleeves rolled up

two buttons of his shirt undone

suspenders and trousers a suit jacket hung

limply over his chair


to his right a small thin man spider wearing spectacles

bank teller holds his cards close

close to his eyes to make sure they aren’t counterfeit


to his right the gambler dressed to win

three piece suit white silk shirt shoe string tie black curly hair

a smile hidden in a wrinkled mouth


the fourth is a blacksmith shirt stained sweat arms burned

from the elbows down hands awkwardly large


anyone care for breakfast kitty the owner of the saloon smiles

behind a deep purple dress with flat mirror buttons


i’d rather refill my pocket the blacksmith good naturedly grins


how about a couple of eggs with eyes bacon with sides

coffee with cream the gambler smiles


what have you got the gambler asks


pair of aces the bank clerk greedily grins


beats me the farmer replies


ménage a trios the gambler grins while strangling his tie


don’t you ever lose the farmer complains

no one can be so  lucky and not own the stars


calm down bill the blacksmith says

restraining a yawn swallowing his eyes


dealing out a new round the gambler places  the deck on the table

teller and smith nibble at their cards

the farmer rises pointing at the gambler

with a gun


sitting calmly the gambler holds his cards with five fingers

another finger beneath the table

fondling the trigger of his gun

two bullets splinter the table and the farmer’s brain


the farmer’s eyes are open round in surprise

hand drops gun fires into the floor

falls back into his chair

blood spits out of his head onto his shirt

it’s a new shirt

the farmer gasps and dies.


SET DESIGNER: All the indoor scenes, the saloon, the house, the farm, were shot in a warehouse in Toronto. I think the place had been used to store furs or something animal… you could still smell whatever it was. Sam had to live there while we were shooting. He had to; it was his furniture that we were using as props. I don’t know how he stood the smell. He told us that at night he could hear creatures scurrying across the rafters. He wasn’t sure whether they were mice or ghosts….


SAMUEL BREMMER: To save money we decided to make a western. Everyone wore old clothes they’d found in attics or picked up in the ‘Sally Ann’. They were close to the clothes that people wore in the 1800’s. Fashions for the poor don’t change much over time. And the men, except for Anthony, didn’t shave. We shot many of the outdoor scenes in an old abandoned farm near Pembroke, built, I think, about the time the story is supposed to have taken place. We used some of the locals and the crew as extras. And of course with horses you don’t have to worry about the date of the model…


MUSIC DIRECTOR: We had some trouble with the background noise. We didn’t notice it until we started to edit, but all the indoor scenes sounded dead, hollow. Solving this was more difficult than it might seem. I had to go out and record outdoor scenes. I went into the middle of the woods. I used some very sensitive recording equipment and discovered to my dismay that it picked up the sound of my breathing. So i had to re-record by leaving the machine by itself for a few hours. And then later i discovered that part of it was ruined by the sound of an airplane. So i had to do it all over again. The third time i was again frustrated. The recorder picked up the sound of a tree falling in the woods…


SCREENWRITER: In the original script there was much more dialogue… which Sam managed to eliminate in many ways… either by eliminating it all together or by making it almost inaudible behind the breathing of horses, or the sound of running water or by having more than one person speak at the same time. Sam explained these changes to me by saying that we were not putting on a play. Film is visual, he said. I asked him why he didn’t do the whole thing in pantomine. He didn’t like that. Maybe that’s why we haven’t worked together since….


SAMUEL BREMMER: I am nothing but a bag of voices… if they leave then I am…


SAMUEL BREMMER: I was very pleased with the farmer’s death. I played the part of the farmer myself, not only to save money but also I think because i liked the fantasy of being killed. And then of course surviving one’s own death….



rain falls down

a river pouring out of a cloud


a man on a horse approaches a farm house and dismounts

knocks at the door a woman in grey opens

the door light flows out into the rain


through the kitchen window is seen the rider holding his hat

the woman turning away face in her hands

veil of darkness rain and silence rain and silence


out the back door the rider leaves heading toward the barn

rain pours down ditches swell rain barrel overflows


SAMUEL BREMMER: There was no rain in the original screenplay. We shot all the indoor scenes first in Toronto while keeping an eye on the weather conditions in Pembroke. Then it occurred to me that the rain could be a fundamental part of the picture. This meant of course that we had to re-write and re-shoot some scenes. And then we had to rush up to Pembroke and hope it wouldn’t stop raining. I sent one of the crew ahead of us just to shoot the rain falling. Luckily for us, because shortly after we began to shoot the scenes on the farm the rain stopped. Looking back i think the rain shaped the film. As if the gods were smiling down upon us…


LESJA BROWN: I saw the woman in two lights. Both in grief and joy. Grief because suddenly she has lost something in her life. I didn’t see her grieving for her husband but for herself and her son and a future that was threatening… but also with a kind of joy that she had to repress. Her husband was a drunk and she was probably glad to be rid of him. Although she could not admit this feeling publicly or perhaps even to herself. That is shy she feels a third sensation. Guilt. How many times had she wished, dreamed of him dead… ?



inside the barn firing a harness a young boy

lifts a hammer kissing metal

the boy dressed in overalls

a piece of straw growing out of his teeth

a lantern lit hangs from a beam

the rider enters the boy looks up


sheriff the boy says

billy the sheriff replies

think this rain will ever end the boy laughs

come about your pa

drunk again billy grins shaking his head

dead  the sheriff says

staring into the fire


SAMUEL BREMMER: I couldn’t see Sir John as a Wyatt Earp or Gary Cooper in High Noon. So I had him play the sheriff as a school crossing guard, a man fearful of violence, knowing that he could do nothing to limit or restrain it….



graveyard funeral in pouring rain billy

stands silent his mother weeps growing smaller

blacksmith is there

the sheriff

the minister reads from a book

a couple of buckboards wait at the border with a buggy

the horses are nervous

the hole in the ground filled

with water pine box lowered floats

then sinks the woman cries

remembering that her husband couldn’t swim


LESJA BROWN: Almost caught my death filming this scene. It was a cold September day as I recall and I remember complaining to Sam, who just smiled and said it was all in my head. I caught a bad cold and was laid up in bed for a couple of weeks. Sam was very sweet. Sent me flowers and candies. Came to see me about every other day. He was very concerned. Sam is quite superstitious. I think that because we were shooting a funeral, he was afraid we had somehow unleashed death…



billy and his mother returning home rain pours down

not a word spoken rain pours down

not a word spoken water rushes down sides of the road

eats the earth roots of trees lakes from ponds rivers – paths

billy wears a straw hat now bent over his ears

his mother wears a shawl around her neck

the horse wears blinkers

so it won’t panic


ROBERT DRAYTON: Mr. Bremmer was no help to me at all. I asked him several times what my motivation was supposed to be. How was I supposed to play this farm boy. I had never acted before and felt quite in the dark. It worried me. I couldn’t sleep and I looked it. But when I asked him anything, Mr. Bremmer would just bark at me. I’m busy, he’d say, don’t bother me now. Several times I was ready to quit. After we finished the film, Mr. Bremmer came up to me, a big grin on his face and slapped me on the

shoulder. Bobby, he said,  you were beautiful – awkward, nervous, uncomfortable – young.



inside the farm house Billy stares into the  fire bleeding flames

his mother at the window staring into the rain


won’t it ever end



days passed rain pours on night and day are one


SAMUEL BREMMER: One day we left a camera for about an hour shooting rain falling into mud, then by editing, we condensed the whole hour down to a couple of minutes….



Billy’s mother sits at the kitchen table rubbing her hands

he came again last night came again and stood there stood there

at the end of the bed and swore I’d never sleep again never again

until his vengeance was bedded


SAMUEL BREMMER: The only real close-up of the picture, a close-up of Lesja’s eyes through her reflection in the window. And the rain running down the glass and her voice mixed with the sound of the rain beating. I was trying to create a mood of forlornness, of people outside the stream (excuse the pun) of history, of important events. This was the worst hardship of these people, these pioneers, the feeling that they didn’t matter… it hardened some, destroyed others….



in the saloon the gambler sits eating his breakfast

Kitty stands looking out the saloon window

finally stopped raining she mumbles

scratching the flesh above her wrist

sit down you’re giving me indigestion the gambler barks


Kitty sits down

her red dress flowing over the chair

a small silver hair smothered between her breasts


ANTHONY WHALE: I had to lose quite a bit of weight to play the gambler, which isn’t easy when your wife is Italian. Sam’s idea. He saw the gambler as an evil character and evil, he said, must always look hungry. I thought that this was too facile. I was determined to make a gambler into a real person. My dialogue didn’t allow this so I decided I’d have to do it through gestures. I’d make the gambler appealing. Practiced my smile. Watched a lot of old Clark Gable films. Practiced grinning in the mirror each morning. Used to break up my wife. She’d laugh and laugh. Sam didn’t like the smile. In the end we compromised. I’d be able to smile if I lost thirty pounds. I lost the weight. Unfortunately my grin changed with the loss of weight on my face. My charming grin began to look wicked. Sam was very pleased with himself….



Kitty sits

playing solitaire

read my fortune the gambler yawns

Kitty looks at the cards remains silent

the gambler grabs her wrist and bends it unnaturally

to one side

you’re hurting me Kitty cries

read the cards read the cards the gambler demands

tell me how I shall die


Kitty bites her lip turns over a seven

you will die a rich man

turns over a queen

choking to death

the gambler laughs so I’m to hang

they’ll have to bury a bullet in me first


BARBARA HARRIS: I had to learn to shuffle cards. Bought several decks. Practiced between takes. Before I was served dinner n restaurants, during a bath, first thing in the morning. Maurice gave me some tips. He seems to know something about everything. A very talented man….SAMUEL BREMMER: Our budget ran out about this time I didn’t tell anyone. Told them I had to take a few days off. A small operation, doctor’s orders. I was not specific. Everyone, to my surprise, was quite concerned. I spent the next week haranguing, begging, pleading with friends and relatives. If the film had been a flop I knew I’d end up a sales clerk, or insurance agent somewhere spending years to pay off my debts. Fortunately for me when we finished the picture and I was able (through many frustrating weeks) to get the picture distributed we broke even. Which for a Canadian film at the time was considered a tremendous success. Since then the film to my surprise and delight, has become something of an underground classic in Europe…



sheriff enters the bar

walks over to the table where the gambler

and Kitty are playing with a cat

the farmer’s boy is outside the sheriff begins

he’s come armed

I don’t want you to draw on him.

the gambler laughs

looks down at the sheriff’s muddy boots and flips him a nickel

sheriff why don’t you go and get your boots polished.


SIR JOHN BIRD: There was a tremendous fight about how the picture should end. In the original screenplay, Kitty talks the gambler into not shooting the farmer’s boy because of the gambler’s love for her. We all agreed that this was not satisfactory… Little Barbara thought that somehow Kitty should be killed at the end. This isn’t television, Sammy screamed. Then Maurice suggested that the sheriff save the young boy by shooting the gambler in the back. Sammy liked the idea but he was overruled by the rest of us. It just wouldn’t sell we all argued, it’s too out of character. The sheriff is inept, impotent. All of us agreed (all of us except Sammy and Barbara) that the gambler had to die. It was poetic justice…



a boy’s voice cries

out from the street

mr gambler I come to kill you


the gambler stands up checks his gun heads for the door

Kitty jumps up grabs his arm

he’s just a kid she pleads

his gun ain’t the gambler replies



the gambler stands on the wooden sidewalk

high above the street filled with water

a sea of mud

Billy stands in the middle of the road

reaches for his gun too late

the gambler’s gun is drawn

and fixed on the boy’s heart Billy faints

into the mud the gambler’s head falls

back and laughs


Kitty rushes up from behind and pushes the gambler

fire his gun two bullets graze Billy’s hat

the gambler falls into the street

face first in the mud motionless

Billy remains

for a moment in the mud

am I alive he asks


Kitty kneels weeping over the gambler

the sheriff lifts Billy to his feet

did I kill him the boy asks

no one killed him the sheriff responds

he was just a man who struggled to rise

finally successful he reached his level.




SAMUEL BREMMER: I’m still not satisfied with the ending. But to tell you the truth I wasn’t sure how the thing should end. I wanted an ending that showed that violence was unpredictable. It was like an explosion where everyone is its victim. My intuition told me that the gambler should kill the farm boy. This was consistent with reality. But then film is not reality. No artistic form reflects reality. And of course everyone wanted the gambler to die. So the ending was decided through democratic means…. So much for artistic integrity..



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