Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Coldest Morning Yet

It's cold here at castle Grinder this morning - getting out of bed wasn't a lot of fun, and while I think the furnace is good to go the world's greatest wife and I are holding out as long as we can for fear of the exhorbitant cost of heating oil (though I actually think the price is quite reasonable at the moment, so we should probably place our order soon before it goes up any further).

So here I sit, cold and alone (even the cats have left for the morning), finally able to digest some of what I have been through in the last few days.

The last week or so of my life has been lived in more or less of a daze. I can't go into the specific details of what has occurred, except to say that a number of people have done a number of things of their own accords (and not in concert with each other) that when taken together served to push me over the edge.

I snapped.

I lost control of my feelings, shed the usual stoic optimism that I've found to be essential for surviving in this business and just went straight over the edge. It wasn't a fit of violent rage (though I was gripped with the overwhelming urge to drive my fist through a few pieces of scenery) but rather a desperate, futile grasping at the pieces of a carefully constructed life and work as they fell through my fingers.

There was no quick release. No catharsis. No epiphany. Just frantic flailing, then futile pursuit, then utter despair.

I'd better clarify as best I can. Basically, in the past few months I've arrived at a point in my life where there finally seems to be less darkness and more light. As the world's greatest wife is always telling me, "we're very blessed." And we are. I am. I have a roof over my head, food on the table, the love and support of family and friends, and her.

I have so much to be thankful for. So much that's going right. In fact, for quite some time I've come to realize that my life is pretty much perfect, save for one thing - my profession.

Despite achieving great success in my personal life my professional life has been lurching from one failure to another for quite some time. I'm not talking about end products here - the shows I've done and the things I've written have been both good and bad, and in that respect it's not even my place to really decide what's good and bad - that's up to the audience and the readers.

Where I have failed, and where I continue to consistently fail is on the process. Despite years of training, study and reflection I am unable to get things done, done right and done on time, for lack of a less blunt way to put things. While the results of this on stage and in print are for someone else to judge, the resulting balance in my bank account is my business, and business has been consistently disappointing.

I can't even keep this blog updated consistently. If I did, every weekday there would be a fresh posting waiting for you. But some weeks I don't get those posts written, and some weeks I don't get them posted on time, and some weeks I post things that I've already posted without realizing it.

This is just one example of an endemic problem that pollutes everything I say and do.

So what's to be done? Give it all up and work at Tim Hortons? There are people out there who would desperately wish for that to be so. There are so many who seem to crave the day that I "admit defeat" and "get a real job" as if what I do makes me something of a ne'er-do-well or free-loader, people who gush with hollow praise and ill-considered advice but secretly fear that if I ever do "realize my dreams" then it will invalidate their own failed attempts at professional fulfillment.

Well I'm not going to give up. I'm not going to give in, and I'm not going to forget that what I do is just as worthy of respect as the work of any auto mechanic, machinist or brain surgeon.

What I am going to do is step back from the precipice a little, to make sure that I don't go over the edge once again. Next time the world's greatest wife may not be there to catch me and keep me from falling.

I'm going to take this winter to re-brand myself. There will be no shows between December 09 (after the Christmas show) and the start of the summer season in June 2010. Between now and then I won't build a new company (as I think the company is doing just fine) - I will build a new me.

Here's hoping that by the time the cold mornings are behind us once again I will finally be freed from the shackles of my past mistakes and able to enjoy all that a beautiful life has to offer.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Still Waiting

Sorry to keep leaving little teasers like this.

The car broke down, and I've been all day fixing it. Between that and driving all over the place trying to get wives and actors where they need to be there hasn't been much time for me to collect my thoughts.

Tomorrow, with any luck...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Stormy Weather

I'm writing this in the middle of an electrical storm, and I don't really think I should be online at all right now, so just a quick note to let everyone know that I'm still here, alive and kicking before I shut down the computer. Once the storm outside my door and the storm inside my head clears there's going to be one mother of a rant coming in the next day or two. A few things have happened in the past few days that need some sorting out....

Friday, September 25, 2009

Freaky Friday Funk

Well it looks like we've made it through another week.

Unlike many of my previous posts, this one is in real-time, at 7:08 am on a Friday after a long, hard, exhausting week. This week was filled with much the same things as every other: insomnia, intermittent illnesses and more highs and lows than a lithium factory. Sometimes I think I'm living in the twilight zone.

But through the usual fog this week has also come something a bit different, I think. Something that says to my "wait a minute. Something has changed."

I finally rid my to-do list of the backlog of work that had been piling up since the wedding. Yes, there are still things to do, but for the first time it doesn't seem insurmountable. It looks as if it actually is possible to get through the day, do what needs getting done, and not fall asleep worried sick about everything that didn't get done. It's possible, just possible, that I might be getting caught up once again, or maybe for the first time ever.

Some of the monkeys are starting to get off my back, and I do confess to feeling a little bit better about myself and the state of my affairs in the past few days. I don't know how long this will last. I don't even know if this is real or not - it could be just a phase that I'm going through and I'll be back to my depressive old self by the middle of next week. But I have a hunch that if I'm smart about it and play my cards right there's a chance this could be a new reality for me, a way to finally reconcile the new-found joys of my personal life with the enduring trials of my professional life.

Here's hoping during a freaky Friday funk.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Helium Links

Here's a few of my latest articles on Helium - please check them out!

How to use your blog to keep customers informed

Recovering from a business failure
The Negative Side of Blogging

As you can imagine, these are topics that I've had a little experience with over the years...

Would you like to write for Helium? If so, just send me an e-mail at and I'll invite you through the site's "Invite a Writer" feature.

And as always, you can check out my all my articles and my newly-revised bio on my "About Me" page, available here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Husband-and-Wife Hatchet Job coming to the Ennotville Library Stage

It’s going to get a little intriguing in Ennotville this October.

Grinder Productions is pleased to present Marriage is Murder, a mystery-comedy by Nick Hall as the first show of the fall and winter season at the Ennotville Library.

This murderously funny comedy is about ex-spouses Paul and Polly Butler, two murder mystery writers that penned a few bestsellers when they were married, but have failed to make much use of their talents on their own. The secret to their success (and perhaps their marriage) was that they tested out the murders in their books… on each other!

This play is filled with comic twists and turns right up to the very end. It is part murder-mystery, part farce and part reality, with both characters walking an extremely fine line between “acting” their murderous ideas and actually carrying them out.

Starring in this show are Eric and Julie Goudie, in their first show together as husband and wife. While they may not share Paul and Polly’s animosity towards each other just yet both actors can sympathise with their character’s plights:

“Yes, she does have a lot of little sayings that I find annoying sometimes,” says Eric.
“Christmas to Murgatroyd, I do not!” retorts Julie.

The show runs October 15th, 16th and 17th at 8pm at the Ennotville Library, with an additional 2pm Saturday matinee. Call 519-780-7593 for tickets or online at

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Family Friendly Sensational Elora

October 3-12

Sensational Elora is chock full of events that can be enjoyed by the entire family. Here is a small sample.


If you’ve seen the Amazing Race on television, you have some idea about the challenges set out for teams. Not as onerous as the televised version but just challenging enough, ours will be much more family-friendly and loads of fun. Each challenge will test your team’s mettle in exploring one of the senses. Points will be awarded for each challenge and the Grand Prize Winner will be the team with the most points.
Teams are made up of four people with the minimum age set at twelve. Each team must contain at least one adult.
To enter the Sensational Race, please visit our web site at and check us out under “Contests”
Date: Sunday, October 4th
Time: 1:00 PM
Location: Start at 1:00 PM sharp at the Gerrie Road entrance to the Elora-Cataract Trailway.
Entry Fee: $10 per team

Grinder Productions Presents...

By Jove is one version of an ancient legend about the rewards of sharing.The great god Jove, having given the people wealth, plenty and fruitful crops, decides to test their generosity. Disguised as beggars, he and his son, Hermes, wander the land seeking comfort but find none. Except at one home where you can share in the meal they are served. This interactive play is a perfect event for families.
Date: Tuesday, October 6th
Time: 5:00 PM
Location: Elora Centre for the Arts
Tickets: $15 Adult, $5 Child


This free event, open to all ages, began in May where seeds were distributed.
Now it’s time to lug those huge pumpkins to the Elora Farmers’ Market for judging. Prizes will be awarded in various categories. And as a very special treat for one and all, there will be live music provided by the very family-friendly Funky Mamas.
Date: Saturday, October 10th
Time: 10:00 AM
Location: The Elora Farmers’ Market


A full day of films to entertain and inform our young people. Not to be missed.
Date: Saturday, October 10th

9:00 a.m. — 6:00 p.m.
Location: Fergus Grand Theatre
Tickets: $5.00 each film or $20.00 for the day (lunch priced separately)
Film Schedule:
9:00 AM "WINKY’S HORSE" (Holland, 2005, 90 mins.)
A young Chinese girl struggles to adapt to life in the Netherlands. The love of her neighbour’s horse and a request to Santa Claus round out the tale.
Subtitles will be read aloud. Suitable for ages 5 and up.
11:00 AM "PAULA’S SECRET" (Germany, 2008, 95 mins.)
Paula, an eleven-year-old daydreamer, comes upon a real adventure in which she must outfox adult criminals.
English Subtitles. Suitable for ages 10 and up.
12:45 PM —1:45 PM LUNCH
Will be created and served by Chef Chris Jess and the kids of FoodSchool.
1:45 PM "DUNYA & DESIE" (Holland, 2007, 94 mins.).
Teenage best friends from very different back grounds run away to Morocco, when they find themselves in crisis.
Suitable for ages 15 and up.
3:30 PM Film Shorts (Various) -
Short films, including some by local filmmakers and hard to find award-winning shorts
Featuring "The Record Club" with the premier their music video "Norma Jean" created by the Youth Arts and Entertainment Council from the Elora Centre for the Arts during the summer Youth Video Boot Camp.
Suitable for all ages.

For more information and to purchase tickets for Sensational Elora Events please visit our web site at

Call our office at: 519-846-5638 (Toll Free: 877-754-5638)

Visit us at: 9 Mill Street East, Elora, N0B 1S0

Sensational Race

Sensational Elora —
Festival of the Senses Tickets On Sale Now!

Pumpkin Contst

In addition to the above not-to-be-missed events, Sensational Elora is delighted to present

Live Raku Firings
at The Elora Pottery,

a Curly Horse Adventure

Hiking the Trailway

and, not to be overlooked, The Sensational Soup Off.


Sensational Elora, A Festival of the Senses. October 3rd to the 12th
Box 911, Elora ON, N0B 1S0,

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009

By Jove!

This charming little play, based on an ancient legend from Greek mythology, is all about the rewards of sharing. Jove, the king of the gods, having given the people wealth, plenty and fruitful crops decided to test their generosity. Disguised as beggars, he and his son Hermes wandered the land, seeking comfort but finding none, until the arrived at the humble cottage of Philemon and Baucis.

This show will take place on Tuesday, October 6th at the Elora Centre for the Arts as part of the Sensational Elora Festival. The show will accompanied by a meal of soup, bread, cheese, fruit, etc, similar to the humble-yet-gracious fare Philemon and Baucis serve to their guests.

This show is the perfect family outing, filled with humour, a little bit of ancient history, and a timeless lesson about remembering those who are less fortunate than yourself.

Tickets are $15 for adults and just $5 for kids. The show is being sponsored by Collins Barrow, and tickets are available through the Sensational Elora box office, either by phone at 519-846-5638 or online at

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Actors Needed

For Grinder and Friends, our Christmas show December 3rd, 4th and 5th at the Ennotville Library.

Bring your talents and we'll work you in!

Call 519-780-7593 or e-mail if you are interested in being a part of this event.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

I went in to the Parks and Recreation Office the other day to request our dates for the 2010 season at the Belwood Hall. It's imperative that I get those bookings in well in advance so that we get the dates we want - even one year out there's still no guarantees that we'll get the dates we want.

Yes, we will be back at the Belwood Hall in 2010. We'll also be at the Ennotville Library, with both a summer and a winter season to boot. We'll be back the Elora Centre for the Arts on October 6th for "By Jove!" a one-act dinner theatre show we'll be doing in conjunction with the Sensational Elora Festival, and I hope to book some more dates at the Centre for shows next year. With any luck we'll even be able to bring a show back to the Fergus Grand Theatre in 2010 (though I'm not ready to commit firmly to that just yet).

It's true that Grinder has taken quite a few body blows over the last few months. We've weathered the worst of the economic downturn (or so the pundits would have us believe) and while the company isn't in great shape we aren't facing oblivion either, thanks to some cost-saving measures we implemented when things began to go downhill.

I see 2010 as a year of renewal at Grinder Productions. I'm working on some new procedures, planning for our open auditions in January to bring in some new blood, and forging new partnerships to bring even more opportunities to our members, patrons and friends.

Here's to a bright future in 2010!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Theatrical Logic

Stole this off of a Facebook Profile. It's old hat to me, but nice to know The Technician's Bible is still being taught in post-secondary institutions the world over:

Theatrical Logic:
In is down, down is front
Out is up, up is back
Off is out, on is in
And of course-
Left is right and right is left
A drop shouldn't and a
Block and fall does neither
A prop doesn't and
A cove has no water
Tripping is OK
A running crew rarely gets anywhere
A purchase line buys you nothing
A trap will not catch anything
A gridiron has nothing to do with football
Strike is work (in fact A LOT of work)
A a green room, thank god, usually isn't
Now that you're fully versed in Theatrical terms,
Break a leg.
But not really.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pass the tissues

It's been a rough few days here at Grinder. The world's greatest wife has been off sick all week, and she's not exactly a model patient, so I've spent a great deal of time looking after her and not nearly enough time looking after the company, let alone the blog.

And now that she's just started feeling better I'm coming down with a variation of whatever it is she's had for the past few days. While I doubt my illness will be nearly as severe as hers (a few winters in a cold, cold rehearsal hall does wonders for your immunity) it is shaping up to be a week of trying to work through the congestion, runny nose and vomitting of your run-of-the-mill seasonal affliction (and no, we're not talking H1N1 here - I'm sure we'll get that the week before Christmas).

And to top it all off, unlike the world's greatest wife, I don't get to call in sick, and if I don't work I just fall farther behind.

So, there's a lot to be done this week; By Jove still needs an actor (any thin, older guys out there - please call me!), Marriage is Murder will launch its publicity in earnest this week, and I've got to write like I've never written before on Helium to have any chance of still hitting my goal this month. And all that with a head cold.

Pass the tissues. It could be a sniffly ride.

Friday, September 11, 2009

2009 Sensational Elora Brochure

Available here. Check out all the information about our production of "By Jove!" on October 6th at the ECA.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Building some contacts

Grinder Productions is a member of the "Users of the Fergus Grand Theatre," a collaborative organization that has been brought together to oversee the application of the grant that was applied for and received from the Ontario Trillium Foundation this past summer.

As a member of that group we are expected to undertake a share of the activities that are required to achieve the grant's outcomes, as assigned at regular monthly meetings of the collaborative.

This month we have been tasked with generating a list of all the theatre groups in Wellington, Waterloo and Dufferin counties. This list includes community theatres, semi-professional groups, senior's drama groups and high school drama clubs and departments, in addition to other community-based organizations with a live performance component.

Our reason for generating this list will be to ensure that the entire region will receive information about the extensive series of workshops that we are offering as part of this grant. These workshops will cover generic topics like ladder-safety and WHMIS training as well as theatre-specific courses in set construction, lighting, sound and stage management, etc.

We'll be contacting people and groups over the next few weeks as we generate the list, but if you live in Wellington, Waterloo or Dufferin counties you can make sure that your group is included by getting in touch with us first!

Just e-mail or call 519-780-7593 and give us your name, the name of your organization and your organization's up-to-date contact information.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

September Newsletter

Available here, folks. I've included a couple of wedding pictures this month as well, because apparently people want to see some. Enjoy!

Friday, September 4, 2009

By Jove!

This charming little play, based on an ancient legend from Greek mythology, is all about the rewards of sharing. Jove, the king of the gods, having given the people wealth, plenty and fruitful crops decided to test their generosity. Disguised as beggars, he and his son Hermes wandered the land, seeking comfort but finding none, until the arrived at the humble cottage of Philemon and Baucis.

This show will take place on Tuesday, October 6th at the Elora Centre for the Arts as part of the Sensational Elora Festival. The show will accompanied by a meal of soup, bread, cheese, fruit, etc, similar to the humble-yet-gracious fare Philemon and Baucis serve to their guests.

This show is the perfect family outing, filled with humour, a little bit of ancient history, and a timeless lesson about remembering those who are less fortunate than yourself.

Tickets are $15 for adults and just $5 for kids. The show is being sponsored by Collins Barrow, and tickets are available through the Sensational Elora box office, either by phone at 519-846-5638 or online at

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Back to School

It's that time again. Time for the most momentous un-official non-holiday of the year - the first day back to school. While few recognize it, and even fewer are willing to admit it, there's a societal sea-change afoot once the kids go back - routines become more established, the frenetic pace of summer fun is replaced with the mindless drugery of home and work, and families spend a little less time together. Even if you don't have kids there's an adjustment to be made - no more dropping by your buddy's place for a beer at 9pm - the kids are already in bed.

So what does the return of mediocrity and subservitude mean for theatre? Well, for one thing it signals an end to the summer season, theatre's busiest time (at least in this country). While a few companies do spill their seasons over into September most are now gearing up for their fall seasons, a time that can be quite lucrative, or quite slow, depending on the venue. Most everyone will be looking forward to doing something, anything to cash in on the holiday season in December, as that's almost like having another month of summer's excess, if you can find the right project.

In other words, theatres will keep stumbling blindly forward, hurtling from one season to the next, hoping to catch and keep a lucky break.

At Grinder Productions we're taking a slightly more measured approach. Whilst acknowledging the potential that the next few months will bring we must also recognize the risks. If we bite off more than we can chew right now we'll just shoot ourselves in the foot for 2010, when the really big plans are set to begin.

We have but three shows this fall, and one of them is just a one-night affair. By pouring our energy into these projects (as well as some work behind the scenes) I hope that we'll end 2009 on a high note - perhaps not wealthy but at least financially stable, and most importantly ready to make the most of the opportunities that lie ahead. With any luck, by the time the kids go back to school next year we'll be providing a lot of them (and their parents!) with some welcome relief from their boring daily routines.