Sunday, October 31, 2010

More excited than scared for Jeff Greenstein's directing debut

Tonight I think you should watch Desperate Housewives, even if, like me, it's not a show you regularly watch. Who can resist a Halloween episode ("Excited and Scared") airing on actual Halloween Day?

But the real reason I'll watch and think you should too is that it's the directing debut of the talented and witty Jeff Greenstein, who also wrote it. (Oh and he recorded a commentary track that'll be available on on Monday, too, though it'll likely be geoblocked in Canada as usual.)

He apparently moved to LA with the dream of becoming a director, but took a not-too-shabby 25-year digression into writing for shows such as Dream On, Friends, Will & Grace and Parenthood, plus developing his own, including one he's working on now with novelist Jennifer Weiner.

We barely know each other, but I care because we have an odd history that I get a kick out of and that's given me an appreciation for his intelligence, humour and talent. And it feels good to see good people succeed.

We've never exactly met - though you could say that I've met him but he hasn't met me. I've interviewed him a couple of times since and we've kept in touch, but our paths first crossed at the Banff TV Fest a few years ago. I was in the audience for a session where he was to be sole speaker, except he brought BBC producer Jon Plowman to help. I wrote a very brief blog post at the time saying that Plowman didn't need to help much because Greenstein sure can talk, so luckily he was funny and informative.

Almost 2 weeks later, I started writing a full article for Blogcritics that included Greenstein's session along with House writer David Hoselton's. Literally as I was finishing the final edits, an email alert notified me that I had a message from a Jeff Greenstein with the subject line "I sure can talk." It took my confused brain a few moments to sort out the fact that the man I had been writing about for the past hour - a man I didn't think knew I existed - was writing to me at the exact same time. I know in my head that a world without coincidences would be freaky, and yet the coincidence freaked me out a little.

It was a good-humoured email that saw the genuine if jokey compliment in my original assessment. I don't regret saying it, either: he really can talk. He also sure can write, and now I bet I'll be saying he sure can direct. Let's find out.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Illustrated tweets from Egypt

I hope to write more substantial posts about the incredible trip to Egypt, but for now here's an annotated and illustrated compilation of tweets I wrote while it was happening. Unfortunately pictures aren't allowed in the Egyptian Museum (so no pics of King Tut's treasures or the mummies) or in the Valley of the Kings (so no pics of the tombs).

It's Egypt Eve! I'm as excited as a kid at Christmas and as terrified as an adult about to fly across the world in a tin can.

It really happened this time
Woke up, checked Twitter, 1/2 expected news that'd cancel today's Egypt trip. RIP Tony Curtis, loved you, but thx for not being a volcano. 

[A reference to the fact that our original trip was cancelled 
by the Icelandic volcano, news I read first on Twitter.]

Heading to the airport for Egypt! Well, Edmonton for now, but as Teresa & I proved last time - same thing

Outside the Muttart Conservatory in Edmonton when our first attempt to go to Egypt was cancelled.

Napping at the Edmonton airport, hair askew, bags piled around. Only thing distinguishing me from a hobo is Twitter.

[No picture. Duh.]

Teresa's here! We're through security & at the gate! Reunion Trip 2: Actually Getting On The Plane is underway.

Plus, it's rare to see Diane in glasses in the wild.

In Cairo, exhausted but exhilarated. Egypt doesn't seem very similar to Edmonton after all, though. Huh.

View from our first Cairo hotel. Not like Edmonton.
Take my word for the "exhilarated" part

Day 1: wandered Cairo streets (got lost), survived 42C weather (turned into puddle), made friends (fended off strange men). Loving it.

Checking the map during one of the many, many times we were lost.

Pics will be: here's us sweaty & gross at pyramids. Here's us sweaty & gross by Nile. Here's us sweaty & gross at Abu Simbel.

True. Also us with dorky headwear. And yet there's no way I'm posting the worst examples.
This is our closeup in front of the great pyramid.

Pyramids, sphinx, King Tut's treasures - so surreal to see in person. Flying to Aswan now to make friends with a camel.

Pyramid of Khafre (not the big one)
Sphinx and Pyramid of Khafre
Sphinx and Great Pyramid of Khufu/Cheops

Pyramids from a distance.

Amazing, incredible day in desert near Aswan. Boat on Nile, camel to monastery, gardens, lunch in Nubian village.

In Aswan. Scenery unlike any I'd seen before.

Krestina the Camel and I in front of St. Simeon Monastery.

Banks of Aswan near the Kitchener gardens.

Getting a henna tattoo in a Nubian village.

The Nubian village.
Up at 2:45am taking police convoy through desert to Abu Simbel. Teresa's dream destination but too sick to come. Other girl puking on bus.

The "lesser" temple of Hathor and Nefertari
Ramses II on great temple
Just hangin' out at Abu Simbel. Which is ... wow.

Posing awkwardly, or collapsing from the heat?

The greater temple. The scale of this complex is enormous. And they moved it all when the Aswan Dam was built.
Visited an essence factory/shop on the way back from Abu Simbel.
Bought essense of papyrus. It's pretty.

Perfect midpoint to trip, sailing down Nile in cooling breeze, doing nothing but watch camels, donkeys, cows, trees, sand, reeds as we pass.
Obligatory vacation foot shot

One of our feluccas

Hanging by the Nile

Also? No one is puking or dropping from heat exhaustion. We're saving that for Luxor tomorrow. Sleeping on the felucca deck tonight.

Relaxing on the felucca

Docked for night, Teresa seasick so sat on Nile bank. Lovely man gave me Nubian name of Unati (moon) and promised to build house for me next ... [tweet cut off]

Last tweet was supposed to say lovely Nubian man was going to build me a house next to his other wife's. It killed the romance a little.

Teresa on the banks of the Nile, watching our felucca bob up and down.

3 temples today, all spectacular. Karnak built over period of 2000 yrs. I can't commit to what to do next weekend.

At Kom Ombo Temple

Horus at Edfu Temple
Sanctuary inside Edfu Temple

Statue at Karnak

Peeking behind columns at Karnak

Queen Hatshepsut obelisk at Karnak

Ram-headed sphinx at Karnak

Shoutout to Sem Sem, our Egyptologist guide. By the time I'm home I'll have forgotten astonishing amount about ancient Egypt.

The amazing Sem Sem, Egyptologist, storyteller, and tour leader extraordinaire

Day began at 4am w/balloon over Luxor, then donkeys to Hatshepsut Temple, then Valley of the Kings. Last day in Egypt tomorrow. Sniff.

Sunrise over Luxor
Valley of the Kings below

Post-landing: another balloon landing in Luxor, Valley of the Kings in the background
Only a little freaked out

Luxor Temple
Avenue of sphinxes - excavation ongoing in Luxor

Me and my donkey, who tried to knock me off by brushing against everything in sight.
"Yallah habibi!" ("Let's go, darling!" That's what the guides yelled to the donkeys.)

Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, only female Egyptian pharoah

Statue of Queen Hatshepsut

Last day in Egypt. Said goodbye to tour leader. Now must make all decisions on our own. So Twitter, where should we go for lunch in Cairo?

Our historic hotel for the last night in Cairo
Not sweaty and gross for the first time in a week, enjoying a
drink with ice at Shepheard's Hotel
Teresa on the balcony over the Nile
One of us got a bit of a tan. One of us got a lot more freckles. (Hint: I'm not the first one of us.)

But if my freckles would spread and join together, we'd be the same colour.

Such an incredible couple of weeks I've had in Egypt and LA. Now back to reality. Sigh. Gotta plan my next adventure to anticipate.

[A hint? Next summer I'm going to the country that
ruined the first attempt at an Egyptian vacation.]