Monday, December 31, 2007


I've been blogging every day for a half year now. I'm asked from time to time why I am doing it. I usually say that the blog keeps me honest, that I have to answer to myself and my readers at the end of the day, to say what I am doing with my life. This doesn't always make me feel any better and in fact has been trouble lately as I have more and more things to do that I can't report on my blog due to certain promises. Therefore I am left talking about baking and watching movies, which I do admit are my favorite things to do most days. The other reason I blog is to create an ongoing journal for myself. I haven't written a journal in years. I carry note books but do not write most stuff down. The blog gives me a typed record of many things that I might want to look up later. For example, when I am asked to fulfill my promise to put something together for the Arthur Conan Doyle conference next year, I will be able to go into these notes and find the references I made to Sherlock Holmes. Tonight Margaret and I watched the first ten minutes of "The Speckled Band", an old one with Raymond Massey as Holmes. Watson was bald. It was made in the early 30s and set contemporary. The Baker Street house was a business for Holmes and he had the latest technology and a large secretarial staff using Dictaphones and transcribing all conversations and keeping a constantly updated filing system, almost a data base. Now I will remember.

Sunday, December 30, 2007


While William and I were watching "Return of the Jedi" this morning, a lady bug landed on my neck. We put it on one of the plants. It's the first one I've seen in two months, it is -20 outside.

This evening I watched "Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace" with Christopher Lee as Holmes, directed by Hammer Film's Terrance Fisher in 1962 as a weird German/French/English co-production. It was a bad dvd with scratches and faded blacks. The dubbing was so peculiar I often felt I was watching a Guy Maddin film. Flashbacks were even shot with a canted angle! I couldn't quite put my finger on what year it was taking place, they had cars that sometimes looked 1950 but often looked 1230s. The costuming in the pubs was 50s/60s, but Watson looked 1890s. The musical score was uneven with occasional ultra-modern rhythm moments akin to those on the Maya Deren experimental films. I liked Lee as Holmes, he was less aloof and more human, even angry (note: 1962 Britain).

Saturday, December 29, 2007


I think I spent the whole day in the house. Margaret goes a bit crazy when she does that, which she did on boxing day. By the evening she was cracking windows open to get fresh (-30 degree) air, but I don't mind much. William and I finished watching "The Batman" season 4 this morning and then did some Lego time. This evening we were trying to wind down after some active running around the house and I wanted him to read a bit of a book. He decided he didn't want to and actually said "I'm out of here" as he left the room. He then surfed the net for a while (yes, he is six). Actually, he just carefully types in the site listed on his Lego package: and he can watch the 2 minute videos and try to play the game. We sat face to face in the computer room and he tried to navigate that site while I continued to try to figure out the sound problem on my new Dell computer. There is a severe echo in the sound and I can't find the control to adjust it. I think it's the Vista operating system that is crippling my attempts to fix it. I can't seem to figure out the help site, as far as I can see you have to either phone them or on-line chat with them, rather than sending them an email. If a help person isn't available, you sit on your ass until one is, and I just don't have that patience right now (or perhaps I just cranky from not getting any fresh air today). Anyway, William ended up staying up really late; I finished reading some of his new Mythology book to him at 10:15 and turned off his light, but he called that he was scared of the dark (the batteries for his night lights are all dead and on the chargers) so Margaret let him turn his reading light on and he eventually picked up and I Can Read "Little Bear" book that he's never read before and began reading it out loud. We could listen to him from our bedroom, trying to be quiet so he could sleep. It was 11:30 before he finally did. I caught up on a bit of my own reading then finally watched another episode of Supranos (thanks Kevin). I'm watching the first half of the last season, it's been really good, probably the best stuff since season one.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


Transformers; I was never into these, too old I guess, but my sister gave William the movie and we watched it today. She was basically correct that it was cartoony in its violence and William wasn't really scared, but based upon how he will make a steady stream of observations during some sections, I could tell he had some uncertainty. I am glad that the scene where the boys mother talks ad nauseam about masturbation went over his head, I didn't want to have that conversation yet (and what conversation is that exactly?).


I went to Future Shop to get some great deals today, as they have their super colossal Boxing Day sale. I couldn't figure out what was on sale. I wanted to pick up the Angel series on dvd as the Future Shop website said they were on for $14/season, but there were no signs that this was true in the store, nor could a sales person be found. The line up was 20-30 people deep, even though it was 4pm and the sale had been on for 10 hours. I left and went to HMV to discover that Angel was on for $15/season, so I bought first to third. I also got Fantastic Four, Rise of the Silver Surfer, as I think William and I will enjoy watching it again sometime ($10). This evening we watched "The Thirteenth Warrior" (borrowed from Kevin, thankfully didn't pay a rental on). It had a few moments that were fun, but we just couldn't figure out where the cave dwelling cannibals kept the hundred horses they rode into their raids with but kept hidden from farmers and vikings living a couple miles away? Speaking of swords and warriors, we put together William's dwarven mine Lego this evening. It comes with four great looking dwarves, some with two headed axes that required assembly, plus a couple of goblins and a troll. He has spikes for ears, William liked that. And speaking of well forged metal, Margaret was just reading that Tom Sukanen, the guy who built the steel ship near Moose Jaw, had such malnutrition in his last years while trying to complete this project that his teeth went wrong so he pulled them out and made steel dentures for himself. This isn't in the Sisu film that Christine is making, the prosthetics would have been very expensive even if she'd wanted to go with this angle. I wonder what they looked like? The only pictures I've seen of him are from earlier in his life, and I think his mouth was always closed anyways.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Last night was very exciting for William. He opened some presents after dinner at Margaret's parents' house, he got some Lego of course. I got a new wireless hub from Paul, so now all the computers can be on line! William was up past eleven, but that didn't stop him from getting up at 9 am on Christmas day. Santa, who mysteriously came while we ate last night, dropped off even more Lego: it's taken over the house! Actually, the Lego is under control. William got a number of sets, the one we worked on the most was a large Bionicle set which, to our surprise, has a dozen small figures in it rather than the larger scale figures that dominate the Lego/Bioncle line. It will integrate in with his regular Lego better.
We went tobogganing with Daniel and then went for supper at my parents' house. Food was great, nice evening. Socializing and eating rich food is taking it's tole, I'm in the mood for some tv.

Monday, December 24, 2007


Christmas eve, I bar-b-qued chicken for lunch, yum. Margaret wants me to turn off the computer for the night, so I'll post this early. Did some last minute shopping, most some cds, and we washed the car. We're off to Margaret's mom's for supper and presents (they always open on Christmas Eve). William is extremely excited, he keeps asking if it's night yet (unable to look out the window apparently).


I should have watched one of the vampire movies I borrowed from Kevin today. Instead, Margaret convince me to watch The Shadow (1994 with Alec Baldwin) tonight. What a stinker. To describe how horrible it was; the best performance was given by Jonathan Winters! (who, to give him credit, finally did a role where he wasn't trying to be funny, as he is no good at that). I couldn't keep my eyes off of the night-for-night lighting: the streets which were always wet, even though it never rained. It just reeked of the 90s. Next time, it will be The Vamp with Grace Jones. It couldn't be worse.....

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Today William and I took Margaret to work. I told William that I'd pick him up a new Terry's chocolate orange (dark) so we ended up at Superstore. There were barely any spots left, I parted farther than I ever have before. Line ups weren't bad though, everyone seemed evenly distributed (didn't go into toys). We watched "Empire Strikes Back" after that, William wasn't scared. He talked through much of it. The Yeti type creature on Hoth seemed like the abominable snow man so that didn't bother him (he thought it was like a Lego monster with arms that come off). He questioned why they would want to carbon freeze Luke to take him to the emperor, and I admit I don't have a good answer for that except it was a device to have Vader oversee Han being frozen. Otherwise it is quite ill conceived.
I baked mini-cheesecakes (double batch, four variations of flavours) and ginger snaps, both for the second time for the season, and have declared my baking to be complete.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


Yesterday I managed to make my nanaimo bars, they worked quite well as I didn't put as thick a chocolate coating on top as last year and I cut them while that chocolate was still warm. Success.
Yesterday I also ordered "Song of the South" on dvd. This isn't coming from Disney or any reputable source, even though it is a Disney film. I have an entire chapter on it in a really good book on Hollywood animation called Serious Business: The Art and Commerce of Animation in America from Betty Boop to “Toy Story”, a 1997 book by Sefan Kanfer. It's a really boring title for a really interesting book, it chronicles what is happening in each of the main animation company one decade at a time with the context of what was happening in the market. The chapter on "Song of the South" talks about how everyone told Walt Disney that producing it would bring trouble, but he kept ignoring them. Uncle Remus was no longer a popular icon by the 1950s, and he didn't become more popular as Disney, against everyone advice again, continued to release it every few years, promising never to do it again. The last time they released it was about 1985 on vhs, so my hopes for a good copy is thin, but something is better than nothing.
Today was William's last day of school. It'll be tv and hanging out for two weeks.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


This morning I was able to look a couple of scenes in progress from Chrystene Ells' "Sisu" production. It's looking quite good. Of course, it's hard to tell with just a couple of scenes, a feature needs an overall rhythm and tone that takes quite a while to get right. Hopefully there will be an overall rough cut in a month or so and then she'll have a better idea where she stands.
Got William "new" skates today, traded in last years so it was a good deal. He's got a skating date at Teagan's tomorrow after school, which is of course going to end early as its the last day before the Christmas holiday. This evening William and Paul worked on modifying his Lego Batcave into a Lego Star Wars set, with amazing success! See the attached photo of the station where Vader fights Luke and Chewbacca is at the controls. R2D2 and a stormtrooper and a rebel fighter are standing by beside the fight. William doesn't own any actual Star Wars Lego (yes, they make a lot of it) so I was extra surprised. I took part, building a Lego George Lucas, but William didn't want to have filmmakers, just real Star Wars, so he took George's head off.


I was really pumped to get some solid darkroom time today, to progress on my "Grain" project for which I've shot a couple of thousand feet of film but is all sitting waiting to be developed. However, upon studying my chemicals this morning I found that I was missing one part of the colour development, so I decided to substitute the paper bleach/fix for the c41 colour film fix. However, the two tests I ran gave me the same results, the print stock I shoot was underdeveloped and very red, and the colour reversal stock is highly over-developed, nearly black. This is the result from clips of film clothes-pinned together and running through the same chemicals at the same time. Quite disconcerting. So I moved on to testing coffee development. I mixed up a batch (10x the volume from the recipe) and put it in my bucket. My first tests were fine, so I went on to add a roll. However, it turned out very thin (light). A second attempt to do the roll as reversal was also a wash, although I created a minute of luscious brown I don't think I could have made any other way. All told, that was 6 hours and the loss of 2 rolls of film. Oh well, at least I did get into the darkroom, it felt pretty good. I talked with Joe for a while I he just found out that Art 222 will not be offered next term, which means that the darkroom will not be used for any specific courses, and thus I can get a lot more work done without having to kill myself with it over the holidays next week. I have a Bolex signed out so I'll work on some snow footage.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


William's Christmas pageant was today, we went to the dress rehearsal this afternoon and then to the real show in the evening. It all went fine. I'd like to brag about him, but it really isn't possible to be the star of the show when you're in grade one. At least I can say that I could see his mouth moving, which is more than I can say for some of his cousins in the past. He enjoyed it. He wore a toque for the rehearsal but not for the main show, no explanation. From where I was sitting, here is what he looked like:
I'm out of butter, I thought I still had some frozen, but I must have used it. Now I need to shop before I can bake.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


My parents dropped in today, mom wanted to give me some baking so I gave her some of mine back. Her brownies are still the best, although I'm not sure everyone would agree. I guess they are just a slightly dry chocolate cake with some walnuts in them and great chocolate icing, but not too sweet. Some people know that my capacity to consume sugar is exceedingly high, but I've come to realize as I've been baking that many of my favorite baked goods are the less sweet ones. These brownies are a good example; they probably have only 2/3 the sugar of something you'd buy in the store. Sometime this week I'm going to do a batch of Naniamo bars. These were a family favorite when I was a kid and were only eaten when my mom made some near Christmas. Then in the late 80s they started appearing in the stores, available by the square foot. However, and I hope some of you can back me up on this, they are so sweet they can trigger migraines. Not even I can eat two of them and not walk a bit crooked. Last year I got my mom's recipe and went to transcribe the differences into my cookie book and discovered that I couldn't just correct the published recipe, I had to re-write it. The two are so different that it's surprising the two squares even look alike. I did run into a problem with cutting them, I hope to fix that this year. Eating them did not offer problems. They are very good frozen, and best eaten when stolen from the freezer late at night. Uh, Christmas.

Monday, December 17, 2007


I worked for a couple of hours on photographing finger puppets today, don't ask me why.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


I've mentioned the Lego toys (and movies) called Bionicles previously. They are some sort of robot warriors that can be modified almost as much as a regular piece of Lego. They made three movies, I don't know if they are making more. These movies give the characters a rich and HIGHLY complex back story, an entire world, philosophy, creation myth, etc. However, I've never been able to figure out what they really are. William and I watched the second movie this morning and during the extra features, one of the film producers describes them as "bio-mechanical", which is a new idea for William. In fact, I don't have a firm grasp on how to describe this idea. Since he was three, William has been conversant on the ideas and differences between robots, androids, and cyborgs. Bio-mechanical people are something else.
We got a tree today (required much moving of furniture - this never ends). I baked biscotti and tried Joanne's sugar cookie recipe, it's good and rolls out so shapes can be cut. There was a artist trading card session but we forgot and so Margaret went late. I've been working on a series of photo chemistry, but they are incomplete and not nearly as interesting to other people as they are to me. Watched Bourne Ultimatum with Paul and Margaret after baking was done.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


This morning I stopped by the Filmpool and finally started doing the volunteering I have been so remiss in these past few years, I helped clean up for the Christmas party. This afternoon I got a draft of my Splice article written (sitting at 3000 words now), and then we all went to the party. They auctioned off film cans with prizes in them. William really loved the idea of bidding on them so we bought two, the first one for $11 that contained $12 worth of theatre tickets plus some candy canes, and the last one with the grand prize for $43 with undisclosed contents (remind me to tell you about it after Christmas).

Thursday, December 13, 2007


I got a message from Derek McCulloch today. Back in the 1980s when I was reading comics (I still read comics, but I used to buy them regularly, not just borrow randomly selected graphic novels and collections from the library) Derek organized an APA, an amateur publication association, which used to be a somewhat common phenomenon. They may still exist but the internet has certainly put a crimp in them. How they worked was that a small membership (I think about 2 dozen people) living all over North America would write something every two months, make enough photocopies for each of the other members, and mail their copies to a central spot. The person receiving them would then collate them and mail the package to everyone so that everyone would receive everyone else's article. Everyone would also have to send money for postage. Sometimes it was very clever, although most of the time we were out to prove how smart a 18 year old REALLY is. One thing that came out of this was the union of Derek and paul Stockton and the formation of Strawberry Jam Comics. Derek is still writing comics, and I'm still typing aimless banter.


William likes to pretend he's sleepwalking. He gets out of bed, sticks his arms out in front of him, then walks around with his eyes closed. Last night I went into the bedroom while he was supposed to be in bed and he got up and went downstairs, opened the frig, and put the lemons on the table in some sort of act of rebellion.
This afternoon I went to the store and picked up two of the new Disney Treasuries DVD sets, Donald Duck Vol. 3 and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. I've only seen clips of Oswald cartoons, never a whole one until today. Before supper, William and I watched two Donald Duck cartoons. The second one was about Donald sleepwalking as Daisy chases around trying to save him from danger. Margaret says we are going to pay for the cartoons we show him.
This evening our good friend Gerda Osteneck had an opening and party for a series of collages she's been working on for the past few months. They are up at the Art Gallery of Regina at the Balkwill Centre, near our house. Margaret brought some of my Christmas baking, the truffles went over well.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I returned to the eye doctor yesterday and found out that my eye has healed and I'm fine now.
William was at the Science Centre a few days ago and got to participate that large chrome ball that steals electrons from you and makes your hair stand up. Upon a few days contemplation last night he concluded that electrons are gravity. I missed our department Christmas lunch today due to a combination of scheduling conflicts and my persistent cold that is making me moody and depressed.
I started wearing my contacts again, or actually just my contact. I have hard contacts due to my Keratoconus and my left eye seems to be almost as strong without the lens as with it. With the lens in, the left eye has a lot of vignetting, which is generally more annoying that the loss of a bit of focus without it. I've taken to just putting in the right lens, which takes some getting used to since, as we know from optics, the refocusing of light will change the size of the image so I am seeing the world larger in one eye than the other. It takes about an hour for my brain to make sense of it, but of course it can. Brains are so cool.
I wrote the first 700 words or so of the Splice Magazine article on Jason Britski. For someone who doesn't like to talk about his films, he writes about them eloquently. He gave me notes and answers to some of my questions that made me feel like I should do an interview rather than a critique.


It was interdis crit day at the university. This was new in a way, the visual arts MFA students have been having these for years but only select interdis students, those with a foot in visual arts, have undergone them prior to now. Janine Windolph and Chrystene Ells, both of whom I am a co-supervisor, presented today. I continue to have mixed feelings about these presentations although they are certain less confrontational than many I've seen in the past. I suppose it is healthy for the students and the faculty to touch base once per semester to discuss what is going on. Also, they all have the option of sitting in on each others sessions, something that did not used to be allowed, and they can therefore learn from each other how to present and defend themselves. Each presentation is followed by a behind-closed-doors discussion between professors during which praise is coupled with concerns. I'm glad to say that over the past couple of years on these, I have aggressively contested a lot of negativity that can permeate discussions and taint everyone's views of candidates. These students may soon become our colleagues, if we expect professionalism from them, we must treat them with that respect. However, I still have apprehension about these critique sessions, perhaps I cannot get past some bad experiences from years past.

Monday, December 10, 2007


I've come down with the cold that William had a few days ago. My sneezes are nearly deafening and lead me to have an increasingly sore throat. However, staying home and nursing it was not in the cards. While Margaret was at work, I took William to Angie and Pete's to see baby Phoenix so he could play him music on the piano. I heard recently that children who are inclined to music are often greatly bothered by loud noises. William was very upset by the crying - I've seen this attribute before. His knocking away at the piano does not suggest him to be prodigy, but it is often more interesting than my own random bangs and clinks.

Sunday, December 9, 2007


I gave William the chess set I bought him today, a modest wooden set with wooden board, the pieces easy to distinguish. We played for a while. He led with a knight, very pleasing. He tired after a while and didn't know what to do next. I'd helped him quite a bit with his moves so I didn't actually see any great moves for him, or for myself. The set sits ready to continue tomorrow.
Margaret and I watched the first episode of "Murder Rooms: the dark origins of Sherlock Holmes", a BBC show from 2000. It's pretty nicely done, although tired we are temped to stay up to watch more. I'll be looking at more Sherlock Holmes over the next while as I committed to programming a screening of work at a Conan Doyle symposium next fall. I also picked up a cheap collection of Holmes films, 37 items in total for $20 at Chapters, as a sampler as it contains 3 or 4 different actors doing the role.

Saturday, December 8, 2007


William came down with a cold, he was probably on the verge of it yesterday when we had our little conflicts. We'll make up with a day of cartoons tomorrow.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


Got something in the oven! That's right! You heard me, it's Christmas baking season! I was working on mini-cheesecakes for the first time. I was hoping that I could push crusts into the bottom of the mini-muffin trays -- heavily buttered -- then pop them out once cold. No such luck. I've taken the alternative plan, to use paper cups for each. I'd done them without crusts so one will have to eat them with a fork (or uncouthly without one) directly out of these cups. I also made 206 Belgium truffles today. This all got me in the mood to start another Len Lye style animated film called "December" as a working title (although not as a finished title as I don't want it confused with Dianne Ouellette's film of the same name) and this animation is all around reds and greens, getting into the season in work and play.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


I just watched an incredibly funny interview that Dick Cavette did with Groucho Marx back in the 1970s sometime. Apparently it was supposed to be a 30 minute filler while something else was pre-emting the second half, but they just kept going, one-on-one, for the whole hour and it was re-broadcast a few weeks later. It was just wild and very free. It was on Turner Classics sometime today.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


I'm a bit dizzy from the whirl-wind day. I ended up with two doctor appointments, one with an optometrist (not mine, but a partner in his office) who looked at my eye and determined that I'd gouged the white part but not damaged the retina, so he gave me some antibiotic drops that will prevent infection but not really speed up the healing. The other doctor I saw was the internal specialist. I've not seen him since spring 2006 (he told me last time that he wanted to see me once per year, but of course that was 4.5 years after I walked away from my Calgary surgery and not considered going to another doctor), so I figure 1.5 years is darn well close enough. Anyway, the last thing I had through him was a CAT of my liver since my bilirubin level is high (since at least 1990, and is suggested high since 1986) and appears to be getting higher (normal is 20, it was 33 in 1990 and is now about 50). Anyway, the CAT scan didn't prove anything so now he wants to get more intrusive, sticking a needle in and taking a sample. That will certainly wait until after the holidays. He also revealed that my most recent blood test shows no sign of the hepatitis A that I was supposed to have had in 1986. Hmmm....?
Afterwards I dashed home, picked up Margaret, William, and some muffins and went to the opening of Chrystene Ells's first art installation at the 5th Parellel Gallery at the University. I forgot the camera so I don't have any stills, but basically she took a number of props, photos, drawings, and set pieces from her film Sisu and built them into a ghostly ship within the gallery space - pretty cool.
When we got home, William was excited about getting to bed. He had a quick shower and (on my suggestion that it would surprise his mom) he washed his hair all by himself (he hates getting his hair washed). Then it was early to bed and he would only let me read him one story. Why? Because tomorrow is St. Nicholas Day. If you leave out your shoe, St. Nick will leave you gifts in it. He chose his cowboy boot - smart boy.

Monday, December 3, 2007


I spent all morning, and a bit of the afternoon, sorting out receipts and figuring out my paperwork for reimbursements on my trip in September and a hard drive I bought and some other things. It will take more work tomorrow as I need to bill these things to 3 different University accounts and I can never keep track of it all. This afternoon, William wanted to play Bionicles again and after we did that for a while (fortunately the big new guy that rides the spider is a villain so I get to use him) William agreed to do some baking with me. However, he got stubborn and decided he would only make gingerbread cookies shaped like people and that the round gingerbread cookies I froze a couple of weeks ago were no good. Eventually I convinced him of some random recipe which ended up being a bit complicated and required the food processor, the little chamber mixer, the regular mixer, and melting things on the stove. It also took about $7 in ingredients (3 cups of nuts and 3/4 of a brick of butter). I've got to read more carefully before I jump into these things. My eye still hurts and I've got an appointment to see an eye doctor (not my own but someone else in his office) tomorrow morning.


I scratched my eye on Friday and it's still in pretty bad shape; all red and sore. William and I watched the first of the three "Bionicle"movies today - not terrible - it contained a huge amount of implied backstory that was lost on William but which I quickly absorbed and could explain to him from time to time when we paused the movie. We borrowed the dvd from the library so it was horribly scratched. In fact, it wouldn't play in our primary dvd player, I had to put it into the recorder deck for it even to run, and even then is skipped 5 second bits throughout.
The "tornado"episode of Desperate Housewives was on tonight, I assume this is the last one until after the writers strike. Some great moments as some characters die and others are left with their status unknown (one family is in the basement of a house that is completely collapsed). I've remained a bit addicted to this show (yes, I do recognize that it just a over glamorized soap opera) since the first season, but it does contain some occasional good (even great) tv writing.

Sunday, December 2, 2007


Saturday today, spent most of the day building Lego Bionicles with William and then playing with them. However, he insists that all of the Bionicles are good guys, are on the same team, and that he is running them. I get to be the villain, 6"Megablox skull atop a 4"Lego platform with no moving parts and just my imagination for how it can fight against 5 angry looking robots (of course I give it laser eyes, mind control, vampirism, and anti-gravity rays).

Friday, November 30, 2007


A less than quiet day today, at least at first. We met with William's teacher this morning. He is second in his class with his reading, behind his friend Teagan of course as she is reading at a grade 3 level, and his comprehension is high (I attribute this to the fact that we've never spoken baby talk to him and Margaret loves to define even the most grad-school-esque words to him in the middle of supper, and we wonder why it takes so long to eat around here). This afternoon I met with Mauricio who asked if I'd be on his committee if he is accepted into our grad program and, as I am familiar with his talent and dedication, I had no problem committing. A series of meetings with Chrystene and others finally resolved a dilemma that arose regarding funding for her Sisu project (perhaps she'll outline it in her blog sometime), and then a talk by Sean Whalley was, as always, enjoyable. He takes wood that is being thrown away and makes really cool sculptures out of it, he's now on faculty at the University of Regina. I've got some important reading I've got to get through in the next week, so Margaret let me have some much needed silence and spent the evening with William over at Teagan's family's house, leaving me to get ahead and even get started on some new "Modern" videos - WOW, the 2.6Ghz processor sure makes a difference with that stuff!!!


I went to the office for the first time this week, it's really really cold. I'm sure glad I'm not one of the striking CUPE workers out there on the picket line. The strike has been funny, the CUPE reps don't seem to be getting quoted very much, all I see is clean, clear press release statements from the universities and passionate and/or annoyed comments from students. There were 3 articles in the newspaper today and only one cites a CUPE rep and in it he just comments on how their people do 80-100 per cent of the work towards getting final exams together. I think they've chosen their rep poorly as I'm certain that there are more pressing issues and more dire/realistic situations that our attention should be on than photocopying. So anyway, while I was at the university I was trying to get a dvd of the conference made but I starting getting a sample rate error, which means that something was wrong with the sound. However, I started to export the video in portions, as there are 6 sections that make up the 2.5 hours, and each section exported fine until the last. I was then able to export it one piece at a time until I found one shot that was corrupted. I wasn't able to solve it before I had to leave so I deleted it and I'll re-insert it on the next draft. This evening I installed all of my software in my new computer so I can start doing something with it tomorrow.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Lately I've been writing this blog late at night (the posting time is off by at least 2 hours) so I have begun to forget what I even did with my day and really just want to post and go to bed. Tonight I'm at my new Dell but since this was one of my rare days to wear my contacts (actually I was only wearing my right contact as the left one makes my eyesight worse) and since I just took it out, I'm feeling a bit blurry. It's Wednesday so "Life"was on, the only show Margaret and I watch together these days since it is the only one I felt strong enough about to convince her to try. We look forward to it every week, it never disappoints. I finally let go of my old computer, I removed all the components I wanted and dropped off the remainder, the shell with motherboard and 390Mb of 1999 RAM, at PC Place. They sell old bits and pieces, so he didn't turn down a free toy. It was the Duncan computer that I did a lot of stuff on for about 6 years, and I always have trouble parting with things that I develop attachments to. However, I put it in my entrance way where I had to struggle around it to get on my boots, so it seemed a relief to get it out of the way. Then I bought a bottle of shampoo.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


I put my new Dell computer together today. The big screen is killer. William helped by plugging things in while I was out of the room, or should I say "helped"? It's really cold out, so I'm happy to be able to stay home, but I'm dying to start some creative project as this furniture moving and computer assembling is driving me nuts. I still haven't installed my various programs, so I'm in for another couple hours tomorrow.
The other day Margaret and I were listening to old radio mysteries on cd from the library, including some Nero Wolfe staring Sidney Greenstreet from the early 50s. I was disappointed to find that they told you the title of the next episode but then didn't include it, so I looked on line to see if I could buy a complete set. Instead, I found all of the episodes to listed to off the web for free.


I finally moved William's bedroom today, it's been five days of shifting things around to prepare the move and the new office and today was about 12 hours to get things into place so of course William would rather be back in the old room. Perhaps I would be too. I had a small bedroom when I was a teenager and it always made me feel secure. I don't know why I do things sometimes.

Monday, November 26, 2007


The Rider seem to have won. Good for them, a team ought to come out on top at least once ever twenty years. I missed the game. I had intended on watching the last half hour or so but ended up reading to William instead. When I found out they'd won, I called up to William to tell him (as he was making noises and was not even close to asleep) and he replied "I'm not so interested in that". Neither am I, obviously, but I did enjoy watching the last half hour of the game in 1989 when the Riders last won. I was in BC at the time and sitting around without much to do and hit upon it by chance. For those keeping track, I also watched about a half hour of overtime Stanley Cup hockey in 1997 or 1998.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


This afternoon was a Dunlop opening (Sherwood Village) where three young artists where shown. Most interesting was Griffon Baker who sculpts giant (7-12 foot high) plastic bottles out of bottle lids. Apparently we rarely recycle the lids of our bottles (type 2 plastic) because it is a bit more difficult. He collects them and creates amazing replicas. He has what looks like a giant evian bottle, although it has the name spelled backwards: naive. Along with Twyla Exner, who disassembles old telephone wire into its thin inner strands then braids it and then weaves those braided cords into sculptures, they create very powerful statements using recycled materials and a strong commitment to handcraft, labour, and precisions work. The third artist also created work from recycled materials, although her working philosophy was quite dissimilar as she was exploring the idea of minimum effort with her rickety sculptures, complete with open electrical circuit that shouldn't be touched, that barely stand on its own (physically and aesthetically).

Friday, November 23, 2007


William got his report card today, he did well. There were no surprises. He continues to get very average grades in music, as he did all last year, and we still have never met the person (or people) who teach music, but it is funny to me as William has a fair ear (as evidenced by the fact he cannot tolerate me singing more than one verse of a song unless he is trying to learn lyrics from me) and he has an amazing memory for song lyrics and will sing songs obsessively - including songs that he may have last heard over a year ago. While I am by no means claiming he is a prodigy, he is genuinely more gifted than either of his parents.
I bought a video MP3 player, Coby brand, 2Gb, from Canadian Tire today for 47 bucks (less the 20 in Canadian Tire money I'd accumulated). It's now charged up and I'm going to figure out how it works and what works bet on it, or perhaps I'll just listen to books on tape.


After some morning work on the End of Life conference (the final chapter on respect) I spent the afternoon and evening concentrating on the new computer. I've not opened the boxes yet, I'm still setting the stage. I had to clear more of the junk out of the current office, preparing for it to become William's bedroom. Since our new office will be William's old bedroom, a much smaller space, I've had to find new homes for much of the stuff we have. These homes include the attic (where I moved things and resorted the space yesterday) and the basement edit room which has been a dumping ground for a few years now. In the basement, I deposited the short filing cabinet and combined it with another cabinet and some discarded shelf boards to create a table onto which I could put the abundant boxes of Christmas decorations. The previous home of the decorations, a crummy bench with screw on legs, was disassembled to be put into William's fort (the area under his tree house) in the spring. Other similarly complicated moving followed including the reformatting of the hard drive of the computer I stopped using last year but has been sitting in my dumping ground since then but that I need to get rid of. Tomorrow I'll probably disassemble the old desk and build the new one, then I'll be close to opening those boxes.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


I edited another section of the End of Life conference this morning, the end of the first cut in near. This afternoon we went to Agribition, which is a huge farm trade show with lots of machines, gadgets, and most importantly, livestock. The first thing we did there was sit down and watch timed sessions of sheep dogs navigating sheep into gates and corrals. There was also a small but interesting display set up by the UofS Agriculture department with a student rep and a person from the dean's office there showing a fiberglass covered sheep stomach and a microscope with example so fibres that could be used to replace plastics. I'm tired and feeling dizzy now, so will cut this short. Sleep, wonderful sleep.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I committed this morning to getting rid of my virus by reformatting the C drive and reinstalling the operating system. However, while I had the software on hand and all necessary files backed up, I just couldn't figure out how to do it. I put a call in to Paul and while he was looking into what my problem might be, I followed a different path and went to a virus protection software site ("stopzilla" or something like that) suggested through some "nerd" site and did what I swore I'd never do - I gave credit card info for a download that I know nothing about. While it cost more than I thought (the "on-line rebate" was actually a mail in rebate, so we'll have to see if I get my 20 beans back) but it worked! Virus free for the first time in weeks!!!
And then the doorbell rang and my new Dell computer arrived. I spent the rest of the day moving things around to start the process of moving William's bedroom so that I can set up this new computer. I will need to move my filing cabinet and you would be shocked by how much paper I save. I have two more filing cabinets at work, so this one isn't as full as it could be.
I listed to the first disc of one of the "Series of Unfortunate Events" books while sorting papers, then we took a break and watched the movie. The film seems highly compressed. It looked good and was basically satisfying, but I think some more inventing and chewing was in order to really connect us with the characters. I love the Snicket voice over, although it also distances us from the characters, a balance is difficult and a series of films would work better - perhaps a tv mini-series?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


So I made some calls this morning and figured out why I don't have my work email anymore - Access Communications has blocked it because of that virus I have. Apparently they mailed me a letter but I still don't have it. On the phone they said I should go to "housecall", virus scanning thing that they trust - this is of course the big problem in that you don't really know what to trust and what might just add to the problem -- so I did so and spent 5 hours getting this thing to scan the computer and determine I have 74 problems and then to get the updates to windows to take care of them. Finally, at the end of it all, the virus is still there. It seems that Access also knows it as they have just taken my email away again (I had it for a few hours today). So what else did I do today? I found Margaret some scissors (not the same name brand, but they are spring type so that's good) and went to the Filmpool Board meeting (that I'd forgotten about until this afternoon when I got a phone call about it at the exact moment I was reading the reminder email. I read a bit about lens theory (including a bit or two I didn't already know) and did not mail all the letters I've got sitting here. I didn't sleep well last night and spent the day tired and convinced that the world is conspiring to ensure I don't have big enough hard drives.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


The Santa Day parade was very cold where we were standing. Margaret was at work and I took William on my own. We were beyond cold from the wind when the Santa float was still a couple of blocks away so we gave up and jumped into the car to go for a hot chocolate at Chapters. I can only claim it was a brain freeze that prevented me from realizing that the parade ends in the Southland Mall parking lot and cuts right in front of Chapters, so I basically put myself into a grid lock that forced us to re-watch the about 10 floats then the last number of them including, ironically, Santa. Then we spent the rest of the afternoon trying to find Fiskars scissors with spring action for Margaret like the ones she's misplaced.


We watched Shrek 3 with William this morning. We'd not seen it before, primarily because William has a hate on for Shrek, having seen the first two once each and refused to ever watch them again, even though a year had passed, so luring him into watching it was a bit tricky. I wanted to see it and basically liked it. William now wants to make his own Shrek movie. I forgot to bring a video camera home, but he has started to do drawings and we recorded a couple minutes of improvised dialogue in which I say things like "I'm an ogre, I think I'll sit in the mud, should I splash mud on you little cat" to which William would reply "meow, nro, rawr". It won't be deep.

We seem to have done a sophos update that claims to have detected and deleted the virus on my desktop, but it still seems to be there. Grrrr. At least it rebooted in normal time.

Watched Spiderman 3 and built Lego this evening. Both were satisfying. Spiderman 3 took a lot of flack. I didn't read the reviews, and I'm certain it doesn't have the emotional punch of the second one, but it had some pretty good themes of redemption that tied it together, and I have to admit I was surprised but at least one well played plot point.

Friday, November 16, 2007


I finally got a dvd made for Tanya of the single camera documentation of her dance (as opposed to the edited version that I cut a few weeks back). I figured it would only take me a few minutes as I already had Michele Sereda's footage in the computer and all, but it proved difficult. Maybe because it was from a digital 8 camera, but the file just wouldn't be accepted by the Adobe dvd software. I tried out the Sorenson software and it will be really useful -- it is for turning one kind of media file into another. However, I still couldn't get it to burn with the Adobe Encore, but then I realized that with the file converted to the Mpeg, I could use the DVDit software, which is pretty easy and I know it quite well. Thus, the disc is done. I'll mail it tomorrow.
I got into the other edit room (as soon as the strike is over, we'll be putting all the edit rooms together, which will be very useful on days like today) and I reviewed the conference material I did yesterday then cut the fourth section which is only 9 minutes long. I should be able to finish cutting the first draft after one more session.
Power shopping on way home: I picked up Frank Sinatra's Christmas album today, some Webkins for William's cousins, 6 cans of espresso, gas and a lottery ticket, and a $5 Three Stooges dvd set.
This evening there was an opening at the Dunlop, Miss Canadiana did a photo session at the Canadiana Barber Shop, then an opening with some nice bannock with jam and maple syrup.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


I think computers should have gas pedals. Some way to push them harder, make them speed up, even at risk of them blowing up. Every day they get slower, even the new ones at work are driving me to drink (so the gas pedal would make me feel all the more comfortable). I'd be in the shop if I had to restart my car in between city and highway driving, so why do we just shrug our shoulders when the glitchiness of computers forces us to reboot between applications?

I got an assembly of part three of the conference today - research approaches - the longest part at about 48 minutes. I'll have to cut it in half at least. I only went to the edit room in the afternoon since William was sick this morning, I stayed home with him and we read his encyclopedia of monsters book (it has Mothra).


Today I spent the day in the edit room, got an assembly of the first two parts of the End of Life conference (22 minutes and 30 minutes), then got a chance to look at some of Sisu with Chrystene. It looks very nice, the scenes of the ship frame that I missed in real life (late August I think it was) were hypnotic.
I read that it only requires the energy of light to reduce 4 particles of silver halide to silver for the entire crystal of the silver halide salt to become an exposed piece of the grain of a photo. The bigger the crystal, the greater the chance to be reduced, but also the bigger the grain. Ain't books wonderful?
I took a workshop on how to make Bernard Callebaut truffles this evening. It was unsatisfyingly easy as they had the materials prepared and all we had to do was roll the stuff into balls, but they gave us the instructions on how to prepare the base so I'll give it a try sometime. I stopped and bought a kilo of Callebaut dark and 390 grams of white chocolate, so it'll be party time at our place.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Margaret posted her first extensive interview since her radio show was canceled. It is with Alex Rogalski and me about 10 days ago, after the One Take Super-8 Event when I showed "Cake". It is 40 minutes long. You may have to click the button that says "if you are having trouble playing this file, click here" or something like that. I have been hearing it play in super fast forward for some reason.

Monday, November 12, 2007


William and I watched disc 4 of the new Looney Tunes collection this morning, the theme of which was "early works", which is of course code for all black and white. Over the past few months, William has started to declare that he's not interested in black and white shows, even though he often enjoys them when he sees them (he used to love Betty Boop and we've recently been watching Popeye), but this weekend he begrudgingly watched some, probably because he was too tired to get off the couch. Today he told me that he really likes the black and white cartoons.
I continued to be frustrated with this "sulimo.dat" trojan virus I have. Paul came over and took a look after we had birthday cake with Margaret's mom (she made her own famous black forest cake, I made ginger snap cookies, all baking turned out better than average today). Paul set up the parameters of my virus software better, but I don't think anything is really resolved with that actual virus yet as it is still sitting there on my hard drive.


Remembrance Day - most of day at home, low energy, playing with the machines and watching tv (recordings, no live war show, just couldn't) and reading. I spent a couple of hours trying to get rid of some sort of Trojan virus that got into my desktop computer. I started reading section two of "The Chemistry of Photography" in which it describes the best gelatin for film emulsion comes from specially fed calf ears. Big playoff football game today, I hear that Saskatchewan won, didn't pay much attention. Had supper at Margaret's parent's house as her brother George came into town surprisingly yesterday. Had a couple of rousing games of Old Maid afterwards.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Patrick Lowe was back in town today. He came by for a couple of hours to look at some films (not videos). First up was the test footage he shot last week end, primarily lighting tests on the animation stand, but it also included some really effective rotating spirals and other surrealistic images. These will be developed into fantasies of a character who is inexplicably unable to get off of the bathroom floor in Patrick's new, 15 minute film. We also watched a few NFB shorts including "Sky" which no longer looked like a colour film as it had faded down to a monochromatic red and white film, and "Toys" about children looking through a toy store window at an array of GI Joes as they begin to come to life and engage in serious, no-holds-barred warfare. We showed to William as his Remembrance Day film.

Friday, November 9, 2007


Friday today but it felt much too much like a weekend as William had the day off of school and woke up really early (initially 6:30am due to his "dream tree" being off, then he was woken by the cat at 7:30, probably since the cat was attracted to the 10" high fibre-optic tree aglow beside his bed) so I got up with him at 7:40 and watched Looney Tunes cartoons until close to noon. William had no appetite and must be ailing in some way as he did something he has never done before, he told us that he was tired and he went up to bed after lunch. I spent part of the afternoon trying to figure out what went wrong with the laptop, comparing it to the identical unit at the lab. Finally Kalyn realized that we could just swap the hard drives, so here I am with a different computer but all of my data, happy as a clam.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


I meant to get back to the blog last night to beef it up a bit, but closed up the laptop while watching "Father Ted" with Margaret and when I came back to it, the laptop began acting up; the screen either isn't getting a video signal or it isn't being told to turn back on when the lid is opened. This morning I am still at a loss so will have to get it looked at.
It snowed a bit last night but probably won't last much into the afternoon. William is off school today so we went out and made THIS........!

First of the season.


Election day here, Saskatchewan Party took over and it seems that for the first time in my life I am older than the provincial premiere.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Margaret had a short shift at the Sherwood Dunlop today, which would mean that if I wanted to go to the university I'd have to drive to the opposites side of town twice, on top of being home to give William lunch, so instead I opted to work at home on some details of a couple of projects. However, I actually spent most of my day selecting digital photos to print. It's not that I'm overly picky or take a long time making decisions, I don't. These are just my everyday snapshots I'm talking about, it's just that instead of making my selections about every month, I've left these since March and therefore had to comb through 2885 photos I've taken in that time and it looks like I'll be printing 3-400 of them - thus the use of much of my day. Here is a family photo we took a couple of months ago, I like the colours. There are elements of long exposure showing (see in particular the transparency on the edges of William's head), although the red-eye makes it obvious that a flash was used. All I remember is that William had put the camera on a tripod while Chrystene and Raul were over and we all had strange pictures of ourselves taken.


Monday, November 5, 2007


I edited all day on End of Life, hope to finish the first pass by the end of the week.
We went for supper with Patrick Lowe this evening. He's been shooting animation tests for his new film, traditional work on the Filmpool's Oxberry animation stand. I looked at some of the artwork, very vibrant, the colours really pop.
Monday is tv night. I've changed my mind about Journeyman, I had become bored and disappointed with it, but now I'm increasingly engaged with it. It is becoming more and more about the precarious nature of relationships and the strength of love, his marriage and family are more and more important and those parts of the story are becoming fun, in fact they are becoming more interesting that the weekly plot lines. Of course, this show doesn't hold a candle to "Life" (no, not the game of, the Wednesday night show). It is the only one I would be upset by missing.

Sunday, November 4, 2007


Sunday; today I put in the storm windows (much later than usual, but we've had a nice fall) then we all went to "Wintergreen" which is a craft show taking place every year at the Centre of the Arts. I bought a glass candy cane Christmas decoration from Jackie Berting of Cupar. I put all four of the newscasts from CBC regarding Margaret's radio show onto a web/blog site today. I think I might be able to use this site for new recordings and interviews the Margaret does.

Saturday, November 3, 2007


Today was William's last swimming lesson of the term, we'll sign him up to continue after Christmas. After the lesson I took the screening fee I received from the One Take Film, which I certainly have to share with William, and bought some Lego. There is a good deal on the Creative Box, 480 pieces of general Lego in a plastic bin, at the Bay for $13.60. I bought a couple.

This afternoon I ordered a new computer from Dell. I've been frustrated for too long with my last one, and it also seems that William's computer won't run a game I just got for him, so it's time for upgrades all around (he'll get my old one). I didn't see a time frame on delivery, but I assume I'll have it by December when I intend to spend more time at home working on it.

Friday, November 2, 2007


I wrote about Tyler Banadyga's film "Toast" from the One Take Super-8 Event in my experimental film review blog. Later in the morning, Alex Rogolski came by the house and Margaret, he, and I spoke for a half hour on tape about the super-8 event. Margaret is moving on with her thoughts on recording and will be more actively collecting interviews with artists. It was pretty relaxed, I think talking in the kitchen might be a better way to go sometimes than going to a studio.
CUPE is on strike so the facilities for our department are shut down. I slipped into the darkroom to do an experiment while it was not in use. Following instructions I found on line from Roger Bunting, I successfully developed a piece of movie film using Maxwell House instant coffee and washing soda. Coincidentally, I received the book "The Chemistry of Photography" by Bunting today. I've just read the first page, the instructions I used were just from the website. I used regular film fix rather than his alternative, sea water, due to my current shortage of sea water and to wanting to test one method at a time.

The shadow on the left side of this sample frame is actually the result of the scanner and my lack of necessary holders for scanning 16mm film frames. It looks better than this. I developed it as a negative. I followed the 25 minute suggestion but I think I over developed by a few minutes, I might be able to do this hi-con film stock in about 15 minutes.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


Margaret and Tanya were on CBC radio this morning, a total of four times as far as I've heard. I've put one of the broadcasts onto Margaret's blog, it's only a couple of minutes, check it out.

Patrick Lowe is in town for the next few days shooting his new film on the Oxberry stand at the Filmpool. He stopped in and we chatted and ate candy for a while.

Tonight was the One Take Super-8 Event at the RPL, free. I'm showed a new film I made with William called "Cake". Two other films that grabbed me were also father/son films, one by Tyler Banadyga in which his one year old exhibits amazing expressions while eating toast, and another by Sean Fulton in which Sean makes faces at the camera to the amusement of his son. Both were simple yet riveting.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Halloween today, I created my annual film loop for the neighbourhood. This time I had some black and white negative images of insects and instead of the regular screen, I created a large ghost and shone onto it, so that the ghost becomes a mass of bugs. Pictured here, just before sunset, the projection is not yet evident. William is a dinosaur, a pterodactyl to be precise, and I am wearing the cloak that Dawn Henderson gave me many years ago. He got a lot of candy, there weren't many kids (we got 30) even though the weather was perfect (no snow or rain or even much wind with temperatures a few degrees above normal). Margaret did a phone interview with CBC radio and will likely be on tomorrow morning sometime regarding the cancellation of her community radio show. There is also a petition going around regarding it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


At the UofR and UofS, CUPE is on strike of sorts, they walked off for a while today but went back to work. If they go on strike, the film profs are going to have to alter their courses to work around the lack of equipment access, darkroom access, and editing room access. I don't know if we can survive a long strike, teaching film as a theoretical art only. It can be done, but most of the students can't stay engaged for long, it could be a very bad time. All I know is that it's a good semester to be on sabbatical.

We went to William's school and carved another pumpkin in the gym this evening. They baked cupcakes in the nutrition room, yum.


I kept waiting for the shoe to drop. The past week or two has followed the pattern that if I have a good start to my day, something screws it up, but if I have a crummy start to the day, something redeems it. Today was generally quite good. I got some solid progress editing the End of Life work, I was almost late picking up William, but got there on time and we watched, and really enjoyed, Flintstones (Fred has to replace the rich industrialist for a day and just say "Whose baby is that? What's your angle? I'll buy that.". William wasn't really into Flintstones when I began this experiment, but he was repeating the dialogue all day today. This afternoon I finished the first cut on the dance piece June and I shot with Tanya. I'm pretty happy with where it's going, although a bit nervous since I've occasionally featured editing and filmic style over body and dance style, and I'm not sure what Tanya will think, and as she is out of town this week, there's a big lag time in showing it to her. The summer was a bit of a rush with many things, and this dance shoot was one of them. As I was cutting, I realized that we never sat down to really talk about what the dance was ABOUT. I can interpret some things, but may be mistaken. For example, the performance begins with Tanya sitting and typing into the computer and talking about her relationship with the machine. Since we were shooting without a plan and needed to react quickly to the dance without rehearsals, we shot with two cameras and no tripods. However, that did not adequately anticipate the stationary situation as the piece begins. Tanya stays at the computer for about four minutes and the loose cameras capture it just fine. However, it all seems too free and organic while the content is about machines and (without using the word) cyborg living. Therefore I chose to use a short clip of typing and looped it so that we see the repetitive, mechanical nature of the computer interface. What I tended to cut out at times, such as in this first scene, was the huge video projection of the computer screen. We are accustomed to the computer screen being relatively small, 17-24". In this performance, the screen becomes 10-12 feet high. However, in video taping it, I convert it back down to its original size. The sense of spectacle, at least when the dancers are not in front of it, is gone.
This evening we carved pumpkins and William and I played wrestling (I don't know where this obsession came from, I don't think it was the Flintsones) and I watched some tv. Good day.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


Quiet day today, breakfasted on the bed then zipped to my parents to see my nephew Chris off as he headed back to Calgary with his new car (new for him). I laid a few Tim Horton coupons on him, seemed to like that. I was going to do some writing or something this afternoon but I went to the Science Centre with William and looked at teeth instead.
The Gemini awards were here in Regina this evening. I didn't go, or even watch them, but I guess that's exciting. Corner Gas won one. Wapos Bay, by my friend Dennis Jackson in Saskatoon also won best children's program but that award was given out two weeks ago, not tonight.


After the radio station last night, neither of us slept well. I couldn't initially sleep so I went down stairs to read on the couch were I did dose but woke at 4:30 feeling worse. I had a version of a migraine come on, but with no aura, but just the pain for many hours. I told Margaret at about 8 am because I couldn't remember where I kept my drugs. See found them (I forgot to ask where they were) and made the decision to get extra help. Her mother drove her to work and William to swimming, allowing me to try to sleep it off, and by noon I could remember how to talk properly again. I'm reminded of a video Chrystene Ells creatd the other day that simulated what she sees when she has a migraine. It's the most horrible thing I've ever seen, I've suggested that she show it on a big screen in front of lots of people.

My sister Sharon and nephew Chris are in town, I'd not expected them. Missed Artist Trading Cards to hang out with them today as we'd been invited to Christina Stojanova's for a delightful party this evening. Our next door neighbour is also having a loud party tonight, mostly confined to his new and well insulated garage, so we barely hear the live band!

Friday, October 26, 2007


Brett arrived but didn't knock, sorry to miss you, thanks for dropping the XXXXXXXX in the mailbox.

So it seems impossible to have an entirely good day. Mine started pretty well. I got some progress on my End of Life video in the morning, a nice lunch at home with Margaret and William, more progress on the dance video with Tanya Dahms in the afternoon, then I recorded my One Take Super-8 soundtrack with William and edited it, then attended a couple of films at the MacKenzie Art Gallery curated by Phillippe Mather which, even though they were in French and not subtitled, where quite engaging. Back at home, Margaret borrowed "The Cotton Club" from the library and just before we started watching it, I made the mistake of looking at her email to discover that CJTR have officially canceled her radio show, citing "lack of remorse" for not following procedures, and for not meeting with Ketih, the station manager with an out of control anger issue. Who stands up for the volunteers over there? I think they expect the cancelled show hosts to just disappear without a sound. I think there is going to be some noise.


It took me 1.5 hours but I fixed the problem on the dance video that messed up yesterday. However, as I had some things to do downtown (discussions of policy at the Filmpool) I didn't have time to progress further. I then spent part of the evening trying to put together a festival entry that I thought was due tomorrow but in actuality the deadline is a couple of weeks away but I would save money by hitting the early deadline tomorrow, so I'll just have to eat that five bucks and get it in next week as I was just getting frustrated by the machines again. I think what I need to do is take every single one of my films (about 70) and make an mpeg of it and permanently store it on my hard drive to create discs whenever I need them. However, that will take dozens of hours at the university, so I'll probably have to hire someone. In the end, it doesn't solve things as what I most often need is a copy of the very newest film, which will undoubtedly not be amongst those I would have ready. So then what?

I was expecting Brett to stop in this evening, had he come by he'd have caught me watching Blades of Glory, which I am ashamed to admit I found quite entertaining. Where are you Brett?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Margaret took care of lunch so I spent the whole day in the edit rooms, the morning working on End of Life, and the afternoon finally getting a start on a video of a dance performance by Tanya Dahms that June Madeley and I shot earlier this summer. I had the material all in the computer and started at the beginning. At 4:00 I had a really elegant opening 5 minutes when suddenly I lost half of the footage! The media went off line and I could not manage to relink it, so I'll have to re-capture that tape next time and hope that it goes back together without me having to redo all the work I did. This evening William and I watched "Here Comes Peter Cottontail: The Movie". I think they were going for a bit of a Rankin and Bass sort of thing, complete with a friendly on-screen animated narrator (voiced by Christopher Lloyd), but it all seemed a bit rushed. It was slick, but all too uniform, the characters move through the scenes with a smooth precision akin to Mario Brothers within a game environment. There was nothing really bad, but there was also nothing really good, the characters and plot were properly assembled but certainly conventional. Neither William nor I were inclined to turn it off, but I'm not sure if/when it'll be replayed.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


We went into the studio and shot the interviews with Angie and me for the documentary on the Aboriginal End of Life conference we shot last month. I've tried to stay out of the limelight on this project but since the focal point of this project is to be the process of researching using video, it does make sense that I say something. Angie also brought her sister, another Dr. Baydala, whom we also interviewed.
Finished up the session just in time to join the NMSL meeting where I found out that our lab downstairs in the Riddell Centre is going to move to much smaller space in the Green house gasses building very soon. I agree with the logic, but it will be highly disagreeable to the students of mine who will be using it, especially in the winter when they have to go trudging a block outside to get to the edit room. For myself, I like the Greenhouse Gases Building when I'm not teaching, I can pull up to the parking lot, go in, work, and leave without seeing anyone, isolated with no distractions.

Monday, October 22, 2007


I worked on a little video with William's drawings today. It's also basically his script, I just prompted a few things and recorded him. The backgrounds on the planet are from my "Modern" series. I've worked mostly in Adobe After Effects with a bit of photoshopping to separate the inconsistent blue screen from images of William (I've got a blanket close pinned up between a door and the window behind me that we used for a blue screen on the weekend.) William thinks there should be a chase scene next, so I've called it as "Mission to Fluutonia, part 1", and we'll do another chapter later. I am the uncredited voice of mission control as well as the theremin player (yes, I am sampling yet again from the same first recording I did months ago as the machine is at work and I never get around to completing its construction). I think the big breakthrough in creating this video is having this little M-Audio Microtrack recorder at home, I have been doing a number of little recordings and it's so convenient to record and to put the files into the computer. This is a little hand held unit that records good quality audio (new purchase for the NMSL). I've created a 1/4 resolution version of it below, the details are so poor you can hardly see things, but hopefully it will give an impression.


I had a great lazy Sunday today, William and I watched "Pirates of the Caribbean". I've avoided it for the past year as he doesn't like to be scared and the walking dead can be a bit intimidating, but he asked to see it and so I picked it up, prepared him, and we watched it together in the afternoon, which is a lot better than the evening for how films affect him.
I baked my cookies, they turned a bit green and I don't know why.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


We had a Filmpool Board meeting this morning, they've been devilishly difficult to schedule, I missed one in July and we've not had quorum for another since. We talked a lot about spaces that the Filmpool could move to, and basically if we should move at this time. Then I went home to make cookie batter, a double batch of cranberry with orange rind instead of lemon as I don't have any lemons in the house.


All week I've been reviewing footage from the End of Life and Cancer Research conference from a few weeks ago. Everything looks fine, although I'm finding that after two hours I can no longer concentrate on words people are saying on the screen. Perhaps this is due to the image being small (4'' across) or perhaps this is just natural; perhaps being the one doing the talking for 2-3 hours has caused me to lose perspective. I spent the afternoon with it and have selected relevant statements from all of the regular interviews, now I need to review the talking circle and the presentations.

Met with Chrystene today, now that we don't meet weekly I feel a bit disconnected from the real creative stuff and we end up talking about the important, but certainly less entertaining, financial or academic or technical or logistical problems. She'll start editing next week so hopefully we can get back to discussions of storytelling and all that.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

110 Riddell

This evening I went to see the Regina premier of "River" a digital feature by UofR colleague Mark Wihak. It was very strong, I was captivated. One interesting thing was the cast which consisted primarily of Adam Budd and Maya Batten-Young who are not only the lead characters but also co-writers (much of the film came out of improvisation and lengthy rehearsals) of this basically two person cast (there were others people, but few with more than two lines). What made this cast interesting to me was the fact that they are both film graduates, I taught both of them, and I got to know both of them (at least a little bit) outside of class. Adam has served on the Filmpool Board and we have met numerous times, debating many aspects of film and art. Maya worked for me as my darkroom assistant in 2006, which means that we spent hours in the dark stirring film and talking. As the characters were developed through workshops with Mark, there is a lot of their real personality in their characters. As as sort of privileged viewer, I was constantly struggling with who I think these people on screen are, and who their characters are. Certainly there is more about them than I know, but I also could not accept every part of the fiction as real. The blurring was certainly a large part of the excitement. Disappointingly, neither Maya nor Adam were in town to attend and discuss this. Separating myself for this dilemma, the characters were solid and believable. I think it was Herzog who said that good character comes from inconsistencies. For example, Adam's character seems like a dreamer, obsessed with intellectual thought and art, but often blurts out blunt, pragmatic observations. My head was spinning. The other aspect of the film (yes, it was hd video, but it looked so damn good I have to call it a film) was how beautiful Regina became. I am convinced that this film could convince any filmmaker, anywhere in the world, to come and shoot a film here. It was like Mark shot every scene at magic hour. It is on for another three days, catch it if you can. RPL in downtown Regina, 9pm Friday and Sunday, 7pm on Friday.

My Alex McKenzie article is now on Alex's website.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Watched a dvd of animated work by David Russo of Seattle. I really want to steal a whole bunch of his ideas (oops, did I say that out loud?), he pixilates himself holding animated series of artwork, so much energy. I'll probably write a review sometime next week.

This evening William and I started creating a new animated film about aliens. He drew pictures and I photographed him against a makeshift bluescreen in his astronaut costume (his winter coat with the hood up). We started recording a soundtrack but he complained about his throat being soar, sort of like mine was last night. When I went to bed last night, I could barely talk.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

108 : Margaret's birthday in 2007 with pictures

The reference below to how we "ate the results" of my super-8 film was meant to be mysterious. Now that I am writing this caption, six years later, it took me a few minutes to remember that this referred to my film "Cake" which I felt was quite successful. 

 Today is Margaret's birthday. She's decided everything should be based around the number 3, which has me somewhat baffled. It's not that I don't work well with arbitrary themes, it's only a problem when that theme is so general that I don't know where to start. It's like saying that the birthday should have a birthday theme. I picked up an amazing New Yorker cartoon collection. If the hefty 600 page book isn't enough, it also has a dvd rom which contains all 70, 363 cartoons on it! That would be reading one a day for about 200 years, or 200 a day for a whole year. Fits well into her cartoon collection which has been sealed in the attic for a year until last night after we watched the Adam's Family with William and I had to go find the Chas Adams collection from storage.

William and I had our doctors appointment today, so I took him downtown to the SGI tower for lunch. They were serving macaroni and cheese as well as ribs. William was excited about the macaroni until about 5 seconds after I'd been served, so he mostly ate my lunch and I ate his. Fortunately he said something before we'd put some horrid ketchup onto it, he follows his mother in being able to tolerate this mixture, I can't. We are in good shape, William surprised the doctor by reading words off the poster he pointed at, rather than just the letters while testing his eyes. His reading is coming along quite well. I found out from my appointment that I'm actually an inch taller than I thought I was. I double checked with my own marking on the wall that I drew a few years ago and it's true. I marked it but never measured it, who knew?

I finished shooting my One Take Super-8 film today and ate the results with Gerri Anne, Steve, and Paul. Steve made his first video last weekend, "Going for Milk", although it perhaps should have been called "Milk Run" about getting distracted by the hot car while using it for an errand. Pretty well done, especially for a first work. Only about a couple of minutes long.

Monday, October 15, 2007


This morning I shot my One Take Super-8 film, or at least most of it. I'll have to conclude it tomorrow morning when I have some fresh cream and good light. I'm still looking for the perfect counter point soundtrack, have a week to put that together.

I finished watching Jason Britski's films today. The last two were both screened at the 50-104 festival but the second viewing brought an entirely different tone to them. When I first saw them a few weeks ago I thought they were entirely formal, I thought that he was distancing himself from content. One is primarily about China Girls, the momentary flash of an image of a woman that is put onto the opening leader of movie film to assist in colour correction. The second was about power lines. This time watching them I think they are highly sentimental, being about his long time passions for film and for looking up at the sky. What will a third viewing bring...?


A restful day, actually took a nap while Margaret and William were out. I've been re-watching Jason Britski's films (local experimental filmmaker) with the intention of writing something about them, they are quite amazing. I've decided I will have to draw a map of the connections between them, like a web of themes, motifs, and subject matter. I'm watching just one or two of his films per day so I can spend time thinking about them, rather than letting them run together.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


I was supposed to be at a Filmpool meeting this morning but it wasn't taking place, so I had a bit of free time downtown. They have some lego at fair prices at the Bay, not the selection of Toys R Us. They have some of the bins of general pieces, surprisingly difficult to find. Spent the afternoon at home with William as Margaret was at Stacy's baby shower. I started editing the 20 minute long interview Margaret did with Buffy St. Marie last night in the limo. Serious rumble throughout. John and Joan headed back to Toronto this evening.


Tonight was the big screening of the 63 minute director's cut of the Buffy Sainte-Marie documentary. I had to cut out afterwards to pick up William but I convinced Margaret to stay later and try to get an interview. She ended up doing some recording, I'm not sure if it was at the hotel bar or in the limo, I'll confirm if it recorded in the morning. I was going to do the recording with a new little recorder but as I couldn't, I gave her a 30 second workshop, which covered about all I knew as I'd taken it out without instructions for the first time today, and only got a flash card for it an hour before the event, so fingers are crossed.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


This morning Margaret's cousin, John Bessai, and his wife Joan Prowse arrived and are staying with us for a couple of days. They are here to launch their new documentary/biography about Buffy Sainte-Marie. There was a kerfuffle about the event, taking place tomorrow night at the CBC, since SCN's attachment to the event almost led to it being canceled due to SCN being a crown corp and the election was announced last night. They finally determined that as it is their company, and not SCN, that is hosting the party, all is fine. Buffy's whole family will be here, so it's a cool opportunity.

I took them to the train club at the Sherwood mall, which was naturally closed. This followed a conversation from this morning about toys kids don't have anymore such as the electric slot race cars and model trains, and that someone they know in Toronto has rented mall space to sell remote control cars and supply buyers with an on-site race track for them to compete on. Sherwood is a really dead mall, but for the Co-op grocery which has the best donuts in the city. Other mall occupants appreciate the train club (even though they are never open) as it gives the mall more life than if the place was vacant.

I also took them to the MacKenzie Art Gallery and we saw the amazing Joe Fafard retrospective. I can't even describe how good it was, just go! It's open until the end of the year.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


I had a meeting today to discuss my involvement in an Arthur Conan Doyle symposium next year. I might put together a film screening based around the many renditions of Sherlock Holmes from over the past century. The up side is watching lots of great Holmes films. The down side is watching lots of dreadful ones. There have been some reasonably well made Sherlock Holmes films, but in general they are not regarded as great or visionary cinema. Rather, their role in cinema history would relate more to the iconic nature of the character, his hat and pipe and sidekick Watson are part of our shared cultural knowledge, even if we rarely (or never) watch those films or read the books.

I've also just reset some of setting to allow non-blog users to leave comments to this post.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


I wrote a review of Alex MacKenzie's film work I saw at the Antimatter festival in Victoria and have created a new blog, Experimental Film Review, where I will post such reviews. It won't be updated every day as I have neither the time nor the availability of material to review to maintain that. Enjoy.

Monday, October 8, 2007


I spent the afternoon talking with Leesa Streifler, sometimes about the university, sometimes about the kids, but also a lot about creative work. I've already forgotten how inspired I was when I was at the film festival, seeing new fresh film and feeling like I just wanted to jump into it and get cracking. I'm going to start working harder this week, making something new every day. This is the 100th day of my sabbatical, a wake up call.

Sunday, October 7, 2007


My manic state continued last night as I did laundry until 2am and finished off a number of more tv shows. Bionic Woman was quite good, done with obvious attention of style and mood and setting up a dozen or so potential sub plots to deal with later. It felt well planned, perhaps even over planned. I feel it might be better suited to have stayed small at first, concentrating on Jamie's internal turmoil and making the company seem like an honest benefactor like the old show. However, we are already suspecting its motives. Basically good tv. Following Bionic Woman I recorded the first episode, but not the second, of "Life" about a cop who was sent to prison for 12 years, learned to be very philosophical about everything, then is released when it is proven he was innocent. He gets millions of dollars in compensation but returns to being a cop anyway so that he can solve the crime he was sentenced for. It is really well written and acted. I was playing out scenes of this this morning to Margaret, they stuck with me so strongly. The other gem of tv last night was the one hour opener of "Family Guy" doing a Star Wars parody. This was the best Star Wars send up since "Hardware Wars". It returned to the film with reverence, which made it more cutting than most other satires I've seen. A few weeks ago I was watching a bit of "Space Balls" and comparing these two is really eye opening. Satire really must be done by people who embrace the original, the satire is an honor to the original, not a excuse for opportunists to repeat the same jokes over and over again.

Thanksgiving supper with both sets of parents today; turkey was nice but I have a sore throat and conversations were limited.

I bought the board game "Carcassonne" box set with 4 extras today. Margaret, William and I played it - I learned it in Seattle from Tom and Veronica and liked it a lot. It is a fairly high end strategy game but there are no secret cards or negotiations, so we are able to help William along and play relatively cooperatively. We just played the basic game before supper, but will likely ramp up to the dragon supplement this week.

Saturday, October 6, 2007


I had a strangely energetic day today but, since Margaret injured a toe with a falling stool a couple of days ago, I stayed home and tidied. It was oddly satisfying to get junk that has piled up in various corners and put things elsewhere. I had a big box of cassette tapes in my studio in desperate need of purging so I threw out about 50 or 100 of them. I was going to donate them to CJTR, but am still very angry at their station manager, Keith Calhoon, for yelling at Margaret and canceling her radio show last week. No donations for them this year.

Last night, in my week long quest to catch up on new tv, I watched the first two episodes of "Moonlight" about a 90 year old vampire private eye. Wasn't there a vampire cop tv show back in the 80s or 90s? I will probably remember the title of it as soon as I post this (you know how that goes) even though I never watched a complete episode of it as it suffered from bad-80s-night-shooting-look-itus, and that is too painful for me. Couldn't watch much of the Flash tv series when I booked out the dvds a few weeks ago for the same reason. The scripts weren't bad (although not particularly good) but the show seemed quickly put together and there was no distinctive visual style and there was very little chemistry between any of the characters. I decided to record it when I saw that one of the actors from "Veronica Mars", Jason Dohring, who plays a 300 year old vampire with the same cocky self centred-ness as his Mars character. He is worth it, but was only on screen for 2-3 minutes per episode.

Friday, October 5, 2007


William had the day off today and we all have a bit of a cold so we stayed home. He was up in the middle of the night with a soar throat and came into our bed where he kept Margaret, but not me, awake for a couple of hours. In the morning, Margaret went to work and I puttered around watching some tv and editing shows in the dvr, letting William sleep to a record 10:45! It seems that YTV is only airing the first 65 episodes of the original Inspector Gadget series, and I've now got 63 of those 65 store away on 9 dvds for William. I'm not feeling anal enough to chase the others, this is already 2 solid days worth and there is no actually progression in the series, other than the loss of his mustache after episode one (apparently he looked to much like Inspector Clouseau from the Pink Panther movies).

This afternoon we went to Knox Metropolitan Church and toured the bell tower - we even got to ring the bells, playing parts in a couple of songs. The 12 giant bells were donated with the conditions that they would be open for use by all religions, so they have been used by Jewish people, Buddhists, and others. Wayne Tunison, whom we've known for a number of years, is a bell ringer (and engineer and artist) and has set up a small art gallery on the low-ceilinged, thin-floored level just above the bell ropes but below the bells themselves and calls it the Dead Air Space Gallery. A unique space.

Last night I watched the first two episodes of "Journeyman", which is basically Quantum Leap with more soap opera in that the character inexplicably jumps around in time to help people but returns home to where he has to hold his family together and convince his cop brother that he's not crazy. The time travel stories are somewhat superficial since he has no one to really talk about them with so by the time we figure out why a time travel bit is important, it is over. I'm already tired of him apologizing to his wife about missing dinners and getting them on the no-fly list at the airport, so unless someone can figure out a way for him to unpaint himself from a corner, it likely won't last.

Thursday, October 4, 2007


I sort of knew going into today that I wouldn't really accomplish anything. I wish I could have just resigned myself to that at the beginning, I would have felt a lot better. Basically, I went into the edit room to get some editing done on the dance with Tanya Dahms I shot with June Madeley a few months ago. However, before I could start I had to sort out a glitch in the dvd authoring (Kalyn and I never solved it but it seems better after re-installing it) and I have been having sluggish response from the Avid even though it is a new machine and newest software, so I consolidated files and unclogged the drives. By the end of that, it was time to pick up William and I got nothing done on the dance work. I'll need to hit the edit room hard next week.

Last night I watched the first two episodes of this season of Heroes. They are obviously very confident with the show as it starts really slow. My only observation is about the lack of difference between people supposedly from different parts of the country. The girl from Texas is supposed to be trying to blend in and not get noticed in southern California. Since I can hear the difference between how people talk in Ontario versus Manitoba, I have a hard time believing that no one notices that she's from Texas. However, the characters seem to have fallen under the generic north American accent deceit.