Monday, June 30, 2008


Today is the last day of my sabbatical. The title of today's blog is 365, which is an error, as there were 366 days this year owing to the leap year. About three months ago I made a numbering mistake (278), but I'm not inclined to make all the changes. No one would notice if I were not pointing it out right now.
It's going to be a scorcher today, probably 34 degrees, so I got onto my computer first thing to get some work done. While the university is open, I gave Eric the day off with tomorrow (Tuesday) being Canada day. He'll be beaching it for sure. Margaret is working all day so I'll hang with William. He's working on his Lego and I've posted a new video on his blog demonstrating a new dwarf war machine he built yesterday. I'm also posting the last chapter of my How To Be an Experimental Filmmaker series on YouTube. Today is week 26 and I've got 26 videos this year (two series' of 13). We're off to Nim's Island this afternoon to beat the heat.
Have I completed everything I set out to do this year? No. There are a couple of more things I will finish in the next month, but some stuff I've abandoned. Other stuff (example the Youtube videos) were not on the initial list. I think I did okay. I don't feel rested however.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


William and I went to Wall-E today, very good film. Of course, William was full of questions and a bit nervous about the situation, so needed to voice them constantly throughout the first third such as "where are all the people", "are they all dead", that sort of thing, of which I did not know the answer (they aren't dead).
Weather is hot, I put a second coat of paint on shed door and planted another grape vine (now have four). I bought a six dvd set of NASA documentaries at London Drugs on my way for coffee with Kevin. Nice thing about NASA is that all their space footage is public domain, so expect to see some of it re-purposed in my future videos.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Saturday, didn't do any real work, watched some Justice League with William. Had to run off and get more photos for a collage frame for my parents, those ones with a bunch of odd shaped holes to fit pictures into but get them to fit is really time consuming. Ran back and forth to the store twice and never did remember to mail my medial reimbursement letter in (a number of months of stuff for the whole family).
My friend/colleague/ filmmaker Dianne Ouellette had a backyard pool party today. Kathy Toth wore a grass skirt.
This evening we went for a family supper to celebrate my parents' 50th anniversary. I had a photo album book made through the Costco on line photo lab. The interface was terrible but the product was good.

Friday, June 27, 2008


Last night Margaret rented Golden Compass (which we all watched together, it's not bad) and Savages by Merchant/Ivory, which we didn't have time for and I watched this afternoon. Wow, very fun. At its best, it is akin to works of Bunuel, inexplicable events reshaping reality unapologetically in a bold, but non-didactic commentary on we as people. At it's worst, it seemed occasionally to be like a window into an actor's workshop as improvisation is taken to a nauseating level. However, most of the time it remains cinematic, with directing taking control of the scenes and taking the audience into the surreal.
I completed last of the 13 video series featuring Professor Delusia the Nocturnalist, burned to dvd and ready for kinescoping. Next they will go to film, be hand processed, transfered back to video and have the music (by Eric) matched to them. I've decided that they will be my next web video series since my Sock-vile set will probably take me a month or more to get the first episode done.
I bought one of Margaret's dad's old grain bins today for $100. I'm going to do something with it, although not yet certain what.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Stayed home most of the day editing new videos for my Professor Delusia series. I put together five of them last week. Between yesterday and today I've edited six more and have footage for another two.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Eric and I started a city symphony style film today, which is a traditional of weaving together images of a city into a visual study to be played with music. I had us focus on alleyways in the Cathedral area of Regina, shot from a high vantage point with a wide lens in reference to Wilf Perreault. We shot at least 50 shots, I've not reviewed the tape yet.
It was the last day of school for William today. His report card is good. I bought him the Spiderwick Chronicals dvd and we watched it before summer. It seems the ending is changed from the books and if anyone has seen it, can they explain to me how the family won't get arrested for the disappearance of their great aunt at the end of the story?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I just found The Incredibles soundtrack at the library. I'd meant to order in on line a couple of years ago, having never been able to find it on the shelf, but I rarely get around to that sort of thing. Then on a whim I glanced through soundtracks at the library while waiting for Margaret to get coffee for her break and there it was. It's great in the car, classic 60s style, but po-mo, so that always makes it better.
Eric and I did some more film copying with the flatbed, this time copying film that have optical soundtracks on them to see how well those copy. We probably won't develop them for a week, so I'll have to wait to find out (unless I slip in and do the black and white one...?).
We were supposed to have our first Filmpool Board meeting of the new year this evening but didn't get quorum. Eric is a newcomer to the Board so we talked for a while about things that we didn't need to make decisions about and to bring him up to speed on what the Board does (which I can't reveal here, or else I'll have to kill you).

Monday, June 23, 2008


Through some miscommunication, Eric and I didn't connect up until close to noon and I spent my morning close to comatose, cleaning my office and having it (relatively) clutter free for the first time ever. We eased into our work schedule, gathering stuff slowly and making our way to the classroom to go some more Ray-o-gram tests, on 35mm colour film this time. I exposed about 33 feet (perhaps 25 seconds) and have plans to do a large portion of the project once I have these tests developed. It will be about five minutes in total, featuring a lot of grain laid on top of raw film stock. Once this test was done, we shot more video footage of the Melies influenced "Professor Delusia the Nocturnalist", which should allow me to complete a 13 part cycle of them. Eric had an idea for music and we recorded it on the grand piano in the recording studio. I might run those as my next set of Youtube videos instead of the Golem of Socks story, "Sock-vile". Speaking of Sock-vlle, I finished typing up the script for it today. I'd written it a few weeks ago but had been carrying it around hand written since then, constantly afraid of losing it as there was no back up anywhere. I always like to have a back up, although somehow I gave Deric Olsen the only copy of a video Fazail made for me based around a 3D scan of my face. Deric moved on Montana a year ago and is now in the middle of moving to Lethbridge again and has just found a disc which might be the one in question. Therefore, I might have that animation again: my hope was to use it as an intro to some of my dvds with a loud noise.


This evening we watched some Sherlock Holmes with Jeromy Brett, certainly the best adaptations ever. It gets me all excited about the character again, especially after some of the other versions I've watched this year. I put a coat of paint on the shed door and painted out some graffiti on the garbage bins in the alley.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


I posted my new video, the 12th of a 13 part series.
Most of day spent with William on a play date then shopping for clothes and Lego, then to Terry's for another play date and hanging out until 11pm. We borrowed the 3 Bionicle movies from her since the library's copies are very scratched and I can never find them in the store.

Friday, June 20, 2008


I was up way too late working on my videos last night, so today when I had committed to kinescope all morning then process film all afternoon, I almost died. Eric did some very cool video feed back with the kinescope chain. We shot onto really old Kodak 7239 colour reversal stock, probably early 1980s. We developed it as black and white negative. There is a murkiness to it, so the whites aren't clean, but otherwise looks pretty good.
Today was solstice. We had a fire and popped corn over it in the backyard.


and this is one of those days where I am just so busy I cannot really find the time to blog. I've been at the computer all day, but for a run to the bank and the photo place at the drug store, banging away on this machine to create five (count em, 5) videos based upon the Melies films. I perform in them as Professor Delusia, the Nocturnalist, who performs magic tricks. We shot one using in camera tricks and then some follow ups using green screen. I think I can make one or two more out of the stuff we shot, each of them is about a minute. They are silent films. I might post them in the future, but my current concern is for getting them ready to kinescope tomorrow morning. Bedtime now.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

353 - a year in review

This is my 366th posting of a daily blog as I began this on the 19th of June, 2007 and it was a leap year. For those of you thinking of starting one, it was very easy. I had intended to begin on the first of July but felt I might need a few days to figure it out. I began logging on and setting it up while William was in the bathroom (some big business) and by the time he was done, I was typing my first post. Now it is getting hard to remember a time when I was not typing every day, although about once per week I almost forget to post, just because my thoughts are elsewhere. I think this has been a good tool for me to keep track of some of the things I've been doing as well as to communicate with some of you on a regular basis. I'm also increasingly wary about what I write, this blog is public and my identity is far from secret. I envy some bloggers who maintain anonymity and can therefore complain about everyone and everything around them. Part of being human is to react against things that bother us, but blogs give us a soap box that is potentially a bit too high. In the end, it is for the best that I am forced to self censor. It requires me to find more diplomatic ways of expressing myself.
Today I recorded a forty minute interview with Ed Knopf about agriculture and technology for my "Grain" project. He has a lot of interesting observations about complimentary technologies, where one invention leads to some other change or advancement. I talk about this sort of thing in film history such as the invention of plastics that allowed for the creation of flexible film, and therefore cinema. Lots of cool ideas from him. William and his sone Rowan played Lego.
I posted my new video to Youtube.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Eric was late coming in this morning, assumably because he was up late last night frustrated with the optical printer eating my film, which also happened for me when I reloaded it so it wasn't just a simple error, but it did not eat the dummy roll I added later, nor the next roll I put on, so I will have him finish with an alternate roll instead of my 40th birthday roll I wanted him to explore as a random time study, running forward for a few seconds then pausing for a couple of seconds, suggesting that our memory of moments is more random than we want to believe. I won't know if it was effective until we develop it later in the week. The original rolls were shot by Lisa Rae Vineberg while she was a student here. Anyway, Eric and I worked on more surrealism and in particular on the Melies style films, but this time in front of a green screen on video rather than traditionally in the studio on film with black screen. I've still not edited that, but hope to do so tomorrow.

Monday, June 16, 2008


Eric and I went out shooting pin hole cinema- tography again today. Actually, by using the higher speed colour negative, we were able to shoot fairly quickly, one tenth of a second, which is quicker than the animation controller will go. Thus we over exposed a bit. That will be fine. We shot a hundred feet of a train crossing (three trains came) and another 100 of the refinery.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Father's Day today. William brought me breakfast (or Margaret did actually) in bed and we all hung out and read and relaxed for a while. Margaret went to work in the afternoon so William took me to "Forbidden Kingdom" with Jackie Chan and Jet Li, we enjoyed it. Not a perfect movie, some pacing problems, but overall fun and well made. I love the Monkey King, I read a story about him recently so those parts were particularly appreciated. This evening we bar-b-qued then went for a walk for ice cream. My back is sore so I've not been tempted to do any work today, but feeling guilty about it so it doesn't feel like a break. I did post a new video for William on his blog though.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Saturday: Margaret went to work and left William and I to watch Justice League cartoons all morning. We went to the children's festival in Victoria park for a while; I changed some sidewalk chalk writing that said "EAT PUSSY" to "GREAT BUGGY" and put some wheels below the drawing of the cat. I posted my new video chapter of How To Be An Experimental Filmmaker to Youtube, and also updated William's blog with the Sphinx he built to go along with his pyramid.

Friday, June 13, 2008


I'm trying to maximize my day and feeling both good and bad about it. I have some frivilous reading I'd like to do, and some tv to watch, but haven't because I've been working or on the computer or with William all day. Met with John and Trudy to get a game plan for the next few weeks for the End of Life videos. John and I discovered a shortcut for making dvds out of the Avid. I made a new video for William's blog. I started typing up my script for the next series of web videos I'm making, a 13 part serial called "Sock-vile". I did laundry. I drove Margaret to work at the Sherwood library and back again later. I picked up the new issue of the Buffy comic which I've been looking forward to for weeks, but haven't cracked open yet. I designed a spinning hand wipe transition effect that I think I'll use to combine all of the How to be an Experimental Filmmaker videos together once they are done. I shot material for the new one but have not created the video yet. I started working on a secret gift for my parents, although I still have no idea what to get dad for father's day. I watched some cartoons will William after school. I still feel so far behind.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

347: my Toronto vacation

We got back last night from Toronto where we were visiting Margaret's brother and family for a week. Of course, it is Toronto so we naturally were overly busy and did too many things. We made a rule when we lived there that we would only plan one thing per day. If we accomplished more than that, it was gravy, but it should never be expected.

The flight to Toronto was without incident. We stayed with Margaret's brother George and his family (wife Ivana and girls Katherine and Kristin, who are aged one older and one younger than William). Ivana picked us up then we dropped her back at work then we took her car on a long scenic route back to their house which is in Markham, which is basically a city adjoined to the north end of Toronto (if you don't know the clues, you cannot possibly know that you are passing between cities when you cross Steels Avenue). We made a stop at our favorite bakery, Nina D'versa on Keele. George and I picked up a mattress for William but could not fit the accompanying box spring down the narrow stairway. William, still on Regina time, stayed up two hours past when his cousins did, even though he was excited about the idea of sleeping in Uncle George's basement.

On the second day, Thursday, we went to the Village of St. Jacob where there was a Lego outlet store. For more information on it, see the photos and video I posted today on William's blog. On Thursday evening, George and I pulled apart his cappuccino machine, removing the pump and immersing it and other parts in vinegar to try to get it working again. More surprising than our success was the fact that George got it back together again at the end.

Friday we decided should be a calmer day. It was very hot again (and muggy) so we drove the 1/2 mile into the old main street of Markham and went to the shops there, including a pretty good used book store and a chocolate shop which sold both Belgium as well as French chocolate. (The Mug and Truffle) I think the French stuff was more bitter and balanced by a sweeter filling, nice but I prefer the Belgium. William had a Sprite out of a glass bottle. When Margaret was talking to the proprietor of the chocolate shop about art, he suggested we visit the church down the block where a painter is working. We did so. It is an eastern orthodox church where a painter from Macedonia, Georgi Danevski. He was painting the entire inside of this church, he was close to being done after two years work, perhaps only a year remaining. He was really nice, he climbed down from his scaffold and made us coffee. William was initially quite shy but warmed up after they began drawing for each other. He likes to draw horses and drew one for William beside the one William drew. William gave him a picture of Mary and baby Jesus onto which Georgi added the halo. Georgi wanted William to call him Uncle Georgi and said he'd draw William's portrait if we came back the next week. Unfortunately, we did not manage to. Back at the house, William built his new (old stock) Bionicle. It's not on his blog yet but will be soon. We took a short tv break and watched the first scene or two of High School Musical. Even William lost interest. How obvious and formulaic can you get!!? It could get a cult following for its absurdity, but I can't understand how it has an earnest following of kids, I don't care how naive they might be.

William with George Bessai
Saturday, as planned, we went to Christian Island where Ivana's parents have a really nice cottage. Margaret, Ivana, and the kids went out first while George and I mowed the watered the lawn (after 10 years in the house, Ivana is extremely pleased to have a back yard lawn for the first time as of this month). George took William on an ATV, the girls are already driving them on their own. Of course, George took him around with the little one so he ended up tipping and George took a good scrape to the knee. Supper was grand, lots of ribs. Discussion of the mineral content of the water on the island led me to discover that a similar issue exists in Markham. My poor sleep since ariving might be the result of the water, which I'm still trying to drink more of instead of pop and other sugary liquids. Whoa is me.

Sunday, Ivana's dad is building a new, permanent dock. He was doing some arc welding and got a sun burn on his arms from it (no sleeves). George took William on a two hour ATV ride, taking in all the sights and trails (and many places that weren't trails) of the island. We drove home without mishap.

Monday morning we drove downtown and went to the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). I thought we'd have a quiet day there, but there were hundreds of kids there on school trips, so it was a madhouse. They've put on a huge addition, the crystal, that is quite odd. In a few places such as the dinosaur area where skeletons hang from the ceiling, it works. Most places it is just obtuse. However, the old areas are very old fashioned; rectangular rooms with old wood and a sombre mood, so a shake up was needed. William was most excited about the Egyptian exhibits, that he would see a real mummy! See photo. After that we went to the Danforth area and the Big Carrot organic food store and adjoining cool book store. William got the Stink books he didn't have, including the new fourth one. As we fed the pigeons, just as he had done four years ago, there was a downpour and we ran for the car. My old friend Angelos Hatzitolios lives in that area and we got to his place, watermelon in hand, for supper. William had been getting grumpy but fortunately he was able to play with their son's Lego and it eventually became a bonding experience. After I mentioned the slides I had been posting (automatic postings that I set up before I left Regina) on my blog, he put me on to a website where someone buys photos and does something similar on a regular basis called Bighappyfunhouse. It's pretty cool, check it out. It rained a lot on the way home, but we still made fair time on the Don Valley Parkway. We watched National Treasure until late, kind of fun, wish I'd watched it with William as it is quite innocent and he'd have liked it. I'll put it on my list.

Tuesday I was tired so I had a nap while Margaret took William shopping for gifts for his cousins. They were taken with the Bionicle he built so we bought some for them. Later, we picked up the girls from their school, the Somerset Academy in Markham Ontario, where parents care a lot about their kids education, although not enough about their safety not to park their environmentally unfriendly SUVs all along the fire lane in front of the school. We took them to Margaret's cousin Tom's house, near downtown. His house is amazing as he has been renovating it into a modernist dream. Architect. Tom's brother John and John's wife Joan also came, so it was a crazy Bessai party. I met David Wellington (director of "I Love a Man In Uniform") there, seems to be a friend of John and Tom. I'd heard his name but not until I looked him up did I realize the Man in Uniform connection. That movie poster was up in the seminar room at York and I used to stare at it every day. Now we have a copy of it up in our office hallway. Anyway, since Tom is an architect has three boys it goes without saying that he has lots of Lego (not as much as we do though) so you can guess what William spent his time doing. Actually he did get involved with their water fight, although that has mishaps. Driving home did not. George's dogs (two ten year old German shepherds) had torn open our zip lock bags of Lego when we got back to the house, so I had to assemble until I was certain they'd not eaten any. They hadn't.

Wednesday was yesterday, our last day in Toronto. Our flight home was for 6:00 pm. We swapped cars around, taking Ivana's Lexus which, even with 300,000 km on it, drove very nicely. We went for lunch and ice cream at Nina D'versas then headed downtown. We showed William a few sights, mostly through drive-bys, such as Casa Loma. We ended up in Chinatown. Ran into Rory McDonald (sculpture prof at UofR) in Kensington Market. Got some nice new plates and bowls at our favorite store. It was hot again and we were getting worried that William was getting heat stroke, but he held up well. At three o'clock we started on our way to the airport where we were to park the Lexus for Ivana to pick up when she returns from her flight she was also going on that day and would be returning the following day. We drove past the new renovations at the AGO (not open yet) then headed to the Gardener Expressway. Suddenly, nothing. The car died. There was no electrical power. The car would not start and the windows wouldn't go up or down. We called CAA and explained, they guaranteed that we'd have a truck there by 3:29. The police arrived at 3:25 and told us to move it, they gave us 10 minutes. THOUSANDS of cars were being affected. William and I went looking for a phone since the cel phone battery died, and had a closer look at the CN tower before we eventually found one at 3:50. CAA told us they'd have one in 10-15 minutes. At 4:05 a truck arrived but not a CAA one. Here is where our luck turns; HE WAS A COURTEOUS, HONEST, HELPFUL TORONTO TOW TRUCK DRIVER!!!! Most people who have driven in Toronto will swear they don't exist, but my hat comes off to this amazing tow truck driver, a hero, D. Birko (sp?) of Laidlaw Towing. He hooked us up, let us drive with him, lent us his phone, explained how we can get CAA to agree to pay the bill, and drove us to the mechanic. At 4:40 we got to a Canadian Tire and he then boosted us enough so we could get the windows up in case of rain and he negotiated with the Becks cab for a flat fee for us to the airport. The miracles continued as the cab managed to get us to the airport by 5:30 through rush hour traffic (mostly on the QEW). The airline people doubted that our luggage would make it there, but we could board and they would try (you are no longer allowed to say you won't fly with your luggage, but if it's their choice/fault, that's okay). The flight was fine (a bit rough) and Sarah Abbott got on our plane at Winnipeg. I didn't realize until we were going to bed that we'd had nothing but bits and bites for supper. Miracle #3, the luggage made it! Paul was waiting with all of William's castle Lego assembled and the Hogwarts Castle restored. We were very tired and went to bed at 11.

Today I'm starting to get back to work (even though I seem to do nothing but write this blog) since I really did just vacation while away and didn't use the laptop I brought and only shot a bit of video for use in my web videos (got an interesting strobing one out the cab window of these intermittent dividers between left and right lanes, but I'll save that for another day). I met with Eric just to discuss future plans since my hope to shoot was crushed by todays rain.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

346: slide restoration 8

In the interest of science, Rudy has continued to eat every meal in the same way, from the same bowl, since 1972. Rudy also continues to be single.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

345: slide restoration 7

During the big child care strike of '63, the professional stroller pushers chose not to walk out.

Monday, June 9, 2008

344: slide restoration 6

Maya never did know why her father cursed and spat whenever the price of Fantastic Four #48 increased. It had always been his dream to send his daughter up to be the first surfer in space.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

343: slide restoration 5

Having eaten the keys to the station wagon, the tortoise made a valiant run for it.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

342: slide restoration 4

Sinclair, in the red shirt, age four, discovered the meaning of life in the mouth of a scorpion. His family, in search of a power centre that would give them the best possible prices on straw hats and clogs, declared this spot to be simply "too warm". Sinclair forgot the scorpion until he was sixteen, as the 1970s was coming to a close, and created an underground cult that seeks, to this day, to find this fateful hotspot.

Friday, June 6, 2008

341: slide restoration 3

Not only did they all mysteriously survive the crash when no adults did, but they flourished... that is, until the gloves came off and little Trudy revealed the birthmark that proved her to be the rightful queen of Latvia.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

340: slide restoration 2

See posting 339 for further information about my new slide restoration project.

No one was as surprised as Agnes.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

339: slide restoration 1

The other day I bought a couple of hundred slides from a garage/house sale. They were not well labeled, so in the interest of history, I will present a selection of them here with facts that should be self evident. If anyone has additional information about these images, it would be a great boon to mankind if you came forth to further clarify the origin of the images.

Kal-El's ship was not a rocket but a space craft powered by a combination of a solar sail and pedaling by an in-house cabana boy.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


I posted a new video on William's site. The road crew came an hour later and finally started progressing on my road again. Met with Eric for just a short time, gave him a bunch more optical printing to do, the super-8 blow up to 16mm has been working really well and so I'll be using a fair amount of that in the "Grain" film project. I commissioned a new (mysterious) satchel from Nikki Henderson and it was ready today. It has a walrus on it....

Monday, June 2, 2008


Eric and I shot 100 feet of film in a Melies style today, it was tremendously exciting. I played the magician making strange things happen to a vase of oats. I've wanted to do this sort of thing for a long time. I requires working in front of a black screen and superimposing things in-camera. It was so 19th century.
I posted a new video today.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


The last month of the sabbatical begins. Dread.
Mom gave me two grape vines today, I planted them against the new fence with the southern exposure. I didn't read up about them first, might have to dig them out later and do it right, but how else can I achieve perfection but for unnecessary practice.
Kevin and I saw "Iron Man" at the theatre today. Enjoyed it. In particular, I liked that it was basically a Tony Stark movie. The guise of Iron Man was basically like watching Transformers, which is fine for what it is but doesn't sustain interest long. I've been enjoying talking with other dads such as Tyler or Gavin, about superheros. I can draw shamelessly upon my thousands of comic books in my attic as well as the graphic novels Margaret brings home from the library for my small talk.