Tuesday, December 30, 2008

more videos

I'm not going to get my 52 videos for the year done, the fall just got too busy. I also didn't want to post/count the little test videos or the Lego videos I made with William. I did work on more of the stuff I shot this summer and put them on Youtube, this one that references Norman McLaren's Pas de Deux worked nicely, even though the Youtube compression really devastated it.
Today I stayed home as William had his friend Rowan over for a while and Margaret went shopping. This evening Margaret went to work, having accepted a 5:00 shift at 4:35. I took William swimming, he had a great and brave time going off the diving board into the deep end.

Monday, December 29, 2008

I had a real vacation day today, I hung with William, watched Jonny Quest cartoons from 1964 (he loves them, as I hoped he would - they are adventure stories full of science and bits of magic and a great deal of suspending disbelief, akin to Tintin). I also sat for a few hours in front of my computer trying to work the footage Eric and I shot this summer to mimic some of Norman McLaren's optical printer films. Here are two new videos I posted: 1 + 2.

the knack

I finished watching "All Night Long" this evening, which I found on tv a couple weeks ago. It is a 1961 British film, loosely adapting Othello into the contemporary jazz culture/community. It was filled by many cameos from real jazz players. The Iago character (called Johnny) was played by Patrick McGoohan (Secret Agent and the Prisoner). The oddest part of it was the ending where everyone lives and the truth is revealed allowing the status quo to be regained. When I taped it, also also taped the vaguely familiar title "The Knack and How to get it" which was on after it. Surprisingly, it is not only another early 60s British film about angry/confused young men, but is one of Richard Lester's first films. It's got this very cool opening sequence with hundreds of beautiful women lined up on a stairway, moving up to a room with a man one at a time. Plot is thin but style dominates every moment.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Eartha Kitt

Eartha Kitt died the other day. We've been listening to "Santa Baby" once or twice per day all month, so this seems all the more tragic. She's also the Catwoman in season 3 of the Adam West Batman series, but William and I haven't watched those ones yet. I a mistaken impression that Cab Calloway was still alive and celebrating his 101st birthday on Christmas day, but this was not so. We don't listen to very many living singers at Christmastime, and the number is getting smaller and smaller.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas day

I was up late last night setting clues out for hidden presents. I got to sleep for a couple of hours but then woke up and read and watched some tv until William woke up and asked if it was morning. It was 3:30, so I told him it wasn't and I shut off the tv and slept. The audio clip of William reading that I posted yesterday was in William's new clock radio/cd player this morning and woke him when it really was morning. Actually, it just confused him as he though it must be coming from some place else; he'd failed to notice the introduction of new electronics two feet from where he was sleeping. We opened presents; William got some more Lego including two large sets from Santa, and a large set from me, (this on top of two large sets, one from Paul, one from Omi) last night. I got some movies that I'd picked for myself, as well as a nice little camera case I'd not expected and was really happy to get. Later at Grandma's, William scored more Lego and a really great looking telescope from my sister Lori. We tobogganed for a while then went for supper at Lori's where William finally got to play some Lego Batman on a Playstation 3. He's hooked; I'll be hearing a lot more about this in the months to come.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Santa was rushed?

Christmas eve, William woke up excited and stayed excited all day. This evening we went to Margaret's mother's for the traditional goose and to open presents after desert. William got some great Lego including robotic dino lego from Omi and a brand new 2009 pirate set from Paul. When we got home we encountered a mystery; Santa had left packages but had not looked at the letter William wrote, nor had he eaten the cookies or taken the carrots for the reindeer! Well, it's early to bed at William's insistence, even though it's well past 10. More opening and more Lego in the morning. Here is William reading the night before Christmas to his doll/son before bed (audio only - it's five minutes long):

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

others successes

William had a great long play date at some play centre with Daniel this afternoon, allowing us to get a few last things done and for me to finish a new video for William's blog about Gadunka, the Lego Bionicle monster he built yesterday.
Margaret is in the new issue of Prairie Dog with her music picks; a Christmas theme of course, since that's pretty much the only music we buy anymore. Check it out.
We received a mysterious Batmobile today, chopped by the Joker (who got away as he should in this season). We've not yet tracked down the joker(to thank you of course), but you know who you are .


I suppose today was a work day. William is home from school and I didn't actually leave the house, but Chrystene came over and we discussed her film for a few hours. It was mostly me catching up on stuff she's been doing, there's still lots of process left to juggle. William and I built Bionicles all evening while listening to podcasts of Stewart McLean Vinyl Cafe stories. William biuilt Gadunka almost entirely by himself. After Margaret got home from work, William decided he wanted to learn to do cartwheels. Margaret told him he had to eat his apple and go to bed, so he combined the events and did cartwheels while eating his apple. I'm not sure exactly what happened except a cry of anquish (not a scream of pain) and William coming to tell me about a sore tooth. He went to show it to Margaret, wiggled it, and pulled it out! First tooth to be lost in many months. He wrote a long letter to the tooth fairy, taking until at least 10:30. After he was in bed, we wrapped and built Bionicles.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

the noise, the noise, the noise

Do we ever consider how right the Grinch was, the noise really is too much sometimes. William went to a birthday party at Chucky Cheese today, they pipe their obnoxious music everywhere and keep it loud. It is so uncomfortable to adults to be there that I can't understand how they stay it business (...perhaps it's their fine food or affordable prices...?).

Saturday, December 20, 2008

like it was 1999

William had his party today, 6 boys (sounded like 60) for 6 hours, with a volume level that rattled my nerves after 15 minutes. Still feeling wrecked, even though the house clean up was relatively easy. Wrapping a few presents tonght.

party on

I spent the day mostly at home, doing the must needed clean up before people came over. William wanted to have a party but everyone on his list couldn't come the same day, so we are mostly having people over today and tomorrow. William got out of school at 2:30 so is on vacation now. I baked three different cookies this morning, but am not thrilled about any of them. A lace cookie i had done before didn't work as well because I used walnuts instead of pecans. I think it would actually work better with peanuts, it would become something like peanut brittle, perhaps next time. After the kids left, Paul, William and I sorted Lego and put all the people back together, which sounds like an easy job until you see how many dozens of people he has and how picky he can be about what combinations of heads to bodies to legs to hands to hair/helmet he has. In the morning he'll likely pull half of them apart.

Friday, December 19, 2008


I went to the Filmpool today, spent all day searching film bins for clips of an old film that was accidentally cut for found footage. Had lunch with Kevin in the mall, walked over in sandals from the Filmpool through the walkways; the winter is no wonderland this week. Got my grading in this evening; couldn't let myself feel like I'm on vacation until that was done. I baked another batch of William's coconut cookies. Margaret and I finished watching season one of the Extras, bloody great stuff, except the part that it took us until 2 am to finish and now we're going to be totally messed up in the morning. Good night.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

is it clear?

I was writing some memo-like documents yesterday and got thinking about transparency. This is the "new" word to use as your demand to know everyone else s secrets. If you want to know how much the budget is for other units in your business/organization or the reason one person was hired and another wasn't, or how much your boss spends on lunch, you say that the information must be shared in the interest of transparency. No boss dares to say that they don't want transparency, since it is supposed to be good and democratic, but I doubt that one in a hundred bosses really do want transparency, except in cases where they can use it as a tool. Everyone says that they want transparecy because the opposite of it is is believed to be blindness and ignorance. However, once the floodgates of transparency are opened, then each person has the responsibiltiy of actively studying and assiting with all of the information they are given. With great information comes great amount of responsing. Transparency is intellectual nudism.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

fear the poor

Margaret just found out that the rumor of Calgary library cards having an annual fee is true. I think the root of this comes from two directions, a resentment that someone might get something for free that property owners put a dollar per month towards, and a fear that poor people will be unable to contain their animalistic ways and must be excluded from public places such as libraries where people who can afford free books want to read peacefully. Putting such a levy in place was probably easy, taking it away will evoke all of these fears so might never happen.

Monday, December 15, 2008

rock my night away

This evening was William's Christmas concert, he was in the back row. Margaret heard from his teacher today that he demonstrated that he knew the words at the rehearsal today for the first time; previously he stood mute, not even pretending. I figure he was saving it for the big performance, or for when the camera was on.


If we lived on Pluto, it would be downright balmy out today. I'd be saying "William, take off your plasma suit, the nitrogen is in gaseous form today!", and we'd laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Super cold today, took William to an old friend of his from last year who is going to a different school now. William really misses him, they were closest friends. I did some shopping, the stores were nearly empty as no one in their right mind went out. This afternoon Margaret worked so I took William to the Royal Saskatchewan Museum Christmas party. Again, almost empty. We got to have cider and sit anywhere. We had supper with Patrick Lowe, the Winnipeg animator and old friend of mine, today. I had to apologize for letting William play on the rewinds and disturbing his materials during the Filmpool Christmas party the other night. Instead of asking how I'd heard about the issue, Patrick just said it was no big deal (not what I heard) and immediately went on to explain how he was more concerned about how late he worked last night and how he's not finished his project, etc. His ramble derailed my intention to scold him for leaving elements out in the first place, since I've been letting William use that rewind table since he could stand. I never got back to the topic. We came home early (Patrick was very tired and William was melting down from having lots of root beer and very little curry for supper) and we decorated the tree a bit. More grading not; I can't seem to quite get it done.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


William and I went to Allan Dotson's house to decorate cookies today. My best one was a collaboration which began with William doing a Frankenstein, but it kept braking so I started gluing it back together with icing.
We also got our tree today, seems like a good one. While it is only about 7 feet high, the trunk is very thick, leading us to wonder if they lop the top off of the larger trees from logging. This is the first tree that has been able to stand up in a sturdy way, held only by the stand at the bottom, without additional cords and wires.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Filmpool Christmas Party

I stayed home all day grading (didn't finish yet, even though I'd hoped to) and this evening we went to the Filmpool Christmas party. We worked on Christmas cards when we got home, that is until I checked my email. I'm thinking that email servers should all me shut down on Friday at 5 and rebooted on Monday morning. No good comes of checking email on the weekend, since email never contains anything to make you relax or feel better about life. It generally contains reminders and complaints; I know since that's pretty much all I use it for. In any case, my email has me all in a knot and unable to pass on holiday cheer in my letters. All that's left for me is Blog griping.

In Medicine Hat a few weeks ago, we saw some guys demoing remote control cars in the mall. They came with rechargable batteries and a charger, a value of $35 they claimed, and the car and batteries was on sale, two days only, down from $120 to only 70, of which half was the value of the batteries. I noticed that the unit was made in China and had a warning not to overcharge the batteries (I've never encountered that before, so it worried me). Anyways, Margaret found one of these cars, sans batteries, at Office Depot today fore $10. William raced it around the party this evening, it was lots of fun.


Today all three grad students I co-supervise did their end of term reviews. All went well.
Paul brought over Iron Man this evening; neither he nor Margaret had seen it, it was good a second time, although now it's late and it's time for bed.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


We went to the MacKenzie Art Gallery Christmas party this afternoon. Lee Henderson's new installation was open, he'd modified a WII game player to be a paint brush that triggered layers of audio when you brushed. The sound was a bit dense and difficult to discern the layers, I didn't use it long enough to figure out if it gets much denser than it was. I wish there was some sort of reset switch so you can start with a "fresh slate". Maybe there was, I missed his talk so might have been overlooking such details. Santa was there with Mrs. Claus, William got to sit on his knee. His letter went off to the north pole yesterday, so Santa hasn't received it yet.
Coffeed with Kevin this evening, it'd been a month and we had lots to catch up on. The coffee shop you usually frequent was closed for a staff meeting so we ended up at Tim Horton's. Cheaper but less comfortable. I was too sugared up from the MacKenzie party to want to eat any of their skanky donuts. Kevin bought a new SUV.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


This evening, based on the excitement over the Agent line of Lego and the Spy Fox computer game, we showed William a James Bond movie, Moonraker with Roger Moore from 1979. Big collars, scenarios that are less believable than ever, and a rather wooden "super"villain. However, it did have the second appearance of Jaws and his metal teeth, William liked that.

Friday, December 5, 2008


I drove up to Saskatoon with Angelina today to present our workshop video for Saskatchewan Cancer Research Day conference; it went well. We got only a couple of comments but useful ones. I have lots of notes, primarily audio fixes. The roads were icy, we drove back right after we were done.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

classes done

My last class was today. I am still waiting for some material. Amongst the assignments was a project of found footage videos that would ultimately be posted on youtube. Not all of them are done yet, but a few are up there. Take a look.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

William's performance

Meetings and stuff at work all day - was cold and windy so I was glad to stay there for lunch. One nice event: I thought I'd have to go through a bunch of process to switch fourth year "directing the experimental film"course from being a temporary selected topics course to being a permanent catalogued course. I'd submitted all the paperwork while I was on sabbatical but was told it hadn't been done. However, I hadn't double checked because, in fact, it had gone through and I narrowly missed having to do all the paperwork and process again. Next fall I will be teaching the newly named Film 412, rather than the awkward Film 486AD.
This evening began with William's last day of acting class as the Globe Theatre. See clip below:

Later we stopped in at a Christmas party thing. The internet seems sluggish and I've been having a hard time sending a photo to Mauricio for him to use in the authoring of the End of Life workshop dvd that I need for Saskatoon on Friday.

last week of classes

Today I taught the last day of my directing course. It went pretty well, they all (but two) showed the edited versions of the in-class exercises they shot a few weeks ago. They each had a page or two from a script I wrote back in grad school. No one went too crazy stylistically, but it was surprising how different in tone each was. The changes in actors and direction, compounded by the fact that the students didn't have a clear idea of the overall arc of the story, led to radical differences such as the primary character being lazy/lethargic in one, then manic in the next, then nearly insane in others.
The Filmpool had it's steak night fundraiser tonight. I bought tickets without thinking that I couldn't go. Margaret went with a friend, Paul stayed with William (it was a no minors event).

Monday, December 1, 2008

Surrealims in Cagary

Over the past few days I was in Calgary, "Professor Delusia" was showing for all three nights at the Surrealism Film Festival run through CSIF - I divided the videos into three portions so portions of it were shown in each of the three programs. I missed Thursday as I was teaching, but we drove out with Margaret's dad's truck on Friday. The Thursday and Friday screenings were at the "Sofa Cinema", which is their in-house space. It only holds a few dozen people but is very cool, a 5x10m space filled with old couches and recliners. They have apparently been holding consistent programming so have developed a regular audience, even though the space is difficult to find, being on the converted military base space. The last night was at a real theatre with about 150 people, a great show. Lots of good work.
We brought the truck so we could shop, shop, shop!

We got William a new carpet from Ikea.
... and of course, lots of Lego - although much of it is hidden away for Christmas.

My little sister is enjoying her retirement a bit too much.