Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years Eve

The countdown is on for the new decade. This morning William made his reading challenge deadline and completed the 12th Darren Shan Cirque de Freak book. He had stopped 30 pages short a few days ago because it got too scary. I read the remaining and was inclined to agree (the character has to allow his body to be dissolved in some sort of magic acid where he dies and then has his soul placed into a golem/Frankenstein/zombie body build crudely by the main villain where he would live the remainder of his short life with no tongue or teeth). However, the chapter following that was very charming as the character goes back in time to the events of the first book so I convinced him to resume at that point and finish it off. This afternoon I took William to "The Fantastic Mr. Fox". It really was fantastic. I was really amazed by the brave framing and compositions. They veered away from the safe storytelling structure and were intuitively simple. This evening we built a time capsule for 2019 then Paul came over and William put on a puppet show and we all played Careers (I've not played it in 30 years even though I bought a vintage set at a garage sale 10 years ago and parked it on my shelf). It went well with the lemon gelato I made. Happy New Year all!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"Red Cam"

I bought a RedCam today!
.... well, it is red. ...... and it is a camera....
Last month we lost one of our cameras (the one that replaced the one we dropped a year and a half ago in Prince Albert). I keep expecting it to turn up, along with the kitchen knife we lost. However, I have given up hope that it is in the house and therefore, if it is found, it is likely under the snow outside and therefore in need of replacing anyway. I went out to get the 10 megapixel Canon but decided to spill another fifty beans and get the 12 megapixel camera that not only comes in red (if that isn't enough) but also shoots HD video.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Updating William Loves Lego

Lately I've been behind in my posting of photos and videos to William's blog "William Loves Lego", even though there has been a lot of material and I have been photographing it all along. Today I posted 18 items, each with one or more photo or video, onto William's blog, past dated between early October and late December. Please check it out.

This afternoon we went to the Science Centre for some rock climbing and then to Leslea and Leif's for their ceremonial smashing of the gingerbread house and eventually (and unintentionally) supper.

Monday, December 28, 2009


This afternoon we went to the Grzesina house to lunch with them and Jeff Hameluck who is a pretty interesting guy. He is still talked about in the Computer Science Department as a big success case because he went on after his masters to work at Disney and then on Lord of the Rings. He works for a gaming company now and so is based where ever he is at the moment, anywhere on the planet. He has great stories about his ongoing world travels.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


We went tobogganing at the incline by Chapters today. It was still pretty cold but not as bad finally. This evening I got together with Mike, Paul, and Kevin. An overall calm day.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Boxing Day

We opened a box and played some Carcassonne this afternoon. We forgot to add last year's cults and siege set but we did use the tower pieces without the towers since Margaret doesn't like the idea of the tower and the capturing of pieces. Mike and Paul were over. Paul won but it was quite close. We went for left overs at Richard and Gerda's then came home for some more Monty Python. Margaret did some shopping but I didn't.

Christmas Day

A busy and exhausting day. William was very happy with his gifts which included the new Lego shark from Atlantis, a big motorized Lego creator set with a helicopter, a bionicle matoran with a gukko bird from 2003 new in its box from grandma, and numerous other things that sometimes weren't even Lego. We watched some season 2 of Get Smart before supper (I also watched half of my new Criterion copy of "Wings of Desire") and after our elegant sea food supper we watched some episodes of Monty Python from the complete collection that I bought for us as a family. William couldn't get enough but I was almost asleep so we had to insist he go to bed. I curled up with him and he stayed up reading his Darren Shan book while I slept. Now I'm awake and he has only been sleeping 4.5 hours.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

We ate goose at Gertrud's and opened a few gifts afterward. Mike and Paul and their parents were there. It was grand. William got some Lego. When we got home, Santa had filled the stockings and drunk the milk and bitten the gingerbread man in half. There were new gifts under the tree. William (pictured above with not-the-real-Santa at last week's school winter festival) has written his psychological study of the situation which will prove, definitively, the existence of Santa Claus.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

over night

I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't sleep so decided it was the right time to watch the pirated copy of Lars Von Trier's "Antichrist". When this semester began, it was the one film that almost every student of mine had seen and felt was highly significant. It was released in Europe after a premier at Cannes, and even though it's been making waves there, most felt that it would never get an American release. It is a rather odd film featuring only two actors (plus a silent role of a child in a couple of scenes) played by Willem Defoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg. It bounces between being a Bergmanesque psychological/theological drama and a Korean torture/horror film. Sex and pain, although never rape or s&m, just somewhere else. I guess it did reach some new and very uncomfortable places using some unorthodox approaches. I loved the talking fox but didn't feel that it will be as influential as the students do.
My banana bread was undercooked, even though the tooth pick came out completely dry. I am able to eat the edges, and had to throw out the middle half. Pity, it tastes really good (I added walnuts).

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

heavy christmas

Driving around today I heard the Black Sabbath self-satire "I am Santa Claus" (after "Iron Man"). I found a link to it and played it for William, along with the original. Now he wants Black Sabbath to go to sleep to instead of the classical music we have for him. Margaret is not amused (well, maybe just a little).
Not much happening at the office. Came home early to see William as it was the last day of school before Christmas. I baked banana bread and wrapped a couple more presents. Kept going with some good chocolate covered coffee beans I found in the bulk bin at the Broadway Avenue Extra Foods for only $1.20/100g (for those of you looking for such a buzz).

Monday, December 21, 2009

half baking

It's almost like I'm on vacation except that I can't seem to slow down and relax. Yesterday I did some baking and went to Kevin's for while (missing my sister who dropped by to give us gifts that we'd agreed we wouldn't be exchanging) and when I got home I sorted my recipes, found the one for Kahlua which required instant coffee but was otherwise good, modified it to use espresso (do you know you can dissolve 3.5 cups of sugar in 2 cups of hot water?). Today I started by stint as acting department head which should be painless since almost no one is around and I can't approve grades so I came home and baked more mini-cheesecakes and another batch of ginger snaps.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

party almost missed

William almost missed a birthday party today that we were certain was tomorrow. Got to the last half of it at the Science Center and finally got to try the liquid nitrogen ice cream. I didn't see it get made but did arrive back in time to get a sample - very tasty.

Friday, December 18, 2009

First day of holidays

I relaxed a bit today, did some house cleaning and baked some cookies including my first try at an "oatmeal wafer" which is not really a wafer but a thin cookies with walnuts and wheat germ. The problem was that I didn't have any wheat germ. Luckily I got ahold of Paul before he came over and he brought me some. They turned out well, although a bit too fibrey for me to eat in excess, and if you can't eat in excess, then it's not really worth it, is it?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

party on

I got my grades in this afternoon then I put up the Christmas tree (no decorations yet). I also baked a variation on William's cookies but without the coconut and a bit more flour, they were very good. I took them to the Filmpool party. William was in super-social mood, introducing himself and even announcing Margaret's entrance to everyone. We went from Filmpool to William's school winter carnival which replaced their pageant this year. It was quite fun. After that we went to Margaret's Dunlop party out in the east end (a couple blocks from Kevin's house).

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

home grading

I'm not grading my home, I'm just home grading. I managed to not leave the house today and have been continuing to comb through projects and papers. The end is in sight, I've looked at everything but am now going through each individual student and comparing what they said they were going to do with what they really did do (I establish individual grading criteria with each student). I've got to be at a meeting in less than 8 hours so I'll have to call it quits soon. My big reward for grading, the fourth Popeye original comic strips book arrived by Amazon today.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

the cat's in the cradle

Not quite finished my grading. I spent the morning at the university meeting with Ryan to get his final images and report and then with Mauricio for him to present his term in review as part of his graduate program requirements. This afternoon I worked at home reading and watching assignments and getting distracted by our cat who is beside herself trying to find things to do while the temperatures outside are -30 or worse.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


William put his pants on at four o'clock this afternoon after spending most of the weekend in his pajamas. I envy his life sometimes.

Saturday at home

Graded some papers, baked some cookies, watched an episode of "Castle", played with some Lego (finished Paul's restoration of the robot t-rex). William kept his pajamas on all day, I only made it to 3:00.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Margaret and I went to Elaine Pain's dinner and roast that the students arranged. It was held at the German Club and quite well attended. Pictured below: Margaret explaining the birds and the beas to Elaine. Apparently Margaret and I encountered each other for the first time in Elaine's class when Elaine brought me in to talk to the students, Margaret being one of them. Paul stayed with William; they watched Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince together (it came out earlier this week). The event didn't go late so we built some Lego when we got home.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

staying warm

Except for walking William to school (at about -30 degree temperature), I managed to stay in the house all day today. I also stayed relatively focused, getting significant amounts of my grading done. I rewarded myself with building Lego this evening, restoring the Aqua Raiders shark that Margaret and William put together a couple of years ago and was NEVER to be taken apart. It's missing a couple of fins, they'll turn up on a space ship somewhere.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Margaret's Christmas cards

A couple of weeks ago, Margaret was invited to join Operation Cards From The HeArt, a group of artists to the CBC to draw or paint some original Christmas cards that would be auctioned on EBay for the food bank. Her first card just sold today. Her second, a snowman playing air guitar with a broom, just went on-line.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Elaine's last class

Classes ended for the term today. Elaine Pain has emptied her office and will be doing her grading at home and then will retire. She's been in our department since before I took my first class there, over a quarter century ago. I've been trying to think of a good story to tell about her at the roast the students are holding for her this Friday but all I can think of are all the things she knows about me and none that I know about her. That in itself is funny.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Ryan Birchard

I finally got into the studio with Ryan and we worked out a bunch of things I'd been suggesting to him regarding his long exposures directed study but that I admit I've not actually tried myself. It seems like we only have time for discussion and review of past work and actually making work in our contact time has rarely happened. Today we used a modified fan as an external shutter to create a strobe light out of a fresnel light and used a super-8 projector similarly. Some of the effects were pretty good. His new website for this is HERE. He also has a BLOG, although he has not updated it since I had him originally create it. Hopefully he'll put a couple of the images of me from today up there sometime.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

St Nicholas Day

This morning our shoes were overflowing with gifts from St. Nicholas! I got a small bottle of coke and some chocolate and some bison jerky. William got a new Atlantis Lego set. This afternoon we went to "The Vampire's Assistant". William has finished the 6th book (there are 12 books in total, the movie is apparently primarily drawn from the first three). The title sequence was wonderful: animated silhouetted figures done marvelously. The movie was not bad although it lacked closure and I'm concerned that the lack of success of it at the box office will spell doom for the series continuing/concluding. When I saw Willem Defoe's name in the credits I was pretty worried that it would be too scary for William, but it ends up he played a rather campy character without the threatening demeaner he is so talented at.
This evening we had a big family thing at my parents. They are away for Christmas so we had dinner. We also gathered as a sort of wake for my Aunt Norma who passed away last month. The last time I saw her was when she came to Regina when we invited her (and a hundred others) to William's first birthday party in 2002.
Image above is the world's smallest snowman, 1/5th the width of a hair, cut with a laser.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christmas movies

Today William I watched "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians". I bought it two years ago in a discount bin and just haven't found the right moment to watch it. I've never seen it before and was surprised to find it in colour and quite entertaining. Yesterday we watched the recent Canadian one hour version of "Snow Queen". I've suggested that we watch a Christmas movie every day until Christmas, although I doubt we'll have the time or the range of films. I have lots of specials stored away but many of them he doesn't like (such as "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" - original not horrendous live action), hard to keep it fresh.

Friday, December 4, 2009

flu after effects

I had a fever most of the night, likely the result of my H1N1 shot yesterday. It subsided enough (or so I say) to teach this morning. It was the last day for my experimental film production (sometimes I think they all are. Experimental that is, not last) so everyone was supposed to screen their final project (most did, but there are a few stragglers). I escaped shortly after and had a nap at home. William had the day off but was at a friend's all afternoon so I had some quiet time.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Flu shot

I got my flu shot today. There were about 30 people in line ahead of me, which a number of people pointed out was the very longest the line has been for the entire week. The whole process took about 15 minutes. I was supposed to sit for another 15 but I couldn't wait around. Now my nose is running and I feel like I'm getting a cold. At least I got my three syllabi completed and in to the department and my notes ready to hand out for tomorrow's class. I wish I could sleep tomorrow away... soon, soon, soon.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


I worked on my three syllabi today for the courses I'm teaching in the new year. I have two done and just couldn't focus this evening on finishing the third one. William had his last class with Globe Theatre until February this evening. They demonstrated their creature actions for parents, very lively and passionate. Margaret spent all day in a Dunlop Art Gallery retreat.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Winter time; it snowed last night, William was overjoyed. He opened his advent calendar this morning (Lindt of course). The countdown is on. Margaret took him tobogganing after school (I had late class so couldn't).
Last night Margaret and I finished season one of Castle, the detective show with Nathan Fillian. It was very addictive but now we can't catch up on season two because it is only on ABC with no Canadian carrier and the ABC website won't allow us to view past episodes from Canada.

Monday, November 30, 2009

baking 2

I made a batch of mochaccino cookies and a batch of lemon cookies this evening. William wanted to do all the work on the first batch, claiming that taking responsibility had rewards. We ate in front of Mythbusters (Margaret was out) until egg nog was spilled and we adjourned to the table.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

CFL Football

I generally don't care about football and had no intention of watching any of the Grey Cup, but five minutes ago I decided to check out the score. It's annoying not to know what everyone is talking about the next day. So I ended up watching the game starting with a few seconds on the clock and the reversal where Saskatchewan lost due to having too many players on the field. That's drama, glad I tuned in. When I took William and Rowan to see G-Force today, it wasn't as good at these past few minutes.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Baking 1

I finally baked my first batch of Christmas cookies. I chose to make some ginger snaps, they are pretty soft and good. Of course I started mixing ingredients before discovering that I had no ginger (even though I had lots last year and no one else uses it). I chose to walk down the block to the health food store by William's school since they say they sell herbs on their sign. They measure out this organic stuff as if it were illegal and I got a small bag of it for over three bucks. I didn't question it until I was walking home. The cookies turned out as good, if not better than usual, so perhaps there was something to it.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Star Trek

I never would have believed it but I started off my experimental film course with showing extra features from the new Star Trek movie. In particular I wanted to look at the purposefully insertion of flares and the use of physically shaking the camera that JJ Abrams did during shooting and discuss how important an awareness of film form can be even for very commercial filmmakers.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I mostly worked from home today, getting my notes ready for tomorrow and getting some progress on my syllabi for next term. Had a meeting with William's teacher about a variety of stuff. Paul was over and we worked on KenKen puzzles to try to keep quiet while William tried to get to sleep. Margaret has a wager with him to get 100% on his spelling tomorrow for a Harry Potter chocolate frog card. His spelling has been getting sloppy, probably because the words are getting challenging but that we stopped making him practice some time ago since the words had stayed easy for so long. Now it's things like Tuesday, February, August. I was going to start my Christmas baking but just couldn't get enough modivation (although close, I had my favorite book out and made note of some ingredients I need).

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


We have these two snails in our fishtank now and they are getting bigger. I not entirely certain if it is just my imagination or not, but the fish are looking smaller and smaller compared to them. This evening, after my all day headache finally subsided, I got my software and hardware all to finally jive and I shot some time laps of one snail (he's not moved since this video, when they go they really go, when they stop, they really stop). The video is only a couple seconds and silent, more another time.

Monday, November 23, 2009

coffee code

From now on I'm going to label my meetings with a little coffee icon to indicate the ones that have coffee served and those that don't. Faculty of Engineering, yes. Faculty of Science, no. Faculty of Fine Arts, sometimes but rarely. Campion Collage, yes. Faculty of Grad Studies, even though we had a two hour agenda today and an inch of paper to comb through; no.

Filmpool Board meeting this evening; no coffee.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday with William

I spend most of today with William. We went to the Science Centre and he tried the climbing wall again, although he was a bit rusty and didn't do as well as before. Perhaps the wall he was on was trickier? We went to the library and found more of the Darren Shan books since he finished the second one this morning. This evening we watched the new Star Trek movie again. Lots of fun. I got through most of my scripts I needed to read except for a couple that arrived this weekend.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

driving me crazy

The roads were crazy today. I knew they would be with the big play off game tomorrow AND agribition starting today. However, I still ventured out, driving to the north end dropping Margaret at her Artist Trading Cards session, to the east end to check on Lego advent calendars that were supposed to be at Zellers but are sold out at both stores and to pick up a dozen barbecue pork buns at the Chinese bakery who only bake on weekends now. Then to the south end to investigate supplies of Darren Shan Saga vampire books for William as he burned through the first one over the past few days and is a third of the way through the second one just this evening. The books seem to be available but in short supply and printed in rather shoddy pocketbook form rather than the fairly nicely printed trade paper version he got from the library. With a movie in the theatres (The Vampire's Assistant) I would have thought that there would be a new printing, but no. Chris Scott from Centennial used books thinks that the limited access to distribution may be because they were originally Scholastic books. As usual, she doesn't have any in her store (almost no matter what author I'm looking for, it is extremely difficult for her to get copies of and to keep them in stock). I'm not really believing the Scholastic line either. I think it is a bit mis-marketted here. The covers I've seen are very scary, fitting in with any adult horror book. The british covers are more fanciful for younger readers. (see comparison below).
All told, I must have spent over an hour this afternoon in the car between these places, often behind people stopping at green lights just to be on the safe side. I knew every minute that I would be better off staying home all day. Perhaps tomorrow.

Friday, November 20, 2009


William and I went shopping to Zellers tonight and got our exercise chasing each other around the store. It's better than a gym. He got two turtle neck shirts for about 5 buck each, 100% cotton. This morning almost half my students were out sick but the rest of us discussed nostalgia. It was a good time, I miss that class and I miss Woolco, the store that was in the place that Zellers is now.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


I feel like I came completely into focus today. Everything seemed much easier to do and to think about, that is up until 7pm when I was tired again. I got my grading done and authored a dvd and had some meetings. redesigned my class for tomorrow, and made peanut chicken.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Struggled all day to keep eyes open. Why am I still up? I had a headache last night that began at midnight and only subsided around supper. I left a faculty meeting after the VP's presentation because I could barely stay conscious anymore. ug.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Rick Mercer

One of the only shows I record these days is Rick Mercer Report, but it doesn't take long to watch it. His mixing with college students, military, and sports teams has gotten very old so I skip them and just watch the rant and the faux ads. The best 7 minutes of tv in the week.

Monday, November 16, 2009

flu shot

William got his flu shot at school today. He said it hurt but not as much as the freezing we did on his wart on his foot.
William and I started an animated Lego movie this evening. He set everything up and did all the animating. He really is understanding what is entailed. I think it will take at least a few days, if not a week, to shoot. Will post it when it's ready.
I watched "Heroes" tonight. They had a 16mm film on a projector but the take-up reel wasn't turning. No explanation.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


William watched Monsters vs Aliens again today; he's totally loving it (Chrystene: check it out for the destruction and mayhem in San Fransisco). William then got out some paper and wrote a letter to Dreamworks telling them to make a sequel. I found an address for them and we'll mail it in the morning.
I also found a message in my no-longer-used email account from Steve Wolfson. We worked together on an comedy show years ago. He posted some of the work on Youtube including this one featuring Jeff Looysen.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

building a go-cart in the garage

Building a go-cart? Are you nuts? I don't know how to do that. William and I started making a new movie together today. He's written it. I'm shooting it. Margaret built him a tin heart as a key prop last night. We did a bit of green screen work at the university and in the parking lot. Came home and couldn't get the rest of the cast so we watched the original Godzilla - Japanese version with subtitles. This evening we watched Monsters vs Aliens. William finished reading the third and last book in the Beyond Spiderwick book series. I'm trying to get the Terrible Film Festival dvd editing but now that I finally have uninterrupted time, the house is getting cold and my brain is shutting down.

Friday, November 13, 2009

no lunch today

In Film 412 today I spoke for a minute about journal writing and my sporadic obsession with it. I mentioned this blog, which followed a 10 year gap without journal writing, and I suggested that if I stopped writing this for a few days that I would likely discontinue it altogether. There was a chuckle when I mentioned the blog as if they might have been aware of it so if you are reading this, GET BACK TO WORK: YOU ARE LIKELY LATE ON AT LEAST ONE OF YOUR PROJECTS!!!

I had an 8:30 meeting this morning that I had to leave at 10:25 to get to my 10:30 class (where I assigned them to think about their friends mothers and to play with pieces of glass) and that class ended at 1:20 but was immediately followed by a 1:15 meeting in the same room (luckily we parked our department on top of a time/space rift) and that meeting ran overtime so I had to leave it at 2:00 and meet with a student. A few other encounters and conversations later, I am on my weekend and feeling a bit fuzzy.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I finally got over my headache while watching The Secret Life of Sherlock Holmes (which I believe I watched a couple years ago) with an ice pack on my head. I woke up relaxed and not thinking about anything and thus did very little today but finish my biscotti, start some vanilla gelato, and while William's friend Rowan was over, I explode a diet coke with mentos (see video). I also finished off the roll of super-8 film I started around William's 8th birthday that Margaret suggested would represent his "super-8th birthday".

This evening I tried to watch some Clone Wars with William. I missed recording season 2 episode 3 about 3 weeks ago and couldn't find a copy of the whole thing on the internet anywhere. One source "" seemed very deceptive as although it claimed to give you free tv, you need to either pay them or give them your "mobile number" to which they send you a code. I was really put off by them, since I don't know my cel phone number and have never received a text on it so I don't even know how that works. I'm getting too old to use technology. I found the first 3 parts of the show, missing the last six minutes. William sensed how frustrated I was and suggested we skip it and watch the next one (which I have on my dvd recorder).


Woke up yesterday with a headache. Had it all day. I taught this afternoon, running my funding jury session with a group that was much too big but I think it worked okay, and then went directly to Ice Age 3 with William after work, still had the headache. William was a wreath bearer for the Remembrance Day celebration at his school this morning. I went to bed, still having a headache . Woke up just now, still have it.

Monday, November 9, 2009


Last night Margaret and I watched the final episode of Jeremy Brett's Sherlock Holmes. I had hoped to get to it over a week ago but we've been so tired at night that we just couldn't. I bought the complete collection last year to help me with my presentation about Watson and Holmes at the Conan Doyle conference at the University. The dvd set arrived on Halloween 2008 so it took us about 53 weeks to watch the 12 discs. That's pretty slow, about an episode per week, but we were not always in the mood. Great show though. The final few got a bit odd, diverging from the original stories uncharacteristically far. The final one was converted into a freaking Christmas episode with Holmes fretting with Mrs Hudson about what gift to get for Watson! It felt like it belonged for the most part, but it was a bit kooky when you compare the texts. The earlier episodes are very close to the original stories.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Our next door neighbors, Trevor and Amy, who have renovated the house next door from a hovel of a rental place into a really swanky pad, have put their house up for sale. In the photo above, you can see our house with its current paint job to the left. The price is certainly higher than they bought it for about 4 years ago. Crazy market.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

not a rare commodity

Our catfish "Kidder" is resting on top of his algae patch, feeling a bit territorial since the snails moved in two days ago, especially Shellster, the larger one pictured here.

Friday, November 6, 2009


Yesterday we bought two snails for the aquarium. After acclimatizing, we released them in with the guppy (Gibby) and the catfish (Kidder) and they are doing well. Today William named them Sucky and Shellster. We spotted a third very small one that got scooped in with those two. It's not been named yet.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

One Take Super-8

This evening was the One Take Super 8 Event, sold out with overflow at the RPL. William's film turned out really well. It is of the cat walking among his Lego buildings while he reads from Shakespeare. It got a solid response. He was in a great mood all day but really flying at this screening. He was approaching other filmmakers and asking them questions. Top notch. Many of the films tonight were underexposed. I shouldn't talk since mine was sort of one of them, but still there did seem to be a lack of craftsmanship prevelant (mine was dark because of some complicated things I was doing with multiple lenses and parts of it were quite well exposed). I'm hoping the video transfer will lighten it up, but am also considering reshooting it since it was all made on my desk in my office and I'm sure I could do it better if I repeated it. I might even try to shoot it digitally using the new pentax/tamron camera mount I bought with which I could mount my true macro Tamron lens onto a Pentax digital SLR such as Margaret's mother has.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Terrible Film Festival

Wednesday night (tonight) my students are hosting the
at the Filmpool on 1822 Scarth St at 7:00-9:00 pm.
It's FREE, so tell them you know me and they'll let you in half price.

Monday, November 2, 2009

making the grade

Grading of projects continues today. I have been very slow at this for some reason. Perhaps because the students took the project quite seriously, or at least most of them did, so it seems all the more important that I give them some meaningful feedback. However, I've been really tired and need to let my mind wander after every paragraph. I've only got two more to grade, but since they require me to play the sound at my computer and I want William to go to sleep soon, I'll knock off for the night and finish in the morning. William is out of his regular lines of books to read so I just handed him "The Twits" by Roald Dahl. Margaret introduced it to me when we were first dating (who would do that? It's a story about a couple who are nothing but mean and nasty to each other, the end!). It's one of my favorite all time books. I can hear him protesting his lights being turned off right now, and for good reason. Short but every page is a treasure.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Does the "hair of the dog" approach also work when you've binged on chocolate for untold hours? I tried this morning ... and this afternoon ... and this evening. My head is still swimming. How come there is no warning on Aero bar labels?

Saturday, October 31, 2009


I put film loop device to use this evening, running a film that I made with William this afternoon. He dressed up as Death (which is what he went out as this evening) and I filmed 50 feet of footage of him at the university and it while he drew comics (more on that tomorrow). The film also includes the very cool Lego skull that Paul built. I developed the film as negative so the clip below will show William dressed in white as the reaper instead of the traditional black. He questioned this and I suggested that Halloween is a time for the world to be turned upside down. As usual, I project a Halloween-based 16mm film in my front window for visitors to see. The loop device was temperamental and chewed up lots of film. I eventually used only half the film at a time and had better luck. The cat really wanted to play with the film and broke the looped film once. She also went out a couple of times until Margaret had to fetch her from a block over from some people who had a large orange cat on a leash. Sylvie was growling at the bigger cat and those owners thought that Sylvie was such a small lost kitten.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Globe Theatre

This evening we went to the Globe Theatre and saw the Alice Nocturne. I liked it. William was beside me, occasionally impatient and hungry but generally paying attention. I think it bothered him when people laughed when he didn't think it funny (the main jokes were discrete cultural references or innuendo that he wasn't privy to). I felt it a bit long but colourful and the most enjoyable theatre experience I've had in years (I don't go to many plays as I enjoy very few of what I do see).

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I needed to use a razor blade to scrape all the slime from the inside of the fish tank today. Then, with the fish net, I scooped the sheets of slime out of the water and into a bucket. I believe they'll be happier now. Do snails eat that slime? Because if they do, we could raise a snail farm.
A couple of months ago we got a letter from the city, addressed to both Margaret and me and including our middle names on the envelope which really got our attention. It said that some of the pipes bringing water to our house may have lead (all of our house is copper) and thus we should run our water for five minutes before drinking it. Well, this didn't sit too well with us of course. We've been here for 13 years without running it. In any case, a shower in the morning will use enough water to flush the lead but the first coffee was always a problem. We've been keeping additional water from the day before in the frig for the morning. Our drinking water has its own filter so today I went to Rona to see if they have a filter to remove heavy metals (we all need to remove heavy metal from our life eventually). The filters we usually use cost about $10 each and only need changing once per year. The lead removing one costs $38 and only lasts 6 months! Ugh.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Shawn visits

After a few breaks in communication, I made direct contact with Shawn McGrath and he visited my class to talk about a variety of business and legal issues regarding filmmaking and the film industry. William stayed home from school again, he seems healthy but has a reduced appetite and slept until noon! I think he'll be in school tomorrow. I finished the soundtracks for both William's and my One Take Super-8 films.

Monday, October 26, 2009


I spent the afternoon trying to combat the flu, or perhaps just exhaustion. William was home sick but by noon he was 90% back and had energy to burn. It made it difficult to rest. Later in the afternoon however, we did some decorating for Halloween, which is a pretty big deal on our end of the street.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

cut the cold

While I was FINALLY installing my storm windows today, having found a great deal on weather stripping at CMS, William was in bed with a fever, possibly but not necessarily the result of last night's late night line-wait in the cold.

the long the the short of it

It was worth it, but what a wait! This evening we went to the Sukanen Village Halloween event. We've wanted to go for a couple of years but didn't for one reason or another, but this year we were able to. Sukanen Village is a few miles south of Moose Jaw; it's were the steel ship built by Tom Sukanen is now kept and partially restored and where Chrystene shot much of "Sisu". It started at 7:00 but Margaret had been working all day so we didn't get a quick start, leaving Regina at 7:30. On the way, I noticed some interesting light in the sky on the pollution above the Kalium plant outside Belle Plaine. I'm certain it could look very cool with the use of some time exposures (Ryan, perhaps you could take a look sometime). It was a bit rainy so the sky was cloudy; this might have added to the effect. We didn't get much of an image of it, this was just shot by Margaret out the window of the moving car: We arrived at Sukanen Village at 8:20 and I really didn't think there would be many people since the signage was generally so poor. However, I was immediately struck with the image of cars parked throughout the ditch. We parked along the grid road that services it and got into a large line up. I soon realized that the line was moving very slowly, owing to the fact that they were only letting groups of about 12 in at a time, probably every 5 to 10 minutes. At 9:30, William's feet were frozen, owing to the fact that he'd worn his crocs. At 9:45 he wanted to leave but we were at the gate and kept going. Inside the building we were able to warm him a bit as we got placed into a group (I think they placed groups with children in different groups than teenagers+ so that the scare factor could be altered). We were then led out to what I thought would be the tour but was in fact another line. They had the canteen set up as a holding area for the groups where they could buy hot chocolate and snacks. We did so and moved, one table at a time, towards the launch area for the tour. By this point William had really made it clear that he wanted to go home but we persisted and, miraculously, we finally got our turn at 11:10. The tour was quite amusing and mainly consisted of us following our host, the only person with a flashlight, as we walked backwards quickly over very uneven ground and a variety of people yelled from the darkness or jumped out at us. A great lark. William laughed and laughed. He fell asleep in the car on the way home.

Friday, October 23, 2009

busy friday

I had a huge cart of stuff for class today to demonstrate kinescoping and film loops but no one brought material so we did some video feedback instead. My loop devise worked. I then ran an hour of errands then got home for William and read student scripts as he rode his bike then we watched a show until supper and went to the Dunlop shows which opened at both galleries. Very tired now. Margaret is finally home after having attended a work conference all day then working the opening in the evening.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

plumbing 2

Today we took our young cat, Sylvie, in to the vet for spaying. They also pulled one of her baby teeth. The plumber came and put in our Japanese dual-action toilet.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


We bought a new toilet this morning but weren't able to get anyone to install it today. Hopefully tomorrow. At least our plumbing does not look like this.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

good news and bad news

The good news is that my guest in class today, Michele Sereda, was really interesting and talked a lot about how a director can prepare with a script to be more able to communicate with actors. Other good news was that William went to a science fair and had a great day too. I also joined Paved by mail and sent in a Professor Delusia video for their Halloween screening. I also recorded and edited the soundtrack for my one take super 8 film "Memories of Uncle's House". The bad news is that the toilet is leaking again.

Monday, October 19, 2009


Kevin and I went to Zombieland last night. It was a hoot, some good surprises, some good gore, some good comedy, and some good characters. It was a bit short, probably about 80-85 minutes. We went for coffee afterwords and I forgot my satchel at the Robin's and had to race back for it. Didn't lose it, but it had my wallet in it so I was a bit anxious. That place couldn't hold off zombies for even five minutes.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


William finished the last Harry Potter book today, taking just 11 days (over 600 pages)! Here he is reading at the cafe at the Mendal in Saskatoon yesterday:He's already deep into the new Animorphs books I found for him, finishing one of them before supper time (book 41, " The Familiar", 143 pages).

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Trip to Saskatoon

We drove up to Saskatoon yesterday after the toilet was fixed. Margaret got word that the Sheriton had great water slides so we booked it for one night and they were quite good. There were two slides and two hot tubs. We spent a couple of hours last night and then got back in after breakfast this morning for another hour and a half. Margaret conducted a workshop on artist trading cards at the Mendal while I went to the new Paved space and got a bit of a tour. I was surprised to find that Tim no longer worked there and then discovered, upon talking with his partner Donna Wawzonek whom I ran into as I was leaving, that last year he left not only his job but her too! Wow, am I ever out of the loop! I found William a bunch more Animorphs books at the newly located (same building, much bigger space) 8th Avenue Books because he was asking if he could get back to that series after he finished Harry Potter. I'm glad I did because he read about 150 pages of "Deathly Hollows" today and will likely finish it tomorrow.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Margaret's birthday updated with one picture

While I was at work, Margaret got to spend her birthday serving cake to her parents as they fixed the wax seal on our toilet. The cat was very curious.
Margaret's mother and Sylvie the cat
It seems that this is a rare birthday with virtually no photos of the birthday girl!?!?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

chase my tail

We met with William's teacher today, that went well. William had the rest of the day off so Margaret took him tobogganing while I did some grading. I went to the office in the afternoon and finished shooting my super-8 films "Memories of Uncle's House". Margaret worked this evening so I baked a lemon cheesecake for her birthday and we watched the missing episode of The Brave and the Bold then about half of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (which William was surprisingly engaged with considering all they did was stand around and talk for the first fifteen minutes) before Margaret got home. William didn't buy into the wire-fu for a minute though. We had to tell him they have special kung fu skills that let them walk on air. Margaret's present today was the complete Wooster and Jeeves televison series on 8 dvds. Now I've got to get back to my notes for tomorrows class. I've not had time to get my window weather stripping in and them installed and now our toilet is leaking.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


This morning I went to pick up fresh colour film development chemistry from Don's Photo. Kodak has now discontinued their one gallon C-41 kits so I will need to start buying 5 gallon kits. The problem is that the stuff doesn't have a very long shelf life after you open it and I can't dive into a big processing project in the middle of term. Luckily I was able to get a small kit, but it will likely only do two rolls of 16mm before it is depleted. I got back home to read through some student scripts and the cat went to sleep on my shoulder. Other than one meeting, I spent most of today responding to comments from students about their projects; some in person but mostly over email. I wasn't at the office long enough to progress very far on my super-8 film; I'll need to complete it tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

a closer look

Ian Toews came to my Film 400 class today, always an honor. We watched a whole episode of Landscape as Muse featuring John Chalke; I feel inspired to take a ceramics class now. Before that I put about three hours into my One Take Super 8 film which required many magnifying glasses.

Monday, October 12, 2009


I'm feeling less well every day, although it might be just exhaustion rather than the flue since I don't actually have any flu symptoms. Today I redesigned my One Take Super 8 idea to allow me to get it done in time since I didn't get response for my Shakespeare project early enough. Onto the back burner with that, and on with "Uncle's House" (working title). I'll be able to shoot it tomorrow and the next day and have no problem making the 16th deadline.
The puttying of the windows continues.
William and I went to the Lawson pool and swam for a couple of hours. He is far better at swimming that he demonstrated to the teachers last month, which resulted in him wearing a life jacket all the time instead of jumping into the deep end from high boards without one, as he did today.
We went to Richard and Gerda's for Thanksgiving supper. There were 20 people there. Gerda gave William a box of old Bionicle parts, a huge treasure! I had a nice chat with Joanne and Norm; they are always so great to talk to but we don't socialize like we used to. Food was very good of course. Gerda found a discontinued Polaroid camera for $5 with 8 shots remaining in it of unused but discontinued film. They shot all 8 at dinner, essencially turning the camera into a paperweight. Here is one imaged, copied with a hand held digital camera with no proper lighting:

Sunday, October 11, 2009

long weekend

We are going to a Thanksgiving due tomorrow, today was mostly a work day. Margaret's mother Gertrud came over yesterday and today to help re-putty the storm windows. I scraped old paint off and cleaned them after the puttying. I'm shocked by what a poor job I did at painting them last week but the conditions were very poor and I was very rushed. At least I got a first coat on them. The putty job will take at least one more long day, maybe two.
This morning I worked with William to help him shoot his One Take Super 8 film which he is calling "Sylvie Bingles Lego and the Jet Pack". We still have to do the soundtrack but I have a plan for that which should be cool. Margaret spent much of the day baking pies and, her new passion, bread. I wonder what sort of madness is required to be a baker as many of the bread recipes I see contain food that just shouldn't be eaten (things have have soured or formented or just about rotted seem in order only there).

Friday, October 9, 2009

in the dark

Today my Film 412 class processed their 100 feet of film in the darkroom. I guided batches of four at a time at four stations so we were able to get through all 1600 in about 3 hours, but then I had to process some tests and ray-o-grams we did last week so I ended up darkrooming for 4 hours. The bad part was that it snowed all day and we couldn't dry film on the lawns like I prefer. Here is me working with hand processed film at Phil Hoffman's Film Farm back in '02.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Another one down

This afternoon, with the four day weekend stretching ahead of him, William finished the sixth Harry Potter book, "The Half Blood Prince". 606 pages, 23 days. He'll start the seventh and last one this evening.

We had a bit of a reward by me and Paul taking him out to see the 6th movie again at the Rainbow.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

that's class!

Here is my class posing yesterday for their picture in our studio. Department head Christine Ramsay arrived a minute later so made it in time but is not in this image. There are only two students out of the 26 missing; one was late, the other was ill. In the official picture, I am also there.
I spent today getting materials together for Friday's class, reading student scripts, taking William and Rowan to acting class, and trying to ward off the flu that Margaret has in full force.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

missing disc

Today we did some class pictures then I wanted to discuss a number of issues around collaboration. I then promised my students I'd show "Wheat Soup". However, I lent a copy of it out a few months ago and made a new copy but forgot to return the copy to my office. I was left in the embarrassing situation of not having the film to show. I ran some Peter Greenaway shorts and a couple of old student films instead.

Monday, October 5, 2009

heating up

I didn't paint today. Gertrud had to watch William after school since I was in a meeting and Margaret was at work. I've not seen much of Margaret over the past couple of days. She went to Marla's yesterday and learned to bake bread, something she's been excited about for some time now. I went out last night and she was asleep by the time I got in. Today I was at work all day, a Monday that was filled with meetings that I cannot discuss in my blog. William started selling magazine subscriptions for his school so it'll be time to renew my "Entertainment Weekly" again. I got it to replace what used to be the good parts in TV Guide before it turned to crap. I don't even see it on the stands anymore; was it canceled completely? I can't remember the last time I complained about it but it may have been in one of my earlier blogs. Anyway, William is getting so much more independent, going to the neighbours' houses by himself and so on.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


I was talking with Rachelle Viader Knowles the other night at the MacKenzie opening. She is just back from her sabbatical and says she tried to do a blog for a while but lost steam long before I did. We discussed the problem that if you talk about your work, you often face the problem of saying the same thing every day since big sabbatical projects take a long time to complete. On that note, I can only report that once again I worked on painting the house today. I am significantly closer to completing the windows. One storm window needs to be replaced or rebuilt and then painted. There are three other windows that require some paint as soon as the glazing putty is dry. The remaining seventeen storm windows are painted but many need glazing and cleaning (paint on glass scraped off) before being hung. I am planning to let the paint dry all week and then bring them into the house for glazing/cleaning next weekend.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

eat work eat work eat watch work

Busy Saturday. It started with eating black forest cake at Margaret's mom's for George's birthday and then back home to begin painting storm windows in the garage. Space is cramped so can't line up many windows and thus cannot maximize my time (which is severely limited). We went to the annual fowl supper at my mom's church. Back home we watched Ghostbusters 2 (we watched the first one last weekend). I also began making a series of videos about our cat which I will begin with a punk-style title sequence. I'll put them up on Youtube likely in a couple of days. Here is a sneak peak of one:

Friday, October 2, 2009


Between yesterday and today I made some authentic Italian gelato. I roasted the hazelnuts and simmered them in whole milk (brought up to Italian whole milk standard of 3.7% rather than the 3.25% of Canadian whole milk), then pureed them and drained all the milk into a bowl and discarded the nuts and used the milk in the recipe. Add egg yokes, Belgium chocolate and vanilla and a lot of straining and simmering until the mixture is finally left in the frig for a few hours. By this time it was too late to make gelato so it sat and waited until this evening and I broke in the Kitchenaid ice cream maker (prepared the day before by putting it in the freezer) and finally, after about 18 minutes of stirring, it was an amazingly edible substance.
This evening, before the MacKenzie opening, we finally cleaned the fish tank. We've never let it get so dirty as it was now; I had to use a glass scraper to remove algae from every surface of the glass and then scoop it with the net. I'd delayed the cleaning because I didn't want to suck up the baby fish. There were three remaining about a week ago but now there are two. They are getting pretty big. About ten days ago the swordtail mother died, I have no idea why. She'd been swimming around with her head facing the surface for a day, then that was it. I can't find that as a symptom on line but her gills were red and that could mean ammonia poisoning, so our long delay in the cleaning was probably the culprit. The two young ones seem strong and active and are growing really fast.
I talked to the lab (Technicolor) in Vancouver today. My answer print of my new film, Grain: summer (I Can't See the Forest Through My Dreams)" should be shipped to me on Monday. It is playing in less than two weeks at Antimatter in Victoria. I'm excited to see it; it sounds like the timer spent a long time trying to make it look just right (a challenge with my work since there is no "right").

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

good day

William seem to have had a really good day, which I've very happy about because he's been having too many bad days lately. He brought samples of grain to school that he collected from the farm and he got to do a 20 minute presentation to the class where they sat and quietly listened to him. This is when he shines. Later on I asked him about singing "O Canada" in Cree, which I know they had been learning with the first teacher. Although he has a good ear for music and an amazing memory for words, he has claimed that he doesn't know it. I then offered to buy him a chocolate frog (which come with one trading card of a Harry Potter wizard in each pack for SIX DOLLARS) if he could sing it. After about 10 seconds of thought he rattled it off. We picked up his frog from Dessarts on 13th avenue on the way to his acting class at the Globe. Margaret and I went shopping and bought the ice cream attachment for the Kitchenaid mixer so we can finally make ice creams without all the additives. Margaret's brother came over this evening, having finished the harvest last night at midnight, and had some birthday cheesecake that I made last night (a particularly good Saskatoon berry one).

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

cut thin

Today I met with the last of my 26 forth year students about their projects. This, as I think I said before, is really what the program is about. A sharing of ideas. I discovered years ago that the more good ideas I'm able to give during these sessions, the better I feel at the end of the day. It has become a challenge (that I'm often but not always successful at) to give each student at least one idea that they like and that they would not have come up with on their own at each of these meetings. My guest lecture with Robin Schlaht today was well timed as I'm not sure what I had left inside me to teach. After class, the first of the repeat customers came in and I managed to find better advice for him this time than in the first meeting, so I'm exhausted but happy. This evening I cut some farm fresh (organic of course) potatoes up into french fries, added some olive oil and salt, and froze them to try to make my own (cost effective) frozen fries. Margaret is worried that they might not freeze right and perhaps they'll turn mushy or brown. I'll see tomorrow.Margaret and William took the afternoon off to observe/help the harvest. Margaret's brother George is also in town, spending his birthday on the combine.

Monday, September 28, 2009

on this day

On this day in history:
It was the year 2005 and the weather was nice and father and son headed out to the Qu'Appelle Valley to touch the sky.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


It turned cold today so even though I woke up very stiff, I spent most of my day sitting around on kitchen chairs playing games. Pretty good day over all. Margaret won at Carcassonne.

so close, so far

On Friday I taught my class. Of course I had my last minute panic trying to get all the materials together including little baggies of washing soda for each student so they can reticulate. That night we watched "Ghost Busters" with William, he loved it of course. He's been asking about it for a couple of months and I've just been waiting for the right time.
Yesterday I painted all day, getting the tope on most of the window trims. I'm only missing one window; the one that I need to move half my kitchen around to be able to unhook from the inside. Soon. It is rotting and I'm not sure if I can repair it or if I'll have to try to find a replacement. The next thing is to shift to white and begin painting windows themselves. There are only six on the building and they only need paint on one side but then there are 18 storm windows and they need paint on both sides and many of them need new window putty as well. I've been waiting for a point when I can empty space in the garage to lay them out and work on them but that prospect is quickly becoming unrealistic as we just had our last day of nice weather and winter could start any day now. Last night I went to my sister Lori's to help celebrate my brother-in-law Al's 50th birthday. Lots of people, nice time. I ate some great food that didn't agree with me including a spring roll and a macaroon; too much fibre - lost some sleep over them. Speaking of cookies, the Oreo cookies we bought recently are better for you because they have "30% less fat per two cookies than regular Oreos". What I want to know is how much less fat is there in one cookie?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

brain imploding

Finished a second day of meetings, mostly with my students to discuss their projects. Probably the best part of the job but also exhausting. I never have time to eat, opting to continue talking with one student until the next is at the door. Tomorrow relax; just have to teach for three hours.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

William cheering up

Today in class I worked through the visualization exercise I learned in grad school for developing characters and modified it for them to run through scenarios in groups at their tables. I'm beginning to believe strongly in this table system I've assembled to accommodate the 26 of them in one room. William's new classroom is also table-based, which William was adamantly against just two days ago. However, he now seems happier about school. We went to the open house and had the new teacher's ear for a half hour or so and feel pretty good about it all. The room they are in is a bit spartan but brighter and airier that I imagined the basement could offer. The teacher was nice and seemed thoughtful, although it is worrisom that she's been on the job three days and no one has introduced her to the other teachers yet. There are always pros and cons to getting a new teacher: enthusiastic but without having field tested her strategies.

Monday, September 21, 2009


I think I've been having an anxiety attack that has lasted about three days. I'm taking every little email I receive as a personal attack but compulsively check it every time I'm near my computer as if I'm just looking to drive myself mad. Is there a fear of email phobia? I'd have to add it to my fear of phones that I've developed recently. The weekend was full of vinegar but not paint (Margaret was pickling and I got no painting done) so now am waiting for next weekend to work on the house again. The painters are apparently done the second floor and most of the windows still open (after some effort). William has a new teacher today. He was very upset to be moving to the basement for a new classroom and I had to take him all the way in or else I as certain he would have just sat in the hallway for the whole morning but in the end he had a good day and seems to like her. Below is a 2o year old picture of me in Saskatoon working on a film crew when we discovered that we didn't have a take up reel for the Nagra tape recorder so we had to unspool an old roll of tape for the reel. There is no connection between this photo and anything going on today except perhaps for the feeling of things being not quite right.

Friday, September 18, 2009

sorting photos

I was sorting photos and getting stuff printed for the album last week and reminded myself of this photo series that William and I made in Penticton this summer. It's based on the "flying" technique that McLaren did for "Neighbours" in 1962 but William actually suggested it without that reference so I finally got around to putting it together into a video. I posted it to Youtube, my first such posting all year.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

getting hot

Summer is finally here. 31 degrees today (I can't find the circular degree sign in most word processors and blog fonts are even more difficult/limited). I helped out with William's class trip to the pool this morning then spent the afternoon and evening getting ready for class tomorrow. The painters are almost done. I started writing a new "Grain" script but I'm not sure if it should be in my voice or someone elses. I will be hiring some voice people very soon to run some lines from my version of "A Midsummer Nights Dream" since I want to shoot a test scene before the colour of fall is gone. I've been working on that script again, alternating between creating more difficult to read hand notes in the margins of the book and typing those same notes into a screenplay program to format it. If I ever catch up with the computer, and since I've just begun typing act 5 I just might, I will dispense with the paper book (which I've been using since 2000!) and work directly in the computer - something I was much less comfortable doing ten years ago). I am starting to feel like I'm finishing things, even if they aren't big things. The lab in Vancouver say they struck a test print of my new film and so that will be coming soon. I finished reading the third Popeye comic strip collection, which took my months because the image and text size is so small I can only read it for a few minutes a day. I also finished two of the Mike Hoolboom books I ordered in: "Everybody Loves Nothing", a catalogue of work by Steve Reinke, and "Projecting Questions?", a really fantastic catalogue about Hoolboom's gallery work from a couple of years ago. He has some very strong and critical viewpoints about gallery video that I found pleasing; everything he says is profoundly obvious, at least once he says it. A must read (except for the rather obtuse academic gymnastics in the chapter on "the invisible man blog" which just tries too hard to be smart that it says nothing much at all).

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

House painting

Over the past couple of days the upper story of our house is being painted. I'm not sure how long it will take, probably just one or two more days although the windows will certainly take a bit more time than the large expanses of walls. They are working only from ladders because, they told us, they could not afford the insurance for scaffolding. Apparently scaffolds lead to carelessness and accidents more than ladders do.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

ich habe einen kater

I think I've picked up a bad case of cat head.
The long awaited new Lego Bionicle movie: "The Legend Reborn" came out today. I picked it up first thing this morning and William watched it twice after school. I caught it the second time. It was all right although at times it was quite sloppy. Two scenes in particular bothered me. In one, the main character is in a cavern of ancient technology and triggers a gateway to open. He is surprised and jumps back. The scene then cuts to the group of characters 2/3 of the way down the stairway with the opening far behind them. Where was the moment of nervous first steps into the darkness? Cutting room floor? Later when two of the heroes have been captured the same main character declares that he will go alone to rescue them and the other heroes must stay behind to protect the villagers. He then turns and exits amid musical cues that lead us to believe his new mission is under way. Cut to him standing on a hill side watching the sun set and one of the characters from the previous scene walks up behind him and says "I thought I'd find you here" and they have a chat about the likely position of the hostages. Very obtuse. All the key creatives had European names. All the actual animators were Asian. I sense some major disconnects in the production.

William finished reading the 760 page "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" this evening. He started it on July 9 and has now started the sixth book.

Monday, September 14, 2009


I am the new Fine Arts rep to Campion Collage and went to my first meeting over there today. They were very friendly, introduced me to everyone, served coffee, and talked a bit afterward. Unfortunately the retreat conflicts with their sherry social on Friday.
This evening we had our Filmpool Board meeting. Margaret was at work so I took William with me. He watched some Harry Potter while we met.
The painters came today and did an hour of scratching at the trim which apparently constitutes their prep for painting our house tomorrow.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

around home

I felt pretty good about the weekend. I didn't do anything I'd call exciting but I did a bunch of small things that did more good than harm around my house. I fixed a gate, I painted the trim around the windows on the north side of the house, and I found a replacement window for one of the storm windows for the kitchen. If I did this every weekend, I might actually finish all of or renovations in a year. Winter will come soon and derail me of course, but it's still a dream.

Last night I woke up with a headache and got up and watched the first half hour of "Sergeants Three" with the rat pack. I had noticed it on TCM a few weeks ago at the same time I'd noticed a big poster of it prominently shown in the background of a Godard film so I recorded it. It ends up being a western remake of Gunga Din with Sammy Davis Jr doing the Gunga Din character as a freed slave. Mixed feelings about it; I love Dean Martin but he's no Cary Grant.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


The swordtail had babies last night. Margaret claims to have counted eleven of them. They are small and hide in the rocks and we've not yet done anything to protect them such as separating them or purchasing porous objects for them to hide in or even to purchase baby fish food, although I have been grinding up the existing foods so they can eat it and I have also fed the fish extra today to disuade canibalism. They are too small and fast to get a good picture of.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Mars Mission Lego article

A little piece I wrote about Mars Mission Lego for a local web publication is finally up. Take a read. pass it around. I think he's looking for readers as well as for more articles of a diverse nature.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

falling behind

William was home sick this morning and Margaret had commitments so I stayed home and got not much of anything done and then had meetings all afternoon and Margaret worked this evening so I watched Brave and the Bold with William until 30 minutes ago and so now, two days into the term, I'm half asleep and trying to read things that I promised to read and am feeling I'm already behind. *sigh*

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

first day of classes

I had my first day of Film 400 today. Due to sabbaticals, I had suggested that the two groups of 12-15 be combined into one group so today I rearranged the tables into four blocks instead of one large one so as to accommodate all 24 that I was expecting. Two extras came who registered at the last minute. I was left without a chair for 3 hours and one student had to go hunt for his own down the hall somewhere. Other than that, we had a pretty good session.

Monday, September 7, 2009

thoughts on films

I completed a fair draft of my Splice Magazine article on Shawn Fulton today. I have a feeling I should go back into it and do some changes but they didn't seem immediately apparent and I needed to get it to the editor so he could know how long it is and make space (1900 words, a bit longer than my usual articles). This evening I went to Quentin Tarantino's WWII fantasy "Inglorious Bastards". It was a lot of fun. Hitler was really sweaty, you could not help but hate him. It was set in a world that film is the most important thing in society to the point that filmmakers even write the history. Hmmm, perhaps that's the history we have come to have these days...?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

a hard day out

Today we had breakfast at my sisters and say my cousin one last time, then we went to the farm and I did some painting on the inside of the "cottage". William was in an incredibly bad mood all day but in his first calm and happy-ish moment of the day, he shot this video of me.

Of course, at 9:30 when he's supposed to wind down, he was a perfect gentleman again.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

changes in the family

Last night Margaret thought that the top fin on our catfish (Kidder) was looking ragged. I didn't think so but today started to believe. I watched for a while and finally started noticing that the orange and black swordtail (not the pregnant one) was being too aggressive. William and I returned her to the store and swapped her for a really pretty guppy. When I was a kid, guppies where what we usually got; they were small and plain and died quickly. They are still small but not plain at all. Until further notice, only the catfish has a name. They are easier to return or lose that way.


Today I finally finished restoring "Daytona: A Happening", a film by Jean Oser that was accidentally cannibalized for found footage sometime last year. Luckily most of the parts were intact. I accidentally destroyed a six inch part in the process and have another six inch part that part that I could not locate a home for. There are a couple other gaps but overall it is there.
Jean Oser was a film editor and a great filmmaker in his own right. He made quite a few short commissioned films in the fifties and sixties (industrials when such things were still pretty cool). He then came to teach at the UofR where he became one of the most influential people in the creation of a film community and film industry in Saskatchewan. The films he made are housed at the Saskatchewan Filmpool and are unlikely to be housed collectively anywhere else in the world. While many of them likely exist in other collections or in the archives of their commissioning companies, no one else has them collected as "Jean Oser" films. This one in particular is a fast paced short about motorcycle racing. Made in the 60s, it is filled with odd bits of slang. At one point the narrator points out that when the race is over, the action hasn't stopped and we see the rider necking with a sexy girl. It was commissioned by the Triumph Motorcycle company.
It was Paul's birthday today: HAPPY BIRTHDAY PAUL. We had pizza and cake. His brother Mike came to town and surprised him half way through supper. Then we went to the opening at the Dunlop. William was doing a number of drawings and had them laid out on the floor. Two people, including one person who is a programmer at another local art gallery, walked by just as he'd finished them and stepped directly on them. What kind of people go to art galleries these days?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

New family again!!!

The catfish has been out of sorts the last few days. I think it is a combination of him being overfed and being lonely. We stopped feeding him and today he started being active again, proving this to be in part true (he was always very active when he was hungry then docile after eating). This evening we bought two swordtails and he is much happier and active already. They require warm water, which is something he likes as well, so I also got a heater. Cowtown had one that was much cheaper than the others because it was some random shipment they weren't supposed to get (fell off the back of a tanker from China?), so it was six bucks instead of thirty. The fish cost three dollars each so not a big investment but certainly worth the extra over the 49 cent goldfish if they manage to live more than a month.

Sylvie the cat is also doing great. She is a bit insecure about being apart from us which is fine since that means she doesn't wander far when we let her off her leash. She's still mostly an indoor cat but she likes being outside with us and she climbs the treehouse and goes under the porch and deck (she's only 1/5 the size of the old cat so can go amazing places).

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Neg cut

Today I did the neg cut for my film "Grain: Summer - I Can't See the Forest Through My Dreams". What this means is that I cut the film negatives into two rolls with the even shots on one roll and the odd shots on the other roll with appropriate lengths of black leader in between them. The lab needs it this way to make a print. I should be receiving the optical sound track any time now and then I can send it and the negs to another lab and they can make me a print that I can show with a projector. Usually this is done with a specialized hot splicer in a quite sterile environment but since my films recently have had such a wrecked aesthetic (due to all the hand processing) I have been doing the neg cutting myself on any table that I can find enough space on and I've been using a tape splicer instead of a hot splicer because I never did get the hang of those things (lots of stinky glue and if you don't do it right it falls apart later). I've not finished a film like this since my last "Toxic" film (#5 was the last one completed as #6 was done early). I think I finished Toxic in 2004 so it has been five years. This will be the first 16mm film I've completed without the late Rick Doe of Calgary's Local Film Lab since the early nineties. He printed "Doubt" (1997), "Life is Like Lint"(1999), and all 6 "Toxic" films (2002-2004).

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


I spent much of today writing, although I admit I became frequently distracted and caught up on little things on the computer like burning back up files and searching for meaningless stuff. William and I finished watching The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy this evening (the BBC television show of course). It's always great. I first saw it when it was pretty much new in the early 80s, either right at the end of high school or in early university. I saw it a few times, and even taped it. I got rid of those vhs tapes a couple of years ago, even though the blanks cost about six or seven bucks back then.

Monday, August 31, 2009

on the clock

This afternoon I met with John Hampton and we looked at the videos he's been editing. We are to preview all four of these shorts next Friday so he needs to whip them into shape. The two he's headed up are really close, we just need to review the other two which are in Mauricio's hands and he's out of town right now, coming back soon I think. William and I watched Harold Lloyd's "Safety Last" this evening. I recorded in a few weeks ago along with a number of other Lloyd films from the same time period and we've been watching them one at a time (they are around an hour each). I skipped a couple others to watch it as he was heavily referenced in the "Back to the Future" films.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ted Godwin

I don't know how this happens but four months ago Margaret and I missed the Ted Godwin opening at the MacKenzie Art Gallery because of a number of conflicts, first and foremost being the dinner with Chrystene Ells following her defense. We usually go to the MacKenzie about once a month so I had no worries about seeing the show. Well last night I got thinking about modern art and looked to see when the Godwin show ends as I still had not seen it and it closed TODAY. Margaret and I managed to convince William to leave the house and come with us so we all saw it two hours before closing. Pretty good work, glad I saw it.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Shawn Fulton

I met up with Shawn Fulton in a park this afternoon and we recorded over an hour of an interview in preparation for an article I want to write about his really cool super-8 films. William and Sylvie also came. Sylvie climbed a tree very well, limited only by her leash. William bumped his head and cursed the planet for his pain and hoped that we crash into the sun. He really didn't cheer up until we were at grandmas and got some new Lego (Indiana Jones Jungle Cutter). We all went over to Ed/Faith/Marin/Rowan's house and they hosted a bar-b-que and made it a bit of a surprise party for William. We stayed rather late but there's an even louder party next door so it won't be an early night anyways. Sylvie has started being more playful, probably because she is becoming more comfortable here but probably also because she is de-wormed and de-ear-mited. She has some sort of fur covered ball that she goes nuts for.