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.