Saturday, January 30, 2010

tasty party

Tonight we went to the Cathedral Festival "Taste of Cathedral" fundraiser. We all got dressed up with ties and so on. William spent most of the evening dancing. There were two girls about his age there and they kept seeking him out whenever he took a break, even chasing him back to the dance floor when he chose to return. I've not had girls chase me like that since my purse snatching days.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Professor William

Last night I told William that I was teaching Lego as part of my animation class. He asked if he could come. Since he had the day off from school, I suddenly couldn't think of a good reason why not. I was intending on taking a couple of bins of his toys with me, so why not him as well? Margaret ushered him around, doing stuff while I did my class prep, and he came in for an hour and helped guide a workshop on building then animating with Lego. It was amusing to observed that while my students never interrupt me while I'm talking, he does not hesitate to do so.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

June's tough day

Today June and I had arranged that I would speak to her class in St. John over MSN or instant messaging or whatever. We'd done it before but of course we re-tested it the other day (had a great chat) but of course when the class starts today we were unable to make it work. Personally I suspect her university server (I was at home) because often streaming video is difficult at our university, especially in the middle of a teaching day. In the end she showed some of my films and I answered some questions by typing as fast I could into the text message thing. A tough birthday for June.

Monday, January 25, 2010


There was a lot of snow today. The university canceled classes. I dug a path all the way down the block for William to get to school, only 7 out of about 20 in his class made it in. They had a good morning and he was allowed to bring videos in the afternoon. However, he phoned at 1:15 to say that they'd voted on watching "Up" again in the gym and wondered if he could come home. My Grad Studies meeting was definitely not canceled (we barely had quorum so no one was allowed to leave) but Margaret was home so William took the afternoon off and finished the second book in the Nicholas Flamel books (book 2, the Magician, 460 pages). I ache from the amount of digging I did.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

snow day

William and I stayed home all day, partially due to lack of health but equally due to excess of snow. Wow, there is a lot of it out there. I am almost finished my annual report to the university; just a couple last details and my cv to update and I can submit it. I also got a couple of student scripts read, so am finally almost on top of things. Margaret went to a collage collective session all weekend and created a nice new piece that combines paper onto wood with paint. Luckily she drove there with Gerri Ann from across the street who has a 4 wheel drive, else she'd have probably not made it there first thing this morning.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Blood and bugs

I just watched Blood Tea and Red String, a stop motion feature film without words that came out a few years ago. I always love to see these very small films made by a single individual over a decade. They don't come around every day, for obvious reasons.

Friday, January 22, 2010


I guess MSN isn't called that anymore. I don't think it even was when I used it for the first time a couple or three years ago. June and I had to hook back up with it this evening as a test for a repeat of the lecture I did for her class in '08. I'll be talking to student in St. John on Wednesday. We took quite a while to get the sound working. It ended up fixing itself after she rebooted, so it looks like we're in the clear.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Paul and I went to Avatar in 3D tonight. I don't think there is much to say about it that hasn't been said. It was very entertaining, although a large portion of that entertainment was certainly the 3D. I don't think there is enough story to engage me to watch it again in 2D without good reason, such as perhaps taking William to it. He hasn't seen Pocahontas, so it will still offer some surprises for him.
I have someone auditing my Film 200 class, which is a first. I didn't actually think we allowed that, but if we don't I'm sure it will get caught up somewhere. He didn't know that we started the course two weeks ago so he's missed 2/13th of the term. At least now there is someone older than me in the room.
Margaret has a demo Valentine card as part of Dunlop workshop thing for teenagers in the current promo material for the gallery. It is based on one of my ideas (uncredited of course).
I also finally started posting the student's test animation for my class: take a look.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

why does a normal work day seem so abnormal?

Margaret has her mom's car today so we took the opportunity to get our car into the shop for a few minor things, a burned out headlight, an oil change, a couple of worn out belts, and fortunately for a slow leak in a tire we'd not noticed. It was a bit of a rush to get it in since I had multiple meetings including a presentation to Weyburn high school students I'd not planned for until earlier this week. Margaret swapped a shift with someone to accommodate my extended meeting schedule (to be home for William's lunch). William, through a misunderstanding of the teacher, left school 10 minutes early and came home. The school called, but it was really all fine. He apparently had a great morning since they concentrated on art and science. Too tired already and my prep for tomorrow's class is not quite done.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I've had a headache for the past two days. Last night I just couldn't face blogging, although I didn't got to bed like I should have and opted to watch Chuck instead. Yesterday Chrystene dropped by my office and we talked about the graphic novel drawing class she is teaching. Conversation turned to small strips, three or even one panel, as a useful exercise and challenge. I always believe that looking at bad work is as useful as studying the good. Of course this leads me to complain once again to the Chuckle Brothers. In some sort of masochistic daily routine, I read Chuckle Brothers first when I open the newspaper every morning. They consistently always disappoint. I think that THIS might lead to a daily strip of theirs since their web site does not see to work.Today I started a project with my class that will lead to us developing a sit com to shoot in class that will hopefully be ridiculously funny. The Chuckle Brothers will be our compass.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Is Book of Eli based on Wheat Soup?

Kevin and I went to "The Book of Eli" tonight. We didn't expect much and so it was a bit better than we expected. I was reminded of "Wheat Soup" at least a handful of times throughout it, not only the basic story (which was not highly original in either case: a lone traveler in a wasteland, guided by the principles in a book he carries) but more so by the lens choices, it being shot in telephoto with significant heat waves, long takes, and even a 500 mm sunset shot at the very end. Subtle but amusing corresponding elements kept me quite amused throughout.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

who nose

My nose is sore, as if I bumped it although I didn't. I think it has an infection in it, this happened to me a couple of years ago and I finally went to my doctor. Today, even though it was Saturday, I decided to chance a drop in on my doctor's office. Not only were they not open but his name is no longer listed on the door! I looked him up in the phone book and on line and he is still listed as being there but their answering machine also does not list him.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday class

I was pleased to find competent and helpful people at the university today. I had my animation class in the "fishbowl" media lab where I have never actually taught before and the tech showed up later than we'd planned, but still half hour before class. He had already got the information about my log in. He then stuck around to make sure the students could log on. They couldn't, so he gave us an alternative plan that allowed us to work without delay.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


This evening Paul consented to stay with William (watching every short Madagascar video we have on the dvr) while Margaret and I finally got out to Sherlock Holmes. Liked it a lot. I particularly liked how they depicted the ways he fought, showing in slow time how quickly his mind will come up with solutions and act upon them. There is a pattern in films that if a character reveals a plan, such as with a heist film, then the plan is doomed to fail. However, Holmes succeeds in these mini-plans, demonstrating his advanced intelligence. He would really look foolish if he believed he could defeat someone using some random blow to a knee but then fails; that would discredit him and be contrary to the entire character. It just worked very well.
There was a buzz in the bass in the sound system that could rarely be heard during the movie since there were no quiet scenes, but was likely hiding beneath the sound somewhere (Southland Mall).

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Brett session one

Today I started a course with Brett Bell on experimental filmmaking. I've known Brett for over 20 years so this initially seemed a bit obtuse for me to be teaching him anything, but we all have our own little specializations so it seems that I can find a few things to share with him. It's also the first time in a few years that I've actually had a one on one conversation with him that didn't take place in a university hallway or at a film function buffet table. It's interesting to talk about the 80s with someone who knew most of the same people. It is also great to talk to someone about filmmaking who does not need to have iso or fps or linear video explained to them before diving into something deeper. I look forward to more of these sessions.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

warm snow

The weather has finally turned warm enough for snow to stick together. I had work late but William, Margaret, and Sylvie got busy with the snow goons.

Monday, January 11, 2010

book report

William did his oral book report on the first Cirque de Freak book at school today; wish I could have seen it. I was a bit worried since he is likely still a bit sick and often gets grumpy when he's sick. In fact at lunch time when I talked to him on the phone he was quite upset that they'd not done the presentations in the morning. He practiced a bit yesterday, staring down at his page and mumbling through it. I told him that he should look up now and then and not be afraid of breaking from his script. He says he took my advice. He volunteered to go first, addressed the group with things like "Who wants to hear about the characters?" and says that everyone told him it was a good presentation.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Last night I just couldn't blog. While Saturday morning was certainly a dad/son dream as William and I lounged on the couch in our pajamas and watched "Fist Full of Dollars", the afternoon turned more challenging as we ventured into the freezing air to see the "Ice and Fire" festival. Returning home, we had Steve from across the street over for supper. He brought smoked ribs and port roast and we consumed it in large portions with even larger portions of wine, sipping and talking until one AM. William didn't eat much and went to bed feeling sick (not from the supper, it started earlier, but some sort of stomach thing). Today was a bit more casual as William's stomach was more upset that ours (we were the ones to consume five bottles the night before, not him) so the day was spent at home. I built my Darth Vader tie fighter Lego set that William bought be for Christmas. This evening Kevin and I saw Terry Gilliam's "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" which I thought was amazing. We didn't get much of a chance to talk afterward (he has painting prep waiting for him) but we talked briefly about the Devil character, cleverly played by Tom Waits and who, contrary to all of the hype around the Heath Ledger and his replacements, was really the show stealer.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Dog Named Christmas

William and I watched "Dog Named Christmas" this evening. It was shot in Saskatchewan last summer so I recorded it. It was highly cliche and predictable (telegraphed so loudly that even William wasn't surprised by any turns of events) but you need to remember that it WAS a Hallmark (the greeting card company) Christmas special, so that need to be taken into account. For what it was, it was very nicely done.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Getting ready

I spent the day getting ready for the first day of the Film 200 class tomorrow. Even though I've taught this course many times over the past 11 years, I never feel ready. Even as I write this, with the class starting in 13 hours, it occurs to me that I have not prepared enough clips to show. The big change is that the lab is separate so I will have 45 minutes more time each week to teach. I've put a bunch of content back in that I had in my early notes but have removed over the years. I'll also be able to show more example of films and perhaps get a camera our and do mock up shoots more often (did I book a camera for tomorrow??? gasp!!!).

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

sitting on my backside

I got William up early again today, he might actually be able to survive school tomorrow! He's relaxing and reading in bed after a rigorous day of watching movies. I was able to take the afternoon off and take him to Astro Boy. The line up was hideously slow with numerous people buying multiple tickets for themselves to watch multiple movies through the day so we missed the first five minutes but it was quite enjoyable. This evening we watched the new double episode of Dr. Who. William wanted to and I warned him that I would stop it if it got too scary but it was a good action episode so we all enjoyed it.

Monday, January 4, 2010

catching up

Last night I was at Kevin's house and he'd been trying to get his daughters back onto school schedule; they'd been staying up until 10. He was starting to get them up early so they would get back into the right schedule. Of course when I got home, close to 11, William was still awake even though he was exhausted all day. Taking a page from Kevin's book, I woke William before eight this morning. He's still up as I write the (nearly 10:30).
I thought I was going to go to the office today but decided to send out an email or two before I left, just a couple of things that could be done from home that I said I'd do before classes start. The day evaporated under a barrage of "little things". I suppose it didn't help that William watched the same scene from "The Twelve Tasks of Asterix" off Youtube over and over again on the computer beside me for two hours -- more than a bit distracting.
I shipped off my film "Cake" to The 8 Fest in Toronto; it will be screened there at the end of this month. They are only screening original film so of course I shipped off the super-8 roll.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

comfort and computing

Last week I finally rearranged the computer room so that the two computers are side by side instead of back to back. While I think my first layout was clever, the room was about a foot too small to make it work so we were constantly knocking into the walls, rolling the table, and using one computer more than the other (mine of course). So now they are a bit crowded but functioning. However, the floor, being a bit crooked, has the chairs rolling to one side so this afternoon we bought a nice rug for under the chairs and it feels quite cozy.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Gerald mention on Wikipedia

There is a Wikipedia entry for the late great Regina artist Roger Ing. A film clip that I uploaded to the film archives and have declared to be public domain (as part of a project I wanted all the students to do last year) is liked to the Wikipedia site.
Today was very cold but William and I went swimming anyway. I thought I would die but then we spent 15 minutes in the sauna and now I feel warm at last. I bought a new Carcassonne set with 72 more tiles. The map will be huge now.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Years Day, new Lego

Today we went for our annual traditional brunch at Gertrud's house: crepes and berries and whip cream. It was -50 with the wind chill factor so our car, not being plugged it, wasn't going to start. Paul drove us and we went back to his place afterwards. He had ordered some amazing Lego for himself, the hotel and the cafe, and had also ordered the super cool medieval village for us! William put half of it together after we got home. I sorted pieces for him (it is a 1600 piece set, the largest I've ever done) and William did all the building. Check out his blog for more images. See Margaret and I in the mirror in this image (click to see enlarged image).