Thursday, October 31, 2013

Cannister the Robot Invades University of Regina

Were it not for the brave efforts of graduate student Geremy Lague, the newest invasion attempt from time shifting, world-conquest-seeking robot Canister, this time attempting to access the world wide web via a University of Regina workstation, may well have succeeded. Keep watching the skies. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Great (45 Pound) Pumpkin

I've been at meetings all day, none of which I can/should talk about in my blog, and I teach tonight (I have a plan but am still somewhat apprehensive), so not much else to write about except pumpkins. The other night William carved his 45 pound pumpkin we bought at "Pumpkin Hollow" near Lumsden.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


I carved this one small pumpkin last night. The seeds we roaster from it are really wonderful. The seeds from the giant pumpkin have a thick shell so are not as pleasant; you need to crack them open like sunflower seeds. William's recipe for roasting pumpkin seeds with butter and salt is awesome (yes, I use that word correctly; eating the seeds is like tasting god). 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Pumpkin carving begins

Last night, Margaret and William made a horrifyingly good start at the jack-o-lantern carving. The small pumpkins are from Gertrud, grown on the farm. They are sweeter and good for cooking but I've never liked eating pumpkin pie. The first bite is usually good if the mix of spices is right, but the second bite is never as good at the first. The third is almost impossible. Thus, we roast the seeds and that's it. 

Rivets and holsters

I bought a rivet gun yesterday as well as a piece of remnant faux-leather. Based upon the design of a rawhide six-gun holster from when I was a kid, I made William a holster for his new steampunk "Omega Gun". He'll need this for Halloween so that he can have his gun but not have to waste all that energy and potential candy grabbing hand carrying it around. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Preparing for winter, raking and windows

Put in the storm windows (teaching William to do it, but he won't be strong enough for a year or two) and rakes up the leaves (28 bags full) so we are much closer to being ready for winter. George came by and picked up the leaves and will thrown them onto the field when he goes to the farm today. Next big concern is the car. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Nosferatu with Saskatoon symphony orchestra

Restored Roxy Theatre in Saskatoon
William and I met up  with Mike this afternoon in Saskatoon at the matinee performance of Murnau's 1922 Nosferatu (the first, albeit copyright-infringing, film version of Dracula) with live accompaniment by the Saskatoon symphony at my favorite theatre, the Roxy on 20th Street in Saskatoon. We drove up first thing in the morning, getting there just early enough to pop into Lee Valley Tools and buy some retro German safety goggles which are very diesel-punk, then take in the film, and drive back to Regina in time for my mom's church supper (figured being late for her church thing because we were at a vampire movie would put us in the doghouse for the foreseeable future). All went well and we had a great time.
William with Lee Valley German safety goggles

Too gruesome for Halloween

Getting gas yesterday, I noticed this on the ground. At first I thought it was road kill but as I got closer I thought it might be a Halloween decoration. However, close up, it was certainly real and a bit too macabre to sell at the Shoppers Drug Mart. My theory is that it was being eaten by a single bird (hawk, falcon, crow?) since a cat ravages it more and multiple birds would result in the alpha bird forcing the others away from the central good parts so that the wings would also be eaten. The bird must have been chased off before completion. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Vic Cicansky at Slate Gallery

With only a small window of time, we slipped into, then out of, the opening of the new Victor Cicansky exhibition at the Slate Gallery on 13th Avenue (Regina) last night. William really liked the egg plant on arm chair (ceramic, below). The furniture pieces he does have always been interesting to me but every time I see them in a gallery, no one ever touches them. Someone asked if they are real furniture and Vic (above, on the right) claimed an elephant could sit on them. They are bronze and the only thing he said you needed to worry about was to wax them to prevent tarnishing.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

QR Code

After wanting one of these QR codes for a couple of years. It took Geremy about a minute to set it up and it didn't require an application or a fee or anything. I suppose I wasn't really trying.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Andrew Salgado and Margaret Bessai

Last night William and I stopped in to the Andrew Salgado reception at the Art Gallery of Regina before heading to the steampunk gun final build session (see before and after images below). Andrew had not arrived yet so we didn't meet him (although now that I see the photos of he and Margaret, I realize that I passed him in the parking lot as we were walking out). Margaret got a good opportunity to chat. I've not heard it yet, but he mentioned her and her essay by name on CBC radio when they interviewed him.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Art superstar Andrew Salgado talk sold out!!!

William, Margaret, and I tried to attend the artist talk by Andrew Salgado at the Art Gallery of Regina down the street this evening. Since Margaret had written the program but had not yet met him, this was a very important evening. When we arrived, the gallery was completely full with a crowd of people spilling out into the hallway from both doors. There was reputed to be 250 people attending, way beyond capacity. Margaret was ushered in, being vital to the proceedings, but William and I slipped away, returning home to watch some episodes of Adam West Batman (season 3). 

Monday, October 21, 2013

13th Avenue Safeway unofficially opens!!!

With the official opening to happen on Halloween, today the 13th Avenue Safeway removed the barricades and opened up the majority of the new space. I stopped in and picked up a few impulse items. The shelves are only half full and some shelves not entirely assembled. The staff seem happy though, there are new cash registers and an overall more open space. Still lots to do on the exterior. The old cash register area will become the Starbucks.

Fat Cat and the First Snowfall

It started snowing this morning at about 8 am. The cat, stretched by the image stitching to look very rotund, was unimpressed. William and I deferred our morning run and I made him hop on the spot 200 times, which is how many paces he takes to get a block (I take less steps but still hopped 200 times, which was more exhausting than the run). I think this will be the year for the cat to get very lazy and very fat. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

New car stereo for Margaret's "Rust Rocket"

We took one more step towards the modifications of the Dodge Spirit "Rust Rocket" this weekend. I bought Margaret a new stereo for it and William and I installed it ourselves. It was a bit confusing to get the old one out, but once that was done, the rest was easy. It has cd as well as the (now ubiquitous) usb port (which our Mazda doesn't have). 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Dead Bird for Marsha

A couple of weeks ago we heard a thud at the front window. When we checked outside, we found a dead robin on the ground which had flown into the glass (before it was dead of course). Margaret promptly froze it and today we gave it to Marsha Kennedy to paint. Had a nice chat over coffee and fresh croissants.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Excited about the Deric and the Machine Shop

Yesterday Geremy introduced me to Deric in the Science Department machine shop. He seems very enthusiastic to advise and assist with Geremy's mutoscope endevour, which is a serious boon since we often have no real idea how to implement the technical ideas we come up with. He's also going to poke at my old 35mm projector. I'm hoping this will be the beginning of a wonderful relationship. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Kenneth Branagh's Macbeth

We had a great time at the opening broadcast screening of the National Theatre Live presentation of Kenneth Branagh's Macbeth. This continues our week-long celebration for Margaret's birthday. We came home for lemon cheesecake after the show. I was uncertain how William was going to take the film as he got a bit figity about a half hour in, but he soon re-settled and watched intently and saved his hundred questions and content until the end.  

The secret of the Slender Man???

The basement of the Exchange building in Regina is quite mysterious. While open for anyone to walk in, for some reason very few ever do! We believe it is the source of the slender man, the evil powers inherent in these walls transform people into semi-corporal creatures of nightmares. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

William shines up his gun

In the steampunking your gun workshop last night, William hit the reset button, which unfortunately wasn't really a button but instead was fifteen minutes of sanding and a fresh coat of paint, on his gun. He no longer wants the aged look but instead wants a shiny look. Unfortunately, this actually requires more precise, meticulous, time-consuming work than smudging and griming it up does.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Video of William's successful egg drop from school roof

This morning with literally five minutes before William had to get to school, we realized that today was Tuesday and not Monday (due to Thanksgiving holiday yesterday) and thus the egg drop competition was due immediately. We rushed around and pulled together the plan we'd been discussing for a parachute and he dashed to class a few minutes late. At noon today they threw them all off the roof. His, probably due to the flamboyant flag parachute, was one of the three finale drops (along with the pumpkin and the large stuffed tiger). I'd been shooting every possible drop, waiting for his, for a half hour so the battery died in the final second. Got most of it though.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Thanksgiving supper

Huge group at Richard and Gerda's for Thanksgiving supper last night. Margaret's mother made turkey and everyone brought a bit of something. Marla and Jason Childs were there with their newborn baby. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Alex Rogalski returns to Saskatchewan!!!

Alex Rogalski (lit) with super-8 filmmakers at the 2013 One Take Super 8 Event in Regina.
I am excited that Alex Rogalski, UofR Film alumni and noted instigator of the One Take Super 8 Events, has taken on the position of executive director of Paved Arts in Saskatoon. Welcome back to Saskatchewan Alex!

Thanksgiving-Eve party

Had a great day, beginning our Thanksgiving weekend with visitors all day long. Both the Bjerke-Clarke as well as the Kaldor-Mair families returned to town so William was absolutely delighted to have two of his best friend in his house again. Tobi Lampard and Emmett also joined in. Emmett knows way more about my fish than I do. Pictured above, he appears to be having an out of body experience. We stuff everyone with food, prepping them for tomorrow's feasts. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Jackie Dzuba

 A big thanks and congratulations to Jackie Dzuba for the event last night at the Artesian where our department presented her with the biannual distinguished alumni award. Mark Wihak conducted a lengthy interview, interspersed with clips of her career highlights, to an enthusiastic crowd of about 70 friends, colleagues, and students. Jackie spoke in a refreshingly positive way about the people she has worked with and the projects she feels she has been fortunate enough to work on. Her modesty, respect, and introspection were not a surprise to me, having known her for many years, but did strike me as unique for any person working as she does in a field of filmmaking which more often than not, receives little acclaim for achievement (other than the Gemini award of course).  One highlight for me was the discussion of Larry Bauman with whom she credits highly as an influence. Larry taught in our department when I was a student and was an amazing positive and creative force.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


William did a bang up job on his Antarctica project for school. I always did these as groups and basically wrote one paragraph and helped to colour. He did the entire project. Some high points are: (a) the suggestion, by the placing of the penguin, that Scott was slain by penguins as suggested in the Monty Python episode; (b) the emblem showing every direction to be north, and (c) the reference to H.P.Lovecraft's "Mountains of Madness" which I made him hand-write the first page of as a disciplinary action a couple of weeks ago. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Cassette tapes of "Dread Line" and Margaret's radio shows

I have a new Diamond brand device to help me capture audio or video into my computer through analog RCA cables via the USB port. Today I captured a couple of hours of "Dread Line" tapes and the premiere episode of Margaret's radio show "Radio Del Arte" from nine years ago and a couple of episodes of her earlier radio show "Untitled" with Felipe Diaz from 2003. It is pretty easy but there is no automatic shut off, so you have to be there when the tapes ends or else you just record endless silence (and thus I cannot just leave one dubbing as I go to class or home or where ever). I think I have about fifty tapes to do, so if I get just a couple per week, I can finish them off by spring. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Steampunking our guns

William and I attended our second session of the steampunking gun workshops tonight. His gun, which is a fusion of a small dart gun and a heavy piece of copper piping, will likely turn out very cool. I put it together with green glue the other day (after hammering on it at length to reshape it). I'm making a bigger, less elegant gun with no real metal parts. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Gearing up

Geremy and I continue the search for a source for worm gears. We get a bit closer all the time. I now have a Canadian manufacture, but the expense is greater than I'd anticipated. Other sources to recycle them from other types of machines will likely only garner plastic pieces which won't hold up t the work we need them to do. One example of a source is the photocopier and the VCR, both of which might be acquired inexpensively for parts but may not be worth the bother. A conundrum. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Rust bucket transforming to "Rust Rocket", step 1

The flapping around of our fender has finally forced us to do something about our cars. Our 12 year old Mazda has a rust spot on its fender which has resulted in the plastic part below it to pull loose, so this weekend we used automotive glue, rust converting paint, and automotive paint to put the pieces back together and make it look normal (so long as you don't look too close). Meanwhile, the other car painting job finally moved forward. The plan was to convert the 1990 Dodge Spirit that Margaret's parents gave to her earlier in the year from a paint-flaking-and-aesthetically-awkward-mobile to an art car. Today, Margaret cleaned, sanded, sprayed the hood black. More modification to come. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Steampunkers at Government House for high tea

This afternoon we dressed up and went for high tea at Government House. This is held once per month. Margaret went once before to connect up with the steampunk collective. This is the first time for William and me.  I dressed in my old long rider coat and my hat I got from Portland and my silver dollar bolo tie. I've worn neither the tie nor the coat in years, probably since before William was born. As far as I know, there are no photos of me from today. I did take some good shots of the rest of the group.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Huge Cathedral Festival Garage Sale

Long day turned longer when I got home, had a quick supper, and went out to help Margaret for an hour (which turned to two point five) set up for tomorrow's Cathedral Village Festival garage sale at the community centre on 13th (across from Safeway). I went into the book room since it usually takes more muscle than mind to move and stack books. They now fill 10 tables.
I realized only now that I'm sitting down at my computer that I've missed the Red Rover screening at the Filmpool. Sorry about that. Hope it went well.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Million Dollar sign?

The university began to install its new sign this week. I can't wait to see it. The press is all over it for costing nearly a million dollars but I've seen the way that university money works. Most of this isn't real money, it is money moving around between departments. All construction, including design, management, and planning, are internal costs. To prevent being overrun with work, this department charges huge rates for everything. However, they also do a lot of work that needs to be done around the university on their own dime, basically subsidized by the charges they've made to other departments. The sign is probably expensive (it is large and made of metal and will have a large concrete base) but it is likely not a real million dollars. That is just the total sum being moved around, not lost. The timing of this, landing in a year strewn with the discovering of over expenditures elsewhere in the university, is unfortunate. However, I don't like the implication that the university has foolishly commissioned a solid gold sign encrusted with precious gems out of the pockets of the students. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Fish spawn

When I got home today, William pointed out that the fish have laid eggs over a number of surfaces and leaves of the fish tank. It looks like we have a potential for 50 more fish. Of course, I am optimistic of their demise before it becomes a problem (is that really optimism?). 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Car cigarette lighter malfunction

William and I were leaving the steampunk workshop after dark this evening and nearing the Lewvan expressway to go to Lowes for some supplies to continue our projects when the rattling around my dashboard began again. I had William investigate and he found the never used cigarette lighter in the (also never used) ash tray. I explained what it was so he put it back into the lighter hole, pushing it in in the process. Just as we pulled onto the Lewvan and merging with the traffic when suddenly the lighter popped. However, instead of just popping out half way as it should be designed to do, it popped right out and landed on the floor of the car. I had to bark at William NOT to look for it as he would certainly burn himself trying to find it with his hands in the dark. It was a few minutes later before I could pull over and we looked and found it. I'll have to check for burns in the carpet in the morning. I've never seen one pop right out of the socket light that. Having never used it in the 12 years we've owned the car, I don't know if it always did this or not.