Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sock-Vile archaeology

As I continue to attack the increasingly small pockets of clutter in my office, I also continue to find surprising things. I have two ragged sheets of paper, found in two separate places, both of which contain lost descriptions of "Golem of Socks" film spin-off ideas. In 2011, I assembled a series bible for my students in a specialized film production course to write from. In making it, I included 15 story synopsis. However, when I was writing this in the month before the  course began, I could not find the notes I knew I had written, so I simply began from scratch. Therefore, these two sheets of paper are lost "Sock-Vile" episodes. None of this is genius, they were basically just spur of the moment one paragraph ideas for later development, but interesting to me nonetheless. I have them all filed together with the Sockvile project now. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Zombie Walk 2014

My foot has been very soar since Friday night, so I was not able to do the walk, so in the end William decided he didn't want to do it on his own. Nevertheless, we went downtown to at least see the results of the annual zombie walk. The weather had turned a bit cold. There were some nice effects but I didn't really see the over the top constructed outfits that were abundant two years ago

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Name That Cat

The new cat, adopted from Sean Whalley's back yard, is finally coming out and being petted. He is really quite well tempered, although nervous and hisses when agitated. He was being called "Nick", originally because he has a nick out of his ear (I can't even see that). Sean says it is short for nicotine but William thought it might be for "Nick Cage". I thought it might be for "Old Nick". We're trying to figure out if we should change the name. Since he is entirely black and moves around without a sound, naturally I want to call him "pumpkin". However, that doesn't seem noble enough so now I'm hung up on calling him "Grandmaster Pumpkinhead". Actually he doesn't respond to words or names but thinks that a whistling noise must be his name. So now we are choosing between "Nick" and "Grandmaster Pumpkinghead" or possibly other choices. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Wilf Perreault and Sylvia Ziemann at MacKenzie Art Gallery

The MacKenzie Art Gallery has two incredible exhibitions on right now. Most prominently, the Wilf Perreault retrospective features over forty of his alley paintings along with one entire room which contained a surround panorama created for this exhibition. I've seen a few of these over the years and many of those included I've seen reproductions of, but up close they are quite stunning. The crowd that showed up filled very seat and made looking at the work difficult; a sell out crowd of hundreds. We luckily got a seat for the speeches as they were numerous and long (did my ears deceive me, or did the Honourable Mark Docherty describe the Saskatchewan Arts Board as an "industry stakeholder"?
Less historic but undoubtedly equally thought provoking is Sylvia Ziemann's MFA exhibition which featured numerous miniature houses and projections. This is well worth a visit, probably two, as there are more macabre details than anyone can absorb in one viewing. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Caligari Meeting

Had a productive meeting regarding the Caligari Project (slated for October 2016) at the Artful Dodger this afternoon. I'm pumped about Ian's idea for a photo-booth at some of the events. Meanwhile, Sean Whalley was at our house luring the new cat out from beside the couch with discrete cat-whispering and catnip. All was well until I phoned, startled him, and now he's under William's bed. Perhaps I'll see him later tonight. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Jack Cowin

William and Gerald with Jack Cowin in 2013
I just heard that Jack Cowin passed away yesterday, following some surgery in the states. I'm shocked and saddened. I first knew Jack as a professor and then as a colleague at the University of Regina. Margaret had been taking a number of printmaking courses when I decided to return to school in 1992 to finish my own degree. As I was coming back as a more-or-less professional and adult learner, I was allowed to deviate from the prescribed program and take alternative courses, so I signed up for Jack's first printmaking course. I had been told that Jack had a way of giving great advice but rarely repeating it, so it was best to listen all the time and write things down as you hear them. These include his conclusion about what brand of gin to mix into your watercolour water so that it bonds with your printing ink, that your should "tear paper to deny the machine" as well as observations such as "Skiing is the only time you pay for gravity". There never seemed to be lecture notes, he just spoke from experience and passion. I broke every rule he named as a rule, but I also worked hard and my final project was more about quantity than quality. He seemed to respect that and even asked if I was interested in continuing in that program (I was not since I was just finishing my degree and applying to grad school).
My course notes from Jack Cowin are the only notes from a non-film course I have kept.
When I began teaching at the UofR in 1999, Jack was always a person I enjoyed talking to. I want to write that he was a friendly face, but quite often he wasn't. That didn't mean he wasn't engaged and interesting because he was. I recall carrying on with him during and following many meetings, sharing complaints about how everything was being mismanaged in one way or another and how the students deserve this or that. He really wanted the best for  his students and it riled him up when the students got the short end of any stick. He retired a few years ago without any party or attention so far as I heard. After a couple of  years of silence, he re-emerged over the past year with work being regularly exhibited and sold through the Slate Gallery as well as through the fishing store (where we bought a bird etching last year). I saw him at Slate just a few weeks ago but regrettably I didn't talk with him. He'll be missed.
Fom my notes in Jack Cowin's Art 270 course in 1992. I particularly respect his inclusion of item 7.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

WWI in comics and propaganda

I took William to a lecture at the university on the topics of comics and of propaganda, as they relate to World War I. These were at the library with my friends and colleagues Sylvain Rheault and Christina Stojanova. It was certainly a bit dense for William (perhaps even for me) but we absorbed some of the primary points. It was followed by a wine and cheese (do the students know that they could have attended a free wine and cheese in their own library?). 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Two days early for Chrystene

We went to the Artful Dodger this evening for the opening of Chrystene Ells' magnificent new exhibition of drawings alongside work by her workshop participants. The evening was warm and we'd cleared the rest of our schedule to have a great time. One problem, the exhibition opening reception is in two days. Oops. Well, we got to see the work and then kicked back in front of the tv for a while, then out to see northern lights. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Need a hand with Halloween planning?

Looking for lenses for the camera obscura, bought a scrub brush, didn't buy hands or feet. Wish I could get the doll sized ones again. I did years ago but not no one in town has them. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Camera Obscura in my attic

William putting first foil on window
image on paper from lens-assisted obscura
William wants to begin a new science project so he began his experimentation with the conversion of our attic into a camera obscura. The attic is a good choice due to it having one door at the bottom of the steps (light doesn't come up from there very easily) and two fairly small windows. He covered them with foil and cut a hole to observe the effects. We also picked up some lenses and tested their effect (a +1.0 lens makes the light focus about 24 inches from the lens and a +1.5 focuses at 18 inches. We'll probably go pick up a 2.0 for the creation of a box obscura. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Beethoven's Fifth Symphony

I had a bad couple of hours with a mild migraine this afternoon which hit me while I was driving around with William (I had to instruct him to watch the road for me and make sure I knew what colour the lights were as we made our way  home). As a result, Margaret and William went to the Creek Bistro without me as Leif was there shooting at episode of his tv show. I crashed for an hour and felt well enough to go to the symphony. We were up at row B, directly in the middle. Couldn't see the back players but it sounded fantastic. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Art and Film in Regina

 Double header this week in Regina arts downtown. We began with a talk and opening at the Dunlop. I had an interesting conversation with artist Kara Uzelman about cavorite and possibilities of cross-overs between her fictional narratives and mine. 
 From there we went to the Filmpool where an interesting screening was programmed by Amber Christensen. Of the ten filmmakers featured, six were able to be there. Great crowd and films. Margaret, William and I also got to be participants in the second run of Eric's balloon film - very exciting.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Wait one apple picking moment!

Helped pick Gertrud's apples today. Her tree has an abundance of quite large apples but the best ones are quite high up. I managed to not fall out of the tree this year and left the scene only bleeding from one small wound, even though I was exceeding the recommended range and usage of the ladder.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Like or Dislike Geremy?

Met with Geremy today to see is progress towards his thesis project. He's made some clear stickers which he'll be able to use to like or dislike things (once you see his MFA show in January, this might make sense).
Mazda back from shop so we are back to having one car (up from zero cars yesterday).

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

William at Improv wins honorary banana

Amid a very heavy homework day, we let William take a break to go to the second half of the season opening Combat Improv, now on Tuesday nights. A high point was when Colby or someone was asking for a genre and after "western" and "noir" were suggested, William yelled out "bicycle". When I asked him later if he knew what a genre was, he said he did but that he felt that bicycle might be a good one. Anyway, this got the attention of the players and Judy asked if that was William who suggested it. He said it was. She asked if he has a bicycle and what colour it was. William then explained to her and the audience that he has a bike and that it is sort of black but not quite black because it doesn't want to go all the way. Many laughs. They awarded William an honorary banana prize (consisting of a very green banana). 

Monday, September 15, 2014

H.A.S.H. Jeans

Who remembers the early 70s and the amazing era of HASH jeans? I wore a lot of these. Unlike most jeans which had either very stiff snaps or buttons along with a zipper, you fastened them with a block of four (or was it six?) easy to do/undo snaps and no zipper. As they were almost all loose fitting bell-bottoms, they literately fell to the floor when you undid them. Super comfortable and easy to remove. I'm having a difficult time finding much about them on the internet. Someone told me that they were limited in where they were sold and that Western Canada was one of the hotspots. This poster, which features a nude woman, suggests a marketing scheme unlike any I remember from the Pant Shack.  

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Considering a new cat

We visited Sean Whalley today. He is moving soon (closer to us!) but needs to downsize the cat population he is caring for. This big black one lives outside (although it really wants to live inside) and is quite friendly. It is quite a charming creature and we'll be thinking it over tonight. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sin City

At first I thought there was no way I would take him along, but in the end I changed my mind and invited William along with Kevin and I to see the ridiculous violence and blood fest of Sin City 2. Actually, I think this made the experience better for me. While I certainly hope he will never model his own relationships with women on this film (I thought the slap then kiss when out of style decades ago) but overall it was sort of fun. It was unapologetically a comic book with fights and weapons and acts of bravado which exceed anything in the real world. It was all style with the depth of the paper it was originally drawn on. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

The strange case of the stolen and unstolen car

This morning I picked up Angelos who is in town for a wedding, then ran past the house to pick up Margaret so that we could all go for lunch. When we arrived, she was on the phone with the police because, unnoticed by us that morning, our other car was gone, replaced by a small pile of glass.
After lunch I was back at work for a meeting. We all arrived back at the house around four (Margaret and William on foot, me by car) to discover the car was there with its stereo gone and the window taped shut. A mystery!
We called the police again and they reported knowing nothing about the return. A short time later, the solution presented itself. Just as my friend Officer Campbell arrived, so did Steve from across the street. Steve had known about the theft from Margaret that morning and had recognized the car at a garage sale a block away. He sealed the window, started it with a screw driver, and brought tit home. In all likelihood, the repairs will exceed the value of the car so we'll likely not make a claim. On the up side, I caught up with both Ang and Grant today. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Film about Wilf Perreault

Jan Zarzycki and Wilf Perreault at MacKenzie Art Gallery
On Wednesday night we went to a screening of a film commissioned by the MacKenzie Art Gallery called "The Alley Man" about Wilf Perreault  byJan Zarzycki. I have to admit that I went to the event with low expectations. Films about artists, especially those which are commissioned by a gallery rather than those with are rooted in the filmmaker, tend to be pedantic. I expected a few interviews and some pans over his artwork, perhaps intercut with shots of him painting or walking around a neighborhood or two. Well, actually that was what the film contained, but it did it in ways which expressed both the beauty and the humour behind WIlf and his work. The stage was set with a fantastic shot of Wilf in an alley as the camera rises above his head, showing him within the surrounding in the way he paints it. The camera continues to rise, and rise, and rise. "Is this a crane shot?" I asked myself.  There are tree and power lines everywhere so it would require great care to undertake such a shot .... far beyond the scope of this film. Afterwards, Jan revealed that the shot was done courtesy of a borrowed drone carrying a GoPro camera. It was very cool. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

perfect peach pie

When I got home this evening, I was greeted with the best peach pie I've ever had. The crust was perfect. The filling  was still warm but not runny. The sweetness was right on the mark and the rhubarb which was mixed in was not stringy. It was very difficult not to have more than one piece (I'm sure we'll polish it off for breakfast). Thanks Margaret.                                                                                                                                    

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Ready for the frost

It was 29 degrees two days ago. Everything about the air on the weekend was telling me that summer was about to begin. Now the plants around the yard are covered for the oncoming cold. Margaret just asked me about "Grandma Delusia". Heads will spin.

Monday, September 8, 2014

First class of term

I began teaching Film 201 today. None of the content will be really new to me, but the course and the basic approach are new, so it's probably going to take me a while to get into the right rhythm. We ran overtime today because I just booked too many things to do on top of getting to know the new students. We shot a bit of film in the linkage. The weekend was so warm and sunny but suddenly it is extremely grey. In fact, the light readings were lower here than under the florescents in the class. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Chrystene Ells exhbition a huge hit, plus pinching pot in Drinkwater

 This afternoon we went to the closing reception of the "Hello In There/Hello Out There" exhibition at the Dunlop Art Gallery. This was a show primarily led by Chrystene Ells who worked with a couple of dozen seniors in retirement homes, helping each of them to fashion an artful memory box and to record stories about the memories behind them. The gallery was packed and so busy that even when you could get to an artwork, the din drowned out the recordings.

After the Dunlop, we swung past Chapters for a book signing by our friend Ed Willett. Coincidentally, we were able to photograph him with his new banner, similarly bold and big like Wilf Perreault's from two days ago.
Out in Drinkwater, we visited a ceramic studio where they were hosting people to make a pinch pot. Yesterday they did a pit kiln. I'd like to know how to make such a thing, it would be interesting to fire stuff out at the farm with potentially chaotic results.
With temperatures supposed to drop tomorrow, the high of 29 degrees we got today will mark the last real day of summer. We roasted some marshmallows. Yum. William is now the master. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Leif visits

Leif Kaldor was in town for a few days, continuing shooting his prairie town restaurant series. We had him over for a bit of bbq. Didn't take any pictures, I guess when there are no kids around it doesn't seem very important (we don't change quickly enough to document our encounters with each other). We are exited about visiting the Italian restaurant in Ogema sometime soon (he only cooks on Fridays). 

Friday, September 5, 2014

MacKenzie Art Gallery

This week at the MacKenzie Art Gallery, a really interesting exhibition by Troy Coulterman who completed his MFA here a fairly recently. His work looks like it is molded from the same materials that plastic toys might have been made, but the figures are peculiar, twisted, and demented. We ran into Wilf Perreault on the way in and I think he was a bit surprised to come face to face with a large poster in the lobby which was promoting his forthcoming exhibition. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Paul's Birthday

Happy Birthday Paul, and thanks for inviting us along to the Caraway Grill. The food was just as good as the first time we'd been there and I wonder why I don't go more often. We were totally stuffed by the end of that, which led me to wonder what ungodly force made us think ice cream was a good idea? I couldn't eat another bite, but you and William both had cones. I understand you were driven by ego/bravado (the birthday cone at Dessarts is free, therefore it must be ordered and must be eaten), but the only explanation for William is that he's a teenager now. I think that is going to be my excuse/rationalization for a lot of things from now on. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Trimming the tree

While Christmas is still some time off, we trimmed the tree yesterday. Actually, it was four trees and we didn't do it, a service did, but nonetheless, the dead branches are gone and the roofs are safe. It's been apparent for about 4 years that some major pruning was needed but the window for doing it is small. The only error was that the lower branch on this tree, which was necessary for securing the hammock, was taken off so napping will be a bit more dangerous. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

William first day at Lakeview School

As I've mentioned before, Connaught School, which is at the end of our block, is now closed so William is attending Lakeview School for his eighth grade. Today was his first day and he navigated new hallways, new lockers, new desks, new students, new teachers, staying for lunch, and a 12 block walk home with a minimal of difficulties. It is quite a nice school and I'm certain it will be good for William to experience a change of this nature at this point. So far, so good. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Canister's new helmet

In the first incarnation of Canister the Robot in this STUDENT FILM, I stuffed a handful of cables in with my head. This was very  uncomfortable and the next time I used him, I'd forgotten about them. They proved to be nearly invisible in most images I used. However, as I need to rebuild the helmet after the Living Pictures show, I decided to add wires and circuitry back in but using images of it on transparency rather than physically. This will give me greater ease and consistency. Today I started working on that prototype but the ice cream store is closed for the holiday so I couldn't get a new clean bucket.