Monday, November 22, 2021

Remembering Szymon

 Remembering Szymon Choynowski today.  It was 10 years ago today that he took his own life, hanged himself in his house in Mexico City. That's not what we should remember, but it's difficult for me not to perpetually maintain that association. He had reached out to me and re-connected nine months before that date and we corresponded on and off up until two weeks before his death. Looking at the messages now, they are incredibly unnerving. He had some very positive days and shared some great memories, but overall his narratives are peppered with despair. When I shared stories from people that he knew here, more often that not he had either forgotten them or remembered some negative trait that he perceived in them (their breath, their smirk, etc). There was a job opportunity here at that time and he was momentarily excited about it, but quickly lost his enthusiasm and made me drop the subject. I think about him frequently as someone I loved being around, someone I wished I would be like, and someone I'm grateful not to be like. 

His friend Mark Bloom sent me this obituary today.  


Szymon Choynowski, later Simon Chase, died ten years ago, 11-22-11. His aesthetic sensibility influenced many. His taste was unwavering and was expressed with little delicacy. His sense of humor was unforgettable and infectious despite one's attempt not to fall into its depths. His exacting eye and ear for English prose was amazing and usually correct though not always current. 

At CalArts in the 1970s, he was briefly bassist for The Poetics (Mike Kelly, Tony Oursler, et al.) and one of the most well-known students. After graduating, he began teaching in Canada. According to Gerald Saul, a filmmaker and educator and former student of Szymon's—see Saul's homage at 

when the university finally offered him tenure, he promptly resigned. [...] he liked to be anonymous [...] However, after a couple of years of teaching, he began to encounter people who knew him almost everywhere he went. [...] He was very popular with the students [...] listening and caring about people's ideas. [...] I feel privileged that I had become his friend [...]

Simon moved to Montreal, then Vancouver, and ultimately to Mexico City to take care of his parents. His mother was an artist. His father, by then blind, had been director of the Psychometrical Laboratory of the Polish Academy of Sciences, a younger friend of Witkacy (StanisÅ‚aw Witkiewicz) and older friend of StanisÅ‚aw Lem. In 2010, Szymon visited Poland for the first time since childhood to scatter his parents' ashes in one of Warsaw's lakes. 

Another of Szymon's former students: 

I learned many things from him but most of all I felt heard. He was a great listener. I never felt judged by anything I showed in class or spoke of in his presence. He seemed to be interested in what I was thinking [...] As a film professor, I strive to be the teacher I always wanted as a student. I work hard to be supportive, attentive, non-judgmental, and authentic. Szymon was all of those, and it might be that I emulate him more than I know.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Maureen visit

 Maureen and Rick came to town for a visit. Nice supper at Lori's today. Mom and dad only stayed until early evening but afterwards we played a couple of rounds of Bang. . 

Friday, November 19, 2021

Bathroom reading

 Discovered that Douglas Coupland's non-novels such as City of Glass and his McLuhen biography, which I've never been able to finish when trying to sit down and read, make great bathroom reading. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Working at, and around, home

 Feeling about 70-80 percent today. Had some online meetings and some other work to catch up on, then went out to fill prescriptions and shovel snow. We re-set the basement for William's next project (drawing Rory's dream-creature). 

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Hospital all day

Hospital all day while storm raged outside. Rough night but the unit got quiet and could have been worse. Doctor insisted that kidney functions are working before I was released (a sort of blood test or "blood trial" as it were). Got released at about 10. 


Monday, November 15, 2021

Emergency room

 Checked into emergency at the General, no wait. People all nice. Got a CT scan of my belly. Intensely dehydrated. Got to stay overnight.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Happy birthday Gertrud

 Margaret's mom turned 80. Got her a nice cake and some computer accessories. 

I had a busy day, went to the university to consult with a couple of students about animation working with Trevor Grant. In the evening we went to the screening of last year's Giraf animation festival at the RPL where William's drawing prof had arranged to screen his class's animation (with his film "the Son of the Son of Cthuhlu"). 

All the while, I was feeling worse and worse. Home to the couch. 

Friday, November 12, 2021

Terri's sale

Margaret and I went to Terri's sale at the Cathedral Arts School in the warehouse area. 


Thursday, November 11, 2021

Remembrance Day Snow

 Sylvie, lit with a fill flash to give her evil eyes, is unimpressed with the snow today. I moved my student appointments to observe some morning rituals, then carried on. Grad thesises need attention. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Painting Lego camera

 Painted this Lego digital camera (USB powered, basically like a webcam) that Erik gave to me when he passed through town in August. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

distinguished alumni, Ron Forsythe

After hitting the matinee of Edgar Wright's "Last Night in Soho", I met Ron Forsythe, our recipient of film Distinguished Alumni award. Ron was the first graduate of the program, back in 1980, and has been working non stop ever since. He directs sports for tv, including the Olympics, most often CBC and has won 15 Gemini and Canadian Screen Awards. He had really insightful stories and descriptions of the work and about the challenges of international communication and the speed of light vs satellite. 


Monday, November 8, 2021

Heavy is the head..

 William built his crown of bones, part of his costume for his photo for his next oil painting. 

Sunday, November 7, 2021

William portrait series

 William progressed on his photo portrait series, shooting both Geremy and myself with different cameras and gadgets. He's tying things together with a motif of "viewing devices". 

Friday, November 5, 2021

Photos with William

 I drove William to the edge of town (basically the new bottom of the Lewvan) so he could shoot some landscapes for class. It was windy as hell but the light was nice and there was no snow. I got it sit in the car, being "helpful". There was a glass-top table with price tags on it, probably from Winners, lying smashed by the road, a bad shopping day event. 

Thursday, November 4, 2021


 For some reason, there were fireworks south-east of our house. They were pretty high and there were lots of them, so it was professional. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Old video camera

Hoping to do more of this camera, close ups and so on, since it is fairly big. Steve brought it over earlier in the fall. 

Monday, November 1, 2021

William animating

 William working on his 35mm scratch animation called "The Son of the Son of Cthulhu", based on, or perhaps a continuation of, my film "The Son of Cthulhu" which I made between 1986 and 1991.