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Thursday, January 31, 2008

215

I spent the day trying to complete my annual information forms for work (a summary of my activities, screenings, committees, classes, and other stuff I did last year) but instead I fussed around with my two computers. I finally got them to both access the internet via the wireless router, and the laptop will also have access. With Paul's help, we also got them both to be able to access the printer. I imagine we'll be able to send things from the laptop as well, although that isn't set up yet. Anyways, finally at the end of the day i got back to my forms and got them mostly done, but for the information I forgot at the office. I can easily finish it up tomorrow since I'm not being reviewed this year and a day more or less won't kill anyone (the paperwork is looked at only by the department head and put on file until peer review next year).
I talked with Deric for a while, he called out of the blue just to chat. He's teaching down in Montana now, things are going well. We mostly talked about the kids. He's won an award at a festival in Calgary so he'll be going up to receive that next week.
I saw the thinnest icicle I've ever seen today. It looked like a strand of glass hanging off the edge of the deck railing. When the deck was touched, it shimmered and vibrated like a tuning fork. It was sublime.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

214

Today I spoke for about 3/4 hour over a web cam with June Madeley's media course in St. John New Brunswick. She showed three of my Toxic films then I said stuff like

"I will be using the term “experimental” to refer to a large range of alternative approaches to media, with a focus of celluloid film. The term experimental is often contested due to its inaccuracy; an experienced “experimental” filmmaker generally works with known variables with predetermined, calculated outcomes and is doing no more experimentation than a narrative or documentary filmmaker may be. Another term often used is Avant Garde, but this too is often criticized. Its original usage is military, referring to a troop which goes in advance of the main army, and was brought into use as a reference to innovative artists in the early 20th century. While some artists feel the term lends respectability to their craft, others are uncomfortable with the association with military and some feel that the term continues to be tied to early 20th century art and the labeling of current practitioners similarly is both pretentious and ostentatious. Other terms have also been used without ever managing to unify the entire arena under one banner. “Independent”, “fringe”, “non-mainstream”, “micro”, “alternative”, “art film” and other labels are equally inaccurate and are have been used to describe a range of non or less commercial cinema that has been created outside of the large television or studio systems but continue to be based in traditional dramatic or documentary approaches. The continued debate about semantics is best left for another paper. I will henceforth use “experimental” to refer all this milieu and all quotation marks will be dropped from this point on. "
.... and so on, and so on...

June says some of them must have been listening since she saw them checking out Michael Snow's Wavelength on Youtube. It is a really horrible unwatchable copy ..... and not enough
of it (there is only the last 10 minutes of the total 45).

213

Very cold here today, about -52 degrees. William spent his first lunch at school, he didn't really enjoy it. He usually has either a hot lunch (grilled cheese, macaroni, soup, etc) or peanut butter. None of these choices are available to him at school. Besides that, he seems to have been seated at the back with no companion, and on top of it all, no Lego. We thought he might do better without the trip through the cold, but now I'm doubting it.
I got back to my silkscreen-style videos today, working out a 9 colour Leesa Streifler that I'm pretty pleased with. I also met with Mauricio about his courses towards his MFA and afterwards asked him about Dreamweaver. He gave me some start up pointers that I've begun to play with. June and I did an MSN test for the class I'll teach in St. John tomorrow, I'd better dig out my notes. I finished the Nero Wolfe novel "Over My Dead Body" today, it seemed very close to the tv adaptation until the last couple chapters (unless I fell asleep during that portion of the show when I saw it).Publish Post

Monday, January 28, 2008

212

I got 9 rolls of super-8 film back from the lab, including 4 rolls that Margaret shot of the harvest for me back in September. I seem to have been shooting with a lot of grey skies, so I'm not as excited as I hoped to be about all the footage. However, there are certainly some high points. Margaret got the grain being augured into the bins, flowing like liquid, the exact stuff I was needing for "Grain". I'll be optically printing some of this stuff. Speaking of super-8, my film "A Spin In Turtle Park (after John Porter's Cinfuge)" (yes, my longest title ever) will be playing in Calgary at the $100 Film Festival in mid-March. I'll be running the original super-8 film (not on video) and might modify the soundtrack if I can think of what to do with it (I've never been completely happy with the sound). It's supposed to be -50 tomorrow and I agreed to go to work for a meeting that I could have put off to the end of the week, ayiiiiii!.
I had an appointment with my eye doctor today. He said he was amazed at how well I could see, and that my bad eye has improved on some levels. He order me in some new lenses and he's talking about reading glasses as well to make final corrections for close up vision while my lenses are in. Only after I left did I realize what he'd actually told me which, obviously, is not what I want. I want something to help me read in bed before I go to sleep when the light is dim and I'm straining, not for a minor adjustment during the day when I'm wearing my eyes and have near perfect vision anyways (except for all the f@*#%ing vignetting that goes on). Those are not ordered, so I'll talk to him in a couple of weeks when the lenses arrive.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

211

My nephew Chris is on his second car (used of course), which is pretty good considering he got his license just a few months ago. I went driving with him, stopped at a stereo store for no good reason since he's in debt from the tv he bought himself (sure wish I had a 37" flat screen in my bedroom), and to Toys R Us to get William some more Star Wars Lego just because I'm not in debt at the moment.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

210

William went to Teagan's birthday party at the swimming pool today. Actually, he spent much of the day at the pool as he had lessons in the morning, then a lunch break at A&W, then back to the same pool.
This evening the Warhol show opened at the MacKenzie. I really wanted to get tickets, there was a Velvet Underground cover band and $500 worth of candy from the cool candy store on 13th, but for one reason or another I didn't.

Friday, January 25, 2008

209

It was pajama day at William's school today. He says his class won the prize for something, I believe it was for the most kids wearing pjs to school. He also brought "Feather", his stuffed dog. He also had his first spelling test and, as it is Friday, they played bingo. He won an orange hi-lighter. The excitement never ends when you're six.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

208

I was working on a new series of "Modern" films, this time back to the root of it all, the profound simplicity of Barnett Newman's "Voice of Fire". I first saw it when Margaret and I went to the National Gallery on July 1, 1992. I hadn't expected it to affect me, but of course we sought it since the controversy about it was at it's peak that month. We had been staying with the parents of a girlfriend of Margaret's brother for that one night on our way to Kingston and they really bought into the idea that anyone could have painted it with a roller and two buckets of paint in 20 minutes. You can look at the image on the web, but it will not give you religious experience of standing in front of this object. My videos are only pale reflection of course.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

207

My cold has been getting worse. The only thing that stops my throat from hurting is to constantly be sipping on coca-cola. I like the combination of acids and bubbles, it really sooths. Best thing about it, you can now pick it up at the pharmacy without a prescription. So please just watch my video.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

206

I'm catching a cold. My nose has been running and I'm starting to feel achy. Grrr, I hate getting sick. I've been reading a Rex Stout, Nero Wolfe novel "The Red Box", but keep falling asleep every two pages so seem to never get to the conclusion. It's the forth of these books I've read since the fall, they are pretty seductive but I try to avoid casual reading like this except when I've got down time.
I met a woman who used to live in Calgary and travels out west on occasion who wants to write a book about Tom Sukanen and his ship. She really only knew a superficial version of the story so I gave her a more expanded summary.

Monday, January 21, 2008

205

I was watching the Angel tv series on my laptop but getting really frustrated because the densely encoded colour image (four episodes per disc) runs but only with a little hiccup in the soundtrack every 4-5 seconds.
I also just uploaded my fourth video for the year (my weekly challenge, Scott). See link at bottom of the page to see it.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

204

Margaret and I were tired last night and went to bed early (ish). I actually stayed up and watched "Weird Women" on the laptop in bed. This morning I woke up at the normal weekday time (7:30 or so) and William got up a few minutes later. We all watched Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer together. Margaret hadn't seen it, but William remembered it with his surprising level of detail. Light entertainment for a Sunday morning.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

203

William is back in swimming lessons. Today he just wasn't in the groove, wanted to cling to the side instead of trying. I can't think of any way to motivate him in this, he's nearly impossible to threaten or to bribe, and the social aspect of it (your friends will be able to but you won't) doesn't carry much weight either. The few strategies I have to motivate him are not particularly useful when it comes to lessons. I think if he had private lessons, he would respond well. He likes one-on-one attention from teachers. However, this is a path I don't want to go down, both for financial as well as "spoiling" reasons. It's impossible to be mad at him though, this evening he read another Syd Hoff book (Thunderhoof) to me, when I hear his voice reading I forgive him anything.

Friday, January 18, 2008

202

I shot three new one minute portraits to use for my Warhol series today, Leesa Streifler, Carle Steel, and Felipe Diaz. This gives me five, and I want Margaret and William who will total 7, from the eventual 10. I was disappointed that Jeannie Mah wasn't at the Dunlop opening this evening as she is next on my list. I also created a new video on YouTube that should be available already.

201

This evening I went to a meeting about the proposed closure of William's school (slated for 6 years from now). The group there was very articulate and no good defense for the closure was presented. The written report really didn't hold water. The high point was near the end when someone said they'd heard a rumor that the school board were divided on the closure issue but that a gag order had been placed on the discentors. The school board representative was asked directly if this was true and he replied "I don't think I can answer that".
We watched the new Christmas episode of Dr. Who (thanks for the download Paul). It was great, although a little more death than usual. A bit of a melancholy yule season.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

200

We had a meeting with Elder Ken and Elder Betty today and showed the work in progress of the conference video. It went very well. To be truthful, the amount of material is so overwhelming that it really is hard to digest it and comment, other than on the fact that it is overwhelming. The video is sitting at 2.5 hours of continuous talking with one relevant idea on the heals of the next. There is some repetition, which I will now try to cut out, but the real challenge will be to create a pacing that makes it watchable.
Margaret found me new cushions for the wooden chairs in the office, makes a world of difference. Due to the office move and the two computers on the same desk, the large office chair I've been using no longer fits.
I just noticed a number error on my posts that I have corrected. It seems that today is the 200th consecutive day I've posted on this. I began a few days before my sabbatical began because I assumed it would take a few days to figure out how this all works. It ended up being quite easy and I posted the first time on that very day, back in June. It's been a fun cross to bear.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

199

We had a Filmpool Board meeting today. It went fine,the policy book is one meeting away from being done. I forgot my notes and in mid meeting, with a dire feeling that I had something to say but the paper in front of me just wasn't talking to me, I called home and Margaret read my notes off my copy by the bed. One of the areas we are working on it policy regarding grievances. In our first draft we only acknowledge problems between staff or staff and Board. However, I suggested we must recognise problems that might arise between members and staff or members and Board. It then hearkens back to the fact that Margaret was offered no recourse in the bullying she underwent from Keith Calhoun at CJTR radio where she had been a member and volunteer for three years. Without policy, their Board has just swept it under the carpet. Calhoon has cancelled at least one more show since then and at least one Board member from CJTR has resigned over their pigheaded behavior. The names of the CJTR puppet Board are still not available on their website. Margaret's show, which aired for an hour on two days of the week, is still not replaced (after 3 months) and continues to be filled with randomly selected music.

garden hidden two years in past




Monday, January 14, 2008

198

I've managed two videos in two weeks! See the sequel to last week's epic, my first pure fiction in some time. I want to point out that it is fiction since so much of what I write and what I put in my film is either past partially or completely on my own life (except for work that is completely abstract or about zombies or alien invasions). The confusion will certainly be emphasized by the fact that I refer to myself as "Gerald", which happens to be my name. It just sort of happened. I've never really liked my name, but the words went onto paper that way, and that was that. Some of you will assume that "She" is Margaret, but she isn't. The storyline is about a crumbling relationship, and Margaret and I are doing fine. I will be trying to fine journals that I wrote during previous break ups to see if I can mine them for stories, but Margaret and I have been together since 1991 and so the journals i refer to are festering at the bottom of a drawer or box somewhere and I am uncomfortable with the idea of dusting them off. Anyway, the new video, "She Said, During Buffy the Vampire Slayer" can be seen on Youtube: here.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

197

I just got in and took out my contacts. My eyes are so soar that I can barely read this screen. Typing is a bit of a strain. I recorded some sound for another video that I'll post tomorrow, so until then, I'm getting some rest.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

196

Today I worked with Jade Duckett on a film he's making as part of the Filmpool's 60 Second Cinema workshops. I agreed to be Jade's mentor for his film before Christmas but this was our first chance to shoot. We met earlier in the week and discussed his story. He went away with a shot list It is about the mundane, simple images in a house, but is interrupted by an inexplicable fight scene. Last night Jade called to say that his cast had dropped out on him so he was going to play the fighters himself so he needed my help. I got thinking about setting up a simple blue or green screen for a few simple shots such as his arm swinging into the shot to hit himself, but on set today I realized he'd be shooting black and white film, so "blue" screens would not be practical. We gave it a try with his arm in white sleeve swinging against a black background and black sleeved arm against white, but we'll have to wait and see. The camera jammed once so we had to re-shoot the fight master, a precarious slit screen shot (we didn't have a heavy enough tripod to make me feel secure about this, especially since the camera needed to be physically wound between shots). At the end he told me they were to edit with I-Movie rather than Final Cut Pro. We'll cross that bridge next week when we come to it.

Friday, January 11, 2008

195

I got back to my silkscreen style video today. I had a lot of difficulties with Tyler, primarily due my resistance to reading help menus, but I hit upon the difference matts when i was working on my Eric Hill video. I did need to use a different approach due to the much higher number of textures in the area I was shooting (I had specifically set Tyler up against a wall but didn't want to give Eric and chance to back down).The result is nice. Unlike the Tyler video, the colours do NOT shift over time but stay static. There are 10 layers. I have some new ideas but as I want to make about 10 of these, I don't want to put all my eggs in one basket. Here is a short clip of Eric. The final videos are silent but I've left the original sound on this clip.

194

This evening I cooked chicken three ways, Bar-B-Que with my 7 herb recipe, Thai peanut sauce, and mango. Then I put Paul to work, first trying to get the router working (it might me malfunctioning), and then to sort Lego. I thought it might be fun to reassemble the kits so all the pieces are available for William to put them together again from the instructions, as he is just learning to do that and having lots of fun. By the end of 5 hours and having not quite put two (relatively small) kits together, I wonder if it would be easier just to buy more.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

193

Yesterday, before I met with Eric, I shot a minute of video of Tyler Banadyga (whom i mentioned in this blog a few months ago as having made a feature length super-8 movie). The purpose of my video is to create a response to pop art, in particular of Andy Warhol's silkscreens, for my "Modern" series. I have made four versions of this with Tyler now. The next step will be to kinescope it to 16mm film and hand process it. Eric is going to help me set up some musical performances for the film project. I'll let you know when that is happening, hopefully in February. Here is a still from what I've done with Tyler. Tomorrow I might work on the minute I shot of Eric.And speaking of low budget movies, I just watched "Razor Blade Smile", an ultra low budget British vampire movie from 1999. Kevin lent me this beauty, he thought of me when he saw a credit for donated film stock. There is a one hour documentary on the disc that has higher production values, or at least better performances, than the feature. The parts I liked were scenes with the main vampire wandering around the city or sitting on the subway. They used a lot of time lapse and long exposures and interesting angles, creative and beautiful. However, as an action film (she is an assassin as well as being a nymphomaniac vampire) it rarely comes close to working. The action is shot and edited poorly, but not nearly as painfully as when the actors try to talk. The performances all seem like they are in a porn movie (which is sort of is), delivering contrived lines out of context, badly recorded, with no emotion or skill. The ending surprised me (as I had stopped expecting anything from it by that point) as they reveal that the two vampires are really lovers and the entire plot was just the culmination of a 50 year game. Sorry to spoil it, but your really shouldn't watch it.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

192

I coffee-d with Eric Hill today, he wanted to bounce some ideas he had about a barbershop quartet film off of me. I told him to go with the straight razor, but to make sure the surface was nice and wet first. I also reminded him that shaving cream is black, not white.

I've been trying to figure out Adobe Dreamweaver and to redesign my website. I'm crawling through it slowly, although I've not done any tutorial on it. It seems like I should just be able to go into it and paste stuff, but the templates are more rigid than I hoped and I've not figured out how to create new pages yet. These programs have so many options that you can't find any of them.

I shipped nine rolls of super-8 film to the lab today, hope to get it back next week.

Monday, January 7, 2008

191

Scott Amos from Victoria suggested a challenge; to make a film/video every week this entire year. Here is a new one from me; it is a work of fiction.

Publish Post

You can also find this on YouTube

190

Earlier today Kevin and I were talking about what kinds of movies we like. It seems that my tastes have become extremely eclectic as I like action and drama and comedy, old and new, big budget and low. What I ended up talking about was tv; I have been enjoying the way a story unfolds over 6 or 12 or 24 hours, rather than the limitations of a two hour film. Of course I'm not talking about older tv, which certainly has its charms but is crippled by the inter-episode amnesia where character development is non-existent. I just finished watching the first box of the last season of The Supranos, which was a real page turner, I just can't help wanting to watch more and more episodes. The other thing that he and I hadn't talked about was watching films with kids. It is a real pleasure to watch films with William, seeing things through his eyes, and explaining stuff to him. Sound of Music required explanations of nuns and nazis. More importantly, I found him singing the songs today, he was listening and loving it.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

189

Worked on a grad student proposal much of the afternoon. William wanted to watch a long long movie tonight so I put in the Sound of Music. He was into it, although we took a couple of breaks so that the 2:45 film turned even longer so we had to leave off just before the Nazis enter.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

188

William and I watched Star Wars Episode 2 today. For all its flaws, it is a really beautiful looking movie. I was amazed at how pretty things were, all the time. I also got thinking about what I would change to make it a better film. The big factory felt so much like a video game that I'm certain the crew were just embarrassed. I had a lot of problems with the central love story, Anican is such an offensive piece of crap, totally stalker, but then she suddenly changes from looking at him with disdain to being in love with him. What!!!??? However, an alternate and more natural progression of the story where he stalks her and rapes her, resulting in the children in the later films, makes it a film I can't show my son. So then what? George is not that dumb.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

187

We drove out to Moose Jaw today, spent some time at the Moose Jaw Art Gallery where Margaret talked about artist trading cards with their staff as they are planning on holding a session in a few weeks, and then we went to the spa for a couple hours in the very warm mineral pool. Mighty nice all around.

186

William and I watched Star Wars Episode 1 this morning when Margaret was at work. I don't mind the film, I actually really like one or two scenes in it. As with a number of other films in the past couple of years, watching them with a kid allows me to see them through a kid's eyes. It allows you to just enjoy the silliness or the innocence and the spirit of fun that is intended. I think Margaret may have enjoyed watching it again, it had just come out on dvd when William was born and was in the machine for a couple of weeks. Margaret would listen to George's pontifications on the commentary track while nursing, it was apparently great for getting the baby to sleep.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

185

New Years Day.
No resolutions.
Crapes at Gertrud's, then to Chapters to spend William's gift card from his cousins, he got a monkey puppet and a Star Wars calendar. After that it was to Leesa's for another party, William played with Daniel until he just got too tired and asked to go home (see bedtime note from yesterday's blog). I felt hung over all day from the tiny bit of champagne last night. I don't think it agrees with me. I only feel like this on New Years Day.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

184

Happy New Year. Active day today, the car died last night so we had to get a new battery for it today. Margaret worked in the afternoon and William and I ate lunch at A&W, got some dipping fruit for tonight, and I paid all my bills. William put together a fairly complicated Batman Lego set by himself today, just following the instructions. He wanted to call Paul for help (as I needed a bit of time to catch up on other stuff) so I gave him the phone number. I heard him beginning to dial but then stop for a long pause before calling me and asking "How do you dial the hyphen?".
So I may have mentioned that the time registered on this blog is in west coast time, it is two hours later than that here. The new year came in relatively sober (not completely sober of course). I picked up the new Abbey & Mayor of Carcassonne expansion so William, Margaret, Paul and I played. Instead of two hours, it took about four. We concluded just a few minutes before midnight, then had some Henkell wine, some chocolate fondue, and we roasted some chestnuts in the oven. The nuts were mixed, some tasted nice but others were bland or bitter. The web site warned to be careful in picking them, but doesn't explain how to do that. William was up until at least 1am. I imagine he'll be a wreck tomorrow, but I've been wrong about this sort of thing before. Good night all. See in 08.