senatorhung's pad
ramblings of an information troubleshooter

calgary comic expo 2012 - day one

Friday, 27APR2012:

every year this expo gets bigger and bigger. this year will be even more hectic given all the star trek: the next gen hype. i do have tix to the EXPOsed show on saturday nite, but i'm still mostly going to the show for the comics side of things. as soon as i got my weekend pass, i took stock of where i needed to go. i had printed off the floorplan from the expo site and had noted down which creators i'd be interested in seeing. spent most of the evenings the 3 days prior to the expo combing thru my longboxes of comics for all sorts of gems from the 80's and 90's.

so, first up was george perez. i got my copies of the judas contract, crisis, and wonder woman signed and then sprung for a sketch of hippolyta:

headshot sketch of hippolyta by george perez

up next was whilce portacio, who has happy to sign my copy of the star wars omnibus, where he had inked the final issue of the original marvel series. he also graciously signed my copies of alpha flight #50-53, #51 being jim lee's first professional work in comics. i went down to the other end of the line and got a sketchbook from frank cho. he also graciously signed my copy of liberty meadows #1 (first printing, natch!). he stated that guns and dinos would still be coming out, but that the chance to be involved in the big avengers vs. x-men x-over was too great an opportunity to pass up.

after that, i chatted with peter david, and when i presented his classics illustrated adaptation of cyrano de bergerac, he explained that he had to delve through multiple translations in order to cobble together the script, due to the confusing conclusion of the then-standard english language translation (which was also still under copyright). mon panache had been literally translated as 'my white plume', but peter decided to stick with the original rostand version, which he decided had been intended as a pun, referring to style or poise.

at the next table over, ty templeton overheard the conversation, and jumped in to the discussion, then the two writers moved from cyrano to dante's inferno. ty also discussed an upcoming book in which he did the illustrations, called 'bill the boy wonder', the story of how bill finger was cheated out of his just dues as the true creator of batman. ty's full of stories, so if you ever catch him at a con, take the chance to just hang out and absorb. ty was happy to sign my copy of the hardcover collection of mr. x and threw in a sketch.

last up on the that side of the hall for me was bernie wrightson, who happily signed a copy of epic illustrated that i brought, along with my purchase of one of his prints from his frankenstein set. wandering into the maelstrom in the middle of the hall, i went in search of ken steacy to get his john doe on the mr. x. book which he had 'mid-wived' back in the '80's. he also signed my copies of comico's grendel #14-16, which he had done the covers for (in 3-d!). i also arranged for ken to sketch me this beauty of grendel and mr. x. facing off:

sketch of grendel and mr. x. facing off by ken steacy

leaving my sketchbook with ken, i continued wandering the floor, stopping by riley rossmo's booth. i know riley from his stint working at my local comics shop, which had kindly shipped my books up to the arctic for the 7 years that i had been up there. he was totally stoked that bernie wrightson was in the house and couldn't wait for his chance to wander over there. next, i wandered over to the comic legends legal defense fund booth, where they had a bunch of sandman tpb's signed by neil gaiman. however, since i already have my original mr. x. t-shirt worn and signed by the man himself, i ended up just picking up a pin to support the cause.

i headed to bob mcleod's booth next, where i pulled out a truly ratty copy of new mutants #2 for him to sign. he expressed some regret that he didn't get the chance to do his best work on the series, but was happy that i had enjoyed the series when it came out. my final stop on my to-do list was steve rude's booth, where i picked up a copy of his limited edition hc art book, which he offered with a money-back guarantee. who would be the bozo to even think about asking for money back for that ? anyway, i also arranged for him to sketch sundra peale for me on saturday.

after that i wandered around the rest of the artists' alley and picked up a few things that caught my eye, including postscript (the stories that happen after the fairy tales finish), max overacts (about a kid who is *very* enthusiastic about becoming an actor), gamers are people too (from a booth suspiciously and conveniently adjacent to the big area of gaming tables), and a book called mathemagick (about a team of mathematicians who team up against the metaphysical). finally, i returned to ken's table to pick up my sketch. he also signed the star wars omnibus that he had also worked on just before whilce wrapped up the series. the penciller in both instances was cynthia martin, who did the finishes on george perez' war of the gods.

so, that ends the first 5-hour day and my feet are already sore with two more days to go !! since i didn't post for over a year, here's my fave sketch from the 2011 expo that was held last june. this was done by rod espinoza, who happily indulged my steampunk desires:

sketch of a steampunk cowgirl by rod espinoza

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never let me go

Wednesday, 13OCT2010:

just got back from the globe theatre in calgary, where i had watched (for the 2d time in a week), the marvelous film 'never let me go'. the first viewing had been last friday, and if i hadn't already made plans to do a carey mulligan double-header with 'wall street: money never sleeps' at eau claire, i would've saw it for the 2d time immediately afterward. keep in mind that i haven't read the original book by kazuo ishiguro yet, but a co-worker has offered to lend me her copy, and i suspect that the book will soon disappear from my amazon wishlist.

the soundtrack is getting moved off of it right now - rachel portman and the music editor did a fantastic job. you know how sometimes the music swells up and intrudes on the audience, forcing it to feel *something* ? well, that wasn't the case here, as the music helped to ease the pain of the empathy with the characters. i don't know how well it will hold up without the movie, but i do know that i'm obsessively re-playing the judy bridgewater version of 'never let me go' (yes, i know she is fictional).

i'm still trying to figure out exactly what motivated me to go see the film, as it was definitely a pleasant surprise. i'm a fan of keira knightley from way back to 'bend it like beckham', and i had seen andrew garfield earlier in the week in 'the social network'. i was a carey mulligan newbie though, as i had avoided 'an education' due to fear of hype-withdrawl, but i think i'll have to remedy that soon - she was magnificent(!) as kathy h. hmm, maybe it was the alex garland screenwriting credit - i did like the first two thirds of his previous sf film 'sunshine', directed by some guy named danny boyle ;)

also seen recently was duvall and murray's 'get low' which had its moments, but sort of ended a bit blah. 'the social network' was worth seeing, but more as a documentary of life in the mid-2000's. 'scott pilgrim vs. the world' was very fun, with awesome music, and i'll try to catch it a 2d time at the movie dome. in the same michael cera vein, i also finally got around to watching 'nick and norah's infinite playlist' - i remember that kat dennings was in 'defendor', but she was excellent in 'n+n'. i even bought a ticket to see her film at this year's calgary international filmfest, but got distracted by poker :(

that said, i did catch a few interesting films. 'trigger' was an intense experience. molly parker was great, but tracy wright's drug survival soliloquy was riveting. 'a film unfinished' dug into the footage of the warsaw ghetto that was intended for a propaganda film that was never made. 'force of nature' was a worthwhile film about david suzuki - his speech was inspiring. doctor o'connor was in attendance at the sold-out showing of 'dirty oil' at the plaza, and i was glad for the chance to shake his hand. zhang yimou's 'a woman, a gun, a noodle house', (which i'm told is an adaptation of the coen brothers 'blood simple', which i've never seen) oozed with colours and farce. 'secret reunion' was a neat korean spy-action flick, and 'one big hapa family' was a japanese-canadian's exploration of his own family's affinity for multi-racial marriages. as i have cousins in a similar situation, i picked up a copy of the dvd to lend to them. the last shout-out goes to a japanese short film 'jitensha' which showed a man's struggle to rebuild himself in the process of rebuilding his bicycle, the parts of which were mysteriously scattered in various hiding places.

hmm, going back to august, i'll give kudos to a few fringe shows that i enjoyed at the time. i really enjoyed ingrid hansen's 'gnomeward bound' (and not just cuz i got pulled up on-stage to participate). it was a very creative show which showed off her danish heritage. also well worth seeing was bob wiseman's 'actionable', which i would've seen twice if i could've fit it into the schedule (i did manage to see 12 shows in 10 days !). a real treat was the chance to chat with bob before his show in the artpoint art gallery upstairs, and compare notes about which shows to take in (leading me to 'brazil nuts' and the aforementioned 'gnomeward'). the plays that i did manage to see twice were 'march' and 'the last goddamned performance piece', the latter mostly to see how much was scripted and how much was performance. the story for 'march' could've been developed a bit more, but i really enjoyed the performance of the actors, and especially with how they inhabited their costumes to bring the characters alive.

oh, and i guess i should mention that i'm gainfully employed and can no longer spend 3-4 nites a week at the casino :( ah well ...

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bookish influences

Thursday, 26MAR2009:

the benefit of unofficially dropping down to audit status in my film program is that i've recently spent more time actually watching films ;) over the past week, i've watched 'the painted veil', 'shut up and sing', '9/11: attack on the pentagon', and 'watchmen' (twice). tonight, i have a ticket to go see the local stop of the vancouver international mountain film festival tour - we'll see how it stacks up against the banff ones that i helped to organize up north.

meanwhile, yet another facebook meme is making the rounds. i had started on the 25 random things, but i quickly ran out of steam with that one. however, the one that cenobyte sent me yesterday simply asked for a list of 10 books that will always stick with me, and i was able to come up with the following list within the 15 minute time-limit:

  1. Snow Crash / Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson
  2. Ender's Game / Children of the Mind / Ender's Shadow et al. - Orson Scott Card
  3. Foundation Trilogy / Robots series - Isaac Asimov
  4. *Elektra Assassin - Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz
  5. *Sandman - Neil Gaiman and Various
  6. The Prize - Daniel Yergin
  7. 100 Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  8. Marooned in Realtime - Vernor Vinge
  9. Shamans, Software and Spleens - James Boyle
  10. Lord of the Rings / Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien
  11. The Compete Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  12. Distraction - Bruce Sterling
* graphic novels, so i don't know if they counted, hence the even dozen.

alright, why does 'snow crash' sits atop my list ? a prescient vision of an internet that is part of the infrastructure of society (not a given in the early 90's when this book was written and released), a distillation of what america is good at (software, high speed pizza delivery), a sword-fighting hero protagonist, and a politico-religious conspiracy to take over the world by controlling everyone's minds - what's not to love ? oh, and the idea that the most useful piece of software in their virtual reality is 'the librarian'. cryptonomicon gets a nod for its deft shifts between generations and a focus on how value will be determined in the future.

orson scott card's 'ender' series of books is full of heart-warming and heart-wrenching human stories. 'ender's game' is tops for its depiction of the struggles of prematurely wise children trained to become the generals of the world's armies. 'children of the mind' deals with the struggles of a dysfunctional family after their father passes away, and how they discover that the truth is not always kind. 'ender's shadow' delves into future geopolitics, reassuring us that no matter how enlightened we might believe ourselves, we can not easily brush aside the detrital grudges of history.

asimov's 'foundation' trilogy and follow-up series and tie-ins with his robots stories were a big influence on me as a teenager. despite a story spanning centuries and an entire galaxy, the ultimate take away is that the actions of individuals can make a huge impact on how events evolve.

'elektra assassin' was a brilliant combination of frank miller's writing and bill sienkiewicz's painted art. a tale of political conspiracy that bursts with colour and energy as the assassin closes in - but who is the target ? neil gaiman's 'sandman' was a brilliant platform for him to tell stories about storytelling, in collaboration with a series of artists who brought the characters to life.

i didn't limit my list to fiction, as some non-fiction books also had a huge impact on me. 'the prize' deals with the sordid history of the oil industry, drawing solid connections between world events and the pursuit of the black gold. i inhaled '100 years of solitude' in a weekend, and if i didn't have to return the book to its owner, i would have dived right into it again. at times funny, other times sad, the characters in this book are your neighbours, your relatives, your friends and your enemies - we are all more alike than we might imagine.

'marooned in realtime' sells itself as a futuristic detective story, but the sense of loss over space and time that it builds is palpable. the book questions the purpose of humanity and drives us to ponder about what our contributions might be, for which we will want to be remembered. 'shamans' is the 2d non-fiction book on my list, providing some anecdotes about how the intellectual property has reached into domains where the application of its principles delivers horrible results.

'the lord of the rings' is the quintessential fantasy, with elves and hobbits and the fearsome nazghul; a tale of adventures, of magic, of terror and of loyalty. even when surrounded by darkness, hope can prevail. and of course, sherlock holmes' logical and dogged sleuthing provides a particular insight into Victorian society and universal human weaknesses.

'distraction', which closes out my booklist, is another futuristic sf title which contains yet another political conspiracy, layered with the arts of spin doctoring and genetic engineering, spiced with pursuits and revelations, all stirred up in a gumbo that successfully distracts the reader from their own humdrum reality. but once you are familiar with the tools of distraction, can you still look at the world without seeing the strings ?

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marketing 101

Monday, 16MAR2009:

the new facebook layout sucks. i'll echo all of those who complain that if we wanted to use twitter, we'd use twitter. forcing me to cull over 300 'friends' acquired to play fb games, just so i could keep track of the real life friends, sort of seems self-defeating on fb's part. anyhow, they have every right to change their site as they see fit - they just can't expect us all to be happy or help them earn more bucks.

also annoying today was receiving some telemarketing call from my credit card company, regarding some home / car / health thingie. i was willing to have them send me info about the program, but i told the lady that since i don't own a house, don't own a car, and haven't gone to a hospital in 5 years (other than for cheap cafeteria food), that the product would likely not be of interest to me. however, later in the call, when she indicated that i would get the first month free, i quickly put a stop to that. apparently, she was in the process of signing me up for the service first, with the requirement to opt-out later.

this is just ridiculous. marketers, get your head out of the sand !! if i want something, i don't need to be coerced. if your product is of interest to me, i will go looking for you. the best thing you can do is make sure the product is of good enough quality, and the service you provide meets my needs. that's it. and you'll have a customer for life. as it is, i was tempted to cancel the bloody credit card right then and there.

anyway, i spent the weekend catching up on all of the emails that have built up in my inbox since last summer. of course, the edge video that did catch my attention wouldn't display on my pc, but since i had a new macbook handy, i used that instead. the 'song of songs' is a video of professor armand leroi talking about whether the evolution of music could be traced via traditional song styles. following up on the work of ethnomusicologist alan lomax and his cantometrics, leroi examines HOW a song is sung, drawing connections between the geographic patterns of cantometrics and the geographic distribution / history of DNA. very intriguing.

if you can't get the video to load, there is a youtube video that covers some of the same area without the pretty graphics, and also delves into how copyright has been used to impede some of his research.

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the catching up post ...

Tuesday, 10MAR2009:

i hate changing my clocks for daylight savings time. i wish people were more sensible like saskatchewan folk and just keep the same time all year round.

alright, so why haven't i been updating this page more often ? well, my ftp from my pc wasn't working properly for awhile, and it seemed like too much of a hassle to haul stuff to school to upload. however, i've just received my new macbook pro and magically, the ftp connection on my pc now seems to be working fine again - nothing like some pc/mac rivalry to kick things into shape, eh ?

ok what else. hmm, i dropped some classes in my film program so i won't get the piece of paper at the end. i'm ok with that - i'd rather have the time to get into my own groove. i've been feeling pretty exhausted creatively, and getting up for 9 a.m. classes just doesn't help. however, being in the film program has allowed me the chance to film a body-painting contest and some material for a future music video, so that's been kewl. i also edited some footage for another video for a local candidate and she has since become her party's nominee.

also went on a trip to china for the first 2 weeks of february. i'm attaching meta-info to my photos before uploading to the family ftp site, but when they're ready, i'll post a couple of the good ones here. the highlight of the trip was getting to visit the ancestral village where my father grew up as a youngster and see why my grandfather assumed that my father would leap at the chance to emigrate to canada. i also got to climb a portion of the great wall outside of beijing and picked up some awesome tea in taishan city that somehow has an unexpectedly sweet aftertaste - yummy.

alright, that's enough of that for now. i just finished my comic book order for this month. some great stuff like: gene yang and derek kirk kim teaming up on the eternal smile; a collection of cartoons by canadian doug wright; asterios polyp, the return of david mazzuchelli; and most gorgeous of all, a book called the history of west wing, featuring the artwork of guo guo. when i saw those images, my mouth literally dropped open and i added the book to my order right away. here's a sample of one of the pieces:

sample of mouthwatering guo guo art

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the shape of winter in nelson ...

Thursday, 18DEC2008:

as i crossed the big orange bridge to nelson proper, the wind was howling down the valley, and the temperatures were hovering in the minus teens - winter has definitely arrived here in nelson. however, i still counted myself lucky as the national weather report on the laundromat t.v. indicated that poor iqaluit was down to minus 31. brr.

people still looked at me funny, tho, as i biked downtown to catch the TNT production of 'shape of a girl'. someone called me 'brave' outside the save on foods and i just had to shrug. anyway, SOAG as done solo (as joan macleod intended) was an interesting experience. some of the scene transitions were challenging, and weren't always clear when signalled by lighting changes or the unzipping of a bunnyhug.

carolyn gingrich played the difficult lead role of braidie, and while she had some great moments, especially the washroom scene, i wasn't entirely convinced. part of the issue was that the actor rarely seemed to speak directly to the audience, but rather off to the side. while this worked for the portrayal of playschool braidie, along with seemingly unconscious fidgeting, this was less effective for rebellious teenage braidie. odile's decision to split the role into various parts when we did the iqaluit run a few years back made it much easier for the audience to figure out the time changes, and i think served to reinforce the idea that any girl could be living thru what braidie was describing.

i was impressed that the church venue had an actual lighting grid installed by the community theatre group, with around 8 fresnels and a couple of lekolites. the sound design was fairly minimal, with beach surf interspersed with the ringing bell that punctuated the script. however, with 2 speakers available at the back corners of the stage and 2 at the back of the audience, i think sound could have been used more creatively to help with the scene / time changes. the coastal set incorporated actual driftwood and used a swath of burlap to imitate beach sand - much more elaborate than the rudimentary wooden blocks that we had used.

anyway, the production is running for a couple more nights, so if you know anyone in nelson, you should encourage them to go. though the church floor itself is almost twice the size of l'ETS in iqaluit, half was closed off and there were only seats out for around 25 people and half of them were empty for tonight's run - not sure if it's timing, crappy weather, or just too many other distractions in nelson, but i think that we can count ourselves lucky that we were able to have such a successful run in iqaluit.

i've been mostly vegging this week after polishing up my first term film project 'political equity' last week. unfortunately, as one of the interview subjects has declined permission, i won't be able to distribute it online. i was happy with my original 7-minute 'talking-heads' version, but the feedback from my instructors was that it needed to be more visually interesting and that the audience needed a path through the material. so, i did my best stephen colbert imitation and put myself into the film as a bonehead anchor, and the final piece ended up at around 4 minutes. that version is less interesting to me, but a good learning experience for next time about getting appropriate b-roll and contrasting viewpoints.

regarding facebook games, i had been playing the blood games, but when i found out that the original developer had sold out to a marketing firm (shades of triumph!), and that no further episodes were forthcoming, i went searching for something new. brother vance turned me on to hammerfall, which took the blood role-playing game template and added some interesting combat mechanics. i've also been playing metropolis, where i'm in the top 30 canadian cities for culture and landmarks. i'm also continuing to play battlestations (lvl 84) and cybernations, where i crossed my 1-year anniversary threshold a few days ago.

politicially, i'm pleased about the nunavut election results, and looking forward to how things will change with eeva in charge and hunter in cabinet. i think picking markus as the top civil servant is a great first step, but they're going to need even more talent at the leadership level. nunavut's economy will be severely challenged with the international investment climate turning a cold shoulder to investing in new mining development projects, and economic distress down south consuming a greater share of federal attention. we might even look back on the last few years of budgetary expansion up north as a 'golden age', compared to what's coming in the next few years.

anyway, that's enough to break the blog silence after a couple of months. i'll be heading off to cowtown on the greyhound tomorrow nite, likely followed by a trip to the country to visit the folks before hitting up the casino poker tables to ring in boxing day. hope everyone reading this has a happy holiday season and best wishes for 2009 !

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one election down, 3 to go ...

Tuesday, 14OCT2008:

i've been keeping my eye on a variety of elections recently. as expected, the canadian federal election resulted in another minority conservative government. i don't know if this is due to support for their agenda or just lack of support for the other agendas on the table, but i am seriously concerned about what this tax-cutting government will do in the face of widespread economic turmoil that is still coming our way. also, i expect that the evil c-61 copyright bill will soon be re-introduced and will pass with the support of the liberals, blocking some canadians from being able to join the internet and information economy that will eventually supplant the manufacturing economy that canada has been forced to prop up in recent years.

in any case, i didn't have much hope for a different turnout there. i had hoped that nunavut's new mp would be someone else, as leona will now be a mere backbencher in the minority government, and will not have the same opportunity to speak out against the government when northern issues are trampled (which they will be). with the credit markets being strangled, all the northern mining developments are at risk, and without mining, the nunavut economy is going to get scuppered for half a decade. the nunavut government has severely limited its options by having put all its eggs in that basket over the last few years, and now nunavummiut will pay the price.

so, i'm also not hopeful for the nunavut election that will take place on october 27th. judging from the mood, i'd say that paul will get re-elected, and will again face off against tagak for the premiership (and will win again). that said, there is a sizable crop of younger and more enthusiastic candidates, so hopefully some of them will get elected and bring some much-needed energy and vision to the floor of the legislative assembly.

i *am* hopeful for the u.s. election. obama has done a masterful job on the debates, and tina fey has done a fabulous job of undercutting sarah palin's credibility. i'm looking forward to seeing the obama landslide on november 4th.

so, what's the fourth election ? well, the b.c. provincial election is slated to take place next may. the incumbent NDP MLA in the nelson riding is retiring, and his spot is being contested by four women. i had been trying to get together with a friend of a friend to see about a regular poker game here in town, but he's up in nunavut on duty travel right now, so i met his partner instead. she's one of the four candidates, and i decided to assist her (and get some homework done at the same time) by filming her fundraising event the weekend before last. i took the footage, loaded it from the camera to the macs at the school, and then edited a 1-minute film that she added to her website on thursday, 5 days after the event.

so, i did my cinematography homework by shooting the footage solo, and re-acquainted myself with capturing and editing the footage with final cut pro. i also did a bit of work on soundtrack pro to cut down on the crowd noise - i had arranged with the soundman on-site to get a cd of the audio for the night, but he explained to me at the end of the night, that, as other people had access to the booth, someone had bumped the mouse and nothing had gotten recorded. next time, i'll be sure to bring my own recorder. as it was, i had to use the audio that came from the XLR mic that i had attached to the side of the camera, hence the attempt at noise reduction.

after that, i played around with a variety of compressor settings to get the most optimal quality to size ratio, knowing that michelle wanted to upload it to youtube (remember to click on the 'watch in high-quality link' on the bottom right !) and facebook. the best quality file was over 2 gigs, which wouldn't pass thru the maximum filesize limits on youtube or facebook (1024 MB). i ended up with an MPEG-4 encoding that gave me a 46 MB file.

in our film history class this morning, we got to watch 'citizen kane'. very interesting. over the weekend, i finished my comic order, and had stumbled upon kathryn and stuart imonen's moving pictures. i had enjoyed stuart's work a few years back on shockrockets, and this new work's melange of other artists that i like, including andi watson, jason lutes, tim sale, and matt wagner, was right up my alley. here's a sample page, where the last panel matches quite nicely with the final scenes of citizen kane, with characters in deep background surrounded by crates full of potential goodies:

page from Moving Pictures  Kathryn Immonen and Stuart Immonen

i haven't posted any vids from battle stations in awhile, but i managed to take down an opposing fort over the weekend with the help of 4 other alliance comrades. here's the final volley:

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nestling down in nelson

Friday, 26SEP2008:

i thought that the older i got, the easier school would get. sadly, it seems that i picked the wrong program if i wanted any downtime to recover from the busy time i gave myself in the north. my seven film classes include:
  • film history (we get to watch old films !)
  • digital video (technology and terminology)
  • cinematography (shooting with DV cameras)
  • photoshop (i can paste now paste my head over your body)
  • screenwriting (standard 3-act story structures)
  • sound for film (boom mics, isolating headphones, recording in washrooms, etc.)
  • editing (fun with final cut pro)

the first couple of weeks have been very hectic, with lots of background reading and intro to a whole schwack of software programs and their related keyboard shortcuts. plus, the fact that i have to get up early early for my morning classes is really leaving me exhausted at the end of the day. the consolation for that is that classes are only from monday to thursday, so i have a few days to try to catch up on sleep.

besides tuition, i've already spent a ton of dough buying textbooks, USB drives, two 500 Gig external drives, DV tapes, and headphones. so, much as i would like to spring for a new mac as well, i think i'll hold off on that splurge until after january.

other than school, i've checked out the local touchstones museum / art gallery, as well as the BOOM! show at the oxygen art gallery, co-curated by my screenwriting instructor. like iqaluit, nelson has a lot of development issues, a lack of housing, and a seeming disdain for planning which is slowly changing. i also picked up a cellphone for the first time, and have actually used it more as an alarm clock / mp3 player than as a phone. still, i like the 'my10' plan that i have, that allows me to call 10 numbers across canada as part of my monthly package without incurring lond-distance charges, which will hopefully allow me to keep in touch with folks more regularly.

with today's deadline for the nunavut election nominations, i'm looking forward to finding out who all is running up there. since i actually moved my stuff from iqaluit, i was advised that i couldn't vote for the nunavut federal race, and so i'll have to pick from the candidates here in nelson. since i can't do much for my friends who are running up north, i've volunteered to help out a friend of a friend here in nelson, in her attempt to become an MLA when b.c. goes to the polls next spring.

i had spent quite a bit of time last week hunting down a copy of the tina fey / sara palin skit from SNL. my internet connection at the motel is abyssmal (maybe that's why it's included in the rent ??), so when i went to the nbc site, the streaming video would keep pausing for the stream to catch up. i finally found a copy to download here. anyway, i'm very interested to see how all these elections turn out, between canada, u.s., nunavut and b.c. i have some hope that i can turn this interest into a film project for my next term, but if anyone has any thoughts on that, feel free to give me a shout.

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august adventure wrapup

Saturday, 06SEP2008:

as promised, i have a couple of allen ball tile works from the triangle art gallery in calgary. i liked these because the artist transformed simple household linoleum tiles into evocative expressions of colour and contemplation.

allen ball - a dream (2007) tile art

allen ball - the echoing green (2006) tile art

ok, what's next ... right, the trip to victoria for wedding #2. after a couple days in scenic sooke, a bunch of us accompanied the bride and groom to the bella pacifica campground just outside tofino, to spend a weekend in tents, hang out at the surfy beach, and huddle around the campfire in the evenings. on the way back, i stopped back into cathedral grove for another pilgrimage thru the rainforest.

photo from my fave spot in cathedral grove

i spent a couple more days staying with another friend in victoria, who had bought a house for herself earlier this year. i also got to see another round of fringe shows at the victoria fringe fest, including 'face of jizo', 'grow your own dinosaur', and my fave, 'i ain't dead yet'. the latter featured a storyteller with a guitar, who gave an monologue of woody guthrie's early life, tying specific historical incidents to various guthrie songs. sounds a bit hokey, but it was a riveting theatre experience.

after that, it was back across the ferry to stay in vancouver for a couple days, and take in a blue rodeo concert in malkin bowl in stanley park, which i had bought tickets for months ago while i was still in iqaluit. if i had been smarter, i would have arranged to see them at the calgary folkfest, but as it was, i got a chance to see a bit of vancouver nightlife with another friend from iqaluit. i got to stanley park early in the afternoon the next day, and enjoyed listening to the impromptu 6-song concert that greg and baz gave during the soundcheck. there was only one person in line ahead of me, so crowd control was not nearly the issue that it was for the warped tour. with a wedding ceremony taking place in the adjacent lawn, the opening band sadies had to hold off on their soundcheck until the vows were completed. anyway, while i have a couple of shots of greg and jim coming up to the front of the stage to serenade the crowd, here's my best photo of all of the gang:

blue rodeo playing malkin bowl in vancouver's stanley park

i tried to leave vancouver right after the concert, but got stuck in a huge traffic jam on the trans canada where i got held up for nearly an hour and a half, driving maybe 4 kilometres. i gunned it through the rest of the flat-ish lower mainland to try to make up some time, but i had to pull over to a rest stop around 4 in the morning to catch some winks in the back of the rental. i made it to nelson the next day, and spent the rest of the week in a temporary motel room, getting a feel for the motel environs where i would be spending the next 8 or 9 months. then it was back to calgary for the weekend, to meet up with the mover from montreal, who had ferried my sealift from iqaluit across the country. with classes starting on the tuesday after labour day, i ended up just stuffing my stuff into my storage locker with the aim of returning sometime later to sort thru everything and decide what i needed. the rental car was returned, after 6 weeks, with a total mileage of over 7000 kilometres !

i took the red eye greyhound back to nelson and was able to finally move into my proper pad. here's a shot from the balcony outside my 2d floor window:

view of nelson from my motel room

when classes ended at noon on thursday, i dropped by a van rental agency to see what i could arrange for a trip back to calgary to move some stuff. they didn't have any mini-vans or half-tons available at all, so i was going to try later in the month, but the clerk pushed for me to try an SUV. i made an impulsive decision to give it a go, and started on my 2-day blitz back to calgary to try to pick out what i would need to survive in a motel room for 9 months. my brother helped me pack my selections snugly into the back of the tank-like SUV, and then i was hustling back to nelson to unload and return the rental after a 1700 kilometre round trip. other than the abysmal fuel economy, i was actually pretty impressed with how the SUV handled on the road, and with how much stuff i was able to lug. the illusion of being impervious was quite convincing ...

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how much art can i pack into my summer holiday ?

Tuesday, 05AUG2008:

unfortunately, i wasn't able to experience too many of the pleasures of nelson, as i spent most of my 3 days there searching for a place to stay for the fall. i did manage to treat myself to a viewing of the dark knight on my birthday, but compared to the astro theatre, the 1-screen, 1-movie per night offerings in nelson are pretty meagre.

as for housing, in the end, i decided to book a motel room for the september thru may period, just to be certain that i'd have a place when school starts. one benefit is that i won't have to deal with any roommate issues. after that was confirmed, i returned to calgary to shuffle stuff from my old storage locker to one 4x the size, as i won't be able to host all of my stuff being shipped down from iqaluit to montreal in a single motel room.

however, i did take some time out to attend my friends' 'star trek'-themed wedding ceremony and reception. here's what the middle layer of the wedding cake looked like, surrounded by 'tribble' cupcakes:

middle layer of star trek wedding cake 
featuring the bride and groom as starfleet
personnel on the bridge.

immediately preceeding the reception, there was a kung fu demonstration outside of the dining hall. i managed to snag a video of a demo of 10 bricks being broken.

after all the moving of stuff was done, i began to relax and see what i could schedule in to keep myself busy for a couple weeks. besides feasting on sushi and dim sum, i managed to re-visit the movie theatres to take in an IMAX viewing of the dark knight with my brother, hellboy 2, and mongol, a neat tale about the rise of genghis khan. i also stopped into the triangle gallery to check out their latest show featuring some edmonton artists. i'll return later this week to snap some pics of allen ball's work and hopefully post them here.

the rest of my weekend was spent in inglewood, checking out the calgary fringe festival. my fave so far has been 'pitch blond', a one-woman show about 40's hollywood movie star judy holliday and her run-in with the congressional un-american activities hearings. laura harris played the coquettish part to a tee, while simultaneously demonstrating the keen intellect required to pull one over on the antagonistic senators. the use of archival audio recordings from the period for laura to react to was neat, and i decided to book another ticket for her saturday show to see it again.

another enjoyable show was 'pizza girl and the dark enigma', which features a troupe of just-graduated mount royal college students, who put on a real gumbo of a show that included doo-wop singing, original folk songs, a sword-fight, a rags-to-riches adventure and the metaphor that a 'relationship is like a pizza'. while not very deep, the enthusiasm of the cast made for a fun and breezy hour spent.

the other show that i managed to catch tonight was 'big winner', again about the relationship between 2 people who don't realize that they are meant for each other. the length that the characters are willing to go, to win an obscure prize in tim horton's 'roll up the rim' contest, was pretty funny, and the pair of actors handled numerous costume changes with aplomb. they also introduced a game called 'yellow light splooge', involving the running of yellow traffic lights and the blurting out of secrets. the sound tech also needs to be commended for switching channels and songs on cue every time !

however, since i was enjoying that show so much, i was too late to get into the next show on my list, 'how i stopped worrying and learned to love the mall', so i've booked another ticket to see his show on saturday nite.

up tomorrow is the vans warped concert tour, calgary stop, where i will hopefully get to see the vandals and motion city soundtrack on 1 of the 6 stages. thursday and friday are reserved for evening performances of shakespeare in the park, put on by mount royal college theatre students. thursday will feature 'the tempest', while i will see 'the merry wives of windsor' on friday nite. the weekend will be spent catching up with my calgary cousins and then it's on to victoria to catch another wedding, followed by a trip to tofino for a bit of camping.

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day of departure

Friday, 18JUL2008:

a big thanks to odile and pat for hosting my farewell poker tourney thursday evening. i was lucky to avoid the vinnie steamroll as he proceeded to knock people out one by one. my closest scare was when he finally folded K-2 to my all-in bet, which would have given him a full house, 2's over 3's. i ended up facing him heads up and managed to triumph in the first tourney. a 3d place in the 2d tourney allowed me to climb back up in the standings for the thursday tourneys. the sickest beat was when a 9, 10, and a K had flopped and i bet out with 3x the big blind with my bottom pair of 9's. cyndi went all-in for 4x my bet, and i stupidly called. she turned over her JQ for a flopped str8 and then watched with horror as the turn and river came K, K to give me a runner runner full-house.

after recovering from alianait, i began to start packing for my big move. i had gotten most everything packed up and taken away by the movers on wednesday for eventual sealift to montreal, and then the cleaners came in and did a whirlwind job on my apartment to leave it in a pristine state not seen in 6 years.

barebones iqaluit pad

since i had my pc packed up and sent by air cargo on thursday, my time on friday was spent leisurely checking in, returning keys, and enjoying a final lunch at the frob. i was asked a couple of times about what i will miss most about iqaluit, and i couldn't really give a decent answer at the time. thinking on it now, i'd have to say that i'll miss the pace of living in the north, as well as the connectedness of everything and everyone. if you know the right people in town, you can accomplish *anything*.

after the numerous airport farewells, i finally boarded the canadian north jet destined for edmonton. a bit of frisson was caused by one of the feature articles from the in-flight magazine, which delivered a bevy of tales from northerners about their 'first days' in the north, including one from aaju peter, who happened to be on the same flight on her way to the 'folk on the rocks' music festival in yellowknife. topping off my sense of displacement was seeing a full-page ad in the magazine, placed by my previous seismic employer, touting all of their accomplishments in the north. ah, what could have been ...

looking back on my own 'first day', i remember marvin picking me up at the airport (ferrying people around town seemed to be his favourite work-related duty). after getting me settled at the frob, he invited me to join a farewell supper for another staff member at the kamotiq. 2 hours later, i had my first (and last) meal of deep-fried muktuq (i prefer it fresh and raw), and had been roped into running the lighting board for the community theatre production of 'The Wizard of Oz', simply on the basis of knowing what a lighting board was. seemingly heralding my own departure, the kamotiq was demolished earlier this month.

i had an extremely good run in iqaluit, with opportunities to do many things that i probably wouldn't have been able to do in a larger center. i'll miss broomball and all of the friends that i made in iqaluit. however, i won't miss the I.T. hassles, or the high cost of living (which is destined to go even higher with the increasing fuel costs). i'm excited to take a year out to live the student life and build up my proficiency with film, and see if i can find a way to affect cultural policy from the creator side in addition to the user side.

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staying up late on this longest night of the year ...

Saturday, 21JUN2008:

geez, how the time flies when you're getting ready to make a move. in the 6 weeks since i've last posted, i've done a trip down to saskatchewan to visit my parents on the way to a conference, returned to hand in my resignation letter (just on the right side of the government employee contract ratification), strung up lights for my final part-time players production and gotten roped into overseeing the lighting for this year's alianait! music festival. it's 5 a.m. and i'm almost on the *other* side of exhaustion.

i was a bit shocked during my drive to the parental hacienda to see so many farmers' fields swapped away from birthing agricultural crops and becoming oil battery hatcheries. i understand that the black gold is a much more lucrative harvest than granary gold, but the scenery that i remember from my boyhood days has been much impaired. luckily, there are still a few picturesque farms in rural NW saskatchewan, as seen in the picture below.

farmhouse east of turtleford

i pretty much coasted thru the conference as i had already made the decision to resign, so i was more making contacts for future moves, rather than boning up on the current hubaloos. this lackadaisical attitude allowed me time to take a few guilt-free breaks away from some conference sessions to get my first optometrist checkup in years, as well as to wander down to the broadway cinema to catch the film 'up the yangtze', about the impacts of the flooding for the three gorges dam on a couple of young chinese tourist boat workers.

on the way back to downtown saskatoon, i snapped this pretty pic:

south saskatchewan river from broadway bridge in saskatoon

heading back north thru edmonton, i had my clock cleaned at the poker room of the baccarat casino. still, i managed to play with the big boys for at least a couple of hours before running down to the felt. i earned the minimum $200 buy-in to the big boy table by scarfing up a final pot at the 3/6 limit table which i bought into for $100. at one point, the shortest stack at the main game was around $750, and it wasn't me ;) sadly, the biggest stack at the table was around $7500, so it was only a matter of time until i ran into the inevitable skilled trap play. next time i'll have to avoid playing after driving 5 hours in the sun across the open prairies.

returned to iqaluit, i managed to surve the curse of the scottish play with only a minor finger cut (out out damn spot !), acquired when i got too eager with a box cutter while ripping off the duct tape overhead during strike. however, to make up for that good fortune, tonight i heralded the opening concer for this year's alianait! arts festival by blowing a parcan bulb and then stumbling over the side of the stage, only to be rewarded with shrieks of hilarity from the kids seated in front of the front row (i'll assume that they thought i was one of the circus clowns, and weren't just laughing out of spite). in any case, i survived with only a few scratches below the knee, and a stern reminder to myself to carry a torch in the dark ...

this year, the festival had the foresight to bring in a professional designer for this year's show. here's a snap of the final setup as designed by chris humphrey, featuring the alianait! gobo overhead of the magnificent eskimo goggle backdrop created by claude roussel, which he had to quickly repair the day before opening after a break-in breakage:

big top tent lighting for 2008 opening of alianait! festival

my favourite act of the evening was the opener 'namgar' from mongolia / southern siberia. remembering what happened at last year's festival with the greenland hiphop band, which only brought a dozen cd's with them, i rushed over to the merch table and snagged my copy of their cd before the rush. the fact that half of namgar's available cd's were sold before their set even finished was a testament to their ability to get the crowd excited and bode well for the rest of the evening.

near the end, the klezmer band 'kleztory' took the stage to rock the house before the circus preview. i'm including this pic of them to show off the spotlight (shining down on the clarinet player at center stage), which i had the fun of hanging along with most of the other lights on the on-stage truss:

klesmer band at alianait! 2008

alright, the fog is starting to brighten up again outside, so i better get a bit of shuteye before my 11 a.m. call time back at the festival. if you're in town, and you're interested in finding out what those long drape thingies in the photo above will be used for, come check out the fibonacci circus tomorrow in front of the nakasuk school ! to close, i'll single out a couple of items that caught my eye over the last few weeks:

1. a man who can fly !

2. karl rove should have to go to jail for this.

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going north, going south

Friday, 09MAY2008:

so, my trip up to pond inlet at 72 degrees north latitude went swimmingly. umm, not literally, as the sea ice there is still ultra-frozen unlike the puddles now spreading around iqaluit. the scenery was fabulous and the locals were ultra-friendly. i've posted an album on facebook, but here are a few teasers:

the hamlet of pond inlet (legal aid office in the foreground):
hamlet of pond inlet

bylot island 24 kilometres away across eclipse sound:
bylot island background

the wall of an iceberg with exquisite blue striations, frozen into the sound south of the hamlet:
iceberg wall with blue striations

the iceberg cavern in all its massive glory:
pond inlet iceberg cavern 2008

sandwiching the trip, i hit up the astro theatre for the debut friday showings of 'iron man' last week and '21' tonight. i enjoyed both films, but will likely only allow 'iron man' a repeat visit tomorrow nite when i also take in 'the forbidden kingdom'.

'iron man' really hit the spot and demonstrated that even a mid-level superhero can be transmorgriphied into film properly, even after hollywood gets its mitts on the property. '21' had lots of escapist vegas fare, just made for a time when the general economy appears to be going down the tubes. 'i *need* this money' may be a refrain that we'll begin to hear more often in real life, but the music in the movie was excellent, and the editing in both movies was unjarringly seamless. however, the performances by gwyneth paltrow and robert downey junior gleamed in 'iron man' and that tips the re-viewing balance in their favour.

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May Day isn't a holiday in Canada ...

Thursday, 01MAY2008:

today marks the end of the current round of universe wars, so some lucky sod will win an xbox out of the deal. it's funny that some analysts figure that the latest 'grand theft auto' game might bite into the opening weekend box office for 'iron man'. gaming has really come out of the ghetto that i remember it being in when i was growing up. that whole man-child phenom is poked at by 'knocked up' and 'superbad', but really, why would someone willingly take on more responsibility if there isn't any social cost to *not* playing the conventional societal game ?

sort of along those lines, why work for an org that doesn't get it, when you can work for one that can ? May Day is supposed to be about the empowerment of labour, but i think these days labour needs more *enlightenment*. larry page, co-creator of google, is interviewed by 'fortune' magazine on 'how to save the world'. here are a few tidbits:

    "... The question is, How many people are working 
    on things that can move the needle on the economy 
    or on people's quality of life? ..."
    "... it's hard to get people to work on those kinds 
    of things because of the personal risk they feel 
    they're taking.  Also, people don't have the right 
    training. If you say you want to automate cars and 
    save people's lives, the skills you need for that 
    aren't taught in any particular discipline. ..."
    "... As a society, on the larger questions we have, 
    we're not making reasonable progress."
    "<Interviewer>: What kind of background do you 
    think is required to push these kinds of changes?
    I think you need an engineering education where you 
    can evaluate the alternatives.  For example, are 
    fuel cells a reasonable way to go or not?  For that, 
    you need a pretty general engineering and scientific 
    education, which is not traditionally what happens. 
    ... If you look at the people who have high impact, 
    they have pretty general knowledge.  They don't have 
    a really narrowly focused education.
    You also need some leadership skills. You don't want 
    to be Tesla.  He was one of the greatest inventors, 
    but it's a sad, sad story.  ... If you invent 
    something, that doesn't necessarily help anybody. 
    You've got to actually get it into the world ..."
this recalls an interesting discussion i had last weekend with xan, em's sister who was up visiting, about the perils of inflexible pedagogies. there isn't much sympathy for generalists at universities these days, which i think is a shame (consistent with my opinions when i was in student politics as well). universities are gradually introducing more time-flexibility (poor xan is taking summer classes), but opportunities for cross-disciplinary exposure are limited by curriculum requirements. i was lucky in snagging a co-op job on campus during my MLIS, which allowed me to take additional courses beyond my degree requirements, including a Ph.D.-level course on the political economy of information, which really helped to cement everything i had taken in library school up to that point and justified the tuition expense and time spent away from the workforce.

one of the reasons that i picked selkirk college over the degreed film programs was that i wanted an environment where i had more control over what i learned. nelson is a smaller city, with fewer distractions than the metropoli of toronto, montreal or vancouver, and the program is only going into its 3d year, so nothing will have had time to ossify. as well, with only 2 semesters to worry about, they can react very nimbly to changes in the marketplace - e.g., the potential actors strike this summer may give them an opportunity to have a star instructor for some of their courses in the fall.

so, now i just have to figure out what grand project i'll be interested in applying my varied skill-set towards after i graduate - who knows, i may just end up at google, which i had contemplated at the same time that i was considering library school, way back in 1998 ...

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prizes, mix and chairlift

Monday, 28APR2008:

so, we had our 3d annual (4th awards, 3d with voting) iqaluit broomball awards ceremony on saturday nite at the francophone association which we had rented for the occasion. 22 awards were handed out, including ones for the most stylish, 'drama queen', and 'ben johnson' award for suspicious speed, along with a whole bunch of skill awards. me, i grabbed hold of the trophy in ties for most stylish male (only due to massive splitting of the vote) with JFB, while splitting for best defensive player with gord. my sole solo catch was best shot-blocker, and i have the bruises to show for it.

at the end of the regular ceremonies, 2 additional awards were handed out. the first was for chris d's 'thrust' goal earlier that day on the outdoor broomball ice. please understand that a hand or foot-directed ball will be disallowed as a goal, but chris d. somehow managed to use his *groin* and there's nothing in the rules against that. the 2d additional award surprised me as the broomball club exec also provided me with a hall of fame award and trophy. here are some pix featuring the 2 signed broomball balls that came with the trophy:

iqaluit broomball hall of fame 2008 trophy

apparently, i had been reticent about my upcoming plans for the fall, so some of those in attendance were caught by surprise. however, i've already bought my ticket out for july, and am in the initial stages of deciding what to keep with me and what to shed here in the arctic.

week before last, i also stayed up til 5 a.m. working on a mix that i just threw together on a whim that evening. i played it all day at work the next day and it held up without becoming annoying, so i've posted it up at artofthemix - it's called around the world in 23 songs. i hadn't posted a mix in months, but the regulars still welcomed me with positive comments. the dload link has since expired, but if anyone really wants to sample it, just send me a note and i'll re-upload it.

on either side of the mix-making, i assisted david s. with the lights for the opening and closing cermonies of toonik tyme. i got to use the chair lift for the first time and i won't lie and say that my knees weren't shaking as i was reaching over my head just under the rafters of the AWG arena. the shows went smoothly, tho, and nothing fell on the audience, so it was all good. the lightshow designed by david was fantabulous, as was the sound by juno-award winning diego. sylvia knows all sorts of interesting people ...

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more fun in the sun

Monday, 07APR2008:

here's yet another replay from battle stations, featuring their one-day only weapon offering from april fool's day ... the PIE LAUNCHER ! mmmm ... tasty ... don't blink or you'll miss it ;)

oh, and that stuff about film school ? NOT an april fool's thing - i just got an email this evening indicated that i've already been provisionally accepted into the program !! hurray !

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on this sunshiney sunday ...

Sunday, 06APR2008:

wow, over a month since my last posting. i had gotten some notes together to post on march 8th, but somehow got too tired or too wrapped up in some online game. here's a couple of the links that went awol:

  1. a remix / mashup demonstrating how hillary clinton could be mistaken for a grown-up version of tracy flick (played with gumption by reese witherspoon) in the movie 'election'.

  2. interview of clay shirky about the power of organizing without organizations
let's see, what else can i catch you up with ... oh, right, i assisted with the lighting for the alianait! fundraiser last weekend which featured aaju peter opening for nathan rogers (spawn of stan). i managed to time an 'effects' disco ball effect right when nathan was doing a bit of himalayan throat singing, which went over well with the crowd. simon took care of the spotlight to cover up the mistakes that i made with the board during the rest of the show.

oh, and renovations at the office have been a huge pain. we ended up moving our division back to the building that i had spent 5 years planning my escape from, just to let the construction folks do their thing without our bellyaching. productivity nose-dived and it was hard to get motivated. we're supposed to move back into our 'new' offices this week, but i won't hold my breath ...

i finally got off my patooie and submitted my application to selkirk college's digital film program this week. the program director indicated that i should hear back within a couple of weeks, as they are limiting the class size to under 15 students. the fact that there was a film symposium in town this week likely gave me the final impetus, but unfortunately i wasn't able to make an appearance at many of their functions due to being sick in bed on tuesday and friday. i did make it to their thursday nite gala, where i was treated to a smattering of films (marred by technical difficulties due to broadband incapacity), some award presentations, and best of all, some jazzy crooning by the lovely emily.

spent saturday afternoon in bed to recover from my evening online poker tourney win (2d of 90 for $45) and missed this year's first game of outdoor broomball as a result. todd called up to reserve my evening, and we stayed up until 6 a.m. playing 3 tourneys and a cash game. i broke even after the 3 tourneys, but dropped back into the red after the cash game. ah well, at least i went home in-between tourneys to make myself some salmon-rice for supper so i didn't indulge in the snack and saved some dough that way.

sunday afternoon looked magnificent outside, and i couldn't bear to stay in bed past 3. instead, i pulled out the crazy carpet from the dusty corner of the closet (where it had lain dormant for, umm, a couple of years ?), pumped up my bike tires, and pedalled on down federal road past BCC before heading up into the tundra to my favourite sliding spot. my first attempt was a bit dodgy as i sideswiped a rock that i had specifically been aiming to avoid. my next attempt went too far the other way and i ran into a 4-foot deep drift that i had to scramble out of before continuing on down the hill. my 3d attempt was right down the middle - oh baby ! i spent the next hour going down that stretch until one perfect run that took me way past the line of power poles. i was going to stop on that high note, but decided to take one last trip down. a wipeout halfway down gouged out a big pit and i gladly called an end to the day's sledding adventure.

as far as online games go, knighthood has gone to craphood, as the strategic elements have been hulled out of the game in favour of spam attacks. even i don't have the gumption to sit in front of my computer 24-7 to guard an imaginary kingdom. replacing it has been a game that inflatable elvis turned me on to: nations. my first impression, was 'oh, this is just a neo-con brainwashing application', but then i realized that even if i disagreed with the modelling assumptions, having a nation with a political skew right up my alley would be an interesting little curio. we'll see how it goes.

finally, here's another replay from battle stations, featuring their new interface, which you can see has a much more pleasant aesthetic quality - i think the colour of the sky actually changes depending on the time on your clock ;)

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globetrotting pirates and propaganda

Tuesday, 26FEB2008:

it's funny how things work. at one point in the '90's, i was the most widely travelled of my sibs, yet sometime in the last year, i've become the least travelled. my formerly stay-at-home brother in calgary has suddenly turned on the jets and visited a whole passel of european capitals and south-east asian climes. admittedly, i had usually travelled for work purposes and did my sight-seeing on the company dime, but still, it's a bit unnerving to suddenly be the laggard.

that same brother is a game-playing fiend. while i had the jump on him in triumph, and initiated him into that game, he pulled me into knighthood in turn. knighthood took their servers in california offline last nite to do some expansion / upgrades and brought them back online today. something they changed did not play well with the facebook servers, and the game was unceremoniously punted from facebook. after a few hours, a visit from the knighthood devs (whose offices are a mere block away from facebook's in silicon valley), and a global outroar from the game fans, knighthood is back up on facebook as before. (oh, and as before, they are still having server difficulties - *sigh*, the pains of being popular ;) )

here's what one fan posted:

    "I called facebook and after holding for a while, 
    this happened.
    I was like "hi, i'm calling about an application.." 
    she cuts me off "knighthood?" , I reply "yea" she 
    says "ok all you can do is email facebook at and they will get back to you 
    in 24 hours."
    Apparently lots of people have called.
    edit: the number I called(US) is 1-650-543-4800"
apparently, people went to the effort of doing a whois lookup and found the phone number and called. with all this technology, the world is become such a small, small place ;)

another online game, that i somehow left out of my previous post of pastimes currently eating up my spare time, is called cybernations. i had read a game review somewhere of the best online games and it had been recommended. the game itself is pretty slow-paced, with a single round of income earning / spending per day. after my triumph trial of fire, cybernations seemed like old hat in comparison. however, there is a very strong online community, including alliances, who have taken to sniping at each other with online propoganda videos. i've flagged the ones that i've found either very entertaining or scarily effective (or to be honest, just plain scary). almost inspires me to want to become a film editor ;)

and here's another replay from battle stations, developed and maintained in singapore, demonstrating the joy that can be found in their player vs. player battles:

"oops, miscalculation" is right *teehee*. the attacker has first-strike advantage, but if you play your cards right on defense, you can take a few with you before you go down.

speaking of battle stations, the terry gilliam short film, "the crimson permanent assurance" is now also available on youtube: part1 and part2. check out part1 at 7:30 for the rallying cry.

also, broomball tonight was very fun, as my team mustered a very strong effort. the opposing team had scored a goal in the first minute, and then another one after i screened my own goalie, but we got one back to make it close. i had some great shifts on defence to make up for my earlier flub, but my team wasn't able to get the tying goal before the buzzer sounded.

and the fun and games have only just begun. i've been roped in to assist with a political campaign (both territorial and federal expected this year, so that should keep you guessing) and tomorrow, i may get to play the "acting director" game at work. i'll need all the luck i can get ...

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where did the time go ???

Tuesday, 12FEB2008:

wow, it's been over a month since i posted here. must've been busy with something, but it's hard for me to figure out what. oh, other than facebook madness of course ;) i called in sick today as i had acquired a rash yesterday afternoon at work, and rather than scratching myself silly all day, i decided to try to give the allergy pills a chance to work. however, i can still feel some pressure behind my eye from the swollen glands on the side of my face, so this may take a bit more time to clear up.

i finally gave up on the facebook game triumph!, after getting fed up with the way the devs kept adding 'features' without fixing any of the bugs that crept in with previous feature rollouts (shades of redmond ?). i wasn't asking them to kowtow to the players, but they need to show some respect. some people were actually investing real money in the game and were getting hosed by one-off wonders. i understand 'caveat emptor' and all, but that is just not cool. anyway, i'm still logging in occasionally to buy a bunch of spies to help out my network of friends who are still playing, but the whole arson attack setup and massive alliance war just left me cold.

i had introduced my brother to triumph! and in-between dodging outbursts of fireworks in shanghai for the chinese new year, he joined up with the alliance that i belonged to and has since become their chief disinformation officer for the war with another triumph alliance. in return, he introduced me to another facebook game called knighthood, so i've gone from demolishing all of my triumph! buildings to constructing different buildings in knighthood. does this make sense to anyone ? anyway, i haven't started battling anyone there, as i haven't built up a barracks yet, but friend colleen in texas, who i had made a vassal of mine, soon outgrew my domain and has become a sovereign in her own right. me, i'm happy to plod along for now, and will only pop my head out once my defenses are well in place.

where i have been battling it out is on a game called battle stations, by a development group out of singapore. unlike in triumph, this developer has established a good rapport with his game players, and is constantly providing feedback. when glitches happen, he finds ways to make the community happy, rather than just ignoring them. i'm not generally a big bells and whistles guy, but the game uses flash animation to show the battle scenes, and they just look great. so, here is one with me launching anchors at the enemy airship ;)

is that kewl or what ?? blub, blub, blub. feel free to hit 'replay' again. now, if only the game server allowed more than 10 battles to be stored ...

otay, what else. oh, repo's got a new band called 'easy tiger'. if you're on facebook, you can catch their videos here. if you're facebook-less, i've uploaded some mp3 versions of their tunes that struck my fancy. please pardon the horrid sound quality - they were ripped from the facebook vids and then i did a bit of EQ-mucking, but hopefully you can still tell that THEY ROCK !

another facebook game, that has had some recent run-ins with the intellectual property folks at hasbro and mattel, is scrabulous. i joined some of the facebook groups that rose up in protest, including one called, "give me scrabulous or give me death !". i'm not quite that keen, but hey, it's a game that now has a big enough fanbase that it can boast its own song, with accompanying video and lyrics to boot.

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happy new year to everyone ...

Thursday, 03JAN2008:

first post of 2008. yep. another year wiser. hopefully i'll make less stupid stock trades this year. i did make it to the snack on opening day to get my fix of chicken poutine. DELISH !!

what else. i've finally watched my dvd 'nausicaa of the valley of the wind' - very nice. as well, i watched my vhs copies of 'footloose' and 'ruby in paradise' - the former was picked up recently in the 'laundry room rummage collection' and the latter has been sitting on my shelf for six years waiting for me to find someone with a vhs player to expropriate. even tho i had never watched footloose, it still felt nostalgic as i had listened to the soundtrack endlessly and could sing along to the majority of the tunes that just happened to pop into the background. very silly stuff, but good to get out of the way. now, the mantle for greatest 80's classic that i've never seen moves to 'e.t.'

also have finished the first 1.5 books of the 'giant' series by james p. hogan - twas very neat to look back on 'hard' sf from the late-1970's. it's the year 2028, there is a united states of europe, humans exploring the moons of jupiter, computers small enough to fit in your pocket are an amazing thing and they can even network wirelessly with a central cpu. the most jarring anachronism was the prevalence of smoking ...

oh, and if you have any concerns about pakistan and the potential cover-up surrounding the assassination of benazir bhutto, you need to check out the video of a news report hosted by alternet. very sad.

one more day of 'holidays' before heading back to work on monday ... at least i've managed to return to a daytime schedule ;)

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