senatorhung's pad
ramblings of an information troubleshooter

how the times do change ...

Monday, 05MAY2014:

my Marantz 5-cd turntable just gave up the ghost after nearly 14 years ... most lasers only last 10 years so i got my money's worth out of the display model that i picked up in the fall of 2000 from the A&B Sound outlet formerly in the old Bank of Montreal building in downtown Calgary. i remember biking the half dozen blocks back to my apartment from Stephen Avenue Mall with the unboxed cd.player hovering over my handlebars. sadly, what was once an essential part of my life (loved that random play from 5 discs at once) has now been overtaken by technology trends and the disc player will not be replaced. oh, and the photo was taken by my LUMIX DMC-LC33 digital camera circa 2002 - also now pretty much obsolete tech.

marantz cd player bites the dust

so i wonder if i am a tech dinosaur for holding onto tech that just works ? my 'stereo' system with a double set of speakers still has a vinyl turntable and double cassette player (cassettes !) attached, while the sound from my pc is piped in thru the receiver's video connection. the pc is still running windows xp sp3 since my musicmatch player is way past current and will not be supported on a newer OS. i keep that version of musicmatch (does not phone home ... does not add 'features' i will never use) mostly since i can continue to rip from my still stacked up pile of yet to be listened to cd's.

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:

(original link to mp010762.jpg has subsequently 404'd, so here is a different page that will have to do until i can get back to my copy to scan the page originally showcased): 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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