Monday, February 28, 2005

Sunday Shopping

Hamster eating a nut (maybe passing gas)

To help speed the day along I went to the Scarborough Town Centre, a shopping mall that's been around since my youth. I used to visit it on a regular basis when I went to visit with my paternal grandmother. Not really much has changed. There's still the hot air balloons that float up into the air and it's still busy with people. Dragging Marc along with me I decided it was my mission to get my watch fixed and maybe buy a new pillow.

Pillow techology has fascinated me since my trip to London just over a year ago. The Holiday Inn I stayed in near Victoria station had a pillow menu. You had a choice of 5 pillow levels ranging from extra soft to extra firm. I thought this was amazing. That and the desk with the different plug adaptors built into it.

Today I found out that there are also different pillow sizes. The smaller "standard" size is about four times the thickness of my existing pillow. Actually my exisiting pillow is so old and flat it might as well be a towel folded three times in a pillow cover. There was a grandpa pillow model on sale for $7.00. Marc thought that was a good deal. I resisted and moved on. There were body sized pillows. "Great for cuddling". That's one of the selling points displayed on the plastic wrapper. I wondered if that was a big selling point. I mean why put it on the bag. It's geared towards someone. Sort of like the tag lines "Contains no calories" or "Fat free" are geared towards weight watchers.

Some guy in marketing probably looked at the pillow and said "I've got it! Let's target all those loney people out there that have no partners and are too old to cuddle stuffed animals". I then thought about all the loney people out there "cuddling" their pillow as they cried themselves to sleep. It was a sad moment.

Other pillow technology included ones that had dips in them for your head so your neck was supported. We even saw one that you put water into it. I'm not really sure what that would do. If you had a cat, I could imagine coming home to a big fat puddle where your face hits the bed.

Not really a great idea. I led me to thinking about other things. A few years ago I bought, what I thought was a great idea at the time, sneakers that had little pockets of air trapped in the soles. When walking the air would move from the front to the back of the shoe with each step. It felt great. You were literally walking on air.

Once I started wearing the shoes the feeling of air walking lasted about half an hour. I stepped on a tack. The air came out. One foot was walking on air. The other foot felt like it was walking directly on pavement. The situation got worse. Later on that day it rained. The shoe with the air hole became a instrument of loud sqeeky sounds that sounded like hamster flatulence. At least what I'd imagine if a hamster had gas. Cartoony but existing under my foot with every second step.

Now that I think about it, that particular Reebok shoe line didn't last very long.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Outdoor Adventure Indoors

A scuba instructor talks about diving basics with the help of a diver.

I was groggy from going to sleep late and waking up early. This really seems to be the norm these days. Last night we wrapped (finished working) on Tilt around 2:30am. By the time I got home and into bed it was about 5:30am. Kyoko and Chris would call about five hours later to arrange to pick me up to go to the outdoor adventure convention hosted at the international center (near the Toronto Airport) which is way out there.

The show consisted mainly of a lot of booths showcasing places to visit. From white water rafting to lazy canoe trips along the Lake Superior tributaries and a bunch of stuff inbetween, there were a lot of destinations to choose from. Neither Marc or myself were really that interested so we stuck to the booths selling stuff.

One thing which caught my eye was a jet powered surf board. It weighs about 175 pounds and depending on wave condtions and stunts you were pulling you could travel between 1.5 and 4 hours with the board giving about 300 pounds of thrust. The design was very cool. I want one. At least I did until I found out it was about $9000. Well okay I still want one. Click for more info. Not that I'm a surfer or even have a place to put it in my tiny apartment, but it's so cool and gadgety.

The surf board and the booth that sold ikelite underwater systems (really expensive containers for cameras to shoot underwater) were really the only things that held my attention. The food was way expensive. $11.20 for a submarine and drink from Mr. Sub. It didn't matter if you ate a veggie sub or a meat sub the price was the same and the service was lousy.

Marc ordered a sub just before me. It took about ten minutes for them to make all the subs ahead of him and get to his. Then I ordered. Because my sub was the first of the next batch I had to wait until all the other subs were completed. The way the order was taken stumped me. The sub assembler, a really pissed off girl that didn't seem to want to be there, would ask me if I wanted lettuce. She would then ask the three people behind me if they wanted lettuce. She would then move on to the next topping, say pickles, ask me if I wanted them, then the three other people. This continued for each topping. The fact that some of the people behind me were still unsure and held up the slow as molasses process really started getting to me. I was hungry, the food was in front of me, but unobtainable. Much like the women in my life, but this was food dammit and I wanted instant gratification! After all it was $11.20. How hard is it to put stuff in between to pieces of bread and send it over the counter? Obviously this was a task that should have some kind of training involved. And I laughed when I heard McDonalds had a hamburger university... What was I thinking?

Once the subs were completed the cashier decided to take the time to walk away. Marc started getting impatient. He keep pointing to my sub asking "Is that your sub?". "Yes" I would reply. I don't really don't remember how many times I had to confirm that that was my sub. I could imagine Marc's sub getting old and stale. Maybe even some fungi growing on it.

Eventually another person came back to the cash register and let me pay for the sandwich. My sub sat on the counter ready for me to eat for what seemed like another five minutes. The cashier's job was clearly not to touch any of the subs. Oh no! I had to wait for the sub assembler to package the thing and hand it to me but only after verifying that indeed it was my sub.

One wonders if someone were to open a competing resturant or eating place just outside the convention centre, would it crush this Mr. Sub booth? It might be a good idea for someone to look into. Despite all the waiting, the sub assembler did put a lot of toppings on my sub. Maybe twice as much lettuce and things as if I went to a Mr. Sub somewhere downtown. If the idea of waiting sounds like it would make you enjoy the sub that much more, It's true. That was the best tasting submarine sandwich I've had in a long time.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

The Secret World of Background Extras

James Tamblyn sets up a monitor adding to the illusion that the background extras are working in the casino.

One of the things that's great about working on set in movies and television shows is that you get to meet a whole bunch of people from various walks of life. They all have different talents and they all vary in age. Some old, some young. Some really young and if you think "those" thoughts you're going straight to that special place in hell. (As a funny tangent see the show "Firefly", the episode titled "Our Mrs. Reynolds", you'll understand the special hell reference a bit better after Ron Glass's character uses the term)

Today was the last day of shooting on Tilt for this season. My job title today was playback/vidoe assist helping the main playback technician (James Tamblyn) with wiring up the sets, making sure the animations played correctly, and syncing the odd camera to a 24 frame signal. Because of the set being a casino there were a ton of extras hired. Extras are the people that are hired to fill in the background, so the main characters aren't in an empty room. Some of the background extras could be the security officer standing in the background, people playing cards or throwing dice at some table, playing the jackpot machines or the waitresses wandering around with drinks.

The later being the job of Norah-Jean and Ashley and some other very cute but very young women. In some ways background extras are treated like cattle. They're hearded into a waiting room where they will wait for some unspecified time. The rooms are usually make shift areas that have chairs and tables. For some reason when I think of these rooms (also known as background holding) I think of rooms that are hot with no windows. This of course is not always the case. Eventully the extras are moved to set where an assistant director will tell them where to walk and when to do it. Sometimes they're given a zig zag pattern to walk around or they might be made to stand or sit in a particular place while the camera is rolling. It seems like an odd job to get paid for.

I've noticed some of the extras were familiar. Turns out I worked with some of them on "Blueprint for Disaster". Episode 3, the Sampoong, department store, to be exact. They played the guys that were responsible for not evacutating the mall and causing the deaths of almost 500 people. I was talking to them and they both get jobs as extras on a regular basis. One of them wants to be an actor, where as the other just wants work on a part time basis. I can't really see myself making a living as a background extra but these guys are proof that it can be done.

Friday, February 25, 2005

I Wish I Was an Oscar Mayer Wiener

A very talented Laer Adlon in music composing mode

Today was a pretty busy day. It started with me travelling across our vast city to Kodak located near Photography drive (IMHO in the middle of nowhere). Using our transit system it took me an hour and a half. A bus, a train, another bus, a bit of walking and I was there. Kodak had a seminar on a product they're introducing to the DPs (Director of Photography) in our area. The LOOK management system. Basically it's software that standardizes color information between the DP and the colorist and anyone else in post production.

The way it works is that that DP will shoot a scene using a Canon or Nikon camera, not just any camera but the higher end SLRs. For Nikon the D100 or D70. I didn't pay attention to the Canon cameras as I'm a Nikon user. Once the picture is shot in raw format, the file is transferred to a computer (could be a laptop) with the LOOK software installed.

The DP can then pick what Kodak film stock he would like to use, if he wants to color correct the image, and if he wants to push or pull the film. The software emulates what the final film will look like. This information can then be saved and a person in post production can access it (with installed software on their computer). The various computer monitors are calibrated with a little puck shaped sensor that sticks onto the monitor screen.

After hob-nobbing with some of our finest DPs in the industry I walked back to the subway station and hopped on the train to bring me downtown. I did a quick stop at Monster Records then proceded to Laer's place. He wanted to see "Ong Bak", a thai martial arts movie. We were going to go with a bunch of people later on in the evening so we had some time to kill. I decided to take a nap on his couch while he worked on a soundtrack for his web site (see

Laer is one of those untapped talents that can do a vast number of things from exploding zombie heads, visual effects, playback, musical scores and pretty much everything in between. With all this talent what does Laer do? He plays requests for one. Alan showed up later that night and requested the Oscar Mayer theme. Laer not only played it but embellished it to resemble something you might hear at an ice rink. Very cheesy with a lounge feel to it.

We went to see the movie, which was incredible, BTW. I don't think Bruce Lee will ever be replaced but if you want hard elbow to the head, skull cracking action then this is the movie for you. The only downside to seeing this movie were the three guys that kept yelling in the back of the theatre complaining the movie had sub titles. Heathen scum.

After the movie Alan told me that a mutual friend's pet cat is having difficulties. It disturbs me that this is happening and there's nothing I can do to fix it or help out. I realize there are some things that are just not in our realm to control or fix but despite this I'm still awake thinking about her and the cat. It's 4:45am. I've been lying in bed since 12:30 (with the exception of turning on the computer to make this entry).

On a happier note, "Macho Baby!" has been selected as an official entry in the IASTE screening march 5th and I managed to get some daily work tomorrow on "Tilt". Now I just have to get to sleep to wake up at 9am.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

HLAP party 6 announced

Roger and Darryl check out movie listings

Today I met Darryl and Roger Fredericks to gab and eat at the "Bejing House", a local haunt for Darryl and I to get cheap but good chinese food. We were there for about two hours. So the big news is that there is likely going to be a Hard Liquor and Porn party 6 in June sometime. With any luck Darryl will successfully take the show on the road. This time it's going to take place in Montreal (if all goes as planned). For more details keep checking Darryl's site, News of the event will be posted as soon as things fall into place.

Time to dust off the LEGO and start shooting a french/english short.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Snow = Fun Fun Fun.

The path to my apartment all nice and clear.

After about 12 hours of sound sleeping I woke up to find...
a) I was still tired.
b) I had finished watching the entire season 5 of Angel
c) The path to my apartment entrance was filled with snow
d) I required stamps.

My back was sore probably from not moving the whole night. So going back to sleep wasn't going to help. I decided to wake up and do those computer chores, some cleaning, and making some breakfast. As it turned out I had a leftover nature (veggie) burger from the night on Tilt. I nuked it and ate it. Breakfast of champions! Done. No Fuss, no muss (whatever that means).

There wasn't much I could do about the lack of Joss Whedon shows. I guess I'll have to wait for the Firefly movie to come out. Season 5 was pretty depressing. I felt that there wasn't any closure for some of the characters. Also another good show not airing. It's hard to believe I watched 110 episodes and still wanted more.

I took about an hour and a half moving the snow from the pathway into a pile in the backlot. It was packing snow. I flug it towards the brick wall and it would just stick there in a clump without falling. This facinating revelation only lasted about 30 seconds, then I started to tire. Not lose interest but lose strength in my whole body. It was like the shovel was sucking the life force out of me. My back was starting to ache and the shovel felt like it was turning into lead. I only had the sidewalk to do by this point but it might as well have been the entire city block.

Each shovel full of snow and ice became more and more draining. I stopped for a while to see the neighborhood kid playing in the snow in front of the house next to me. She was making a minature snow man, the height of three snow balls. The look on the kid's face was of wonderment and awe. The kid looked like she was thinking "How does this white stuff stick together? This snowman looks like my Dad. Maybe I can use this as a little voodoo doll and get my parents to buy me a small shovel and pail. Why has that guy over there stopped shovelling?".

I kept thinking back to when snow was fun. Going down hills in a toboggan (that's Canadian for sled, eh.), making snow angels, having snowball fights, seeing friends lick the metal pole and making twenty-five cents, getting pulled by the family dog through snow mounds like he was a giant gopher. Okay maybe being a kid wasn't that great. The memories allowed me to rest and I decided to continue clearing the snow up to and including the neighbor's sidewalk and driveway.

After finishing my good deed for the day I had to make a trek to get some stamps. I have two cousins that wanted some of the pictures I took at the funeral for some school project and I have a $50 US rebate that I have to send into Epson. I hate those rebates. There's really no guarantee that you'll get the money back and it seems like quite the mission to keep track of the receipt, find the serial number, get an envelope, a stamp, fill the form and mail it in. Ah well fifty bucks is still fifty bucks.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Overnight Compositing

Daniel holds two CDs containing my overnight work.

After the visit to the gallery I got some food and went back home to work on some compositing for a friend who has been working on a film for the last few months. Like most projects I thought it would be a relatively quick turnaround time. I started on the shot with the longest duration to get it out of the way and it ended up taking about five hours to get the proper track. Needless to say I didn't get much sleep that night. I would lie in bed while waiting for the computer to crank out it's results, then get back up to do some tweeks.

This lasted until about 11am the next day. Daniel came over and thought the results were great. Once he left with the tests on CD, I continued to plow through the other shots until about 8pm. He came by to pick up the finals. A little burnt out and extremely tired I got Daniel to drive me through the snow to the Bejing House. A chinese resturant where I would meet up with Darryl for food.

Originally I had planed to go back to Sushi Island for their eight dollar all you can eat vegetarian special. Today was the last day it was offered. I went there last night and the staff said I should go back to take advantage of this fleeting deal. Fortunately Al didn't get my message in time and Tracy never got back to me. Which in the end was all well and good. Sushi Island is all the way across town and the snow was incredible. Did I mention it was freezing?

After eating the chinese food I went over to Darryl's to watch the tail end of "XXX" with Vin Disel. It was playing on CityTV. Then I wandered back home. Originally waiting for a streetcar, I gave up and just walked back home through the mini snow dunes. I kept thinking I should have worn my boots instead of the zero traction leather shoes. What was I thinking? It took about 40 minutes before I got home and instantly fell asleep.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Foolish Girl creator shows her stuff at gallery opening

Vesna Mostovac and her Foolish Girl silk screen piece.

Opening night at the Propeller Gallery, 984 Queen street west.

I received an invite to attend a gallery opening featuring 24 comic book artists, one of them being my friend Vesna. She built the Lego bank in my "Macho Baby!" movie. Up until this point I have never actually seen any of her work. Only the odd foolish girl graphic on a button, but not the animated cartoon or anything in a larger format. At the gallery she had a silk screen print (see above) and a small TV showing her work. I was tempted to turn up the volume but thought better of it.

There were hoards of people, crowding around looking at the artwork, listening to the band (the lost pilgrims), and talking to each other. The nice thing about comic book artists, at least at this venue, is that they were not, I repeat not, stuck up like your typical art person. Very down to earth and easy to talk to. None of that snooty art talk (ie. juxtaposition, symbolizes) to make you feel like a dumb ass. I liked these people.

I bumped into a lot of people there that I knew. For some reason I didn't think I would see them there as they were from different circles of friends. It seems that the different circles are actually one big circle of friends. "What, you know so and so?", "We've known each other for years. I didn't know you knew so and so as well.". It was that kind of night.

Saturday, February 19, 2005


James Tamblyn adjusts camera settings

Today I got a call around 9am to go to work as a daily on Tilt. A show that takes place in Las Vegas, but filmed here in Toronto. I'm not really sure what the show is about but in today's episode there was some guy being questioned by the FBI in an interrogation room. We (James and I) had to wire up two cameras to give the illusion that the person being interrogated was being recorded by the FBI.

Normally this would only require one person but James had to also set up some monitors for a lunch screening of episode 4. Working on set can be a little stressful especially when hardware you rely on doesn't work or someone kicks a plug out by accident. And there's always some guy with a huge ego that thinks he's a god. Somehow he stumbled into the industry through a friend and has been there ever since.

But today everything went smoothly. One of the pluses for working on set is that they feed you. It's a great way to save money. I had a nice steak and potato lunch. Upon going into overtime (after clocking 12 hours) a second meal arrived. A bunch of Lick's burgers. I had a veggie burger with a pile of onions, tomatoes and guk (the secret sauce). I've noticed that there are a lot of large people that work on set. I'll have to make an effort to exercise so I do not become one of them.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Go Mullets!

Mullet team captain Gudrun Heinze closes in on an opponent.

Wednesday, day 2, post valentine's day. Things seem quiet. Almost too quiet. For the most part I've been power watching Angel season 5. Just finished another few hours. The Valentine's day fear has been subsiding with the help of staying indoors and avoiding contact with people on the outside. To avoid the label of "shut-in" I decided to go visit the hockey gang and see what's up.

The Mullets. A co-ed team started up about three, maybe four years ago, by someone trying to find a date. I'm not kidding. It worked. The person started dating someone on the team and stopped playing hockey. She shoots, she scores. The team is composed by an eclectic bunch, ranging from punk band performers, to "music people", to visual effects artists, government employees, and production coordinators. The team meets once a week, wednesdays, playing under a league that's organized by the Toronto Central Sport and social Club.

The teams played against range from happy go lucky government Health workers to testosterone filled bankers that hack, slash and try to push their way to winning the game. The sport is supposed to be non-contact and non-competitive. But every once in a while and it seems more frequent these days, you get a twit that has to win at all costs. Some person that uses their hockey stick much like an axe. Or some team that takes the game way too seriously and really should be playing in a more competitive league.

I took this season off so I haven't seen anyone on the team since before Christmas. It was good to see them and catch up during the post game eating/drinking part of the night. I miss the playing of the game, the excercise and even the horking up a lung when running too much. I'll have to make an effort to join up next season.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Tire Easily

Darryl with his fixed tire and tube.

With Valentine's day 2005 now solidly behind me I have now returned to my normal day to day functioning of looking for work, meetings friends for lunch and catching up on TV shows I haven't seen. Specifically, Angel season 5, which just came out today on DVD. Using some of the rolled up change I've had stashed in a coin bucket in the corner of my room I decided to pick up the last season, make dinner, and immerse myself in the Joss Whedon tales of fantasy. As many as I could watch before falling asleep or... well falling asleep.

I ended up making a lot of food for just me so in order to complete the average day going ons I decided to invite Darryl over from the office. On the way over he popped his front tire on a piece of glass. This is starting to become a standard thing. His inner tube looks like a patch work of rubber patches more than a tube. The Frankenstien of tubing now has the standard procedure of being put under water, identifying the hole with a magic marker, applying glue, patching and restuffing it back inbetween the rim and the tire. You'd think I'd have some sort of automated device now that could seal these things?

It's about 3:24 am now. Darryl has gone home in the sleeting rain and I am back to watching another show (show 5 of 22) of Angel. Will proabably hit the hay soon.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Cupid rears his ugly face

A stuffed toy thing that I saw being displayed in a store on Yonge street the other day.

Today is that day of the year I fear more than any other day. It's the day where I have to fight urges from making a complete fool out of myself by expressing my feelings towards that special individual. When it comes to stuff like this I tend to go overboard usually overwhelming said individual and things usually end in a pretty disasterous state where I feel miserable by the end of the day.

Granted the stories generated on this day are usually pretty funny to the outsider. "You did what?". Depending on the person be it female or male I'll either get a response that resembles "That's sweet, I wish someone did that for me" or "That was !@$$# hilarious, I'm glad it wasn't me". Over the years the stories have taken on an almost legendary status with some of my friends.

This year I will to go about my everyday business without giving in. I've already slipped up a bit this morning. But that's done and there's no retrieving email once it's sent so now I'll just lay low. This year will be more difficult than previous years as a lot of my freinds are dating or married and have been sucked into the whole going out thing with their significant other. So they will be of no help in lending a hand to distract me from doing something "dumb". Maybe I'll go see a movie. That'll keep me occupied for a couple of hours. Wish me luck.

Too Naughty for the Naughty Festival

Still from Derek Lang's 2004 short Macho Baby!

Tonight was the Toronto Animated Image Society (or TAIS for short) second annual Naughty Animation Night screening. One of the movies on the list of events Macho Baby! was pulled last minute. When asked, a TAIS official stated "We were not sure what the intentions were of the movie.".

The pulling the film from the playlist wouldn't have bothered me so much if I didn't have to jump through so many hoops to get them the movie on VHS to their building location of limited hours only to be then made to create a bio on myself and a blurb describing the movie twice! The movie is only 2 miunutes and 4 seconds. How much information do I have to write about this thing? Then on top of all of that they've had the movie for three weeks. Why did I have to find out it was pulled upon my arrival of the screening?

On the plus side I can now advertise that the short was pulled from the screening. It makes the short sound more intriguing.

If you haven't seen the masterpiece yet you might still have a chance by going to...
Darryl's Hard Liquor and Porn site.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Tracy's Birthday

Toronto's old city hall clock tower.

After a late dim sum, I wandered around downtown a bit do to some shopping. Mainly replacing clothing with holes. Pants, socks, shirts, that sort of thing. While crossing the street between the Eaton centre and the Bay I noticed some weird ass lighting on the old city hall building and the life insurance building further down the road. It reminded me of a fantasy matte painting. Buildings were being showered with golden light from multiple angles. Ray beams of light breaking through little pockets of holes in clouds hitting various buildings and street items. It's sort of the thing you'd see after you kill all the monsters while playing Diablo (video game) or the hand of God come down and gave you the all's clear or thumbs up. A gift from above to remember a special event or day.

Which brings me to Tracy's birthday. A special day indeed. A cheerful person,packed with loads of cuteness and if that weren't enough she's really nice. I got home from shopping around 8:00pm and left at 9:40ish to go to her party with Al. In the hour and forty minutes I managed to track down a picture of Mr.T off the internet, roto out the background, put a new one in, added a cartoon bubble that said "I pity the fool that doesn't wish Tracy a Happy Birthday", print it out (this would be her birthday card), did a search for images in my database, deal with my DVD not working on my database computer so I had to hand find them on my other slower computer, rotate them, scale them, print them out, stick magnet backs on them, cut the pictures to fit, after searching for my metel ruler and Xacto knife (these would be part of her gift), and take a shower.

For some reason it would have all been a lot easier had I downloaded the image before. It took about 40 minutes just finding the image and photo manipulate it. One day I'll have to invest in high speed. Needless to say things were pretty nutty during this period. Al called saying he was at the end of my driveway just as I put the last magnet on the gift box. Good timing.

In the end everything went well. Tracy loved the present. There was a good turn out. I got to see a bunch of friends I haven't seen in a while and I got to dance with Tracy. I didn't get home until about 3:30. I would have made it home earlier but walked to Yonge street before boarding a streetcar. Not bad for an evening after a half week of being bedridden.

I'd be sick every week for that kind of payoff.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

The sleeper awakes...

This tree was placed on the walkway to my apartment by one of the upstairs tenants around the beginning of January. There's more snow and ice around it now but it's still there. I'll have to wait until it's warmer to dismantle it (saw/bundle).

I woke up at 7:00pm today. Thanks to my cold thing, whatever it was, I am again on night shift hours. Feeling a lot better, with no dizziness, I might add, I realized that tomorrow is Tracy's birthday. Yes Tracy the vegetarian girl mentioned in some other post way back when. I had a few things in mind in case the first thing I set out to get was not available. I always have a plan B when it comes to gift giving. Sometimes plan B isn't that spectacular though as it's usually a gag gift which might be a good laugh. Sometimes it's something very inappropriate. Once I gave a friend of mine (who will remain nameless) a small Frankenstein monster. He had it in his living room until he got married. Then it disappeared. Maybe if I got them a bride of frankenstein for their wedding gift? Oh well.

Thinking about Tracy also got me into thinking that I haven't had any So Soya+ foods in along time. Women, foods. They both have so much in common don't they? "So Soya+" is a brand name. They box microwavable food in bowls, nut like things called "crunchers", and an assortment of TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) in boxes along with little pouches of flavoury goodness. Sweet and Sour, jerk, honey garlic and that sort of thing. The items which look suspiciously like dog food come in various shapes. Chicken fingers, beef strips, ground beef. I personally like the chicken strip sizes.

Aside from the food being vegetarian (and some vegan) the food doesn't require refrigeration, and has a shelf life of two plus years! Ies I'm one of those that are guilty of growing extraterrestrial life in the back of my fridge, or perhaps a better description is detailed replica of a transporter malfunction. "What we got back didn't live long... fortunately." ST: TMP <--- geek for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The food, and this is where it all ties together, was introduced to me by Tracy at the last veggie food fair we attended. They had a super sampler pack for something like 30.00. I was contemplating to buy it or not. Tracy gave it the thumbs up so I bought it and have been hooked since. This would be the first time I'd actually have to find the item in a store as I've just only started to run out of my initial purchase. I went to three different vegetarian food stores and everyone I talked to was like talking to a chicken. That blank look (see previous post). No one had heard about it. Some thought it was soy bean curd like thing in a plastic container, others thought it was some soup mix. The last store I went to didn't know what it was but while doing a quick scan of their shelves I noticed the crunchers. "Oh that So Soy+ stuff", "Yes that stuff", "No we don't carry that", "d'oh".

Sadly I couldn't find the so soy food. The good news though is that I did find Tracy's plan A. yea! When I got home I found that you can order the food online.
Double yea!

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Down time

A few days ago I noticed that all my socks, all my socks, over twenty pairs have holes in them. I took this as a sign that maybe I should get some new socks and retire the old ones. Then I got this cold thing. I've been perpetually dizzy for the last 48 hours and everything has a yellow cast to it. All food tastes bland and it tastes like something died in my mouth and no amount of toothpaste will get rid of it. My inner rib cage feels like it's bruised and my back is sore from sleeping to much.

I had to give up some work tomorrow as I don't think I'll be able to walk properly let alone stand on pipes while dragging cable. Being this sick really makes me appreciate the days that I'm not sick and that line "At least you've got your health." has a certain credibility.

I forced myself to go outside today, to get some fresh air and some new socks.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Like looking into the eyes of a chicken.

I took this picture back in november 2003 at the sunday market in Antwerp, Belgium. We were working on a show called "Blueprint for Disaster" and had some time to kill before our flight back to London, England. The director was so busy looking at all the birds in the cages that she didn't realize this one was about 5cm from her head. For some reason this is the only picture of a chicken I have. Which means I really have to sort through my picture database.

Up until yesterday afternoon I was feeling great. I went to lunch some some of my old work mates and had a great lunch. Then on the way home my throat started to get that scratchy feeling. By the time I arrived home I was coughing and had problems talking.

After an unrestful night of sleep, my head feels like it's on fire and I've got that pressure on the eyeball again like someone is poking me with their finger. I feel like a zombie. My friend has a saying, "Like looking into the eyes of a chicken.". It's when you're slow reacting and just stare into empty space. Maybe because you just woke up, you're sick (as I am now), just a little dim, or have attention deficit disorder.

Ironically it's also the first day of the chinese new year, the year of the Rooster (or chicken). Don't you just love those small connections? One last thing to add. My friend, Zee, was also born the year of the Rooster. He just put up a blog site.

Happy New Year everyone!

Saturday, February 05, 2005

The Burial

My youngest cousin wipes tears away while my grandfather is lowered into the ground. Note the blue flower on her head. She's the daughter of my uncle Eddie. Also notice the red flowers people are holding. They signify my grandfather lived a long, rich life.

The burial started by going to the funeral home at noon. We sat there for about an hour. People did the incense bowing thing and eventually at 1pm the monk showed up. There was more incense burning and following the monk who walked in a big circle around the funeral parlor. We walked around three times carrying burning incense sticks. I was told it symbolizes going to hell then rising up to heaven. I wasn't clued into the reasoning of doing it three times. Three pops up quite a bit I've noticed. After a bit more bowing and sharing tea with my grandfather, the casket was closed and put into a Hurst.

There was a bit of confusion as to what car to take. After a lot of waiting outside, it was decided by the funeral director that I would take the first car with the monk and driver up to the burial site. I was waiting in the car with my uncle Jack and a big stick of incense with was still burning and had been transplanted to my uncle from the pot o burning incense. Originally he was to take the same car as the body but because the limo was a lot of money compared to the car we were sitting in and it was a rental, they didn't want ashes (from the burning sticks) to be all over the car. The discount version. After a few minutes of waiting in the car I noticed the monk wandering around outside. He looked like David Carradine from the kung fu TV series. He even had the little shoulder pouch. Eventually we left with him taking a lift in the flower truck.

When we arrived at the burial site, the casket was moved from the car to the lowering mechanism by the six pallbearers wearing white gloves. My uncle Herrick was in charge of making sure the casket was properly closed and that the casket was level once in the ground. If the casket was shifted in meant that my grandfather wouldn't "rest" properly. That would mean that all the living ancestors would be cursed or jinxed until death or until his resting site was corrected. There are a lot of chinese movies, mostly comedies I’ve noticed, where the descendants have really bad luck because of a relative not being buried properly or in a place with bad feng shui. The most recent movie I’ve seen is called “The Conman 2002”. The main character has really bad luck and finds out that the government bought the property where his ancestors were buried and built a couple of public restrooms over the graves. Like most chinese movies the humor is pretty zany. On a scale from 1 to 10, 10 being good, I’d rate this movie a 3 maybe 4.

Once the casket was given the thumbs up by my uncle we would then place flowers over the coffin along with our designation ribbons and floral pins. The flowers were red. The color symbolizes that the person who died had a full and rich life. If the person did not have a full life the color with go more to pink or even white. Because my grandfather was over the age of 90 he was considered to have a full life. Considering he had 10 offspring left to help bury him I’d say that was true. Another thing that was interesting was he died of natural causes. He didn’t have cancer or weird bone problems before he died and he was mentally sound. He had just recently started using a walker due to being out of breath. It didn't stop him from wandering around to price things and buy food. I would wish everyone could die this way.

After the burial we all went back to my grandmother's apartment where we ate some sugary candy and drank water. I'm not sure how that was significant. There was some kind of thing about that though. After the quick visit, we left the picture of my grandfather in the apartment and went to meet up with all the other people form the funeral at a local chinese restaurant where we all stuffed ourselves and traded stories.

My aunt Mayrose told us about a time where my grandfather spoke english. Before she finished the sentence a bunch of my cousins along with me said "He spoke English!?". It was obvious that none of us knew he could. He would always speak to us in chinese. We found out it was to get us to learn the language. That didn't work very well.

I remember once, as a kid, when we went to visit him he would say in chinese (my mom would translate) that I could have any food I wanted as long as I could ask for it in chinese. My answer was a can of coke-a-cola. Since the name of the cola was known in China as the same (or cocaine translated from chinese) I was allowed that item because of the loop hole. But that's all I had while I was there. I wonder if he'd be proud that I've learnt the names of most dim sum dishes?

Thursday, February 03, 2005

The Viewing

The funeral room at the end of the ceremonies after most people left.

My grandfather was ninety-six when he died leaving only one other chinese immigrant alive in all of canada to come into the country before 1923. 1923 was the year in which there was a ban put forth by our government against the immigration of chinese immigrants. Depending on what province you lived in you could be declared a chinese nationalist even if you were born here. This is what happened to my maternal grandmother. My grandfather managed to escape this craziness by living in Ontario.

I learnt that he lived in Toronto for a while and attended Danforth Tech. I heard he hated the experience. Then for some reason unknown to me, he eventually moved up to a suburb of Timmins, owned a restaurant, had a bunch of kids (my uncles and aunts) and lived there until a few years ago when he and my grandmother moved back to Toronto.

On Thursday night I attended the funeral which followed chinese Buddhist traditions. Although maybe because we're in north america it may have been watered down a little. My dad joked that we got the discount version. There was only one monk that stood at the side of the room chanting for two and a half hours. My father and aunt recall going to other funerals where seven "happy" monks chant for two days straight.

Although the monk's voice was soothing it reminded me of all those years of trying to avoid chinese opera. I can't stand chinese opera. It probably has more to do with the high shrill voice of the stereotypical female performers, than anything else. Well maybe the "tok tok tok" of the wooden block and the banging of some gong like instrument turned me off to this fine cultural performance. Back in the day, it was considered lower class to be a performer. You were classified to be in the same category as a street whore or someone with a tattoo. People were tattooed to mark them as criminals. That or get put to death, lose a body part, or some other form of punishment (maybe like getting hit with a big stick). See the things you find out from the older folk? It's good to see your relatives.

The body was placed in a casket. It was open so you could see the waist up. One woman paying respect actually looked right into the coffin, the closed half, I'm not really sure why. She stuck her head almost right in to have a look. To make sure my grandfather was intact I would assume. Maybe she thought the embalmer only did the top half. Weird. I thought it was more amusing than something to be angry about (like the desecration of the body or something like that). As part of the eulogy my aunt Dot mentioned that my grandfather was a curious person who would compare prices of items (like cigarettes) even though he had no intention of buying them. Maybe this women knew about a half off embalming service somewhere else (no pun intended). Did our family get good value? I thought the funeral was a nice send off at the very least.

In front of the casket was a table with a large metal pot. It had a large incense stick burning in it. Smaller sticks next to the pot were available for use. You would take an incense stick, light it using one of the two candles next to the pot, then bow three times facing the body. You would then place the incense stick into the pot so it could finish burning. Because I still had some stuffiness from my cold the weekend before I didn't really notice the incense. Not until I got home and noticed I stank that is. I wonder what people on the transit thought?

Around the pot o incense there were food items and a cup of McDonalds coffee. At first I thought someone left it there by mistake. Later on I would learn that my grandfather LOVED this coffee. I found that odd as I've heard a lot fo people think McDonalds coffee is not that great, bad even. But being the non-coffee drinker how would I know. To each their own I suppose.

Also on the table was a wrapped raisin bread slice with butter covering the entire surface area of the bread. It seemed my grandfather also liked his butter on his bread. My cousin Margaret was told how to butter the bread "properly" by my grandfather and not to use the butter so sparingly. Sponge cake, tofu dessert soup, little oranges were also among the small offerings that made up for a good cross section of what he liked to eat. I also noticed a slab of pork and a whole chicken. I found out that these "extra" items were for other spirits or ancestors that past on. They were offerings so the ancestors wouldn't get jealous of just my grandfather getting food.

Next to the table there were bunches of flowers on stands and in pots. Each group would have been given buy the different sons and daughters, their families and friends. It was easy to pick out my family's flowers as me and my Dad had our names in english. Everyone else had a chinese name. Yes it would be interesting to know my chinese name. I think the only one who knows it would be my paternal grandmother. It was given to me by my great uncle who is now deceased. It probably is a character that represents "fat kid" or "monkey boy". I really have no clue.

Because I was considered immediate family my stay was for the whole duration, between 4pm and just a little after 8pm. Between the chanting monk, the bowing, and sitting on one of the many benches facing the body, one could go into the other room where there was food and drink. Nothing major. Mainly cookies and buns. It was there that I got to catch up on all my cousins and notice they were not as small as I remembered them. Also they're a lot smarter than when I last left them. It takes more brain power to make fun of them and they insult back. A lot of "gee you're old" jokes. It's funny as I'm one of the youger ones on my dad's side of the family and what do I do? "Gee you guys are old" jokes. hee hee. What comes around goes around.

As a point of interest. As a family member you wear a specific garment to determine how you're related to the deceased. A black arm band if you're a son. A black ribbon on the left side of the chest if you're a grandson (me). A white knitted flower on your head if you're a daughter. A green knitted flower on your head if you are the daughter of a daughter of the grandfather. A blue flower if you're the daughter of one of the sons. Supposedly in the more traditional funerals there's a head piece you wear that determines exactly how you are related to the person that died and your relationship within the family (order of birth and that sort of thing).

I also found the wearing red to a funeral is very, very bad. I'm not sure why and who it's bad for. You the wearer or the whole funeral and all those that attend. I'm also not sure why it's bad. I imagined the idea that a long time ago some warring faction all dressed in red showed up to a guy's funeral and declared war on the family after chopping up the body into a million pieces and killing the entire clan, but one of course. That one person that survived passed on the story that wearing red was bad. He and he alone when he grew up would avenge his families death using kung fu taught to him by his grand uncle, despite his father's wishes. I think I've watched too many kung fu movies.

Colors that are acceptable are white, black, and any gray or color with low saturation. I of course not getting any of the notices before the funeral showed up in a burgundy. It was more brown than red but it worried me some despite one of my aunts saying it was passable. Again that image of the guy avenging his dead family popped into my mind. I thought about looking over my shoulder every once in a while for someone with a knife.

Once the viewing was over we saw my grandmother home. I found out that someone is traditionally supposed to watch over the body until the burial. I guess to fend off spirits or having the body get up and walk away. That would be a job if these things really happened. I could just see myself armed with a bunch of incense sticks and some post-it notes with chinese writing on them (the modern scrolls of our time). How would you physically keep a body from walking away? Bar the doors? Get on the cell phone call up some other relative to help sit on the body till the next morning?

Luckily with north american tradition there's nothing that much to do. We just leave the lights on in the room and leave until the next day. Well at least it'll make those cockroaches think twice before trying to climb the table to get at the food. I can just imagine a spirit saying "...and I would have been able to steal the body but dammit the light was on. Curse fluoresent tubing."

Open the pod bay doors...

As long as I can remember, at least since 1990, I have had a friend named Darryl who has always been on the "cutting edge" of technology. I met him working on a CD rom for Apple which would be used to help sell the Macintosh to Ad agencies. The CD rom was called "The Electronic Ad Agency". He introduced me to Photoshop version 1.0. and the job was my first entry into the world of "multimedia". I still think it should have been called "stuff" instead.

Darryl and I and the company we worked for headed by Randy Kennedy got a small write up in "Applied Arts" magazine. Some winter issue. It was a small bit of text but it was the first time I would see my name in a magazine so it was a big deal.

Shortly after that we started doing "multimedia" presentations before it was called multimedia. We programmed cd roms when blank media was a mere $40 for one blank CD. We played around and got sick of html long before everyone and their dog were programming web pages. And most recently we had gotten into doing visual effects while the getting was good.

While none of these things made either of us a bunch of money to be considered rich, we still made money to live and buy into the next technological fad. I have come to ask what the heck drives people like us? What makes us sink more money into the next gadget and better yet why do we always abandon it at some point? Part of it I believe is that we like gadgets and we like new things. But the leaps and bounds in technology seem to be fading. Is windows XP that much more advanced over Windows 2000 as going from DOS to the Amiga or Mac OS was?

Sure it's fatter, takes up more resources and requires newer software but is it truely better? Perhaps when we had those old computers they were meant more for the hobbist. It was more of a fun thing to do than be a chore for most people at work. When is the last time you could get an operating system with a programming language as part of it? A programming language that was part of the manual that you got with the computer? Maybe I'm just jaded but it's been a long time since I've gone to a computer show and something new has "wow"ed me.

I think the last thing that I've seen that truely impressed me was at NAB 2003. There was a company selling monitors with built in lenticular screens. The images seen on them were in 3D! Because the screens had this lenticular technology built into them you didn't have to wear glasses of any kind. The only disadvantage is if you read your screen while lying in bed (the monitor being sideways) that would wreak havok on your eyes and brain.

Before that show the last time I was really impressed was going to my first Commodore convention and the unveiling of the Amiga1000. Seeing color on the screen and the blitter chip work it's magic was just that, magic. Now I'm feeling jaded by the new technology that's introduced these days as it seems we are doing more sidestepping than truely advancing.

For example HDTV - better resolution but how are we transmitting. We're MPEGing the stuff. A compression that's inherently lossy. What happens when you lose part of a digital signal. A bunch of black holes in your video, if you even get video.

What about USB 2? It's still got a slower bandwidth than firewire 1 when transmitting large data packets. Wasn't USB2 made after firewire? Why is it still that much slower? Better yet why are all these computer companies buying into it?

I realize money plays an important role and companys scheming to figure out what technology comes out ahead (VHS versus BETA for example) and maybe that's why I'm getting so bitter. Damn you big companies! Damn you all!

It has just recently (in the last year) donned on me that I really haven't created anything tangable at least not in my opinion. I spend a lot of my time learning the new technology and don't really get around to making any final product. Sure there's work. But that shouldn't be your whole life. Am I right about this?

When I was a kid I would create a different two and a half minute stop motion animated short almost every two weeks. Until creating "Macho Baby!" in october of last year I can safely say I did not produce anything of interest in the last twenty something years since I had my dad's super 8 film camera in my hands as a kid. Oh sure I started a bunch of projects but always became encumbered with the technology. "It's not real enough", "If I use this render engine it'll look better", "That's not the latest video equipment". The amount of roadblocks I created kept on coming and I would leap over each one with a newer technique or technology and in the end forget that I was ever out to create something in the first place.

Now in the year 2005. Darryl has jumped to the next "big" thing. Pod casting. Nothing really new about this despite what some magazines will tell you (they do have to sell issues after all) just a fancy schmancy name for something old on a new delivery platform. It's essentially a radio program that you can download onto your i-Pod. The thing is anyone with recording gear can make a "program" and anyone with the technology can download it. Kind of like an audio blog.

In the picture above, Darryl is taping us having a conversation over eating chinese food. I can't really remember what we were talking about. I think we touched on scanners and the stupid people that don't know their ass from dots per inch. I can't believe how many people that work in print do not know what dpi means or how to distingush between dots per inch and image resolution. It makes my teeth and jaw tighten and my hand clench into a fist when I talk to these not so enlightened people. How are these people employed? Ahhhrg! But that's another blog entry all together.

So here we are on the cusp of yet another fad that will be the next new thing. Hopefully this time we'll learn to not get swallowed by all the details this involves and actually create something.