Sunday, February 28, 2010

Superstitious Baking

Canada wins gold

Not having sex, wearing the same underwear (unwashed), not shaving, owning a lucky penny, having a loonie embedded under the ice, sitting in a specific position on a couch, these might all be things one does in order to win an upcoming game. They're nutty superstitions that may not do anything but to some may affect the outcome of play. To a player it might just be that small detail to give them the edge (in their mind anyway). The result, they play better.

I don't really believe in that kind of thing. Granted, wearing old underwear might make the other team back off a little because you really stink. It's one thing if you're on a team playing the game, but as a spectator? Cheering for your team might help if you're right there at the game. What if you're watching it on TV? Players can't hear you in another province. (I'm sorry to break this to my friends out there, yes Zee, your shouting at the TV won't make your team win)

A few days ago, while watching the Canada versus Solvakia game on TV, my friends noticed that all three goals scored by Canada occurred while I was downstairs baking a pizza. Solvakia scored their two goals while I was sitting in front of the TV.

Today, with nothing really better to do I watched the big hockey game. Canada versus the USA. I'm not a sports fan, unless you include roller derby. Correction, I'm not a sports nut. If Canada or the US won I'd be okay with that. I have friends in both countries. Why should some friends be "losers" while the others are "winners", it's beyond me. Watch the sport to see good hockey.

If the Leafs win or lose, no matter, as I type this I can hear Zee yelling at me for why they haven't won the Stanley Cup since he was born. I'm one of those people that will watch the odd game here and there socially.

When Team Canada went into defencive mode and started to let goals in and then go into overtime I realized that I wasn't baking anything. There was nothing in the oven. So during the start of the forth period I threw in some croissant rolls. The Pillsbury kind where you don't have to prep anything.

I kind of forgot that they were in the oven until Canada scored the winning goal. Which is why they're so brown to the point they're almost burnt. Oh yeah, that's why Canada won, it's because I made half burnt croissants. Zee, you can thank me later.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Meet the Betties

Some new, some not as new.

The Smoke City Betties, one of ToRDs four awesome teams, had a fund raiser tonight. I looked over at the auction table and didn't recognize a bunch of the people there. While normally a first reaction might be "Who are these people?" as a photographer of derby one has to take into account that a derby skater does not always look like the same person in a real life environment compared to the big exciting sport life on the track.

There are a few factors that play into this.
  • helmet - usually when photographing a skater their hair is covered by a helmet. When I first saw Slaughter Lauder off the track doing some NSO work I did a second take because she had a long mane of hair. She looked "weird".

  • skates - skates add height. So if you're used to shooting someone who's 5 foot something and then meeting them without skates on you wonder why you're not looking at the same height you're used to. Also while on skates, the subject moves around differently. Gliding from point A to point B. Off skates, the subject moves differently. Maybe seems more clumsy, off balance (usually if holding beer), or just moves up and down more.

  • outfit - the brain adjusts to the skater wearing an outfit. Should the outfit change into street wear the effect is like seeing a familiar comic book character wearing something else. Imagine Charlie Brown in a tux drawn into a Bloom County background. You might recognize him but you'd have to take a second look if he's not standing next to someone else you know.

Slaughter Lauder (11) "Some thing's a foot"

As it turns out the people behind the table at the auction were actually new skaters that I had not met yet. That was good, verifying that my brain and memory (at least for derby) was still intact. wheew.

"Don't stop believin'..."

At some point in the night the old derby standard of Journey started to play. I think that's also about the time the party picked up a bit. Some of the girls got up on the beer counter and started dancing to the song while singing along.

One of these days I'll have to make a book just on photos taken at roller derby after parties with this song playing in the background. It's magical. Gold! Photographic gold!!!

It's a magnet for foot notes.

CN Power VS the Vixens

Land Shark (#1/3) of CN Power breaks through the pack.

Final Score:
CN Power 199
Vixens 49

The downsview hanger. By day a photographer's dream, by night a photographer's nightmare. This is where the ToRD roller derby bouts take place. It's a warehouse/hanger turned derby venue. While the lights that exist are good enough to see what's happening they are no where near the ideal brightness for broadcast quality photos.

I've photographed at this venue before to know any photos taken after the sun goes down would look like mud without a fast lens or some additional light or both.

Tonight I showed up with two studio flashes. Unfortunately not enough cable for power. This limited my light source on one side of the room. D'oh! Well any light is better than no light.

The CN Power and the Rideau Valley Vixens

One of the challenges of using flashes is that you have to wait between photos for the flash to recharge and some flashes will melt with continuous use. I've seen a few SB-800s melted in order to get a shot. It's not pretty but at least the photographer got the photo in the end.

There are ways to get around waiting for a flash to juice up. Of course like almost any photography solution it's not cheap. You can buy a multimax 32 for up to four flashes (A, B, C, D) and have the multimax on your camera cycle through them. You wouldn't have to wait for a refresh until getting past the forth flash and by that time the first flash might be ready to go anyway. Four flashes at $1000 each and five multimax 32s at $300 each (total $5500) and that's just for one corner of the track and not including stands, yeah it can add up. But just think of the photos you can take.

This is where I subtlety advertise the donate button on the right.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Programming at Timmys

C# at Timmy's.

While waiting at a Tim Horton's for the musician from the James Clarke institute (the band) to pick up a CD of photos I made him, I attempted to cram in more C# learning over an Ice Cappuccino.

It should be noted that while they seem like an ideal place to fiddle with a laptop, more so than a library, coffee shops and laptops aren't such a great solution if one accidentally whacks the cup of drink onto keyboard.

This did not happen to me, what did happen to the laptop was getting sticky donut fingers on the keyboard. Coffee shops and laptops do not mix.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Noobs bring snacks

Lizzie and Georgette fiddling with cameras

There was a FlickR meet up at the Rivoli tonight. A bunch of camera geeks... er... enthusiasts met up to exchange camera stories, notes, and apparently eat. It was determined on the internet group that new comers bring baked goods.

I'm not sure where that came from but being that this was my first meeting in a long time I stopped by the Chinese bakery and brought a bunch of custard and pork buns (custard bun, pork bun, separate, not a custard pork bun).

They went over pretty well. Squeaky Rat brought in some homemade pickles that were flavoured with cherry and grape kool aid.

kool-aid pickles
cucumber in jar of vinegar with flavoured kool aid for one month = weird pickle

I tried the cherry flavoured one. It wasn't bad. I tasted like a pickle.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Free Hugs

A sign of things to come...

In the weird world known as Kensington market Paula and I were wandering around on a photo excursion when we saw a brightly painted car with the above license plate. It was the precursor to the street going all nutty. A sign so to speak of what was to follow. A bunch of people with signs that read "Free Hugs" seemed to pop out all around us, coming out of no where.

It was like a bad TV episode where the writers just gave up and decided to use material from other shows forgetting any show bible ever existed, throwing any story line consistency out the window. A lost circus troupe? an accordion guy? The surreal feeling of the Twilight Zone. Throw it all in!!

People with cameras started popping out of the wood work taking photos of what was going on. Traffic was being backed up. It was all so strange and weird but had a fun vibe.

At first you're thinking "Who are these strangers?", "What's the catch?", "What's with all this hug stuff anyway?". You could see various people walking by make crunched up, squinty eyed, faces and hurrying along their way, trying not to make any further eye contact.

Paula gets a hug!

Then Paula got a hug. That seemed to let the hug flood gates open. Like hug bomb, people all around me were getting hugged, girls started dancing to music, hula hooping. There was the accordion guy but also a sax player who start playing in sync to the hub bomb being dropped.

We met a hobbyist photographer from London (UK) who calmly stated that these hug occurrences happen in other cities all over the world. I kept waiting for him to take out a notebook or clip board, then pull out a walkie talkie to report in ala X-files. Another sighting recorded prepare to drop bomb to cleanse the area.

No bomb, no knock out gas with that weird sense of amnesia. The crowd was still in hug mode. If I didn't have photos as proof I'd think it was something I'd made up while under the influence. Maybe I drank some shots or something? Jello shooter? nope.

Accordion guy

Hugs all around

Eventually we left the group of huggy people to return to our photo taking, normal lives.

Dog in park likes Paula's sleeve

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sucks to be a drummer

The James Clark Institute

Tonight I was at Mitzi's sister photographing The Bon (and as it turns out the James Clark Institute). It's been a while since photographing a band in such a small space. The stage was tiny. Mic stands, band gear, speakers, and the musicians all crammed into one small spot.

The Bon

How many times have you looked at cool rock photos and realized there's no photo of the drummer? Maybe you've never noticed at all and if you did maybe it was a photo of Phil Collins or Sheila E. since they're not only drummers but singers as well. Had my cousin Dave not beaten into my brain that there's a drummer on stage somewhere I probably would have been content just taking photos of the guitarists and any other musicians in front.

The wall of guitarists

Not only does the drummer have the most stuff to lug around, they usually get the worst spot on stage to be photographed. The drummer is located usually behind all the other band members, especially if the stage is small, and they generally can't move around much as that's the nature of the instrument they're playing.

If the venue is kind they might be lit, but in a lot of cases they're not. So not only do you have to find them behind a wall of other performers, you also have to deal with the fact that they're in the dark.

no open spaces, the drummer is blocked

Movement, a luxury most drummers do not have

Stage positioning, drummers generally in the back

Great photo but no drummer

So the next time you're at a concert or at a live performance in a bar or some other such venue, photograph the drummer. It'll make my cousin Dave happy.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Fort Fun

Carla Coma doing a head stand

Fort Wayne aka Fort Fun. After the double header of bouts the after party was at the Thirsty Camel, strategically located three blocks away from our hotel. When we arrived the two top floor rooms were already packed with derby girls. One room had food and drink, the other larger room had the dance floor.

It didn't take long for the HCRG girls to join the party, once beered up, Carla Coma started doing head stands on the dance floor. This pretty much kicked off the rest of the HCRG joining in. Human pyramids, arm wrestling, dancing and crazy hijinks were to follow.

The three league pyramid

The leg spreader

The "leg spreader" was a drink that was being served at the bar. Judge Jody came up with this pose getting the new HCRG bench manager Spencer to spread his legs. I laugh every time I see this photo and I'll always remember the drink name.

Hand cuffed Darc-vader and Gina Simmons

At one point the girls from the HCRG and Fort Wayne managed to get the local police officer to stand in and pose in some photos. He even hand cuffed some of the derby girls for photo taken. As he was such a good sport, he is not shown here as we would like him to keep his job.

Fort Wayne revisited

Fort Wayne, Indiana. For some it's a city in the middle of nowhere (I use the term quite loosely since everywhere is in the middle of somewhere), for the Hammer City Roller Girls (and this photographer) it's a city of fun, fun, FUN. This is entirely due to the Fort Wayne Derby Girls being such great hosts. The 2008 Fall Brawl was over a year ago and the the last time the HCRG had a visit.

Past events involving Fort Wayne have taken on legendary, even epic, levels of story telling. The Fort Wayne bed taco, the floating furniture, the hotel hallway tackle. Yep, a bit crazy and none of these stories involve Montreal. Montreal? what? To the non-derby readers out there, Montreal derby girls have this reputation of bringing the party with them. It's rare to see a party hit the party levels Montreal is capable of. That is unless you're travelling with Hammer City.

At the hotel we were staying at (see previous post for location) there was a free continental breakfast being served until 11:00am. Mainly comprised of cereal and toast. Not really much of a breakfast but for a mere $5.95 you could upgrade to the "hot breakfast" which offered an additional, almost unlimited supply of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, and small fried potato chunks.


I would have liked to have stayed asleep but the thought of getting that breakfast made me crawl out of bed at 10:00. I made my way downstairs with sleep still crusting around my eyes. The elevator didn't come right away so I made my way down the stairs. I found that you couldn't exit on the main floor without tripping the fire alarm. So I had to walk back up to the third floor (the second floor was a door to the kitchen and was locked) then wait for the elevator.

The 'hot' breakfast

Freshmeat 'Lisa' eats a bowl of fruit loops

Is it me? or are all the freshmeat nameless until they have been drafted onto a team. The bunch of them that travelled to Fort Wayne were usually referred to as 'fresh meat', a single unit. Other than the 'fresh meat' calling each other by name, no one else seemed to.

As Lock is absorbed into the lobby chair, Carl counts down to Scotty being late.

After a short trip to the local Walmart to get supplies we went back to our rooms where I napped. At 1:30 we were to meet back downstairs in the lobby and then as a group head towards the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.

I found it a bit disconcerting that the Fort Wayne Derby Girls web page didn't have the address for the place. Even the web site of the actual coliseum didn't have the address at quick glance. I suppose everyone in the area knows where the War Memorial Coliseum is. As a visiting Canuck, I had to look it up on google. To make life easier for you the reader, if you're headed there or want to know where it is, the address is as follows and also included are the geeky GPS coordinates with a link to a Google map.

The address is 4000 Parnell Avenue, Fort Wayne, IN 46805-1414, United States of America.
(N41 06.867 W85 07.457)

Watching the Circle City Socialites practice.

HCRG time on the track wasn't until 15:00, that gave us just over an hour to look around, get ready, meet some of the other players.

Gearing up.

HCRG Practice 15:00 - 16:00

Oreo Slamher, lead Jammer... the bench goes wild.

The first game, the Circle City socialites VS Fort Wayne's SWAT team ended with SWAT leading by only seven points (52 to 45). As for the Hammer City versus Bomb Squad, it was a larger spread (119 to 44 for the Bomb Squad). Ouch.

The awesome crowd of around 2000 people.

Hot Carl, referee

The Pink Painther (30) makes her way out of the pack becoming lead jammer for the Bomb Squad.

The HCRG freshmeat

The Hammer City Roller Girls (with fresh meat)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Lock and Loaded

10:24 Journey starts
Jennifer picks me up at my place. We pack her car with my gear, leave Toronto and head toward Hamilton.

11:23 arrive in Hamilton at Vicadoom's house.
Originally we were going to park Lock's car in the driveway but Vicadoom's car is parked there and we didn't want to block her in. She'd be driving up later on in the day to Fort Wayne. Lock thinks she might be at home (her car is there after all). We try calling her cell phone. No answer. Later I would find out she was sleeping (due to shift work) which is why she didn't pick up the phone.

11:34 arrive at Leah and Craig's place
Plan B. Leave the car in Leah and Craig's driveway. I leave a note meant to tell Craig that Lock's car is in his driveway. Thanks to my broken english (trying to save space on the little piece of paper) and the chicken scratch like hand writing Craig is confused by letter stuck in his door.

Lock waits for a cab

11:45 taxi comes to transport us to the Plucker

11:50 arrive at Plucker (N43 15.116 W79 52.207)
Meet up with Hot Carl, Little Mean Mama, and Kenny. Have lunch. I order the bison burger with mushrooms and cheese, a side of fries, an order of coconut shrimp, and eat Lock's soup (cream of celery) .

Woo woo!!! I used one of the $25 gift certificates that the HCRG gave me for the Pheasant Plucker.

Coconut Shrimp - a different configuration every time

13:01 Leave the Plucker
We all get into Mama's car and drive toward Fort Wayne

Carl's up to something...
(113 km/h
N43 10.261 W80 18.204)

Using the GPS data and time code the above data is calculated, the approximate coordinates where we were on the highway at the time this photo was taken. Plugging that data into Google Maps gives the location the photo was taken within 15 seconds (the interval my GPS tracker was set to).

If you click on the link you'll see exactly where this photo was taken. I've adjusted the location slightly given the GPS data. You can even see the sign on the other side of the road in the google map image that matches the one in the photo behind Carl. Kind of erie how accurate it is.

15:34 pull into the line for the border crossing
We get a call from Ivy to go to gate 11. It's where the guard couldn't pronounce Pulled Pork's real name. "Jerome" (He pronounced it ger-ome-ee). For some reason we thought it would be funny to get the same border guard just to make fun of Geromee.

16:08 entered Nexus office for cross examination
However by the time we get to the border patrol, the guard has changed, and the one that interviews us asks us to go to the Nexus building for further cross examination.

We are asked to fill in some documents and then asked what we're doing, multiple times, going to the States. "Roller Derby" we say. "Is there money collected at the door?". "Yes" we answer. "How much money are you making?". "uh...None" we answer back. We attempt to explain how roller derby works financially.

The guard asks us to sit down while other officers examine the contents of our car and look up stuff on the computer database. I look over outside and notice that one of the guards has opened my bag. He looks in for about two seconds, he seems satisfied, closes the bag then the truck of the car. At that moment I realize I had packed my underwear last.

Kenny is joking around. He's a bit drunk. Mama is getting pissed off and starts giving Kenny the "behave or I will END you look". We wonder what's taking them so long to process us. I think to myself that I'd hate doing their job on or near a holiday. The number of people that have to be searched must be brutal. I notice a family (parents and a little kid) enter the building. Their profiling seems random enough.

green lit to go across border
Eventually, one of the border guards gives us the go ahead, we've checked out and are good to go. We're stumped as to what we were there for in the first place but we're happy that we're on our way.

Listening to "Elvis is Everywhere" by Mojo Nixon
(N42 58.459 W82 37.608)

Carl and Lock think I'm taking photos of the Elvis figurine's butt.
(N42 58.341 W82 41.388)

Hot Carl's meat bag (that doesn't sound right)
(N42 58.711 W82 47.829)

Kenny caught napping
N43 00.828 W83 29.269)

18:20 stop in Lansing to get gas

18:23 stop at McDonalds to get food (N42 46.349 W84 24.767)

The mushroom and swiss third pounder. Canada still does not have these on the menu.

The yummy advertising on the side of the third pounder box.

18:57 leave McDonalds

21:03 arrive at Clarion hotel (N41 04.660 W85 08.079)

Lock waits for the elevator that smells like tapioca of love.

On our way up to the fifth floor we notice the elevator has an odour. Lock: "The elevator smells like meat", Me: "Smells like sex. More to the point it smells like someone ejaculated all over this elevator.", Lock: "you're right... eew."

"We're under construction"

On the ninth floor the floor boards were all torn out. This didn't bother me as much as the left over residue of smoke permeating or oozing through my skin. This was definitely the smoking floor. ugh.

While the hotel might not be the greatest in smells it definitely is better than finding a door smashed in, blood stains on the ceiling or bullet holes in the wall. There was a point, actually two times with different hotel guests, where they asked me about renovations on the hotel. Maybe I have that contractor look about me as I went from one pop machine to another.

I managed to figure out by accident that if I put $1.75 of nickels into a pop machine and hit the change return button I would get back 7 quarters. While this would lighten the load of american change I'd been carrying for years in a ziplock bag, it did not allow me to get a drink I wanted. Was trying for Sierra mist (it's like Sprite) but all the machines were depleted of that flavour.

The early travellers

We ended up visiting Scotty in his 901-903 room where a bunch of them were already comfy and watching the Olympics. Wayne Gretzky was one of the torch bearers to light the giant flame in B.C.

The image kept pausing. It was like watching a bad quicktime, where the band width was too small for the footage. While the video quality was irritating, the sound was good and unaffected. I wondered if other places in the states were having the same problem.

A not so sober Kenny gets escorted to bed

A Fort Wayne salad

Watching the opening ceremonies on NBC