Hello, it’s been a while! I’ve been busy with a number of things, and seemingly too lazy to make any posts on my blog. But, I figured I’d make a quick update.
Along with prepping for taxes, taking care of a friend’s pigeon, organizing my computer and home, and generally being distracted by other things, I was also working for a few months on the show ‘My Babysitter’s A Vampire’, doing… well… vampire type effects, and lots of magic spell shots, and even people getting destroyed. Always fun…. After that, I started working on this year’s Scaremation animations (which will also be featured in this year’s Scaresdale Manor haunt), including a fully animated commercial that I’m making for our company. I’ve finished designing and building the characters for it, and am just finishing off the last few prop elements. We’re hoping to have this commercial running at our booth at the upcoming Scarefest (assuming we have some source of power to run the equipment!), plus, we’ll be posting it up on YouTube and on the Scaremation website.
I’ve got a few animation ideas I want to try and complete for this year, which I’m really excited about. I’ve got to start making some simpler ones as well, as I often get so involved and obsessive about adding more and more detail to them. This year, I hope to have a mix of styles and price levels.
I’m also wanting to do some non-digital stuff for this year as well, as it’s always good to get your hands dirty (and get away from the computer)… including a character head sculpt for a yardskeeper for our haunt, as well as a creature puppet I’ve always been wanting to do (…it’s just so hard to figure out how to start something from nothing. It’s easy for me to work on something when there’s a base structure there, but when you have to start with nothing, it’s like, ‘Okay, what do I make first?… I have nothing to build on!’. As well (as usual), my original plans for the puppet were complex, so it was an intimidating project that I kept holding off on (and subsequently adding to!). So, I have to keep it simple for this one, so I actually start it and get it done.
Next year, I’m hoping to get back into music composing… assuming I can get my music studio set up on the new machine. Setting anything up ‘computer-related’ is most often filled with annoying surprises and tech issues, so I’m not looking forward to that task. Actually, if I am expecting to create music for this commercial, I’ll have to jump on that studio rebuild pretty soon…
The new TTC subways are pretty slick looking, I have to say. They look cleaner, and far more spacious somehow. Definitely an improvement.
They kind of look like something out of a ’70s sci-fi film, which is reinforced by the calm female voice (with a subtle echo) that announces the next stop. After a few stops of her soothing voice, and the bright, sterile subway interior, I was expecting to hear her say things like ‘Please have your identity chip ready for scanning and verification…’, ‘Remember to take your Soma tablets every day…’ and ‘Our leader loves each and every one of you…’.
Ever since my little portable heater broke down, getting out of the shower into the cold room is starting to resemble a vintage expressionist film… with me striking dramatic poses of anguish, grabbing objects, holding them to my chest, casting them aside, dropping to my knees, and crying to the heavens…
Ya, I really should do something about that…
UPDATE: I’ve started experimenting with building a small, temporary bonfire in the toilet. It helps a bit, and gives the room an intimate and cozy feel…
A bit more than a year ago, my good friend Steve asked me if I could do a nice portrait of his character, Naualla, which he plays in the massively multiplayer game, Runes Of Magic. I agreed to do it, although I couldn’t get into it right away, as I was swamped with work. So, I figured I’d get to it at some point.
Time passed… and each month, I found myself busy with something, and reluctantly had to put it on the back burner.
One other snag is the fact that I’m not very good at drawing figures… especially female ones… and even more so if they are supposed to be very attractive. Add to that, the fact that this would be an image of a person in a dramatic pose, with potentially a lot of foreshortening of the limbs. Clearly, I would need some sort of reference… which I didn’t have.
Months passed, and even though I managed to do other portraits for other friends, I still wasn’t able to address Steve’s portrait, because of the lack of reference.
Steve did provide me with a few screen grabs of the character in the actual game (like the one above), but the pose for my portrait would be different than the poses shown in the screen grabs. I would need either a photographic reference of a live model doing the pose (which I was actually looking into), or a poseable 3D computer model (which I didn’t have for my existing 3D modeling/animation program, and was having trouble finding online).
So, more time passed, and more portraits and images for other people/projects were done in the meantime. I felt pretty bad, as Steve was the first to ask, yet was getting his portrait continually delayed, stretching to over a year. Meanwhile, he was very patient and considerate, telling me to not worry about it, and do it whenever I had time.
At the start of this year (2012), I got my hands on Poser, a program that provides you with good human figures that you can easily pose, and render out an image of. So, now I could finally create a reference image of the character, showing me the proper proportions, foreshortening and even some shading. As well, it allowed me to experiment with the pose, trying a variety of poses, seeing which worked best (…and which didn’t), rather than endlessly drawing and erasing, potentially getting frustrated, or never arriving at some of the poses I might run into tinkering around with the 3D model.
Once I got a pose I liked, I rendered a reference image. It wouldn’t be used in the final image… only as a reference. From there, I drew a rough sketch over the reference image, refining it with another sketch over top of that, until I had a fairly finalized under-sketch.
Part of the huge challenge I would face, though, was interpreting what I saw as the clothing details in the few in-game reference images, imagining it and rotating it in 3D in my mind, and then ‘wrapping’ it on the pose of my own drawing. In many cases, it was hard for me to properly see what some of the clothing detail actually was, as often those details were either blurry or low-res. In other cases, the angle you were viewing it was different between the reference images and how it would appear on my portrait. Other times, I’d have to somehow determine (or imagine) how the details on one view connected with details from another view. It actually became a huge headache, trying to connect the pieces in my mind, rotating them in my mind, and then drawing them with proper perspective and proportion onto my own drawing… that was if I could even make out what I was looking at in the reference images. Many times, I would figure out something hours after painting it (wrongly), or would get frustrated when things wouldn’t line up.
I spent about a week or so, working late into the night, worried that if I gave in to my fatigue, and left it for another day, I would be equally tired on that day, and would fall behind schedule. I actually had a deadline, as Steve’s birthday was coming up within two or three weeks or so of when I first started even designing it (and tinkering with the 3D model). By the time I was really working on the paintwork, I was within a week of his birthday, and things were getting really tight. Add to this the (otherwise very welcome) fact that I unexpectedly acquired a full-time job for several weeks, helping out on a kids TV series… effectively cutting my actual workable time on the portrait to a tiny fraction of what it was, and adding more fatigue, as I’d have to work on it in the evenings, after a full day of work! Bleargh…
Each night, I would force myself to continue on, getting at least SOMETHING done, as I really wasn’t sure how long it all would take, and didn’t want to miss my deadline. Several parts of the portrait kept getting put off, as they were tricky, or I just couldn’t get myself to do them. But, I knew they would have to be addressed at some point, and I didn’t want to leave it to (potentially) the last few hours I had, when I would probably be totally burnt out (if I even had time left to fully complete it). It was a brutal exercise in time management, and discipline.
Many times, too, I’d reluctantly erase entire sections, and start again. Even though it added an intimidating amount of extra production time to the piece (and, thereby adding further to the risk of me not finishing in time), I knew that if left unfixed, it would probably bite me in the butt at some later point, and the damage would be far greater. Many times, I’d simply KNOW that some part was wrong (…incorrect proportion… didn’t look right… or, I’d suddenly be able to decipher something on the reference image that I previously couldn’t… or I realized I deciphered it wrong).
Ya, it was a seriously exhausting project, and I frequently toyed with the notion that I didn’t really have to do this… and that I could just BUY a gift, and leave the portrait for another time. I also considered a few other options, like doing the portrait from the waist up, effectively cutting my requirements in half (…including eliminating my need to figure out the intricate boot detailing, as well as having to then draw it all, at a totally different angle!). Another option that I realized quite late in the game, was that there was technically no real rule stating that she had to be wearing the outfit that she is wearing in the reference pictures. That was a painful moment of revelation that almost brought me to tears (being about 75% done at that point)! But, something in me insisted that it be exact (…well, as best as I could figure it out). I just seemed necessary somehow.
But, ultimately, what kept me going (besides my unexplainable obsessive meticulousness in certain things…), is that this was for my friend Steve, who was so patient about it all, and has been very kind and encouraging. I wanted this to look good. And, not only is my gift for him the final product, but also the effort behind it… the fact that I could have quit, but didn’t… that I could have cut corners, but didn’t. I knew this gift would be appreciated by him, as I knew this meant a lot to him, and he would also recognize and appreciate the effort… as that’s the kind of guy he is.
On the last day, I did a long work session, that finally ended at 4:20am. Despite thinking I’d be burnt out, and despite some of the elements I was avoiding for days had to finally be tackled, it was a very successful session… not only because I actually managed to complete the portrait (as well as manage to let go of it, after hours of tinkering and refining), … but also because I made some additions and refinements that really improved the image… Things like the little stars, the subtle ground texture, the interactive light on her, and a few other details. At the end, I sat back, took a look at the image, and thought, ‘Man, did I do this?! I woudn’t have guessed I could make something like this!’. Sometimes, I surprise myself with what I can achieve if I try.
So, in a way, it was a gift to both of us.
Now, I find myself seriously considering buying an IPod. It’s a nice (although expensive) replacement for my battery obliterating PalmPilot, with many additional features and capabilities. It would actually address a few things I’ve been wanting.
Problem is, in deciding to purchase one, you have to go through the dreaded ‘Do I buy the $200 8 gig model, the $300 32 gig model, or the $400 64 gig model?’ phase… Really nasty. But, I think I’ll get the 8 gig model… since I don’t want to spend much on this, plus I can’t imagine I’ll have that much stuff on it… just music, my demo reel, and some games. Besides, if it becomes so much a part of my life that I actually somehow NEED 64 gigs of memory, then I’ll buy a new one.
But, still… I’m considering an IPod…
I never thought I’d see the day… after shaking my head at all the drones wandering around, hands at their chest, heads slouched down, seemingly oblivious to the world.
I’m being assimilated.
Good grief… I fear that within a few years, I may actually find myself considering buying a playstation… or even [violent shudder] starting to ‘like’ contemporary music.
…actually, no, that will never happen.
…unless, of course, contemporary music suddenly becomes good again. You know, actually having soul… played by people with talent and passion… Music that would actually be remembered and liked a decade later…
Meh, that’s not going to happen.
But, at least I’m not buying a smart phone (…or even a cell phone for that matter…)
Just an IPod…
I’ve been pondering getting an E-Reader… Not entirely sure why. That’s not to say I’m against it. I’m just trying to be honest about what it is that is interesting me in it.
Normally, I don’t really read fiction. Again, not because I’m against it. I just generally feel like I would be better off reading something educational, like software manuals, or books that teach you things. That’s not to say that I’m not interested in fiction. In fact, I was really into the short science fiction stories from OMNI magazine (as well as the illustrations/paintings that accompanied them. They really got me into the whole sci-fi thing (including writing and drawing my own versions).
Now, I sort of find myself wanting to read for the sake of enjoyment again, rather than sole for learning. I’ve always wanted to read some of the classics (both sci-fi and other genres). There’s a lot of famous, standard ‘must read’ books I have yet to read.
So, now the whole E-Reader thing comes into the picture. I must admit, lately I’m interested in them.
But, why is that? Am I interested in reading? Well, ya… but is that my draw to the E-Readers? Up to now, I’ve strongly resisted many of the contemporary technologies that most others have adopted… like cell phones, smart phones, IPads, etc. Now, I am in danger of finally giving in.
But, why the interest in E-Readers? We’ve established that I am interested in reading a variety of books… yet that luxury has been available in the form of book stores or libraries, yet I haven’t utilized either much. So, is it the gadget I’m truly interested in? That’s hard to say. I could not completely deny that the gadget intrigues me (…although, it may just be a feeling that will quickly disappear once I have it).
So, does an E-Reader provide something that the already available book stores and libraries don’t? Convenience?… Well, I find that often the things that boast convenience are often quite the opposite… or, as I put it, are ‘solutions to problems I never had’.
On one hand, an E-Reader allows you to carry your whole selection of books with you (…although, I’m not sure when I would want all my books with me, especially if I’ve read them already… unless, again, they were the educational type… so, back to my manuals again!). The ability to purchase books on the fly is somewhat convenient, although that comes at the cost of your privacy, and making your credit card info further vulnerable. It also eliminates you having to have piles of physical books taking up your space (…okay, that’s a good one… I’ll give you that).
But, on the other hand, it’s a device that may (and probably will) break down, and cause you the same grief many of your other electronic devices do. As well, things being the way they are, it’s probably a form of leash around you, one way or another, where the ‘big companies’ now have a hold of you, and can play you as they see fit. Secondly, with physical books, unless there’s a fire or something, you generally aren’t at risk of suddenly losing all your library… whereas with E-Books that can happen in the blink of an eye. Some systems may allow for backup to a computer or drive, but then again, they stand the same risk… and nothing in the electronic world of storage is ‘permanent’.
Then, there’s the argument that I could use my computer, or my newly acquired laptop… which is true, although many would argue that the E-Reader’s screen is much easier on the eyes, which makes sense. Plus, I am not sure that I have as much access to E-books on standard computer platforms. Maybe I do… I don’t know.
So, that’s a tough call…
So is deciding between the three main competitors (that I’m aware of at least)… The Kindle, the Kobo, and the Sony reader.
The Kobo is Canadian, so no exchange rate on the books, has consistent discounts/specials on their books, and a generally open format.
The Kindle apparently has better features and build, and apparently doesn’t charge tax on books (arguably equaling out the whole exchange rate comparison with the Kobo).
The Sony is apparently really well built and featured.
The Kobo is apparently plagued with tech issues, lacks some features, and charges tax (or something) on their books.
The Kindle requires Canadians to strip the DRM off their books in order to read them, has limits on books if you are not from the US.
The Sony is expensive (although, arguably you get good bang for the buck), doesn’t read certain formats the others do… and…. it’s Sony (so, I suspect it will die within a year, just in time for you to buy from one of their assorted new models).
So, no clear winner that I see… and I don’t want to spend much at all on this, as it’s a completely unnecessary luxury. And, I’m still not sure if I’m drawn to the reading, the gadget, or just this fleeting image of me living a ‘mobile life’ like the rest of society. It’s feeling somewhat like a person wanting to buy that expensive home gym… with all the (seemingly) right intentions… with images of utilizing it… only to become completely disenchanted (as well as being hit with a rather sour reality check) once they have it.
I really don’t know…
But, I do know that I would like to read… Some of the classics… Some sci-fi, old and new… Maybe finally read a Conan novel… There’s undeniably a wealth of books I DO want to read…
But, is the E-Reader a worthy gateway to that, or a redundant tool for it?
Quick thought… Why is it in all ‘found footage’ movies, the footage itself is filled with distorted frames, video breakup, and LOUD static bursts?
The most my cameras ever seem to do is just a bit of dropout lines…
…and they don’t make heart-stoppingly loud blasting noises when they happen.
UPDATE: To add to this, have you noticed that all ‘futuristic’, sci-fi or high-tec video displays are always low resolution, have huge, blatant ‘venetian blind’ raster lines, are often monochromatic, and also frequently skew and have static bursts. Seriously… what happened in the future to make all the video displays suck so badly?
If the self-posted videos found online are any indication of the direction and mentality of the current generation, it seems that the female population are eager to become strippers, and the males want to maim themselves (with an emphasis on destroying their reproductive abilities).
I guess in a few years, we will have a population of women who are grinding and dancing in the street, naked… and a bunch of guys wanting to approach them, but are all unfortunately in hospital beds …and are pretty much eunuchs, even so.
Why is it that almost all YouTube videos that are tutorials or reviews seem to have to start with the line ‘Hey, guys. What’s up…’ ?
Is this some sort of sub-clause to the already existing necessity of all video tutorials having to have numerous occurrences of the phrase ‘…go ahead and…’ ?
Sorry, did I startle you? Ya, I’m still here.
I know… I disappeared, then said I returned, then disappeared again… It’s all party of my mystique.
Well, okay, I was preoccupied with studying and other things… and a bit lazy (as far as blog entries go).
There’s been a lot going on, though.
I’ll try and post some entries in the next few days… but right now, my eyes are all bleary from staying up late. I think I’m going to need a coffee or something to get me started today… although today totally feels like a ‘stay in your bed clothes, and chill out’ kinda days. But, I’ve got several things I want to test out and do.
Wishing everyone all the best for 2012. I hope the world doesn’t end, as that would really cut into my schedule.
For anyone who has been wondering where I’ve been, I’ve been keeping myself busy creating a new (third) Halloween window animation for our new company, Scaremation
It was originally intended to be pretty simple (especially the audio), but as would be expected, I got inspired, and kept adding to it and improving on it. So, I’ve been pretty focused on that for the last few weeks.
You can watch a sample clip of it here.
It’s done now, and I can relax again. Hopefully, I’ll add a few blog entries now, to catch up from the lull I had as a result.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on the blog, and that’s because I’ve been quite busy prepping for the grand opening of Scaremation… a company my friend Andrew and I finally started, creating Halloween animations to project through your window at your haunt… which is quickly becoming very popular.
It’s been a very busy few weeks. For one thing, I was working constantly on a brand new 4 minute Halloween animation for our haunt (and for sale at our store), which was actually based on a sculpture/painting I did many years ago. I was working on that for at least two weeks or so, including doing a sound mix for it. Knowing that it would be (potentially) purchased by complete strangers, I was feeling even more pressure to make it good, and stamp out any glitches and issues I may run into.
It was definitely a fun little project, and I think my animation skills jumped up a notch while working on it.
After that, I changed my focus to our new website, which I made from scratch. I wanted us to have a solid foundation, and for visitors to get a good first impression. Oddly enough, the entire site (design, building all the graphics, thinking up all the text/documentation, prepping the photos, and coding all the HTML/CSS) took me only half a day!
I’m very happy with the end result, which you can check out here.
Once that was done, I then shifted over to creating a ‘lite’ version of the 10 minute ‘mansion livingroom’ animation I did a few years ago (consisting of a rather nice 3D modelled/rendered Victorian style mansion interior), which we have been playing in the main window of our haunt for a few years now. I wanted to make it (or a smaller version of it) available for sale as well, so I used the original piece, and edited it into a shorter version.
All the while, time was ticking away seemingly too quickly, as it always does when Halloween is approaching. We wanted to launch the website, yet also have some animations to sell on or soon after the launch. So, it was a real race.
Add to this, the fact that we now had to deal with some means for visitors to purchase the animations (…meaning a secure money transaction method, some protected way to download the files, etc)… which was a bit intimidating at first, only because we were not used to it, and we sincerely do care about the customers satisfaction. So, all that had to be researched, decided on, and set up.
But, after a few late nights, and a lot of work, the site is live, the store is open, and the first batch of animations is done and ready.
I’m taking a short break (…working on a fantasy portrait today, and then doing some massive housecleaning tomorrow, with perhaps a bit if lying comfortably on a deck chair on the balcony scheduled in somewhere there), and then I’m most likely back to making some more animations, so that there is more selection for this year’s Halloween.
…Good grief! And then there’s Christmas lurking just up ahead! [moan....]
I’ve recently been adding to my photographic equipment. But, as any photographer undoubtedly knows, it adds up quick. So, I’ve been exploring my options for creating my own gear (such as reflectors and such), before giving in and spending full price on store-bought gear.
I ventured over to Active Surplus again (which is a store completely filled with just about ever type odds and ends you could think of… which initially seems useless, but is a goldmine if you know what you want), and checked out what they might have of use. Sure enough, they had some nice little springloaded A clamps that will definitely come in handy, plus a large (22 x 28 inch) sheet of reflective gold paper for $2 (which should work well as a reflector once I mount it to a board), and the best price I’ve seen for large (46 x 42 inch) sheets of foamcore (about $3.98, compared to the $8 or more that I saw at the art stores). I also scored a ‘third hand tool’ (the most expensive item, at $9.95), which is a set of posable clamps, with a magnifying glass and soldering gun/tool holder, which should not only be useful for holding little reflectors/mirrors and flags/cookies, but also for when I work on little things and need that extra set of hands.
All that was in the magical aisle two, and I found quite a bit more that I may take a look at on a second run. Definitely cleaned up on that run, with everything costing me under $20 total. I’ll see how they all end up working for me, and whatever doesn’t quite work, I’ll just get the equivalent store-bought version.
One of my next challenges is to find some means to give myself a mid-grey background that I can bring into any room. I may try a fabric route, and will experiment with a few methods of holding it up (I was thinking of maybe building a freestanding frame out of PVC pipes).
So, tonight, we were warned of a tornado watch, and severe thunderstorms. When the rumbling and flashing started, I figured this would be a good opportunity to try getting some more lightning photos.
It quite a challenge, as I didn’t have my tripod, and I was (initially) restricted to shooting from inside, though glass. In a previous storm shoot, I just fired off quick shutter speed shots (since I was handholding the camera), praying I would catch something (…and, as luck would have it, I actually caught a wicked lightning bolt on the second or third shot!).
This time around, I was going to try doing long exposures, and hopefully improve my chances of catching something. Without a tripod, though, all the shots would normally end up a smeary mess. So, I had to improvise, by doing things like pressing the lens against the glass or window beams. That meant my composition flexibility was very limited.
There was plenty of lightning, although much of it was just the ‘flashing sky’ variety. I DID catch some great bolts though (…as well as all the droplets and reflections on the window… which, in retrospect, actually looks kinda neat anyway).
(Click on photos for larger view)
As luck would have it, my camera battery was very low, and I was sure that the storm that I was shooting now was just the beginning of the evening’s performance. I tried doing a bit of a booster charge on the battery, but it didn’t do much.
I actually ran into a couple who were doing the same thing (taking photos), and they said that they shoot in the stairwells, as they aren’t so brightly lit, like the ‘hallway bridge’ area that I was shooting from. So, a little later, I tried one of the stairwells, and got a few nice ‘full sky’ shots, with tons of creeping bolts.
After that, I tried mounting the camera on a tripod and shooting from the balcony (which I previously avoided, since it was raining). Things were going well, but soon my battery finally died… just as the sky filled with a blanket of bolts! Argh….
It was then that I realized that I could also videotape the storm… which not only had a really good chance of catching some bolts (since it would be continually recording), but also capture the sound of the thunder as well. So, bonus! I set up the video camera on the tripod, and placed it out on the balcony, where the rain was mercifully not hitting it (due to there being very little wind at that point).
Within 1/2 hour, I got several nice bolts.
No tornado tonight, though… which I guess is a good thing. Oddly enough, the day before or so, we had a slight earthquake tremor. So, I’m now wondering if we will have a volcano eruption forecasted for tomorrow.
Now, I’m not going to pretend to know anything about the original Conan books source material, but I’m just not liking the look of the new Conan film. As you probably have read (in my previous posts), I really love the ’80s version (Conan The Barbarian), although I’m sure it is more than offensive to any fan of the actual books and true concept. Still, for me at least, the original film version worked in its portrayal of Conan. The new one, doesn’t, nor do I like the overall feel that I am getting from the trailer.
Some have argued that Jason Momoa (the new Conan) is simply not big enough, despite having an impressive physique. I’ll have to agree with that… again, completely acknowledging that I really don’t know what the ‘true’ Conan is supposed to be like. However, if I can assume that the paintings of Frazetta are any indication of his true look, then I think the statement is still valid. Conan, I assume, should be a fighting machine, a larger-than-life character, a hulking mass. In that respect, Momoa is not hitting it. His face looks like it’s about right, although again, a bit more bulk seems needed. In the end, he just seems a bit too GQ… too attractive. Conan, I would again assume, is not about wooing the ladies or looking handsome… and I can’t help but feel a conscious effort for the filmmakers trying to woo/please the women in the audience. He looks more ‘Prince Of Persia’ (at least the current film version) than hulking Barbarian.
Apparently, his voice just doesn’t cut it either, from what I read. Too smooth… Again, this version of Conan just seems to ‘lady pleasing’. Even Arnie’s voice had a nice power and rawness to it. Even if Momoadoes manage to act ‘barbaric’, and shed what seems to be a kind, gentle, surfer dude reality, the women of the audience will no-doubt still be reacting to his real persona, rather than being turned off by the character trying to be on top of that. Ultimately, Conan should be an unconcerned wall of direct power, ploughing through things, and not worrying about things… at least in my understanding of him.
But, what really killed it for me, I think, it the look and feel of the trailer overall.
In those few minutes, I see editing like a contemporary action film… complete with cliche Matrix-like slow mo ‘avoid manouver’ shots (Conan is not about back flips).
I see cheesy looking characters and visuals, despite the budget and ability to orchestrate every last detail via digital post-production. This film reminds me, oddly, of the horrifically bad ’80s sequel, Conan The Destroyer (see my blog entry ‘Conan The Unwatchable’ for the full rant), with its styrofoam sets, and Universal Studios Tour show wardrobe. There’s just something about the overall look that just cries out ‘fake’ and ‘stagey’. Again, major applause to the original film, Conan The Barbarian, for taking a relatively small budget and limited resources, and creating beautiful imagery and convincing characters. This new one just screams out ‘cheesy kids movie’ in its look, despite all the violence and boobs it may have. Just a look at the surprisingly bad poster, and I think you’ll see what I mean. The word ‘Krull’ comes to mind!
But, the ultimate sword in the belly of the trailer is the music… After some oddly modern and out of place ‘cliche trailer impact sounds’, we get our first taste of the ‘stirring’ music… and it feels way to clean and pure, more suited to a modern story. In fact, I keep expecting Nolon’s Batman to come in. Compare it to the brilliant ‘f**k ya!’, authentic sounding title music of the Arnie version, and it’s like night and day. From there, it just gets worse, with a wince-inducing, completely unwelcome electric guitar rock piece! Now, it is clear that this film is not about portraying an authentic Conan, but instead serve as a ‘cool stuff’ seduction attempt at the males of the audience, much like action films featuring big guns to the tune of rock music. From there, it at least TRIES to be more appropriate, with more suitable sounding Middle Eastern type female vocals, but the underlying contemporary drum/electric guitar march just betrays it for the ‘aren’t we cool’ anthem that it is. The syncopated percussive conclusion to the trailer just drives the nail in completely… especially when paired with Conan doing the ‘Matrix move’. Good grief… Absent is the authentic, raw music that one finds in the original Arnie version… Much like the character of Conan, the music should be ‘naked’, heavy and unrelentingly ploughing forward… the movement, filled with effort and weight… not some ‘stop/start’ Vegas show feel. Conan doesn’t do ‘jazz hands’.
Admittedly, I’m basing all of this on the trailer… and, again, I don’t claim to be an expert on the original material… but I know the Frazetta imagery (which was very influential to me in my youth), and ‘I know what I like’… and what I don’t. At this point, I would normally be worried that I’m just talking out of my ass on this one, yet a peek over at IMDB.com, and I see that fans are not loving it either, and the rating score is even lower than I expected.
A quick question that this whole thing brings up… Why is it that everything seems to feel the need to ‘modernize’? Why does everything seemingly have to be wrapped in a contemporary wrapper? It’s like filmmakers are concerned that ‘old (original) styles’, original/authentic characterizations and other aspects will not be welcomed by the contemporary public? Characters that are (in the original version), say, innocent and polite, have to be made ‘cool’ and ‘edgy’. Authentic music and instrumentation has to be replaced with ‘ROCK ON!!!!!’ style music… almost as if to ensure that audiences will ‘keep with’ the film… like the music is saying, ‘Yes, you are supposed to think this is cool. It is not uncool to like this. This is hip, and it is not embarrassing for you to be enjoying this…’. I’m surprised they haven’t already taken all the classical music, and replaced it with more hip versions, sheltering the youth from the original sound… or discarded the original versions of famous novels, replacing them with new versions containing cool contemporary items, like smart phones, so that the mindless youth will hook into them. I guess that may still be ahead, if it hasn’t started already.
Well, for now, it appears the public is making a surprise move, and not resorting to their ‘It didn’t suck, so it was good’ stance… which is a slight glimmer of hope for society overall.
Looks like a rental, as it at least probably has some great dismemberment shots…
I’m seriously tired of these formulaic movie trailers that start with the ‘BUHM!’ sound, and then consist of multiple one second shots that fade up down from black, then end with the dramatic pause after some ‘important’ line of dialog, and then another quick shot of something jumping at you, accompanied by the ‘GSHUP!’ sound. I think the trailers themselves reflect the lack of creativity of the films overall.
But, formulaic nature aside, this whole ‘one second shots fading up and down’ has really got to go. It’s like watching a trailer through the eyes of someone with erratic narcolepsy.
In past posts, I’ve pointed out some TV ads that begged the question, ‘Did anyone not speak up at the pitch meeting?’. A perfect example was a recent ad for a product called ‘Baby Bullet‘.
Well, it looks like whatever twisted force is driving the thought process of the advertising department is still going strong, as is shown in the latest ad I’ve seen. It consists of very young girls flying through the air over a white background in slow motion… while a playfully cover of the song ‘Girls On Film’ (Duran Duran) plays. Anyone who has seen the ‘after hours’ version of the band’s video will probably cringe and struggle with imagery in their minds as the little girls fly slowly through the air, laughing and smiling.
Good grief… Dig a little deeper into the CD pile next time, guys.
I’m now waiting for the inevitable ad featuring toddlers playing with each other, as the song ‘She Bop’ by Cindi Lauper plays in the background.
(For those who aren’t in the know, let’s just say… that would be a really bad idea.)
While wandering the city, shooting photos with my friend Chris, we passed by a few of those specialty candy stores, and I decided to give my quest for Bottlecap candies another go (…if you are not familiar, please refer to my other post on the subject).
The one place looked promising, with a large array of different candies, including the old classics, like the Trashcan candies, the cool little Gold Nuggets bags, and Popeye Cigarette candies (now, safely called something like ‘Popeye completely harmless white stick’ candy). A quick sweep of the area revealed nothing, though, and I was starting to wonder if there was some controversial ban or something.
I asked the clerk at the cash register, and she pointed happily to a display near me, and I quickly rushed over to see if I somehow missed something… and yet again couldn’t find it. After some more pointing and clarification from her post at the cash desk, I saw what she was talking about… a ‘new’ version of Bottlecaps, by Wonka, and now in a roll package.
My lip curled up uncontrollably as I considered my options. It seems that my beloved Bottlecap candies, in their green, flat package with a cartoon 1970s style bottlecap character, were no more. All I had now, was a rip-off version by this new candy titan company, Wonka.
After considerable audible mumbles of dislike, I decided to grab a roll and give them a try. Maybe they would at least taste the same, and my desire for the rootbeer flavour would be quenched.
We passed by another candy store, but the story was the same there, confirming that the old version was long gone. To add insult to injury, what they DID have were lollipops with real scorpions embedded in them, and delightful bug snacks. Many heads turned in response to my shout of protest and disbelief. The store from my previous quest for the candy (other post) had my patience tested by a disinterested clerk yapping on the phone… and this day’s quest had not only the news that my candy no longer existed, but was also pushed aside for insect snacks and things I wouldn’t put in my mouth, even if I lost a bet.
A little while after, we sat down, and I tried the replacement Bottlecap candies, grumbling to myself in anticipation of a letdown… The candies tasted half-assed, as if the bare minimum ‘flavour’ was used in order to maximize profit or something. Chris and I struggled to guess what each flavour was. Beyond the flavour, I also found fault with the packaging as well. The roll meant a linear experience, with the next flavour dictated by the order in the package (…as opposed to the older version being in a bag, which allowed you to view and pick whichever flavour you currently felt like).
Granted, one could call me a fool, and argue that you could completely open up the roll, revealing all the candies, and regain the freedom of choice of your youth. But, that would mean you had nothing to put the remaining candies back into, if you had to suddenly go mobile again, or didn’t feel like ingesting all the candies in one sitting (unlike the bag, which would still be intact)… so, shut the hell up, and eat a cricket snack.
Good to see that the wax lips are still present and going strong…
My good friends Sarah and Steve were celebrating Sarah’s birthday, along with their engagement anniversary yesterday, at our mutual friend, Will’s place (along with the usual gang of party goers). As a birthday gift, I cleaned and prepped a photo I took spontaneously of Sarah while she was over with the gang at my place, celebrating my birthday, and made it into a nice portrait.
For the anniversary, I took two existing photos (one of Steve, enjoying some poutine in the lobby at one of Will’s movie screenings, and another, provided by Will’s girlfriend, Char, of Sarah in a sexy Queen of Hearts costume at a Halloween party). I took both of them, did a bunch of cleanup and paintwork on them (especially on him, as I transformed him into a Cheshire cat!), and then hand-painted a Wonderland type background, and blended everything together into the final portrait. I surprised them with both portraits (which they didn’t know about until then) at their party.
(Click to see a larger view)
Congratulations to Sarah and Steve!
Maya, my pet cockatiel, is molting again. For those of you not familiar, that means she is shedding her feathers, and replacing them with new ones. What this also means, is that the floor is carpeted in feathers (big and small), fluff and ‘bird dust’. Another thing this means, is she goes through the freaky stages of (what I call) hedgehog mode and paintbrush mode.
For those intrigued by this, I wrote a blog entry about it before, which can be viewed here . Sorry if the stuff below is repeating the description from the previous post.
Hedgehog mode is where she grows these things resembling hedgehog spikes/quills (which seem to start embedded in her skin, then break out and stand straight out). The first time I saw this (being completely unaware of this process), I got freaked out, thinking it was some sort of rib or something sticking out of her. It’s particularly freaky, considering that her neck (despite looking all puffy with feathers) is about the diameter of a pencil, and these spikes can be about as wide as the lead of that pencil. These sprout out all over her neck and head.
(Click images for a larger view)
These spikes appear to be protective covers for a feather that is growing inside them, which them bursts out through the top. At that point, the spikes look like paintbrushes. So, now I have a bird with tonnes of little paint brushes sticking out of her. Eventually, the rest of the protective casing (the ‘handle’ of the paint brushes), break apart, and she has a nice, new feather.
In this particular molt, they are really all over the place… more than I have ever seen before. From head to her back, she is covered in them. I’m not sure about her lower torso, but I’m sure they are there too. It’s pretty freaky, and not a swell time for her either, as the spikes and fragmenting shells are itchy, and if any of them get touched the wrong way, it hurts her (…as witnessed when she is preening herself, and occasionally lets out a little scream, or when I pet her, and hit one the wrong way, and she does the same). In fact, as I write this, she is on my knee (her usual spot), letting out almost regular little screams (and, seemingly, swearing in ‘cockatiel’ language). Still, she often wants me to pet her, because she loves being petted, plus it helps break up the shells. Once I see they are starting to break apart, I often search for them and start breaking them apart and sliding them off for her.
I just noticed, my blog is exactly 1 year old today! My first post was on August 5th, 2010.
Cool… I had noticed that my first blog archive was in August 2010, so I went to check when the actual first post was (figuring I had missed the official anniversary), but it turns out that today is the same day I put my first post, one year ago. What are the odds of me realizing that right on the day!
So… celebrate as you see fit.
Cards and donations are welcome…
We’ve all seen really bad films, but there are some that go beyond bad, and swan dive into the realm of excruciatingly unwatchable.
I’m a huge Indiana Jones fan (…well, let me slap on a disclaimer, and point out that I actually loved the first film, and am not a fan of the others), and Crystal Skull was not only bad, and a complete insult and travesty, but it was also almost impossible for me to watch. I was literally looking at the time, and letting out countless ‘bored/frustrated heavy exhales’ throughout most of it… and I’m a guy who enjoys watching 2001: A Space Odyssey. Beyond the horrible CGI, stupid sequences, forgettable characters, and all the other stuff you usually hear people complain about with the film, I found myself hating virtually everything else about it… the clumsy, unnatural story flow/structure, the low budget movie staging (the old ‘group of people wandering from room to room’ scenario)… literally, there was NOTHING good about the film to me. Even the cinematography, editing and even the musical score did absolutely nothing for me. Wow…
But, there is at least one other film that goes beyond that, if that is at all possible. It too is a sequel that completely insults the original (really great) film. That film is Conan The Destroyer…
(Sorry, I had to take a moment to dry heave, and shout obscenities at the heavens)
The original film, Conan The Barbarian, is one that I consider great. Despite its relatively low budget, and limited resources, I feel it is quite a masterpiece. The story is engaging and logical, the characters are surprisingly solid and interesting (including James Earl Jones playing an amazing villain, without doing the usual ‘evil guy’ routine), the soundtrack is nothing short of brilliant, the action scenes are excellent and rewarding (…finally, swordplay that looks logical and with a sense of weight and effort… not the over-choreographed ‘try hitting each others swords’ crap you see all the time in other films), the costumes and props look great, the editing and flow are (to me) flawless and efficient, and Schwartzenegger (who many criticize for being a bad, shallow, stupid actor in this), to me, does a great performance… making me care for him, feel his pain, want his revenge, etc. It’s a film that is surprisingly touching, involving and well-made.
Now, watch the sequel, and all that gets thrown out the window. Suddenly, the film LOOKS like the low budget it is, with seemingly styrofoam sets, and stagey lighting that would look at home in a ’70s sci fi tv show. Costumes and props are a joke (…looking like last minute grabs from some studio backlot show’s limited wardrobe department). The actors/characters are horrific, looking very much out of place. The story is… well, I never really get far enough to properly judge that, but trust me… it’s not going to captivate you. The structure and flow is… excruciatingly. Long, pointless ‘walk across the set’ sequences, only to be followed by yet another one. Absolutely no ‘efficient’ editing and trimming. The overall structure and flow of the film, too, is just completely sloppy. No beautifully choreographed ‘rise and fall’ in the action or flow. Just bad ’70s tv editing and structure, though-out.
Schwartzenegger manages to look the part of the horrible actor that he was accused of being in the first. His swordplay is completely unnatural, and his acting terrible (unlike the first film, where it is all surprisingly solid). The villains (and secondary characters in general) are all horribly embarrassing caricatures that would make a Universal Studio’s backlot show cringe. Everyone manages to be annoying in one form or another. Conan’s very likeable friends from the first film do not return (except for the wizard, who also seems to have lost any charm or depth he had in the first film), and are replaced with a group that range from awkward to excruciating. Malak, a sort of ‘comic relief’ thief type character, would be firmly set in the ‘excruciating’ category. This character is the Jar Jar Binks of the film, and I would even go so far as saying he surpasses him. He spends seemingly the whole film making comments (usually about how dangerous something is, or how worried he is about something, or making really forced/awkward observations, which serve as heavy-handed exposition for those audience members who aren’t particularly swift). It gets to the point where you will find yourself screaming at the screen for him to just simply shut up.
As an example of just how bad this all is, there is a terribly awkward (…I use that word a lot with this film) and forced ‘nod’ to a gag from the first film, in which Conan punches a camel. The group passes by a camel in the second film, and (of course) Malak comments, “Doesn’t that camel look familiar?”, whereupon Conan stops, apologizes to the camel for the punch (from the first film), gets spit on, and punches him again… Yeeeeah…. Beyond it being a seriously awkward and forced gag (really not worth the payoff), but also, how would anyone recognize a particular came from years ago? Add to this, the fact that Malak wasn’t even IN the first film (thankfully), and so he never even witnessed the first punch! That’s a lot of twisting and effort for such a lame gag.
To add to the already biblically huge insult of this film, they also (awkwardly) used the brilliant soundtrack from the first film in the second one!… with COMPLETE disregard for the target/intention of each piece! So, now a piece that was the theme of one thing, is now recycled and used as a theme for something completely different. That’s like using the Luke’s theme from Star Wars for some other character’s theme in a sequel. Good grief!…
All this amounts to a film that is not only insulting and horribly bad, but actually physically painful to watch (…a large part of that credit goes to Malak’s constant chatter…). I recently purchased a DVD version of Conan The Barbarian, and it came with Conan The Destroyer. I’ve tried to watch it in full, but it’s like asking someone to sit through a feature length film of fingernails scraping across a blackboard. I don’t think I can name another film which is harder for me to watch.
Do you have any of your own nominees for films that are excruciating to watch? Post them in the comments section!
I’ll be the first to admit that I can be an emotional suck when it comes to sad movies, but some hit me far harder than others. Ask any of my girlfriends who witnessed it firsthand, and they will tell you it is something to behold (…well, that’s the kind way of describing it).
The end of Lord Of The Rings, the wife’s death scene in UP, and a few scenes from The Killing Fields certainly challenged me to hold back the tears, as did the end of ET (…I managed to control it…just… until they did that rainbow effect thing at the end, and then I lost all control).
Other films, really hit me hard. The whole end of Bridges Of Madison County had me teary-eyed, and trembling a bit (to the point where it’s quite hard for me to get through until the end credits). More recently, I saw the brilliant animated film, The Illusionist (see my review in a later post), and the ending had me crying. The whole rabbit release thing completely broke me down, as the rabbit’s reaction was so perfectly animated, and spoke so much in just a few seconds… Plus, it made me really think of my own pet, Maya, and a whole bunch of things about that. (Okay, I’m all teary-eyed as I type this… That one rabbit release shot will probably haunt me for a long time. Right after watching the film, I spent some quality time with Maya…)
Oddly enough, though, the one ‘film’ that hit me the hardest was actually one of my own. Years ago, I created a short ‘family history’ video, made from old super-8 films from my parents, showing them falling in love, marrying, my birth, our dog (who lived with us for the first 15 years or so of my my life), and her death, and me growing up… all to the tune of the theme from On Golden Pond (a really lovely piano piece). The whole thing was a Christmas gift I made for my parents, and to this very day, I can’t watch it without bursting into tear. In fact, while editing it, I was completely bawling half the time.
Ya, that’s some powerful stuff… but, I’m kind of a… complex guy.
I think there may be other films I haven’t listed. If I remember them, I’ll add them to this post.
Do you have any films that make you cry? List them in the comment section! Share the shame!
I’m a bottomless pit when it comes to ice cream. In fact, I would someday love to test that theory, and see just how much I could eat before having to stop (or if there would even be a point where I’d want to stop). Unfortunately, as interesting (and enjoyable) as that might be, the aftermath of it would be brutal (if not deadly) to may health and overall appearance. So, sadly, I’d have to just keep it all hypothetical. Still, I am curious about that…
The days have been quite hot here lately, and as such, I often find myself craving some ice cream, especially after one of my little outings. The thing is, though, that although there are quite a number of places to get a scoop or two, the prices for them are now beyond stupid. In fact, it’s to the point now where a few dollars more would get you a full tub of it at any convenience store.
So, the logical thing is to spend the extra money, and treat yourself to a nice big tub… which, in virtually all respects, is something you wouldn’t have to ask me twice to do.
The thing is, that I’m trying to get back in shape, and let’s just say that a tub of ice cream has a life span of about 3 hours (tops) when in my freezer.
So, there’s the rub. I ‘want’ just a scoop or two, but I can’t shake the knowledge that I could have a full tub at my disposal for almost the same price. Yet, that full tub is more than I want (…well, you know what I mean).
Theoretically, I could get a tub, and ration myself to only 1-2 scoops (say) every week… but, in reality, that’s just not going to fly (…see the ‘ice cream life expectancy’ above). The only thing that can be guaranteed during that operation, is my ability to rationalize will improve drastically.
So, I just don’t get any ice cream.
But, a White Russian has a similar taste, and I’ve got all the ingredients for that…
Quick thought… I just saw a TV ad for a baby food making product called the ‘Baby Bullet’.
Could they not have thought of some other name?
Didn’t anyone at that board meeting at least flinch?
I was planning on doing a few film reviews now and then (as well as maybe some videogame ones as well), but haven’t really got around to it yet… mostly because I know they would probably be pretty lengthy (as I am fairly opinionated on those sort of things), and would require a lot of time and focus.
But, tonight I saw a film that made me want to write about it, and (oddly enough) it’s because it was so good, and not because I wanted to rant about it.
The film is The Illusionist, an animated piece based on a screenplay of Jacques Tati, who is famous for his films involving a character named Mr Hulot, a relatively silent and funny fellow who is a blend of Chaplin and Mr Bean, among others. The character in The Illusionist perfectly matches timing and mannerisms of the Mr Hulot character of the live action films, even though I don’t think it ever officially claims this is that character (…although, at one point, the character walks into a theater showing one of the Hulot films, and there is a great moment where the character almost seems to recognize the familiar character on the screen).
In an age where Hollywood is cranking out formulaic, pointless, carbon copy ‘product’ at a rate which I’m sure even they are aware is too much (but necessary to pay the bills and keep up with the other studios), this is a film which really shines in many different ways. Simple, heart-felt and inspired…
For one thing, it has sincere heart… not just in the story itself, but in the filmmaker’s craft… their portrayal of the landscapes and locations (surprisingly breathtaking, even though they are relatively simple drawings), as well as the virtually brilliant secondary characters you see populating the world (..it is obvious the filmmakers have not lost the art of observing the world around them, rather than relying on formulas). The visuals are beautiful, and often make you wish you could wander around them yourself. The characters, faces and figures you see wandering the streets are inspired and interesting, to the point where you may find yourself entertained simply by ‘people watching’ in the scenes.
The story is refreshingly non-formulaic. There isn’t the predictable patterns seen in most films, nor the overly busy last act, yet the story flows beautifully and logically. Even the editing is wonderful, in that (like early Spielberg films, for example) it shows only what is required, and is ‘efficient’, yet isn’t afraid to stay with a moment that is interesting or important. I found myself captivated, not knowing what was going to happen next, yet eagerly watching (yet not impatiently) as things unfolded. Towards what I perceived as the last part of the film, I was really curious how things would conclude… and the conclusion was not at all what I expected, yet I didn’t feel cheated at all. In fact, I found it moved me quite deeply, despite being (at the risk of spoiling things) relatively simple, by Hollywood standards.
As I mentioned, the film has heart… the real type, and not the formulaic and forced ‘cry now’, ‘laugh now’ type. It made me smile, it made me think, it made me laugh, it made me cry (…oh, man, did it make me cry… Granted, I’m a suck for a sad scene in a movie, but this one did it with such a subtle touch and effort, yet really hit me deep). Oddly enough, the entire story has quite a subtle touch… never feeling preachy, or as if it’s steering you to feel a certain way… it just unfolds, and seemingly trusts you to react on your own, yet seems far more effective than mainstream films that really try and force you in a direction. Each character, even the ones that appear as secondary characters in a single scene, come across as real and interesting.
The animation itself is top notch… fluid and well-timed (much like the live action Hulot films). The overall style of the images is relatively simple, yet impressively effective… much like a well-made painting which, despite being loose strokes of colour, portrait the subject incredibly well. There is also an interesting use of 3D animation (models) for things like vehicles, within the standard 2D drawn world that seems neither out of place or gimmicky. There are quite a number of fun little sight gags, often appearing just before the cut to the next shot or scene. People who enjoy the mannerisms and timing of this film (or the main character) should definitely check out the live action Hulot films (such as Mr Hulot’s Vacation, and Mon Onkel).
Much like the live action Hulo films, the dialog here is also minimal… often seemingly gibberish, aside from a few recognizable key words (like ‘hey’ or ‘hi’), and this works well with the almost silent/vaudevillian manner of the film (and Tati’s works in general). The music is also quite excellent… blending in and complimenting the visuals very well (and, in cases like the ‘clown neighbour’, providing comical moments).
Even without having the backdrop of horrible, soulless Hollywood films to compare it to, this film would still be a gem. I went in it knowing it would be ‘good’, but came out with my expectations surprisingly exceeded. It is a film that has many emotions, feels truly inspired and well-crafted, and (despite the lighthearted nature of it) even manages to ‘haunt’ me a bit, for lack of better words. Like any truly good film, it has a lasting effect, even after the credits roll. Without giving anything away, I get the sense that there is a strong personal message here… from Tati himself about how he feels about things, and for some, the conclusion may actually make your mouth drop a little… and make you ponder things after the lights come back on.
What more can you ask of a film?
See it, and also his other films. They may not be your cup of tea, but you will not be watching ‘formulaic product’, I can guarantee you that. Or, like me, you might be pleasantly reminded of what good, inspired filmmaking can be.
There’s a particular action film out now, starring two actors I like, and made by a director I like, …and they are promoting it to an obscene degree. It almost seems like every commercial break, on every channel, the trailer is playing, and every show seems to be doing interviews or pieces on it.
Any slim chance I was going to go see this film has been destroyed. I now officially hate everything about it, without even seeing it… although the trailer just showed me that it’s the same old same old, complete with the same ‘he looks like he’s doing fine himself’ gag I’ve seen so many times before. Whatever…
Nonetheless, I’m sure it’ll soon proclaim that it’s the #1 film in America… like seemingly every film that comes out is.
These guys are giving telemarketers a run for their money when it comes to being annoying…
So, yet another lull in my posts… Sorry, I was doing… stuff. Well, stuff other than writing blog entries.
Today was interesting… Lately, I’ve been going on random little outings… Picking some interesting spot in the city (or task that requires me to actually leave my condo), and then making a little walking trip of it. This gives my legs some exercise, gets me some air, and gives my mind some stimulation… all good things.
Today, I decided to address the unexplainable craving for root beer flavoured ‘Bottlecaps’ candies that I’ve been having for the last few weeks (…For those not around in the ’70s, Bottlecaps were little bottlecap-shaped candies, each flavoured in some form of pop flavour, like root beer, cola, etc… One of many ‘novelty’ candies that were popular back then…). There’s a store up on Yonge street that sells all kinds of candies from the past, including (I’m assuming) Bottlecaps. So, I was to walk over there, then walk west to where I believe a dollar store was (…side note, it seems dollar stores are rare in my area), then grab some grocery items on the way back home. I nice little trek.
I started my journey, taking streets I normally wouldn’t take, and in the process, discovering a few interesting spots… as well as finally finding an elusive steak house, called ‘Barbarians’, which I have frequently heard about (and was suitably curious about, as even the name alone begs for further inspection), but could never find. So, already, the outing was rewarding.
I reached the candy store, and found that they were going out of business! As such, they were also having a 50-70% off sale, which sweetened the deal… no pun intended… kinda. There were quite a few interesting items, including some fun bobblehead figures from various shows and movies. Unfortunately, I could not find any Bottlecaps. Even more unfortunate was that the store seemed to be run by an Asian woman who not only didn’t seem to be able to speak English, but also didn’t seem terribly interested in running the store (…I’m starting to understand the Going Out Of Business sign…). While a man in front of me waited, she was standing in front of him, facing him, but chatting away to some other Asian speaking person, as if he wasn’t there. Finally, she acknowledged him… briefly, and once he left, she continued her talking on the phone… even though I was standing right there, waiting for her. I resisted the urge to backhand the phone from her, and grab her by the throat (despite the fact that it has worked wonders before in the past), and waited until she finally decided that a customer had slight priority over her lengthy phone call. When she finally did respond to me, I almost wished I hadn’t bothered waiting. The conversation that followed started with me asking if they had Bottlecaps candy, and was very much like something from a Ms Swan skit from MadTV, with neither of us understanding what the hell the other was saying… made worse by the fact that she didn’t seem overly eager to figure anything out. So, I turned around, flipped over a display table (for emphasis and punctuation), and left. I’m sure she continued with her phone call for another 20 minutes.
So, no Bottlecaps… Bummer.
As I crossed the street, a group of young musicians on the sidewalk were playing the Mario Bros. theme.
Next was my search for the sacred Dollarama store. I found an entrance which I seemed to remember being the one leading to the stairs going down to it, from long ago when I visited it once before. Sure enough, there were the stairs… yet, when I got to the bottom, I was greeted by a Metro store, rather than the expected dollar store, but soon figured I just remembered it’s location wrong, and started to wander around… going through a food court, and then more r mall areas, and finally returned back to the street. Okay, maybe it’s a little further down the road. So, I went into a neighbouring entrance… No stairs (so that part didn’t match up with my memories), but I eventually found a ‘sign’ for Dollarama… but, unfortunately, it didn’t really point anywhere. I wandered around the mall area some more, going up and down stairs, wondering if I should give up. Finally, after descending another stairwell, I found it, and went in.
There’s a funny thing when I enter a dollar store… On one hand, I suddenly want to buy a lot of stuff. On the other, the part of my brain that stores the knowledge of what I would need to get, seems to suddenly turn off, leaving me oddly lost while standing in the aisles. After much wandering, I was slowly reminded of what I needed (or introduced to new items that I suddenly realized I wanted/needed). But, along with this, were many people who had an uncanny ability to simply ‘be in the way’… either by deciding to create a makeshift barricade of cards and children in the isle, with no apparent intention of moving anytime soon, or by having long discussions with some other person they were with, directly in front of the one item I was after. I’m generally an easygoing guy, and one or two incidents of this sort of thing do not phase me at all. But, in this case, it seemed to be regular as clockwork, and I was starting to regret not having brought my traditional shopping machete as I normally do.
After struggling to maintain a polite and patient aura about it all, I eventually resorted to random screaming, which worked as well as could be expected.
I couldn’t find carpet cleaning powder, which was a real disappointment… as I always got some from any dollar store I happened to be at. You could say it’s a tradition of sorts, and the apparent lack of it not only put a bit of a damper on the whole outing, but also served as a serious blow against that particular branch of the store, if not dollar stores in general… much like not finding Bottlecap candies in a retro candy store, one might say. My world was collapsing around me.
More random screaming seemed in order.
I asked a number of the staff about the carpet cleaning powder, and each was convinced it was in aisle seven… but aisle seven wasn’t even cleaning products, due to a recent change in the store’s layout… so, it appears their world was crumbling a little bit, too. In the end, despite all the words to the contrary, there was no carpet cleaning powder. No carpet cleaning powder, no Bottlecap candy. I was to return home, virtually empty-handed. (Well, I DID get a bunch of stuff, but those two items were sort of the whole anchor/holy grail of the outing, so it was still a fairly disappointing moment). Still, the main goal was to get some exercise and get out, and that was accomplished.
On the way home, I stopped off to get a few grocery items I forgot to get on my grocery run the previous day (…don’t you hate that?). At that store, they have a very tempting salad bar. I say salad in a very broad sense, as it had everything from meats to fruit to all kinds of stuff. Let’s just say ‘random buffet’.
I had previously participated in it’s offerings many times (as it’s always nice to have a change from the usual jam sandwiches at home), but was turned off by how obscenely expensive it was… especially when you could get the raw ingredients from the Kensington market for a small fraction of the price. So, for the longest time, I didn’t give in to it’s tempting beckoning… until today. Bitter and deflated by the fact that my root beer Bottlecap candy craving was to go unaddressed, I decided to get a salad, promising myself that even though I’d get a large one, I’d eat only small parts of it over the next few days.
The resulting salad was… biblical.
Even with me trying to be modest with the portions of each element, the resulting mass of food clocked in at 1.435 kg, and set me back a startling $31.43 (plus tax).
Even the cashier hesitated with fear (and a hint of sympathy) in announcing the cost to me.
But, I smiled (acknowledging both the craziness of my ways, as well as my willingness to follow through), and told her ‘Sometimes, you just got to eat…’.
That said, it was a beauty to behold… A symphony of peaches, strawberries, blueberries, potato salad, broccoli salad, faux crab salad, chicken, salmon, Thai noodles, and more!
Unfortunately, my vow to only eat a small portion of it, saving the rest for another day (or several days) fell through, and I found myself unable to stop. Even after several rest breaks where I knew, deep in my heart, that I should stop, I eventually kept going. This all made worse by the fact that my (deliberate) limited eating from the last few months shrunk by stomach, which now was being stretched to inhuman proportions.
I eventually did stop before finishing everything… eventually. But, after mercifully stopping, I then glanced over at the chocolate bar I also purchased, and decided, ‘Well, I have to address that…’, and soon, that too was gone…. followed by several glasses of grapefruit juice, then a few glasses of milk, and then (as if all sense had left me, like rats from a sinking ship), I decided (despite my abdominal wall tearing) to make myself a bowl of cereal!
I had to keep my movements slow and fluent, otherwise risk recreating the Mr. Creosote skit of Monty Python’s Meaning Of Life.
I spent the next few minutes carefully reclined on my sofa, encouraging my digestive system to give it a really good go, and thanked the heavens that I didn’t have ice cream in my freezer.
My mom called, and when told about my situation, she suggested I take a shot of Jagermeister… which, incidentally is actually a really good medicinal drink (…in fact, that’s it’s true purpose). So, sure, why not. I took a shot, and enjoyed the lovely burn.
I had work to do after that, but suspected that within minutes, I’d be lying crumpled on the floor, butt to the sky, in an overpowering metabolism coma… but, was lucky enough to get through the evening relatively unscathed. So, here I am, typing this blog entry, feeling quite good, relatively speaking.
I’m still kind of craving that ice cream, though…
A few days ago, I finally managed to teach myself how to play solitaire. I’ve seen countless people play it (mostly on their PC’s), including my dad, who seems oddly addicted to it (… either that, or he just likes burning a lot of time). I always watched in puzzlement, completely unsure of what the rules were.
I think I tried to learn it once or twice before, but seemingly everyone who I watched teaching it assumed the viewers knew some things already (or were considered common sense), so I never learned it fully.
But, determined to be included in the masses who burn away time playing the version that comes with Windows, I searched out more tutorials… and after a few bad ones (see above), I finally found one that actually explained it as if I didn’t already know some of the rules.
So, I tried playing it…
…and quickly wondered if there was any strategy or skill to it at all.
My initial impressions was that it was not so much a game, as it was a task.
I likened it to sorting socks.
So, why did I then continue playing? Was it some grain of labour obsessiveness in me?
To be fair, even if we stick with the sock analogy (and, btw, I hate sorting socks), one can admit that even though the process is arguably ‘un-fun’, there is a certain ‘pleasure’ (sense of accomplishment?) when you do find a matching pair. So, I’m assuming this factor is at play here.
After ‘losing’ several matches (…I’m assuming it’s considered a loss when you stop playing, with the assumption that you can’t do anything more) , I started to slowly recognize… dare I say… strategies I could use. I noted things like the importance of how you ‘play’ each card (if there was any choice in the matter), and soon I found myself occasionally smirking at moments of seeming ‘cleverness’ in my play.
I still ‘lost’ each time… even when I had the feeling the match was going particularly well… but there was an undeniable sense of improvement in my overall play… be it justified or not.
I suppose, though, the true accomplishment here is finally coming in from my ‘spectator’ status, and being one of the many people in the ‘solitary player’ crowd. I suppose I can safely check this one off my life’s To-Do list.
Now, if only I could figure out cribbage, curling, and some of life’s other mysteries…
I’ve been playing around with the flash, teaching myself a few things by trial and error. It’s a bit trickier now that my main lens is in the shop, getting looked at, as I’m stuck using my 70-200mm, which (like the 50mm I played with before) doesn’t allow me to physically get up close to the subject. So, I’m having to shoot from a fair distance, zoomed in to get my close shot.
Aside from my plants, Maya is the only other living thing in the condo, so she becomes my model most of the time.
(Click photo for a larger version)
Funny thing is, despite having used a digital camera for years now, I’m still sort of in ‘film camera’ mode, where I’m taking only taking a single (or at most, 2-4, on rare occasions) shots each time, rather than firing off a rapid-fire assault, hoping something looks good. I’m still setting things up carefully, and acting as if I have only one or two chances to get the shot. I suppose that is good, right? I really enjoy the challenge of ‘doing it right’, rather than letting luck control things or getting a good shot just by sheer numbers of attempts.
I’m already wanting to buy a light stand, an umbrella, and maybe some other stuff. I’ll be making a reflector board soon, too… maybe a new cleaning kit, too.
Yep, I’m starting down the dreaded path of the photography enthusiast…
I treated myself to a birthday gift this week, and got myself some much-needed camera equipment. I was torn (…and I mean seriously torn, even more so than my usual indecisive self…) between finally getting a proper flash, and getting myself an ultra-wide angle lens.
One is practical, the other is fun, and I paced the floor of the camera store like a man deciding the fate of his children.
In the end, I decided to get both (although I am now awaiting the well-deserved ‘I told you so’ bad karma moment, when I run out of money or something). I couldn’t be happier about the decision, as both items are really giving me a lot of satisfaction and fun. It’s like the day that you first try a power drill to put in screws… A screwdriver seems perfectly fine, but once you try a power drill, the convenience and logic just seem unquestionable.
Here’s two quick shots I did of Maya. Really spontaneous, with my new flash set off to the side as a remote, and her on my foot. I had to focus manually, which was a bit of a challenge, hunched over like a human pretzel…
(Click photos for a larger version)
I’m now in the process of teaching myself the proper techniques, and just improving my ways and knowledge overall, and I suspect I’ll be taking photos of anything and everything for the next few days.
Tomorrow, I’m hoping to journey out to the place that makes my original (main) lens to see if they can fix it for me (focus ring is a bit stiff).
I’ve got quite a few blog posts to do (my party, etc), and will try and get to that soon. I’ve been held back by either laziness, or have been playing with the camera.
Hello, again. Sorry for the lack of posts these last few days. A lot of stuff going on over here.
So, nothing particularly special to rant about, or ponder, or show… so, I figured I’d just let those who are interested know what I’ve been up to.
I did my last teaching job this week, and am just finalizing the last bits of paperwork before I close the door on that. I’m thinking of spending the next few months doing a bunch of animation and artwork (for practice, portfolio, and possibly for sale), as well as studying up on things like Illustrator. Looks like I may be doing a website or two, which will be a nice change. I’ve been doing brochure and business card designs as well for a friend of mine who is soon to graduate and become a doctor (congrats Ann!). I’m hoping to do some fantasy portrait work (photo/digital art blends) soon.
I recently bought a used 50mm lens (a good price, and great condition), but was surprised when I found it really conflicted with my way of shooting. I’m so used to being able to go (physically) up close to my subjects, and the apparent 1 foot minimum distance the 50mm seemed to have was a real hindrance. The autofocus seemed buggy, and made fast ‘wander and shoot’ outings kind of a no-go. The shallow depth of field is lovely for effects, but a pain for wide depth subjects. Good lens, just not catering to what I am needing. So, now I’m pondering an ultra-wide angle (which would be fun), or a flash (which would be practical). I have to fix my main lens, too. After this experience, I rediscovered how much I love that lens. I’m really getting into photography again lately, too.
My birthday is today, and I’ll be celebrating with schnitzel! I’m meeting up with a group of my friends at my favorite Hungarian restaurant (famous for its giant, and excellent, schnitzel), plus a house party on the weekend, both of which I’m really looking forward to. I miss having my good friends around, and it’ll be great to have them together for some laughs.
Then, of course, there’s the schnitzel…
I just saw an ad for a new product. A woman paints one liquid on her nails, then nail polish… and soon, the first liquid causes these crack-like patterns to appear (replacing the regular solid coloured nail polish look).
You know have glamorous nails…. with large black painted cracks on them… like some Halloween character.
Green Lantern (the film) has seemingly been branded as one of the worst films in a very long while. I haven’t seen it… I’m not planning on seeing it… so I’ll just accept that judgement, as it looks to me like the same old swingy camera, particle effect extravaganza. Fans and critics alike seem to be bashing this film with glee…
So, imagine the cereal spit take when I was at my computer (reading another of the bad reviews), and off to my side, a commercial for it comes on the tv… with joyous ‘critic quotes’ such as ‘awesome‘ and ‘Star Wars and Watchmen put together’… and just as I was recovering from the impact of that (and having cereal firing out my mouth and nose at something close to the speed of sound), it completed with the crowning gem…
Today, I added a contact form to this blog, as I had noticed other blogs having it, and felt I was in danger of slipping behind the cutting edge of communication and web presence.
I actually wanted to do it before… but, as is often the case, I tend to shy away from things I don’t understand, or that intimidate me with their edgy nature.
As it turned out, it was quite easy, so now I’m filled with an overpowering feeling of accomplishment, as well as a completely unjustified sense of ego and machismo.
It’ll wear off next time I walk by the mirror…
So, now you crazy kids have yet another option to contact me.
Visit the Contact page, and behold it’s unsurpassed glory… Access is available via two distinct link buttons… one in the header menu, and another conveniently located on the side bar, just in case header menus do not fit into your workflow, or conflict against your lifestyle. It is, undoubtedly, the place to go if you want to send me a message… or, if you have some sort of fetish for Captcha.
I won’t judge…
A seemingly great idea has appeared in my city recently… public bikes. Scattered around the town, you’ll find a bike rack with rentable bikes, and it seems to be catching on well.
That’s all great, but like so many ‘green’ or ‘eco’ things, they are narrow-minded, and ignore other realities… like the fact that the rack sits on one of the road lanes, effectively forcing traffic to merge into the adjacent lane… and you probably all know how much of a slowdown things like construction blocking one lane can cause. Same thing here. On our way back from Brampton, traffic was moving painfully slow along the downtown street we usually use to get to my place. The reason, the already heavy traffic had to merge because the eco-bike rack was taking up a lane. They even had the brilliance of putting the rack close to an intersection, causing even more fun and slowdowns as traffic from the crossing street couldn’t turn into the outer lane, but had to immediately squeeze into the inner one, causing the straight traffic (using the inner lane) to be interrupted, and play the ‘I go first, you go first’ game.
So, now you have a lot more cars sitting there, waiting, spewing fumes into the air.
Great job, guys…
Here’s a quickie… Yesterday, I was listening to a radio report while in a car. The DJ’s were doing an auction type thing for prostate/breast cancer, and were doing the usual overdone bombardment of motivation via statistics.
At one point, after trying very hard to scare/shock the listeners into taking it all serious with some statistics that she milked for all they were worth, she then went the other way, and tried to motivate them to donate by means of statistics in how things have improved (due to the research and stuff over the years). At this point, she says, “Today, 66% of people with this cancer will actually survive… Compare that to 10(?) years ago, where 1 in 3 would die..’.
I’ll give you a moment to do the math on that one…
I was out taking care of a few things today, including sending back the Sympatico DSL modem to Bell to finalize my termination of all their services (…and so they can swiftly insert it in any bodily orifice of theirs that they choose).
Before heading out of the mall I was at, I decided (against all sane judgement) to grab a quick bite at… well, let’s just say, a very popular hamburger place that we are all familiar with.
I no longer get combos, as I find now they are too much. So, I usually just get a burger, as that has enough destructive power to do the job as it is. But, this time, I was tempted by a new promotion they were running… ‘snack size’ ice cream type things (…ice cream + cookies or some other candy type thing). I was in the mood for something cold, and the snack size kind of appealed to me, as it would address my craving, yet only put 300 or so calories into me, rather than the traditional 1200 or so. So, I got one of those as well.
The hamburger was the usual ordeal… although this particular branch’s meat had a distinctive ‘urine’ flavour to it, that kind of threw me off a bit. Even on a good day, the burgers are often an exercise in guilt. They seem like a great idea at the time, but after eating it, you find yourself repeatedly questioning why you just ate that, and usually feel a bit ill. In fact, I’m convinced their burgers do not so much ‘satisfy’ hunger, as much as they simply put the body into shock… thus, indirectly numbing the hunger, as the body becomes more concerned about your well-being (and/or it simply retracts and apologizes for it’s hunger pains, hoping that you never do that sort of thing again). It’s kind of like anesthetic for hunger…
Urine meat aside, it was fine, as was the desert… although other aspects of the desert confused me.
For one thing, it comes with an oddly over sized spoon. Put more clearly, the spoon part itself is normal… as far as standards and regulations regarding tableware go. But, the handle is clumsily large… consisting of a hollow square plastic tube, which SEEMS to have some purpose, yet the exact nature of that totally escapes me (and I was neither curious enough, nor bold enough to explore the possibilities with trial and error while at the food court). To further baffle things, there is an odd hook/clip type thing on the end. At this point, I’m feeling mixed emotions… partial inferiority, in that I felt I was missing out on some essential technique or etiquette, and partial self-consciousness, with my giant spoon handle contraption, so visible and exposed in a public place… almost like it was some practical joke played on me.
Beyond the whole spoon realm, there was also the curious dome that sat on top of the cup the desert was in. It was almost like some mini sneeze shield from a salad bar, although in its present form, I once again found myself uncertain as to its function and (if applicable) proper operation and handling. Was it to keep something from going into the cup,… reducing the vulnerable open area to a bare minimum requirement for the proper operation of my ‘Pee-Wee Herman school of proportion’ spoon? Or, was it to keep something inside from coming out? Was this the chain’s reaction to recent law suits or incidents, where someone soiled themselves with desert while driving, talking on the phone and doing their makeup?
Granted, I didn’t fully explore the extent of the potential for backsplash and flingage while enjoying my desert (as I too did not want to experience desert soilage), but the product seemed fairly stable (…helped by the Oreo crumbs I strategically ordered). I suppose that, given enough time, the product would lose some of it’s structural integrity (and increase it’s flingage capacity) through melting… but, again, it just didn’t seem enough to justify a safety dome… especially in that this precaution drastically reduced my spoon’s operational area… which, in effect, reduced to a degree my overall enjoyment and carefree handling of the desert.
But, that’s in the past now… I’m now at the post-consumption stage, where my mind repeatedly evaluates and questions what I have done, and why I have done it… in hopes to perhaps avoid future mistakes by learning from this one. The next hour or so, will have my digestive system in a sort of mild shock and guarded stance… keeping watch of any further intrusion while dealing with the analysis, digestion and rapid removal of the current mass of… product. A virtual coma-inducing hit on my metabolism may surely follow.
In the meantime, I’m still trying to understand that spoon hook.
I still have my two merchandise pages up. Check them out, and buy yourself a Laer Digital Works mug or T-Shirt, or a zombie clock or NOTLD:R mouse pad!
(If I make $25 in sales, I actually get my cheque mailed to me, and can live the life of luxury I’ve always dreamed of!)
Here’s the links:
To those who have (or will) buy something, a huge thanks!
I’ve just recently switched Internet/Phone providers, going from Bell (who I hate with all my heart), and went with TekSavvy, who I have nothing but praise for. Among the many excellent reasons for switching, is people like George Burger, a spokesperson for TekSavvy, and a no-nonsense speaker of the truth (…something really refreshing and needed these days).
Check out this great televised ‘piece/debate’ about the whole Internet/bandwidth thing… You see the guy from Bell, who within seconds you will probably loathe, completely shovelling and truly asking for a backhand to the face with every excrutiating moment he’s on screen… Then that dude from Dragon’s Den, who I’m not a fan of either. Then, a little later, comes George. Right away, you’ll probably sense a much nicer aura… that of common sense and trustworthiness. He then completely slam dunks the other two guys in their rightful place. Watch this video if you want to know the truth… about how the big companies are shafting you, and many other things.
I totally want to give a hearty handshake and uncompromising ‘man hug’ to George. This guy is excellent!
(This guy, below, on the other hand… )
I was going to do an entry about procrastination, but I’ll do it some other time…
As with many other people, I frequently Google the Internet to find answers to things. Many times, the search results will come up with pages from ‘Yahoo Answers’, where a regular person posts a question, and it is answered by a bunch of other regular people, with one answer marked/voted as the best/correct answer.
As great as this sounds, I’ve found that more often than not, it is actually more a showcase of complete stupidity. It’s a frightening glimpse into just how stupid people out there are. You are virtually guaranteed to have at least one person give an answer that is the complete opposite of what the correct answer is… and usually these people say it with complete confidence (and often even a hint of arrogance).
Seriously… I bet if you were to look up the question ‘Should I give chocolate to a dog?’, you’ll find one idiot who responds with something like: “Yes! Dogs love chocolate (…don’t we all!!!). It’s an excellent source of calcium (excellent for their teeth), and the milk in it gives their coat a nice shiny appearance. It should be a regular part of their diet (…not just as a treat)! Don’t listen to these ignorant morons who are saying it’s bad for them. They don’t know what they are talking about!’.
Visit Yahoo Answers only if you:
1) Want to get the worst possible advice.
2) Want a laugh.
3) Have some fetish for irony.
Okay, I think I can safely say that it is now OFFICIAL….
Any video tutorials are now required (by some currently unknown governing entity) to have the host say the phrase ‘go ahead and…’ at multiple points in the video.
I’ve been spending my afternoon watching a DVD consisting of videos of a large handful of different people, explaining various aspects of the Adobe Production suite, and EACH of them used the phrase at least two or three times, if not frequently. Granted, none used it with the unbridled, devil-may-care gusto of that guy in the tutorial video a few posts back… but they said it, nonetheless.
Needless to say, in my usual tradition, I’m straying from the pack, and will never use that term. I’ll continue abusing the words ‘basically’ and ‘generally’ like my life depended on it, but refuse to give in to this trend that has obviously swept mercilessly through the tutorial world.
…or, maybe I’ll make up some similar phrase, like ‘Let’s whack at this for a moment’, and see if the blind sheep latch onto it as well.
UPDATE: Wow… Right after writing this, I went on to the next tutorial video (…or should I say, I went ahead and went on to the next tutorial video…), and this new guy was almost giving that guy from a few posts back a run for his money. Good grief. It’s like action he described began with ‘go ahead and’… often doing two in a row, as in ‘Let’s go ahead and do just that by going ahead and…’. I mean…. Really? Really?
Recently, I’ve begun my attempt to lose weight… or, more specifically, lose the beachball that I appear to be smuggling in my shirt. A combination of age and eating habits has brought me to this situation… where I almost burst into tears if I walk by the mirror without a shirt. So, now it’s time to get into shape again.
I’m trying to exercise, as usual, but that often gets sabotaged by feelings of fatigue, over-focus on work, feelings of illness, as well as the ever-present understanding that exercise is hard work. I’m not sure if it’s just me subconsciously avoiding the situation, but I seem to even manage to miss or not hear the hourly alarm to which I used to stop what I was doing, and do a session of 100 jumping jacks, 10 squat and 10 push-ups (…or would do 10 reps of various free weight workouts). Each day, I ‘understand’ why I didn’t get to the exercise, but vow to do it (with all sincerity) the next day… only to run into the same routine, much to my surprise.
What I AM managing to do lately, though, is reduce the eating. I don’t exactly inhale food as it is, but I found I snacked (on generally healthy food) frequently… and, ironically, seemed to get more hungry with each snack. Lately, I’m just drinking water instead, figuring it not only will fill me up and satisfy my hunger (which is often just dehydration kicking in), plus also continually flush out the system… so it’s a win win. Luckily, unlike my mom, I really like a glass of water… and it’s no chore at all for me.
That routine has been going very well, and (as with when I once tried a carefully planned ‘fasting/cleansing’ routine), I’m surprised how I can get along with so little food without a feeling of hunger. As well, I very quickly realize (again, as I did with the cleansing) that it is actually the food (or too much of it) that gives me that low-energy, weighed down feel.
Today, though, after a lot of running around town, taking care of things, I definitely had a craving for something other than water… so I took on the relatively long walk over to the sacred Wendy’s restaurant for a chicken sandwich and my beloved Frosty (…I figured the walk and the sunshine was a worthy trade-off for the caloriefest I was about to swan dive into). It was all good, and satisfying… but I was halfway through my meal, when I discovered that I was actually full… so full that it was almost a chore to eat the remaining fries. It suddenly dawned on me how big the portions really are, and how little I really needed. I think I will start ordering from the kids menu now.
Interesting note, too… One thing I’ve found odd and fascinating… When we are hungry or thirsty, and craving something… it is because we crave the TASTE (as opposed to the caloric intake)… Yet, when we DO have that item in our hands, we seem to eat it really quickly… specifically, barely chewing it, and then quickly swallowing it so we can take another bite. It seems to me that this is completely contradictory to the craving that drove you to this point. You were craving the taste, yet we rush it past the process/area (the mouth), which is the only place you experience that flavour, denying yourself of the very thing you were craving. I find I’m very guilty of that, myself… gulping down, say, orange juice to the point where it barely touches my tongue, only so I can take another gulp of this thing I’m craving. We crave something, we grab it, but then quickly discard (swallow) it in order to make room so we can grab it again. I mean, why quickly swallow a drink that you are tasting, just to make room for another swig of the very thing that you already have in your mouth? We humans are an illogical lot… So, lately, I’m trying to hold stuff in my mouth a bit… savour it. It really works quite well, but requires a surprising amount of discipline.
I’ve made some interesting discoveries with exercise, too. Often, I’ll not do exercise because I feel like I’m too tired or feeling weak… yet I realize now that I am basing that ‘feeling of failure’ on an assumption. I am pre-experiencing what those push-ups will feel like (hypothetically), and taking that as truth (…ex. I don’t have the strength right now to push myself up). What I have learned, though, is to ignore that hypothetical ‘projection’, and force myself to try it… for real. Oddly enough, most of the time, it is far easier than I anticipated.
So, we’ll see how I do now. My alarm just went off… and as much as I want to ignore it, I did hear it, and I’m going to do my workout break… although that Wendy’s meal (plus the metabolism crash nap that it induced) have me kind of groggy right now…
Ya, ya… I’m going.
…I just need to spellcheck this entry, then maybe… I’ll…
Here’s something that has me thinking…
A few weeks ago, I was cleaning and rearranging things in my place, and noticed that two of the pieces of my chess set were not in their start positions.
Now, normally, that’s not a big thing, as they sometimes get shifted if something gets bumped, or Maya makes a bad landing on the board… but what was odd was that they were not just shifted or knocked over, but positioned on a part of the board relatively far from their start position. To make things more interesting, both ‘moves’ where not only legal, but standard OPENING (first) moves!
So, this got me to wondering if i have ghosts playing chess…
I kept the pieces where they were, rather than putting them back to their proper start position for several reasons…
1) I wanted to see if any further moves would be done… see if they too were legal moves… and (if all things continued and concluded) who wins.
2) I figured that if I moved it back, and it was a ghost thing, then they’d get really pissed, and one night I’d wake up to a glowing, ethereal screaming skull type thing hovering over me… and maybe my face would melt or something (as if the scare alone weren’t enough).
3) If I ever do have a game of chess with someone, we’ll have a good head start.
4) It really ties the room together.
No change so far….
Maybe they’re just really slow. Maybe each move takes a year…
Maybe they found another home… with a Playstation or something.
Just don’t do the screaming head thing…
So, I’m sitting in my studio, minding my own business, when out of the corner of my eye, I notice that it’s getting rapidly darker. A slight turn of my eyes to the north reveals what I would describe as ‘an evil cloud of death’ slowly rolling eastward across the sky… We’re talking Grim Reaper cloud here.
‘Neat,’ I thought, as I generally enjoy apocalyptic weather elements, and grabbed my camera. Stepping out onto the balcony, taking a moment to listen if it was making any kind of creepy whispering ghosts kind of sound, I knelt down and lined up a shot.
I took it, and had a look. It didn’t look quite as menacing as in real, so I turned down the exposure, and took another shot. Nice, that worked!
Just then, I noticed the sky behind the cloud was occasionally flashing with dim light.
‘Lightning, ‘ I thought (…this being the second though of the evening), and smiled with the satisfaction that my Victoria day would conclude with some of nature’s own brand of fireworks, which I’m always fond of. A good storm always puts a smile on my face… as long as I’m inside, and not standing on a hill, holding a metal rod, wondering how I could have such horrible luck.
Just for fun, I decided to take one last shot. Oddly enough, despite it being a digital camera, I’m still in the habit of just taking single shots. On occasion, I’ll do a (manual) rapid fire of maybe three… but only when I’m feeling particularly edgy, or want that cool camera sound. But, tonight, it was just going to be another single photo.
I lined up the shot, and pressed the trigger… just as lightning struck… the only nearby lightning for the whole evening.
What are the odds?!
I think I’m going to play the lottery this week…
I’ve been pretty happy with how my home looks, but several things were not ideal, or just were screaming out for change. Despite some previous organization, some areas were still cluttered (or were susceptible to becoming cluttered).
Recently, I suddenly gave in to the urge for change (and organization), and completely rearranged the livingroom and diningroom… essentially swapping the two, and rearranging their elements so they would fit and function in their new location. Although the initial change was promising, there were several issues… mostly just a lack of balance and harmony in the distribution of the furniture and accents. I continued to shift things around and swap things, and finally I found a really pleasing layout that worked both aesthetically as well as functionally… definitely improving on the ‘compromised layout’ I had previous to the change.
Tonight, after a nice sit out on the balcony (on the first day of really summer-like weather), I’m hit with the urge again… wanting to apply the same changes and rearranging to the other rooms… specifically, the studio (where I undoubtedly spend most of my time) and the bedroom (which was already beginning to change, due to elements being moved from it to the other two rooms during their change).
My studio, although quite nice, tends to clutter easily and quickly. Even in it’s cleanest state, it’s still arguably a bit cluttered, with lots of books on the bookshelf, and lots of paints on the other shelf, etc. I want to not necessarily get rid of everything, but at least reduce the amount of ‘little things’ piled here and there, by putting them in boxes, or storage.
I tend to get a bit restless in a cluttered environment, which is not good for when you are trying to get work done… so the studio is a very logical choice for my next ‘cleansing’. I previously organized and rearranged it a bit, but it certainly needs to go further. I can’t really shift things around much, as realities such as cable lengths and outlet locations pretty much dictate what goes where… but I can certainly re-evaluate what needs to be immediately accessible, and what could be put in a box to be accessed only when needed. And, that’s what I intend to do. I’m normally a ‘fill in all the corners and crevices’ type of guy, but in the last few years, I’ve really developed an appreciation for the ‘zen look’ (minimal stuff, and more floor/table space).
One of the biggest challenges (aside from the fact that I have so much stuff, due to my wide range of interests, as well as my sentimentality), is in loose paper. So much of it accumulates, but most is stuff that still needs to be accessed/addresssed, so I can’t just file it (as I would then forget about it). I do have a cork board, where I pin up important documents that I do not want to forget about, but that has already filled up quite a bit. I kind of need multiple in boxes or something.
I also really miss/want a desk… I have a really great computer desk area… but not a desk in the sense of one I sit down and do paperwork at. I do have a drafting table type thing, which I had planned to be both a work area and a paperwork area… but it tended to be more of a work area… which then quickly became a sort of storage area for stuff… so now it’s neither a paperwork area nor a work area, but yet another horizontal space with stuff on it. So, that’s got to change. I may resurface the table (which is now bumpy and covered in paint) so that it’s a clean, smooth surface again.
I may also set up two monitors at my computer now, or maybe set up a totally separate computer (with its own keyboard and monitor, as opposed to the 3 computers I have, all sharing the same monitor and keyboard) so that I don’t have to constantly switch (via a switchbox) from my ‘work’ computer to the internet one, each time someone sends me a message. That’ll add more ‘stuff’ to the desk, but if I do it right, it might look kinda cool… like one of those cliche computer hacker workstations you see in movies.
I’m going to have to do an arguably painful (but hopefully rewarding) ‘garbage bag session’ in the storage room…. going through all my boxes of ‘stuff that I don’t use, but don’t want to throw out’, and clearing up a lot of space… which then can be used to put away the stuff that clutters the studio and bedroom. I’ve done it once before (and it was painful… both in the amount of work, and the hit on my sentimentality), but in the end, the extra space (and freedom from all that stuff) was very rewarding. So, it’s time to do it again. I figure I can probably clear quite a bit of space, and really ‘zenify’ my studio and bedroom. As hard as it may be to throw things out, the extra space and clean rooms really do feel good… and, arguably, a lot of the stuff I have really SHOULD be said goodbye to, for a variety of reasons.
As I suspected, the current changes (livingroom and diningroom) not only had an immediate and direct positive effect (more space, better layout/functionality), but also a profound indirect benefit… in that the place feels new and better (which directly affected my mood and overall feeling about the place). Familiar layout often brings familiar routine, so a change often brings change in routine… and right now, change is good.
I may update this post with photos, but right now, I think I’ll go back outside, lay on the deck chair, and enjoy the night.
A few days ago, my friend Andrew and I went on a well-needed road trip to London Ontario to visit a Haunters convention.
With my backpack filled, I walked to Union station and waited for my train. As I sat there, I had to laugh at the fact that virtually everyone had a smart phone, and had the ‘smart phone pose’ (looking down, with the phone held at stomach level).
During the train ride, I worked out some of the details of my upcoming classes. Andrew picked me up at the train station, and took me to his home. We chatted a bit, then called it a night, with plans to head out in the morning.
We loaded up (understatement!) at the Tim Hortons, and headed out. The drive up was fun… filled with good driving tunes, and interesting roadside items. Arriving at the convention centre, we went into the underground parking… to find there was no one in the booth, and the gate open. Free parking, I guess!
Wandering through the lobby (complete with ‘convention centre carpet’), we found the sign directing us up the escalator, where we encountered the Ghostbusters! They were a group of people who dressed in (really impressive) costumes and wandered the floors of expos and charities.
Inside the main room, we saw the usual assortment of horror/haunt items for sale, along with makeup people and performers. I chatted with most of them, and the inevitable business card swaps occurred. It’s a shame there aren’t many (or any) filmmakers at these things.
At one point, there was a performer who put a nail in his nose and stood on glass. For his final trick, he waved me over from the crowd, and had me pinch up a part of his arm as he pushed a safety pin through it. I wasn’t expecting to be doing any body puncturing that day, so that was an interesting twist.
After our wanderings at the expo, we hit a pub and loaded up with food once again. That done, we decided to walk (….waddle) through the streets of London, since I haven’t been there before. Oddly enough, it appears London’s main activities are getting high and reading… judging by the surprising number of drug related stores and book/comic stores. Actually, if you want to check out comic books, figurines and other ‘geek’ stuff, London appears the place to be! Certainly a step up from the endless shoe and convenience stores that is Queen street!
Once the walk burned away a bit of our meal, we were ready for some desert. Andrew broke out the GPS, and punched in ‘Dairy Queen’, which we headed to. Wow, what a treat. This DQ was straight out of the ’70s! Brought back memories of my DQ trips when I was younger. Weird thing was, there didn’t seem to be any staff inside… until we pressed the doorbell by the window. Suddenly, three or four teenager staff appeared out of nowhere and took their posts. Were they in some rec room in the bowels of the little DQ shack?
We headed back, and had another interesting drive. I was eager to get photos of some of the bizarre things we passed by on the way up… including a completely surreal gazebo/playset store. Along with an impressive assortment of gazebos, this place had lifesize dinosaurs… including a T-Rex and a HUGE brontosaurus(?) that towered several stories high.
Soon afterwards, the skies suddenly became frighteningly dark… we are talking end of the world dark. Scary clouds were drifting low to the ground, and I was expecting tornado funnels to start appearing.
Luckily, we just had some rain, and made it home unscathed.
I was minding my own business, flipping through the usual flyers that I get in the mail, and I came across this…
It’s an outdoor MP3 player, which, in itself, looks pretty funky and weird… but check out the remote! That is some serious, grade A, old school Radio Shack happening right there! The antenna… the large case… the no-shame big-ass red button! That’s art, man!! And, this is in a contemporary flyer, not something I kept from the ’80s!
I bet that thing has a range of at least 20 feet!
I imagine that red button is… an on/off switch… I’d think.
Seriously! Look at that weapon!!!
Am I crying?
Probably makes a really nice clicking sound when you press that button, too.
I want a larger version of that for my TV.
I wonder if remote control toy cars will start moving when you use that…