Thursday, December 17, 2009

best email of the year.

I have friends. It's true.

Many of them chose to message me on facebook, which I dislike. They all get forwarded to my email anyhow, so it probably doesn't matter other than I disagree with middle management, both real and artificial.

But it feels strangely like more effort was made to email me. In reality, a similar number of keystrokes were probably made, so I shouldn't attach extra sentimentality, but I do.

Today I choose to honour the very best direct to me email I have received. It asks for my expert coffee advice. I have become semi famous for making fine coffee in the most unlikely places such as swamps, mountain tops, abandoned cabins, the middle of a forest fire. In fact, I have been known to make coffee before putting out the forest fire... you need to pause and calm down and plan shit out before you fight most forest fires. I will now digress from proclaiming my own fame.

Here is my friend's email to me. It is very well written with only the minimum amount of typos which is impressive as he is currently working for Alberta Forestry where spelling errors are mandated.

I didn't think it would happen to me. I thought I was stronger. I thought I could handle it. This summer, the coffee, the espresso. It was so good. I tried to pretend that it was just OK. That I wouldn't want it once the summer ended.

I would lie in bed at night, alone in my tidy bunk, shaking, waiting til morning to hear the snap and crackle sound of naptha heating the water to extract the cozy blanket goodness out of the rookie grounded beans. Then to couple that with a smoke of freshly rolled DRUM tobacco....words can not explain my friend.

A paranoid part of me thinks you planned this. A classic Pusher Ploy. Offer small 'doses' of the espresso..."Morning Tingley...want some coffee?"......"Coffee?"...."mmmm. This coffee is delicious" and so forth. Knowing all along that once the summer ended
BAM no more coffee for two months and I would eventually have to come back to you to fill the void. Well you gave the man a fish and here I stand, Broken, Shameless, Wanting. Hook me up pusher. So Christina says the other day, "we should get an espresso maker". Out of the blue, well, close to Christmas mind you. Instantly it all came rushing back, the aroma, the taste, the comfort, tha accomanying cigarette.

Any suggestions on 'getting into' espresso? We don't even own a coffe maker jsut to let you know what your dealing with here.

Then he added a link to this video.... don't spread for no roses, my friends.




Wednesday, December 16, 2009

claw retractor.


the desk of carrie carm full o' charm.
avoid the claw retractor.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

do not take away haiku.


Do not take away
the stamp or what is stamped
I will kick your ass

Saturday, December 12, 2009

je comprend bien le français.


Recently, due completely to my own version of grumpy old man syndrome, I posted a comment to the website of a Québecois television program. The comment linked to my post pointing out my perception of the snobbery of Montréal.

I probably shouldn't have. I'm not sure what I was trying to prove. Perhaps it was only because I wanted more hits on this blog thing. Perhaps I was lacking the proper amount of coffee and forgot my rule about angry emails.

Predictably someone, I assume associated with the show, read my post. It would be better to say that she/he completely mis read my post. I responded in anger, which I have taken down because I don't like my angry self.

So calmly, I would like to respond to my Québecois critic.

I'm sorry that you misunderstood the nature of my post. It was not an attack on french canada. I am very fond of french canada. My problem is how regional Canada is and how childish and false the concept is. The perception I had after 5 years living in Montréal was that the west is generally perceived as a backwater full of red necks. It is perhaps a clash of culture and language that created this view, but I feel it is important to correct it when possible.

This isn't my imagination. People actually said as much quite clearly. There was incredulity when I told tales of entire communities in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba that function nearly entirely in French, that I hold a degree that is from a french faculty from a western university. Even the fact that I might be speaking french to them was suddenly ignored when they learnt that I was from out west.

So, my french friend, I did not misunderstand the video piece. I think I saw it for what it was. It certainly wasn't intentionally insulting or nasty or curse the smelly anglos. It's just that the good intentions missed the mark. No one wants their home to be compared to an innocent pretty girl, too young to order a beer. It comes across as snotty. And the people out here are not in the least shy. You may be confusing that with friendly smiles.

And finally, this is where I tend to get angry, I can speak and understand and though my grammar is sloppy, I can even write in french. I don't need a translator, but I'm starting to wonder if perhaps you need to re-read my post with a translator.


Friday, December 11, 2009

yaletown revisited.


I was unfair to Yaletown way back last spring. I was in a bad/sad mood and I didn't appreciate what I saw. Now I walk downtown 3 times a week. It's a 40 minute walk one way that I find I know need for my sanity.

I have grown to love the yuppy homes, so tall and made of glass. They really are quite incredible. I've also become much more open minded about yuppies as a result. I can see what they like about living there now. It seems like an easy way to live, although expensive. Besides that, I recently got a ride in a BMW and it is much more comfortable than the bus or government van (that last reference is work related, not prison related).

I'd still rather walk though. You see so much more when you walk.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

the library.


The Vancouver library is such a cool place that it is featured in the future. Yup, Battlestar Galactica style future (or is does that merely make it far far away? I sort of lost interest in Battlestar Galactica after season 1 when I discovered that they wouldn't be making a robot dog like in the original.)

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

denny's.


I don't eat at Denny's. It reminds me of Smitty's where I was introduced to the reality of the working world. Reality often pisses me off.

Monday, December 07, 2009

oh montréal, you are such a snob.

Carrie Carm and I spent about 5ish years living in Montréal. We are largely fond of the experience. I really liked the fact that my french immersion education was finally useful on a daily basis. Finding paying work was another matter.


And then we got a horrible phone call and very suddenly the whole Montréal experience came to an end.


So we came out here to Vancouver. We live in an area known as Mount Pleasant. I’m almost as pleased about that as when we lived on Parc Ave on the border of Mile End and Outremont. And just like the name, the Mt. Pleasant neighbourhood is very nice. Yup, people smile back, and it is pleasant.



Before we left La Belle Province, we heard from some friends how Vancouver has no ‘soul’ (I’m paraphrasing here, I don’t know that anyone said soul. One friend said that Vancouver has no genitals. I quite liked that statement, though I’m still trying to figure out what that means since East Hastings strikes me as the anus of Canada, so the proverbial genitals can’t be that far away.)


A former colleague told me that I would have no creative/professional future in Vancouver, despite it’s status as Hollywood North. This is the same colleague who promised me much money and fame in Montréal... but when the EI ran out, the promised funds never managed to make the short trip to my bank account. Their are plenty of wealthy people in Montréal. The money just doesn’t seem to flow all that well. I think there is some sort of blockage between Westmount and Mile End.


I’m not entirely bitter about my friends saying these things though. Our sudden exodus was not done under happy circumstances and mostly our friends just didn’t want us to leave.


However, I had already heard much of what Montréalers had had to say about the west in general. Being from Edmonton meant that I couldn’t possibly speak french and that my education couldn’t possibly be up to par. Sometimes I laughed at the ignorance, but it began to grate on me after not too long as it seemed to be tied to how I was viewed professionally.


Clearly a slightly delusional view of their city had clouded their collective brains. When a documentary director I was working with asked a former hassidic jew how he defined himself, he proudly declared that he saw himself as a montréaler before anything else, including jewish, male, human or canadian. I stayed silent, but outraged. There is something ironically small minded about thinking that simply living in a certain city will provide you with an open mind and artistic heart. When people gasp around the world at the Cirque de Soleil, it only adds to the mystique.


Yesterday, Carrie provided me with this link to a video blog done by a cute montréal francophone named Catherine. It certainly has production value. The intro clearly shows Montréal as a party capital. Montréalers tend to think that they are the only folks in Canada having sex, that anglophones don’t even masturbate, don’t know how to express themselves, aren't in the least artistic and are painfully shy.


Well, Catherine certainly didn’t disappoint. Vancouver is described as “a pretty 16 year old girl who hasn’t learnt to drink yet.” I’m not even stretching the truth here. That is a word for word translation.


Furthermore, Vancouverites are viewed as shy, friendly people. Really? Shy and friendly? Can’t say that the evidence even in their video clips shows this. The host goes on to interview Nardwuar the human serviette, which pretty much blows her view of Vancouver to shreds. What a freak! And there is a long list of strange and wonderfully unique people who came from out west.


Somehow Catherine and her interview subjects, two of which are montréalers that moved here, see themselves as open and relaxed artists amongst a bunch of prudes. All this while walking around my new neighbourhood and enjoying the cute, artistic boutiques and cafés of East Vancouver, failing to see how similar East Van is to the Plateau area of Montréal. Sure the architecture is different, but the same sort of comic books and artistic shops exist. The rent is just double.


Yesterday I spent a good hour at an over crowded craft fair selling the exact same sort of knitted goods, belt buckles, artisan chocolates and other assorted gifts. It was only a slightly smaller version of expozine in Montréal. The main difference was that the sellers were friendly and happy to engage in conversation even if you didn't buy anything. Despite the lack of french being spoken, I couldn't really tell the difference between the Mile end craft fair and the Commercial Drive craft fair. See how similar it all is?


I’m a little tired of this incredible regionalism, especially as it pertains to Québec. They are a distinct society, but so is Edmonton, Yellowknife, St. John’s, and so and and so forth. Canada is full of distinct societies. I have been lucky enough to visit and live in many of them and certainly not all. But on focusing on ridiculously pointless facts such as french being ranked at only the 9th most spoken language in Vancouver, what are you really saying? By putting down an entire city as being too innocent to live in the sexually charged way that Montréal does is not only insulting, but completely false.


On one final note, the back pages of the weekly art newspapers out here have just as many ads to cater to the pervert in all of us. Montréal, you are not as distinct as you think, especially in matters regarding genitals, proverbial and otherwise.


You do make a fine, unequaled bagel though.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

i AM aware of my hypocrisy.

For months now I have been annoyed with this new 'technology' called Twitter. On the surface, I hate everything about twitter. I'm told that it will bring much in the future, but as to what that much consist of, I cannot understand.


Much like blogs and facebook, it was explained to me that this was the future and I'd be left behind and that I was a luddite and that it was a new technology... that there was no limit to the communication possibilities.


Well, I did not believe this. I did not believe it about blogs and I did not believe it about facebook. However, you will now see that after long ignoring this blog thing of mine, I have added a new feature to it. It is my twitter account.


The thing is I don't believe the hype. I don't believe it anymore than the blog that I am posting this on. I don't like the word blog, facebook or (sigh here) twitter. Now it is 'tweet', before it was 'blog' or 'facebook'. At least facebook is still underlined in red when I spell check, but we already have words for these things. Other than being able to be ignored by more people than merely roommates, a blog is just a journal. Facebook is just your yearbook permanently being signed by old friends.... a never ending class yearbook. Tweet is the sound birds make. What you really mean to say is sentence.


The blog hasn't really changed my life in any profound way, other than to be an excuse as to why I don't have a proper website of my own creation. I don't worry about it. I certainly don't post everyday, and I have not received the promised book deals and fame and so forth. It does give me the added benefit of having a soapbox to stand on without the danger of public humiliation. Like everything else on the internet... it is virtual and thus harmless.


I have also not received anything from facebook. I have found some long lost buddies, but other than accepting my friendship, we have no real friendship now. Facebook did provide me with a headache in the form of a now former friend who hired me, underpaid me, and then decided to yell at me. We are not facebook friends anymore. I would hardly call that progress.


So now we get to the crux; Twitter. The Tweet.


See, first off, it isn't a new 'technology'. It is a new program. To me technology isn't merely some code, it is a real thing, like the wheel, the plane, the lighter, the computer... not something not real that is already on the computer, but now looks pretty and everyone is doing it.


And somehow typing short 140 character bits of trivial fodder that is running through my brain is going to change the world or magically make me money? I'm about to prove how it won't... at all. Just watch how pointless the whole exercise is as you sign up to follow me and I let you know what little I can contribute to your day by knowing even less important things about me than that which I bring up in my blog.


By the way, I only have a twitter account because I wanted free software that makes your voice sound like a squirrel and you could only get it if you had a twitter account.


See? I'm a whore just like everyone else. But can you blame me? It's a squirrel voice.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

gimme a decent bagel already.


When I wrote this blogpost, I had no idea how much I would miss a good bagel.


I thought that I had merely become a snob, that it was all in my head and that surely Vancouver would provide a bagel as perfect and beautiful as those on offer in Montréal.


I am sad to report that I stand defeated in my quest to find a truly perfect bagel in Vancouver.


My last attempt was yesterday. i tried Solly's bagels which was on our route home from getting a coffee and some special beans. They came up short.


First of all, you cannot call yourself a bagel shop and then run out of sesame bagels. Sesame bagels are the only bagels for me and many others and should never ever run out. If it's getting close to the bottom of the bin, start bakin' kids, cause that is what a bagel shop should be doing.


I can understand running out of something pointless and silly like a pizza bagel or a cinnamon bagel. Those are for kids in both the real and figurative sense (yuppies with the fancy sports/hybrid cars outside, I'm looking at you!). But no sesame and to follow that up, no multigrain or even plain?


Secondly, I haven't smelt or seen any evidence of wood burning going on at Solly's or the other bagel shop closer to Kitsilano. I could be very wrong. You guys could be hiding anything back behind the wall that separates me from precious baked goods.


But that brings me around to my third point. The best bagel makers of the land don't have seating for folks to enjoy themselves at. Coffee and bagels are both too specialized for you to do well at both... and you don't. And I want to see you toiling to make the bagels. At both Fairmont and St.Viateur, you can watch the presumably underpaid staff, largely immigrants, sweat in front of open, wood burning ovens, rolling each precious bagel. There is no mystery. And these hard workers don't put down their long wodden peels at 5 pm. No sir. Fairmont and St.Viateur work around the clock, all year long. This is impressive in a neighbourhood full of Hassidic jews that take every Friday sundown to Saturday sundown off.


At 4 am, I could muster up the strength to make my way through the frozen sidewalks and fully expect to be back in 10 minutes with as many bagels as I might want at 4am.


My last complaint, this time, is the price. I don't know who you are fooling, but I have never spent 15 bucks on a bagel outing that didn't include lox in Montréal town. Is western wheat that much pricier? If it tasted more like a Montréal bagel, as you so proudly advertise, then I might not mind so much. But as it stands, it is only somewhat better than what Tim Horton's can do. Shame.


Oh Vancouver, why can't you figure this one out. I don't know if you have strange labour laws preventing bagel makers to work through the night, or haul firewood to the back of the oven, but it has got to stop (or start, perhaps). Surely there is nothing that difficult in the recipe. Come on. Gimme a taste of Montréal. Try better.

Friday, November 13, 2009

i don't know.


When a conversation starts with "I don't usually tell people this, but I did wet the bed as an adult once." it's gonna be a good time.



Wednesday, October 28, 2009

a fall day.


From the park down the street. The one with the skate park in it.

polaroids of birds.


My friend Bee is frightened of birds.



Sunday, October 04, 2009

Coopers' Camera

Think of your favorite Christmas movie. Think hard. Now, does it resemble even the hope of your actual childhood Christmases?

I’m gonna guess not so much.

My favorite Christmas time movie was Bad Santa, which tells you something about my abnormal view of an ideal yule time. Record setting uses of the word Fuck and anal sex in a holiday film is surely the making of a classic. Partially because of Billy Bob’s rudeness, but mostly because of sheer comedic brilliance of Warren P. Sonoda, Coopers’ Camera has usurped all other Christmas movies in my mind.

Truth is Santa and exhausted flying reindeer don’t exist. Jesus’ himself may not have existed, but family sure does. And families are always, by varied degrees, dysfunctional.

So begins the premise of Coopers’ Camera, from the self same folks that brought you Ham & Cheese. If you don’t know that movie, it is not entirely your fault, but please do rent it and I will agree not to go into a rant extolling the virtues of Canadian Cinema yet again.

If you were alive during the 1980’s, the feel of Coopers’ Camera will bring back some horrible memories for you, in handheld VHS quality. It did for me. The bad wallpaper, the overstuffed chesterfields, every male sporting some version of the mullet and/or a perm, those truly tragic acrylic sweaters that I received every Christmas for years and years… watching this immediately made my skin remember the oily feel of those sweaters with ski scenes or geometrically unrealistic giant snowflakes playing out across my chest, just below my acne ridden face.

I also remember having to fake being happy with every gift resulting in over compensating with glowing thanks for home made jeans and matching family fleece jackets with each of our names sewn in. It was a painful childhood, but clearly it could have been worse.

The film starts with a video camera being the main family gift, opened by a very pregnant and disappointed mom played by one of my favorite moms, Samantha Bee. Turns out all the gifts are horrible disappointments because Dad, (Gord Cooper played by Jason Jones) seems incapable of getting anything right, including an erection.

This is the comedy of discomfort. You have no doubt that you are watching a home video of the worst Christmas ever. Turns out that the camera, along with barely used tapes, was acquired in lieu of a loan owed by a local pervert played by Dave Foley and his penis. The audience is treated to the occasional ‘accidental’ clips from Foley’s taped sexcapades. 11 am on a Sunday morning is far too early to have a penis jump out at you, even for a very brief second, on the big screen, and I now understand why flashing is illegal. His ass got more screen time… but equally disturbing. I am happy to report that I am still a heterosexual having been tested by Foley’s enormous ass. Huzzah for average male nudity. I feel wonderfully buff in comparison.

This film is far too real at times. What is comedic to us as the viewer would actually be tragic at the time. This falls within my theory on family: Any given week in any given family goes from tragic to dull to briefly funny, but concentrated in a sitcom format, or, as in this case, to 92 minutes, creates comedy. I was laughing to hard to care if the Cooper family would survive the day, or indeed, what happened to the chain smoking grandma that disappeared to bed at noon. Personally, I suspect she passed away shortly before a tragically drunk Jason Jones starts sliding turkey and stuffing under her locked bedroom door. This was one lose end left over that I haven’t considered until just now.

I have to be very cautious in what I write here. It would be horribly irresponsible of me to give away too much in a review, such as this being the first time I have ever seen a grown man sitting on a toilet trying to poop on the big screen. (See what I mean?)

You know what it is about. You know that I like it very much. I am assured that it will see the big screen in November in some of those other big cities in Canada.

I watched the movie at the Vancouver International Film Festival and as with film festivals everywhere, the director is often in attendance. Warren P. Sonoda was indeed sitting at the back and answered some questions after the film.

I never really know what to ask. I really want to say something intelligent. I have any number of questions to ask, ranging from the technical boring things about cameras and aspect ratios and formats, (which only really serve to show off my knowledge and annoy everyone else who has a genuine question) to that eternal and pointless question to any artist “Where did you get your ideas from?”

So Mr. Sonoda, if should wander upon this blog, let it be known that I had no honest unselfish questions for you, but did want to thank you personally for making me remember and laughing until I had the tears on a Sunday morning. I have no schmoozing skills, and I worry that I’ll only end up begging you to hire me, which would be embarrassing for both of us.

Friday, October 02, 2009

fromage cottage.

the last few weeks in polaroids.

Pictures are faster than words.

Polaroids are the fastest.

My crew.

My spotter.

The best part of my old job.

Waited for planes a lot.

Party time!

Too much party time.

One comment too many.

Pensive pose on a ferry.

Punk love boat.

Not taken in 1978.

The business.

God of profit!

A fast, red machine for doing things.

Stuck up ducks.

Maximize cuteness for survival reasons.

Angry duck.

My new facebook profile picture.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

paris hilton's new bff.

The best part of flying these days is the free teevee. I love teevee and I have no patience for the holier than thou attitude of those who claim to live without it. You may not own one, but you are influenced by it.

To me, it is another medium, a medium that demands funds and more people involved in creating it, and thus is more prone to shit art than say, a painting. So a viewer has to be more careful.

And so, here I am, writing from 40 000 feet while I watch something stunning on my personal television: Paris Hilton’s new BFF.

Wow.

This is unquestionably a waste of technology and media, however it is rather fun to watch absolute stupidity. I have only see it once before and the concept is a little alarming. A woman, whose only contribution to society is being very wealthy, decides to seek out a new friend. Paris has nothing to offer us other than someone to mock. Her joke on us is that she just doesn’t care.

The new friend has to be chosen from a bunch of college age girls and one gay boy. The gay boy wasn’t able to complete the challenge of dancing for shirtless frat boys on a stripper pole. Instead, he cried in the least masculine way possible, and by that I mean chewing on his scarf. (Yeah, I know, a scarf in the heat of a Las Vegas summer. And he's not even Québecois). None of the girls had an issue with stripping to their bikinis and seemed most concerned with letting the camera know that they are not actual strippers, but are bikini dancers. At that point, does it matter? Ladies, you are whoring your bodies at the word of a spoiled brat that you worship while cameras role. You have no dignity. Strippers actually have oodles more integrity than that.

All these small minded people are seriously competing for a vacuous friendship. At least, that is what it seems. I want to believe that some of these girls, maybe even the obviously stereotypical gay boy, are actually mocking the whole affair. Paris wants to find a for real friend as she has been burnt before, supposedly, so has decided that reality teevee is the venue to find someone ‘real’.

Oh, something happened. The gay boy didn’t get eliminated because he agreed to get his precious hair wet and swim out to Paris. If he is acting, he is marvelous. If he is for real, I am so sorry to the gay community for having to put up with yet another cliché prominently displayed in the media for every homophobe to mock and laugh at.

Watching this, I feel very guilty for giving this show any audience at all. I’m not sure why anyone would compete for anyone’s friendship. And it's on the much music station, whose audience is supposed to be 12 to 25. Good life lesson.

I also feel quite happy that if this shit has made it past many producers and various levels of editing and so forth, anything I make can be of at least slightly more important than Paris Hilton’s quest for the perfect friend.

Friday, July 31, 2009

put that in your milk.

Another of Dr Steve Brule's rules.

my old neighbourhood

The following youtube video is from CBC's Wiretap with Jonathan Goldstein. He lives in the same neighbourhood that I used to call home. In fact, the phone booth is only a hundred and so feet from my old front door.

I miss it... my front door that is.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

levi.

Despite what many seem to believe, making movies is not easy, even short ones.

I made this in Montréal under the guidance of a producer and the very professional help of Toby the sound guru. As with anything worth doing, it had a certain about of pain and ego bruising. If I did my job right, as editor and camera guy, I shouldn't have to explain this little short documentary.

I embedded this video from whoweare.ca which is a fine little site.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

jamaican food for your mouth hole.

I'm half moved to Vancouver now.

While walking around Commercial drive and seeking food stuffs, I stepped into a Jamaican restaurant along with French Panic and my sister in law. It seemed familiar and as I was eating delicious jerk chicken I realized why. I had seen it before along with an excellent story.

And here it is, embedded from whoweare.ca which is where two of my little projects are also posted.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

sour milk.

I wish I could say that I made this, but I didn't.

Still it would be a shame to not pass it along.

And that is indeed Oscar nominated actor John C Reilly.

Truly a genius.

things I like about montréal - number 4

Groll street.

In the midst of Mile End is a cute little street only available to the non-car people… like French Panic and myself.

It is a short street with people’s houses abutting it on both sides in that very Montréal sort of way. Graffiti, most of it very creative, decorates these walls, which I’m sure sort of pisses off the home owners. I like to think I wouldn’t mind if it was my house, cause it wouldn’t matter. Like having a grudge match with the ocean, anger towards street artists has exactly zero effect.

I have no idea why it is named Groll, or what Groll even means. I’m not going to bother trying to find out either.

Every time we walk near Groll to go anywhere, I insist on walking down it… and then down the alleys that connect to it. It makes me smile, and that is some special street.

I’m going to miss you, Groll street.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

things I like about montréal - number 3

Drawn and Quarterly.

I grew up reading graphic novels. Except they were called comics back then and despite the fact that for me they were always in French, it still annoyed my mother who thought that literature was only that which had no pictures.

But I remained loyal to my heros Tintin, and Asterix, and happily spent my summers at the cabin absorbing countless short graphic novels of adventure.

I was so happy to find that one short block away from my little Montréal home was a book store/publisher dedicated to the graphic novel. It even has books with no pictures in them, but I still like the ‘comics’ best.

Although I can’t afford to buy everything in the store, it is where I shop for gifts and where I like to spend an hour on the way home from a café.

I will miss browsing your many books, Drawn and Quarterly.

Monday, June 08, 2009

things I like about montréal - number 2

Ice covered trees.


This is an odd one, as I don’t actually like the winter in Montréal, nor will I miss it, nearly at all.

But every once in a while a Montréal winter will be quite beautiful. At some point every year, the ice seems to coat everything. This keeps most people off the Mount Royal (the big hill the locals call a mountain in the middle of the city) leaving me and a very few other brazen people to try their luck on the icy paths. You can’t run, but some people try, which is great fun to laugh at.


The ice just sits on top of everything making all the trees and branches seem like some sort of crystal sculpture. And because most Montréalers are busy foolishly trying to drive most people seem to miss it, angry at the ice instead.

I’m going to miss you, ice covered trees.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

things I like about Montréal - part 1

We are leaving Montréal soon. Not because we are done with it, but just cause we got to. I’m not so good at leaving places that I like. I get sad.

Here is the first in a few entries about things I like about Montréal and will miss.

Then, I’ll try writing about things that I won’t miss about Montréal and that should about balance things out for me.

Bagels.

A Montréal bagel, for me, has to be one from either St. Viateur or Fairmont. I know they are probably exactly the same in taste, and I go to St. Viateur more often because it is a block closer, but I always prefer Fairmont bagels.


 

That’s only because that was my only landmark to find French Panic’s apartment when I came to visit way back then. Montréal seemed way too cool for me to actually live in then.

 

I thought all this fuss over bagels was bullshit. But it wasn’t. Just like when you think you spent too much on wine and it turns out there is a reason why it was more expensive; so too with bagels. Except the best part is that the bagels themselves aren’t that expensive.

 

Going to Fairmont Bagels means a longer walk, which I usually like since there is always something to see. On library days French Panic and I would walk all the way to the library together looking at stuff and then talking about it. The library is another subject though. The important thing is stopping at Fairmont Bagels on the way home.

 

The best thing about Fairmont Bagels is that they also have new york pretzels.



I like to wait until I get home and then eat them with mustard while I look through my newly gotten library booty.

French Panic doesn’t like to wait as long.



It’s hard to be patient and it’s true for the bagels at least, that there is a small window in a bagel’s life when even seconds can count on just how good it tastes. That seems extreme, but they really do taste different as time goes on. In fact, they end up tasting the same as any other bagel a day later, which made for lack luster appeal from the guys I’m working with.

 Apparently you can order the bagels anywhere in Canada and they will send them to you, but I don’t really think that would be the same at all. There is no way I can just get up at 3 am and go and get a fresh, oven baked bagel and day of the year, even Christmas, anywhere else. It’s those little unique things about a place, any place, that makes it special.

 I’ve had good bagels in Vancouver too, so it won’t be like I’m suffering at all. But that’s not the point of missing something. Certain things cannot be replaced and you just have to let go.

And I’m gonna miss you, bagel shop.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

I'm back.

I have not written much lately. Nor have I taken many brilliant photos.

French Panic and I have been busy with life lately. She has written more eloquently about events than I have so far managed.

The economy is bad, I’m told.

I don’t understand it, despite two university classes named economy. I lost sight of the point shortly after demand and supply. What I do understand is that when shit goes down, the arts suffer first.

So all the funding ‘promised’ has not materialized.

So far, I’ve made a total of 500 bucks, 300 still outstanding, as a filmmaker. I’ve also been told that I’m on the cusp of making a living at this, but that same person told me to apply for welfare after my EI runs out.

I refuse to do so while I still have no children to feed and working legs, brain and hands.

And that is why I’m back in Hinton town working as a rappel fire fighter.

As sad as I am to leave French Panic back in Montréal, I need to be out here. It is my happy place and there has been precious few happy moments in the last 2 months since disaster struck.

But other things have happened.

I had a piece of me that was growing just under my scalp removed and named it Murray.

I bought my second apple laptop and named it Jezebel 3.

I made a short documentary as part of my presentation at work, and it was well received. I did not name it.

And I made two short documentaries that are now posted on the internet here and here. Please comment there, good or bad. I'm very proud of them as it represents a certain attainment as a rookie filmmaker... in fact, I might call it my graduation from just another mile ender with a camera and a laptop, to someone with actual skill and potential.

Eventually I will expand on all these adventures, but it is 2:30 on a Saturday afternoon and I still haven’t had a coffee.

More later.

Friday, February 27, 2009

it's okay to feel good.

This video made me happy... but I didn't make this.




Search youtube for French Panic until she becomes viral.... but not actually viral. I miss her and I'd rather not get her back sick.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

French Panic speaks out and Pamplemousse agrees with her

Living in Canada is a good thing... mostly.

All the medicare and democracy in the world doesn't quite make up for the months of January, February and March. It is usually cold and miserable. When it isn't quite as cold, it tends to be melty, which leads to slush, which is cold anyway. So unless you get a sunny day and a dry spot, you are pretty much certain to be uncomfortable to some degree outside. There is no christmas like holiday in the lot of those 3 months. Just some lame runners up created not to celebrate the joy of life, but instead to prop up the greeting card industry and the makers of green beer.

Having been born and raised here, I fully expect winter. The snow and ice come every year, and unless you live on the west coast, there is no exception to this.

However, Canadians also love to bitch and whine. And what do they whine about? The one thing none of us can do anything about: the weather.

I have never once heard a farmer in Canada happy with the weather. It's either 'too wet' or 'too dry' or 'too hot' or 'too cold' and then when it does get wet they manage to complain about the timing of it all... as if it's the government's fault.

That seems to be a key element to the Canadian lifestyle; No matter what the issue is, you can be sure that us Canadians are blaming the government of the land for it.

It isn't just farmers that whinge, mind you. Having recently been out to Vancouver, a spot in Canada mostly seeing winter as one long rain shower where the grass stays green all year, I can tell you that even those in Lotus land still manage to complain about the winter.

'It's real cold out today, don't yah think?'

Well no, 5 degrees above (Celsius America... 41 Farenheit) in February is actual quite warm. Does Vancouver honestly expect that the temperature should always be 22 degrees C?

'But it's a wet cold, you see. And there is a small pile of snow over there. Please don't step in it. We're trying to perserve it for as long as we can.'

Yeah, so put on a sweater and down vest and try walking a little faster. Problem solved.

Every province and territory has the same lame ass joke, and each region thinks it is their Dad's wisdom, exclusive to that area. The joke invariably goes 'Don't like the weather? Wait 5 minutes!" This is followed by laughing on the part of the supposed comedian which is never a good sign humour.

I thought that maybe in my move to the land of the French I would avoid such pointless weather talk and we could talk instead about minority rights and how hard done by everyone here is. I am sad to say that the Québecois also talk about the weather. And when they find out that you are from somewhere else, they like to ask how cold a winter you've dealt with.

Being from a prairie town means that both French Panic and I have both muddled through temperatures as cold as -50 on the occasional winter. It is rare that things dip so low in Edmonton, but it has happened. Usually the schools would close, but not always. I still remember going out the door at -40. Honestly, for those who haven't had the pleasure, it feels exactly like going outside in -20 weather, but it all happens faster. Also, in either case, it feels like someone has punched you in the lungs. I'm not meaning to join in the bitch session. I accept that every year it will get cold out... until it doesn't and then watch out.

When I've informed a happy Québecer that I have seen -50, they quickly tell me how 'around here, it is 'a wet cold, tu vois? It feel much colder.'

Sound familiar? That's because that is exactly what West Coast folk say, which is exactly what the east coast folk will say. It comes from being located next to a large body of water. Idiots. Why not just mention over and over again how the sky is blue, each time being more surprised than the last?

It's a stupid conversation/competition. No one's winter is easy. Though I would suggest that Vancouver and Victoria folk have quite a bit less to whine about. We all get cranky and stay inside more and put on a few extra pounds. But we all want to have had the worst winter.

Part of the problem, I suspect, is that we humans are collectively stupid. It's sort of scary. Winter happens every year, yet that first snow day brings endless lists of fender benders. Does the suddenly whitish road not clue drivers into the fact that it is now slippery? Apparently not.

While I've heard many jokes at the expense of westerners in my stay out here in Montréal, (who knew that an Alberta joke would be the new newfie joke of our day) the one thing that happens in winter in the west is that we help each other out. You see someone stuck in a snow bank, you stop and if you have time, help push them out.

This is the benefit of misery; if others are suffering they will be more likely to help out those suffering more. Out west I've seen the most unlikely people helping each other out. Hippy helping redneck. Racist helping out a Pakistani person. Misery brings us closer together. No one wants a medal. Just a smile and a thanks.

Apparently not in Montréal. I have helped drivers out and at first it was just because that is how I grew up. Here they don't want the help. I have pushed without asking, knowing there was no other way out of the situation, only to be glared at. Granted, many more people have been very thankful and surprised.

Now I push people out of snow banks because I cannot stand the sound of a car engine in obvious distress. I hate the stench of rubber burning, of transmission fluid burning. It isn't healthy for anyone, and it won't get you out of the snow and ice any faster. At that point, only someone pushing, or some traction under your tires, will do anything at all for you.

Winter happens every fucking year. It really should not be a surprise anymore. And by now, Montréal, you should have figured out that gunning your engine until the snow under your tires is actually ice, will not get you any further ahead in life. I have heard people hit the gas pedal for over 45 minutes. I believe that is the definition of insanity... doing the same action repeatedly hoping for a different result.

Being far more to the point than me, as usual, here is French Panic in her online video debut.


video




Saturday, February 14, 2009

the best thing I overheard today.



Question to Tibetan Lama: Do you know Oprah?

Answer from Tibetan Lama: The woman, right? Umm. Yes.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

suddenly and unexpectedly in vancouver.


For reasons I’d rather not get into on the cold and heartless information super highway, I am in Vancouver for a largely undetermined amount of time.

Not only am I in Vancouver, but I’m living in Yaletown, temporarily.

I had not heard of Yaletown before, or if I had, I blissfully ignored it. Turns out it is what is growing out of what was, to my 13 year old self, the expo 86 site.

I barely remember anything from that time, except that my hypochondriac Nana had ‘forgotten’ to bring her handicap sign thereby pissing of my father who had counted on good parking for the motorhome. In his mind, that was the only advantage to having the old boot along. (My dad used to like to call her ‘old boot’. They did not get along in a manner that would, had it been in 30 minute increments and only once a week, made for a great sitcom. Sadly, it was a long trip from Edmonton to the 1986 Vancouver and families don’t function on a 30 minute, once a week timeline.)

My dad, ever the resourceful bush pilot did something amazing that you rarely see these days; he improvised. Suddenly a ruler, a yoghurt lid and a red marker was turned into a fresh, and convincing, forgery of a handicap sign.

Nana had a nasty habit of conveniently forgetting massively important items leaving her care givers in the lurch and causing a great deal of drama. My Nana loved the drama.

As a result, I abhor drama in my personal life. For me, it should be in movies only. However, no matter how you avoid it, tragedy will come to us all in some form. As I alluded to, I am currently getting through some of that sort of drama and looking forward to when it becomes a dramedy (comedy = tragedy + time, which becomes a dramedy when made into a touching film with laughs that can still qualify for an oscar). In this case, it is not likely to happen within my lifetime.

Yaletown is not expo 86 though. It is an area lacking soul. (I can't remember if Expo 86 had any soul either. It is only a blur of a memory now.) According to a close friend all of Vancouver not only lacks soul, but also genitals. I have not explored enough to accept this fully. However, I will agree that Yaletown lacks genitals. It seems very safe… like a Ken doll. It has many dogs that are taken care of not as dogs, but as children. And that means store fronts dedicated to doggy clothing, doggy grooming, doggy hospitals which I imagine also has doggy pediatricians for the puppies. There is a dog park or two, closely monitored to prevent dogs from ‘escaping’ into leash only areas.

I love dogs. But I know dogs enjoy being dogs and do not enjoy wearing raincoats. I can see it in their eyes. These are not the sort of dog that still have any wolf genetics left in them. How can a dog show any aggression after a 2 hour massage and reiki treatment? They look too relaxed to even sniff a butt or two.


There are also many cafés. That should appeal to me, but many are starbucks. Starbucks is the devil and has raped coffee. I will go to starbucks when I’m about to fly only because they are always in airports and do a moderately better job than Tim Horton’s. I know I’m pissing a lot of people off here, but coffee making is an art form, not something that can be automated and still provide the same level of enjoyment. As with anything artistic, it requires love, care and ritual. Ritual cannot be had where packaged world music is on sale.

Still, I needs me my coffee.

What is good about Yaletown? Well, some things. First off, there is a lovely path and when it rains, the yuppies stay inside and I can walk along by myself watching the rain drops on False Creek. The other night I was able to sneak up on a blue heron. She took off pretty quick when I finally made a noise. And, of course, there is the smell of the ocean.


I have to accept that yuppies are people too. They just have different priorities. I have met a pair of yuppies that I quite like. One even called me an interesting person, which I take as a compliment. I have always strived to be interesting, and this means I’m on the right path for that. I may not be rich, but I’m interesting to the rich.

Now if they could only pay my rent, I’ll gladly live somewhere else and visit Yaletown to drink their decidedly better wine than mine.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

why I love cartoons (plus an episode of my current favorite).

There are few things better in the universe of Pamplemousse than a well made animated comedy type show. It perhaps comes from a long lost time of my youth when my parents would drive into Edmonton from my childhood home town of Spruce Grove to attend an Amway meeting.

That's right. My parents, for some years, sold Amway door to door. It even took me to Disney Land as a 6 year old, since that is where the conference was.

On an interesting side note, my brother was conceived on that trip. This bit of family lore is more disturbing when you factor in that we only had one hotel room and it was shared with my grandmother, me, my 4 year old sister and my parents. I pray that the deed was done when the Amway youth coordinator took me and my sister away to do some kid related activity.

My parents were also on a born again christian kick at the time and that called for a trip to the crystal cathedral. As a result of that period of christianity, my brother's middle name is Graham after Billy Graham. This has absolutely nothing to do with my love of cartoons, but it does make for an interesting snap shot of my family history. For those of you keeping track, that is two cult like activites my parents engaged in.

To be honest, the whole Amway era is a bit of a blur. I was too young to be truly embarrassed by it. I do remember my mom and dad practising their sales technique, which I could tell my father hated doing. I suppose they wanted to be 'financially independant' which is just a nice way of saying filthy rich.

I don't talk about this period in the early 1980's with my parents. Perhaps I should, but I think that they are embarrassed by all the born again and money making ideals that probably didn't seem out of place in the era of shameless money making and wearing of polyester. It could have been worse. They could have developed an addiction to cocaine and key parties.

Anyway, my teevee watching was strictly controlled. I in no way am bitter of this fact. Though I currently love television and am having to force myself to watch it more sparingly, I firmly believe that a child should develop an imagination for her/himself before television completely destroys it.

Amway Saturdays were an exception. While on regular Saturdays I would not be allowed to sit and watch a morning's worth of animated ... well let's face it... crap (at that time anyway) like all my other friends, if Mom and Dad had an Amway meeting with other prospective yuppies, then it was off to home of the local Amway chieftain.

The chieftain's aging mother would watch over me and my sister. No one else had kids under 10, I guess. Or perhaps the other parents sprung for a babysitter.

The old lady would just sit there and smile. I remember her being nice. I remember that she eventually died and that I attended the funeral, which was my first.

I digress.

The real point was that instead of grade 1 homework (my mom always assigned me extra math problems on vacation and weekends in the form of work books. This I do harbour resentment for.), I instead took advantage of the old lady and my parents' being distracted by dreams and promises of easy wealth. I watched cartoons.

I don't remember which cartoons, but I remember that I watched them for the entire length of the meeting and that I loved them. Back then I loved adventure cartoons with super heros and such.

Later, as my french immersion progressed, I read bande déssinée which is just french for comic book. My mother was horrified (and continues to be) as in her mind cartoons offer nothing but pablum for the brain.

She is, of course, wrong. Much can be learnt from cartoons. Languages can be easily learnt through cartoons. At least the learning is faster than with grammar text books. I even had a comic book bible which provided me with a wealth of theological knowledge that is still trapped in my brain. How else could I remember bible stories having not attended a sermon since the age of 17 and still go head to head with crazed fundamentalist christians?

Cartoons offer an escape. Animation makes anything possible. Which is why I love them so.

This overly long post is all to introduce to those that have not seen it, my new favorite toon... Lucy Daughter of the Devil. I don't need to explain it... it does a fine job all on it's own.

Please enjoy,

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

fuck confidence.

It is the usual fear/depression ridden post-holiday season.

The weather is shit.

It was shit before, but all the lights and christmas trees and menorahs are now conspicuously absent as is the cheer. I think most of us are now tired of our gifts which have become merely something more we own, and we have to face the results of the orgy of consumerism. I still have that visa bill to open... I’m giving myself another day or so...

As with the weather, my mood is also shit.

Recently, I have been working. When I mean working, I mean leaving our little home and going to somewhere else where there are almost zero distractions.

Zero distractions are good for me. I believe I probably would get more done in life if I lived in a hippy commune or a monastery. I wouldn’t be happy though. Happiness trumps getting things done every time. Admittedly, I do feel enormously happy when things are done too... sometimes I’m complex.

I was editing a demo about a boxer. For those not living in artsy fartsy Mile End or the world of filmmaking, a demo is a short video about a project that a filmmaker would like to do, but requires more money to do and thus must show various funding agencies and production companies what she/he intends to do with the project, thus convincing them that have the money, to part with it.

So that was my task. The work was good. I did learn a lot. But as with all learning comes the beating that the ego receives.

‘You’re still a neophyte editor – don’t feel bad... You’re technical skills need improving.... Why did you do that?... In other work places this would be unacceptable... You’d probably be fired or something...’

I’m paraphrasing some of that. I’m very fond of my producer. To be fair to both of us, he is an experienced producer/director, and I am a relatively new editor. I am very aware that I have much to learn and accept that much of what he said, though unnecessary to verbalize, was true.

Essentially the message was that I lacked confidence.

It’s that word... confidence, that currently pisses me off. I will come down with great fury on the next person that suggests I need more confidence, self or otherwise.

It is not that I lack the knowledge, or that my skills preclude me from finishing tasks. It is that I wish not to pretend knowing things when I do not. Other people think of this as a lack of confidence; I see it as honesty. The terminology gets a little murky here. What I hear referred to as confidence sounds more like arrogance... and I fear arrogance. It is a most dangerous trait.

If I tell someone that I do not know something, but that I will endeavor to find out, that is not me being meek, that is me being my honest self. I do have every confidence that with a reasonable amount of time, I will find the right answer. With experience, the time required to answer correctly will drop.

In the fast pace of today (everyone seems to think that the ‘today’ is fast paced – when wasn’t it?) an answer, whether right or wrong is what is required. Bosses will push for an answer. They generally don’t want to hear ‘Give me a minute and I’ll get back to you’ or ‘I’m not sure. I will look into it and find the correct answer.’

Imagine a lowly intelligence analyst working away in some dungeon of an office wondering when he/she will have a desk next to a window, getting a phone call demanding an immediate answer.

Big boss: ‘That photo I’m looking at taken by a satellite... that looks like trucks full of nerve gas, right?’

Lowly analyst: ‘I’m not sure, sir. Perhaps, but I’ll need to look into it some more. We really need a better angle on this to know, cause it might just be a fuel truck...’

Big boss: ‘What the hell?! Don’t you have any confidence? Come on, show us what sort of an education you’ve got, college boy. Gimme an answer. That’s what we pay you for, isn’t it?’

This is probably how the latest Gulf War started; an unreasonable demand for instant answers. How about a ‘I’m confident that I’m not sure.’ Would that wildly speculated conversation have led to more reasonable decision?

Most of us don’t have daily decisions that have that sort of historical impact (mistake). Most of us have jobs that have the same level of stress artificially induced by assholes who having read the latest management book to hit the best seller list think being bold and demanding is the ultimate sign of leadership and that results matter more than the manner in which the results were achieved. [Again, I must note that my producer is a friend and not actually an asshole... most of the time. This paragraph does not actually apply to him in any way.]

The sad truth is that we all have to contend with the notion of instant answer, instant results... no one has patience anymore, it seems. The pressure to perform, ironically, tends to come from those who cannot perform themselves.

We should all slow down a bit and realize that the correct answer is more important than just any answer.

And I have to realize that learning is not always fun and nearly always results in some level of ego bruising. I’m alright though. Someone called last night, and told me I did good. And the producer thanked me too. Tomorrow will likely be a better day.