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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in orpheus_emerged's LiveJournal:

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Thursday, August 28th, 2008
8:19 am
To Everything, Change, Change, Change
We've just moved to a new apartment easily twice the size of our old one, with a beautiful court yard with trees and bird feeders, a little two story brick building with wrought iron adornments. It was just renovated prior to our arrival, the stove and fridge are virginal, the bathroom fixtures pristine and white, the two sinks in the kitchens shine with untarnished splendour and all of the light switches and outlets have been replaced. And yet despite it's improvements it has retained it's historical flavour with large baseboards, mouldings, a fireplace with mantle (the fireplace has been filled, insulated, and covered with a decorative bronze faceplate), a deep old tub, hardwood floors, window sills deep enough to sit on, and radiator coils appearing every three feet or so.

We're across the street from a firehall built in 1901, which thankfully doesn't turn it's sirens on until it's well away from here, and primarily exists only to allow us to watch firefighters wash their truck for hours every day in little blue shorts.

Down the street is what appears to be some sort of religious school and community theatre in an old cathedral, which includes a nice long park filled with other dogs for mine to get incredibly excited at and an eclectic mix of people practicing their tai-chi.

The property of our neighbours are absolutely gorgeous, houses that belong in black and white photographs in some coffee table book about the history of the city, complete with towers and sculpted gargoyles beneath custom shingle encrusted roofs embraced with trees.

The contrast between this quiet, dark, respectable domicile and the boisterous, rotting carcass of our old apartment is stark - it's melting walls, encrusted carpets, mud filled basement, and rooms festooned with children away from their parents for the first time in their lives situated near several dozen drinking establishments on one of the busiest streets in the city... I can still smell it on me, the memory of it's noise and inconvenience causing my nerves to vibrate.

Only someone who has endured the necessity of an old elevator (more than 50 years old) can fathom my joy at living at ground level.


We painted the walls green, and then spent five days moving everything we own a single block, mostly with the use of a shopping cart - it was grueling terrible work, from morning to night, my muscles are knotted and pinched and my feet are swollen. My fair delicate hands have developed this odd... hard layer on top of the skin. I sleep like the dead. The entire experience has resolved me to hire professional movers next time, and damn the expense! The only time I should ever need to expend my precious stores of energy like that my life had better be in serious danger, or I should be having sex.

Having a nice place brings with it an unavoidable compulsion to fill it with nice things, this 'nesting syndrome' has me firmly in it's grasp, and I imagine purchasing a new bed, a couch, a work desk, etc. My basic nomadic nature is being challenged, and my fighting spirit is dwindling. There's only so long one can sleep on a mattress that has known several generations of love before you managed to take possession of it, only so long you can be content with reclining in a broken old chair you found on the side of the road, and only so long before the allure of comfort, reliability and familiarity takes hold. It's an uncomfortable transition, and I dislike the taste of it, soon I'll be talking about buying a boat and pondering the happy faces of fathers with jealousy.

There will be photos after we've finished decorating and getting everything in order.




In little more than a week I can officially call myself 'Professor'.

I needn't remind you there will be no foolish wand-waving or silly incantations in my classroom.

Nyuk nyuk nyuk.
Monday, April 21st, 2008
5:29 pm
I Want to Ride My Bicycle, I Want to Ride My Bike...
The bike I ordered online failed to arrive, apparently there are some models they can't ship to Canada, and I was forced to take a look around town for a suitable replacement.

I went to 'Bikes on Wheels' in the Kensington Market, having heard the staff there were friendly to complete neophytes like me and I wasn't disappointed; I walked out of there with a Jamis Commuter 3.0, a rear rack, Kryptonite lock and several other accoutrements.

All I was really looking for was a way to get in shape without the tedium of a gym or the group activities of a sport, and if a bicycle allowed me to circumvent the TTC Strike, well, so much the better.

My enjoyment of the bike has been so much more than that! Not only do I find my morning and afternoon rides to and from work enjoyable in and of themselves, but I no longer have to endure the horrors of a subway/street car commute. I've cut the time it takes me to get to work clean in half, and when I arrive I'm absolutely awake, bright eyed and bushy tailed instead of melting into my seat with half-lidded eyes amidst a hypnopompic haze.

It'll take more than half a year before the bike pays for itself, but I consider it money well spent.

Here's a picture of the bike itself (I took a cruiser out for a test run, and despite how fabulous they look, I just couldn't stand the lumbering awkwardness of steering the damn things):



I have some subversive art to make for a friend this evening, I've caught up on my scenes and revisions at work for the first time in several weeks, the summer has crashed into us spectacularly, I have new suits and a wedding to attend shortly and a vacation in Vancouver to look forward to come early June, video games to play, comics to read (Mignola's Hellboy Volume #1 Hardcover), and many fun adventures like a trip to the zoo and another showing of the Evil Dead Musical on my agenda.

Things are coming up Millhouse!
Monday, March 24th, 2008
10:24 pm
I'm far too lazy to post anything of consequence so instead, PHOTOS!Collapse )
Friday, March 14th, 2008
12:31 am
We adopted a dog!

Perusing the Craigslist, nonchalantly looking at animals and rants about city animal services, I stumbled across an adorable creature; a pharaoh hound cross with a delightful beard and bushy old man eyebrows of a ripe four years of age in desperate need of a home.

His owner was in a terrible fix, wanting to hold onto her pet but no longer capable of caring for him.

We arranged to meet, took him for a walk, and took him home.

I now introduce to you, Hennessy!Collapse )

I also have a new obsession with good ol' fashioned wetshaving with a single blade safety razor. The difference between shaving with canned goo and a disposable plastic razor versus a solid safety razor and hand whipped warm lather is immense.

The luxuriousness is almost too much, often I must rest after with a fez, smoking jacket and pipe and allow the vapours to pass.


Also, we received a great deal of snow recently, apparently it's been in the news - frankly, I've hardly noticed because the temperature has been relatively high.

Here's some more photos from our balcony.Collapse )
Tuesday, March 11th, 2008
8:58 pm
It was pointed out to me today that I have a nearly infantile level of optimism, which isn't to say that I'm not a moody bastard as well, but only that in general I have a disarming amount of faith in things to turn out well.

Equally infuriating, it seems, is my uncanny ability to land on my feet despite all rational evidence indicating the opposite to be more likely.

Most of this is laziness; it's simply easier to assume all will be well than to spend so much mental energy worrying over it, and the rest of my sunny disposition I owe entirely to Insurance Statistics.

Yes, comforting Insurance Statistics allow me to sleep soundly, because while government census and research completes the picture, it's the accuracy and relevance of the logistics of insurance financing that fills the bulk of our knowledge regarding the quality of life in this and other countries. Updated yearly, if not monthly, and going back for generations, these companies have made a fine art of tracking illness, death and suffering in both their customers and those they deny service.

The numbers tell us that less than a single percentage of us will ever know homelessness, rape, starvation, illiteracy or murder.

The vast majority of us will live to be, on average, 75, and even the poorest level of our social strata will have enough money in pensions and savings to live in relative comfort in our autumn years.

When we do die, eventually, the vast majority of us will do so in a hospital bed or in our home, amidst a haze of drugs from either heart failure or cancer as our bodies simply succumb to the ravages of age and a long life well spent.

Despite what some social institutions will have you believe, the majority of us will never be mugged, or even assaulted.

Most of us will not suffer from a mental disorder, despite rising percentages in recent years (which most, I believe, attribute to the decline of a stigma associated with mental illness and the availability of testing).

The third leading cause of death is suicide, surprisingly much more likely than car accidents and signifigantly less likely than cancer and heart disease. Most of us who die by our own hands will be over 65, and most of them will be male, usually facing a long hard road of cancer or illness ahead of them.

The average income is between $35,000 and $45,000 - a far cry for the truly wealthy, but aristocrats compared to much of the world. With cars, computers, property and disposable income for televisions and whatnot.

Infant mortality rates are nearly non-existent, a statistical insignifigance.

We are nearly free of the diseases which have plagued us for thousands of years; we do not die of our teeth or from contaminated water, we do not die of fevers, infections or plagues and we can routinely survive even the most horrendous incidents (such as our heart stopping or a car encountering our soft fleshy body at incredible speeds).

Even the poorest of us, so long as they have not suffered too terribly from financial ruin, are capable of accessing incredible levels of credit and capital so long as we are content to agree upon paying an interest upon it.

The majority of us can, and will, attend college or university (though whether or not they will graduate or get anything of worth from the experience is debatable).

Of the minority of us who experiment with hard drugs (about 4.8%) fewer than 20% will become addicted. The most common, and of course the most damaging, intoxicant is alcohol. Regardless, fewer than 12% of all drinkers will ever develop a drinking problem. Of those addicted to drugs or alcohol who pursue rehabilitation of their own volition 68% will kick the habit for good.

Taking into account every government in the world, there is twice as much spent on education today then there is on the military.

There are more overweight people in the world than there are underweight people to the tune of at least 200 million.

There are more abortions than there are deaths by communicable diseases to the tune of about 4 million.

The most likely cause of accidental or preventative deaths is car accidents, and even then, only about 50,000 people died from car accidents in 2007 - a number so low compared to natural deaths (over 10 million) as to be rendered absolutely inconsequential.

The majority of people who are unfortunate enough to be molested, murdered or otherwise seriously and criminally bothered by someone else will have it done to them by someone they know closely - even the worst ghettos of this country are safe to walk in at night.



In conclusion to this rambling collection of uplifting facts, this country is incredibly safe, with an enormous social safety net, where an overwhelming majority of people who despite their differences are good, responsible, non-violent and healthy.

Crime has been dropping steadily, along with the prevalence of armed conflict in the world, and despite the threat of terrorism we have never been as safe as we are now in the whole of our existence as a species.

And hey, if all that material safety and prosperity isn't enough to brighten your day, then how about the results of the Toronto Sex Survey that polled over 6,000 people? More than half of us are currently in a long term monogamous relationship, and the majority of those in those relationships are content and having sex at least twice a week (or every other day) and up to 70% of us consider ourselves 'romantic'.

Just warms the cockles of your heart doesn't it?
Saturday, February 16th, 2008
11:07 pm
After a confusing consultation with ornery car rental staff, we eventually acquired a vehicle to travel to Sudbury for the weekend; an upgraded mini-van, given the lack of an economy car, and full coverage care of the agency.

There had been a considerable amount of snow, but the temperature was nearly in the positive range and the roads were cleared, so we set out without much trepidation.

By the time we had left the city and it's dizzying maze of highway entrances and exits the skies had begun to vent their fury upon us... snow flurries obscured the road, trucks threw up sudden bursts of blinding slush, and the windshield wiper fluid froze to the windshield.

We eventually slowed to a crawl shortly after the sun went down, stuck behind a grater truck spewing salt in all directions, meandering at less than 50 klm/hr. Only one side of the highway was cleared, and occasionally another vehicle could be seen pushing it's way through the snow on the other side with desperate patience.

The trip took an inordinate amount of time, but safe and sound we arrived, exhausted upon the doorstep of our hosts.

The reason for our presence in that great northern land was the celebration of a 25th Wedding Anniversary, given for Viger's parents by their family in the small community of Verner, Ontario (population roughly 1000). Lost in a sea of French-Canadian conversation, I smiled and nodded and enjoyed the comfortable novelty of their rustic surrounding and friendliness. We had moose for dinner, which was a surprisingly dark and delicious meat when roasted to perfection.

Eventually the evening began to wind down, and we prepared to set out for home.. but nature, that callous bitch, had other plans. There were severe windchill, blowing snow and snowsquall (that's when visibility is suddenly reduced to zero as a football field of snow lands on you, having been lifted off a nearby lake) on the radio.

We weighed our options and decided to, given the circumstances, pay for the extra day and stay the night until the storm had blown over. That night would see the temperature drop to -24 degrees (-35 with the windchill), a massive load of snow unceremoniously plopped onto the roads, and other general mayhem. The highways were completely snow covered in some areas, unplowed and nearly empty, simply awaiting the stupid bastards willing to risk their lives upon their treacherous expanse.

...

Unable to wait any longer we set out, squinting through the windshield at the chaos around us, passing car wrecks and fish-tailing eighteen wheelers to make it back into the city where traffic had reached a near stand still. I abandoned the car in the rental lot, dropped the keys through the door, and promised myself never to drive in this forsaken wasteland again.

Photos of our ordeal here.Collapse )
Wednesday, February 6th, 2008
2:59 pm
We've had another stretch of storms, much like the rest of the continent, with snow and freezing rain turning the entire city into a slushy slippery mess.

Big pictures and more under the cut, because I'm too lazy to resize them.Collapse )
Saturday, January 26th, 2008
9:48 pm
I went to a friend's place today to help rid him off some of his worldly goods, as he's downsizing from a house to an apartment, and I managed to snag a waffle maker! Among the bootie there was also some old VHS's like 'Princess Bride', 'Muppets from Space', 'Black Cauldron' and 'My Fair Lady'! All in all, a good haul.

Obviously I had to take immediate action on the waffle front, buttermilk and walnuts were procured and fruits for a smoothie were carefully selected. Breakfast for dinner! I love being an adult.

Generally I dislike television, and in particular medical shows for their melodramatic disregard for medical fact, but I put all that aside for 'House'; Hugh Laurie can have my man-babies.



Look into those eyes and tell me you wouldn't like to... have a nice cup of tea with him.
Friday, January 25th, 2008
6:58 pm
Another year has passed, and our intrepid hero grows ever more in wealth and wisdom... more or less.

My birthday celebrations involved a trip to a local underground (and that is not to say that it is elite, cool or independent so much as it is literally below the ground) bowling alley for beer and nachos and embarrassing feats of athletic prowess.

We were all soundly terrible at it, all skill of my youth vanished over the years, and the sound of bowling balls pounding mercilessly into the hardwood floor resounded throughout the night. The ancient wood varnished speakers energized us with classic hits like 'Convoy'by Bill Fries and some Bill Clinton funkin' up the party while a well weathered barkeep explained the rules of the game and kept us well in stock with cold beers and canned nuts.

The kicker is how sore I was the next day, as apparently even the laziest sport in the world is too much for my frail and underused body.


Days pass, I come to work later and later, but as I'm ahead of schedule no one seems to mind. I stay up late and wake up far too early, read web comics and eat oatmeal, ride the subway and streetcar during rush hour with all the joy that entails, work, sit by the fire in a coffee shop at lunch and read, work until I can escape, ride the subway and street car back during rush hour, and spend the evening watching cartoons or playing video games with the little lady and repeat. And repeat, repeat, repeat. Whenever I get stuck into a predictable pattern like this I begin to go slightly mad, my perception of time begins to dissolve, and the mind numbing boredom sets in. It is not an unpleasant life of course, the job is fine and my hobbies are plentiful, it is only the repetition which dulls me. It would be bearable if I could leave the apartment when I got home, but the cold is such that spending any time outdoors becomes unthinkable - going to the museum, some few blocks away, takes on the characteristic of an arctic adventure, complete with eating the sleigh dogs for sustenance and writing forlorn letters to family members.

Bit of an artistic block lately, it seems I can only draw when I doodle at work - this isn't particularly new but it is frustrating.

As it turns out, the University of Toronto has an exceptionally esteemed psychology department, so esteemed in fact that they only offer it as a science - which means I'd require a calculus, chemistry and biology equivalency to make up for my absence of senior science courses in highschool. I'm not worried about the biology and chemistry, I always received wonderful marks in both, but the calculus might prove difficult - computation is not a talent among my repertoire. I'm undecided as to whether or not I'll take the plunge into education again or wait until next year when my debt will be considerably lower, and whether or not I'll be able to work freelance while I do so. My experience watching university students seems to indicate that lecture time is rather small, two hours a day or so, and that your time is spent in reading more than anything else. I think I've got that in the bag, not to mention my distaste for beer bongs giving me a slight upper hand, but better to err on the side of caution then over-extend to the point of failure.

Veege found a random photo online which apparently holds my exact doppelganger, you be the judge:

Photobucket

Creepy eh?
Wednesday, January 9th, 2008
11:23 am
New Years was spent in a sport's bar in The Beaches where Andre and Dorian played (on guitar/vocals and percussion respectively).

We began pre-drinking at the apartment, where I indulged in one of the more seductive and destructive drinks; the gin and tonic. Half a bottle later we were at the bar, and it was time for stouts and shots of foul tasting liquors while we screamed gentle conversation into each other's faces. Eventually the ball dropped, but I was unaware of it, and we stumbled back to the apartment through the bitter cold finding the passing of one year to another to be of no apparent significance or importance at all.

I've taken up the hobby of listening to lectures while I work, it passes the time and it's more interesting than music. Berkley's in particular has a whole series, including an entire anatomy course by the infamous Dr. Marian Diamond (she caught some flak from feminist groups after proving that there are physical differences between the male and female brain, rather unjustly I should mention, and is a delightful lecturer). Others include some lectures on physics, the nature of infinity and madness, and a plethora of lessons on the brain (Dr. Ramachandran speaks on nearly every issue I'm interested in, but aggravates me slightly because of how pleased he seems to be with himself).

The idea that there's a job out there where you get paid to learn is slowly, and unavoidably, creeping into most of my waking thoughts. The textbooks are no longer enough, the documents empty, without more information and more context to put them in, conversations to bounce my ideas off of others. The odds however seems insurmountable... tuition, and the expense of living without employment while I'm already in debt, is a staggering obstacle. The system itself is designed to weed out the weak it would seem, as finding something as simple as a single email address to speak to an admissions advisor proved exceedingly difficult (once found in the bowels of the endlessly referring webpages I received an immediate automated response telling me everything that email address is NOT for). It is unbelievable that among such an institution there is not a single site that can list or calculate the cost of tuition and the recommended or required supplies so one can set a budget. Is there a secret code I''m missing here? I want to learn, I want to give you thousands of dollars to do so, cater to me god damn it! I don't give a wet fart about your diversity or your water polo team, or whatever else you deem worthy of plastering over every pamphlet and website, just tell me what courses you offer, what degrees they will work towards, how much they cost, and who can attend based on what prerequisites!

Of course, I'm reminded of the terribly disappointing debacle of film school... what should have been a long awaited shangri-la of creative individuals with film and art experience coming together to learn, create and revel in each other turned out to be a collection of completely inexperienced, untalented, unfocused kids who thought the industry would be fun, easy and interesting based on the assumption that liking movies is tantamount to the requirements of making one. The majority never went on to work in animation, or anything related to it, but the vindication is hardly worth the loss of camaraderie I would've felt drawing and working alongside peers.

My thoughts are echoed by Viger's parents, one a lecturing professor and the other a former researcher and teacher, both of whom find the entire system infuriatingly corrupt, incompetent, and filled with a majority of students merely there to postpone the realities of adult life by sleep-walking through classes and attending themed parties at night.

But I want to learn damn it! I want to explore developmental psychology and educational studies, alongside creativity, and meet Sir Ken Robinson someday! And then I'll go and teach, and pull the whole thing down from the inside, and sponsor schools and programs for the 'gifted' instead of the 'challenged'!

And so on, you get the idea... but I wanted to make cartoon characters once too, like the Imagineers and Jim Henson's Creature Creators, until I found out the realities of that business.

Patience.

The holidays were packed with goodies and gifts, and I received a wonderful collection of movies, books and other knick-knacks including 'Sorrows of Empire' and 'Treatise on the Gods' as well as 'Children of Men' and 'The Big Sleep'. I found a south american giant wooden fetish doll for Veege in a cluttered antique shop downtown who now watches over us while we sleep, and managed to fetch myself two new comics everyone should read: 'Scott Pilgrim Gets it Together' (Vol. 4 in the series) and another called 'Black Metal' which is also from Oni Press, and also awesome.

We're experiencing the highest records for January ever recorded in Toronto, the newspapers are calling it the 'Big Thaw', and you can go outside with nothing more than a sweater - it feels like early Autumn.
Saturday, December 15th, 2007
2:19 am
Tales of Daring in the Exotic Orient
Our two week trip to Japan has been fraught with constant adventure and extreme weirdness, amidst the concrete jungles and frequent oasis's of temple tranquility there were equal difficulties battling a baffling language barrier and a cuisine best described as... interesting.

It began unfortuitously on a 13 hour flight across the mighty ocean, comforted only by crushing desire and inability to sleep we forged through the in flight meals and mind numbing banality to arrive in Narita. Our first task; to find the hotel.

The Tokyo subway system is a miraculous achievement, trains arrive on time to the very minute and journey to all corners of the city and continent. It is clean, efficient, and capable of ushering millions of people a day about their daily business without so much as a hiccup. The signs are all in English, and with a rail pass there was no need to worry about exact change or fiddling with the ticket machines (not that it was a terrible concern, the displays have an English option as well). The train conductors, in their stylish blue uniforms and white gloves, move with a fastidious dedication - eyes alert for people to assist. One actually sprinted over to his booth to help us in an otherwise bare station. Furthermore, the Japanese seem to have an innate sense of polite or shy avoidance in complete contradiction to Toronto's shambling commuters who stand in your way, bump you, drop trash everywhere and otherwise make a complete nuisance of themselves.

We arrived at the hotel one confusing sleep deprived subway navigation and one taxi ride later (the taxis require their own description here: to have your own taxi you must have driven under a company for ten years and taken courses in etiquette and navigation. The drivers wear suits, ties, little chauffeur hats and white gloves and cover their seats in removable white doiley like covers. They have no radio blaring garbled dispatcher's voice, and have a dashboard navigation system capable of finding an address by it's phone number and plotting a course there, complete with map and voice instructions. As an added bonus, while their prices are steep, they refuse tips and consider them slightly offensive).

The hostel was slightly less impressive; a former labourers flop-house it had miniscule rooms (literally the size of the futon bed), shared bath and showers of dubious cleanliness, and freezing bathrooms where you poop into holes in the ground. These things could be accepted, after all it was easily the cheapest accomodations by a wide margin, if it weren't for the old men who lived there and would wander the hallway at all hours of the day or night loudly clearning their throats as if trying to remove a live badger that had crawled in seeking warmth.

After Viger had cleaned the entire room with sanitary wet wipes, we slept, and when refreshed, rushed out to greet the dawn of the bustling metropolis known as Akihabara!

Akiba, for those in the know, is a geek mecca, a great culmination of a nation's demand for the needs of nerds with spending power. In every corner stands some brave soul in a bright coat holding a megaphone and possibly a sign, beckoning all those within reach of his constantly bellowing electric voice to sample his wares. Girls in odd and exciting costumes parade about handing out flyers, coupons and tissue paper with ads on them. Yodabashi is easily the most recognizable building, a camera and gadget store only slight smaller than your average football stadium, and it sits next to a plethora of similar shops selling every imaginable electronic gizmo. There was Super Potato, a three story repository for nearly every retro game, from the Atari to the Nintendo 64, thousands and thousands of consoles, strategy guides, controllers, peripheals and games stacked floor to ceiling. Huge buildings entirely dedicated to manga, with each floor set aside for a particular genre. The Tokyo Anime Center, filled with original drawings from classic series as well as life size representations of favourite characters. The Sega building, among many others, had in it's flashing smoke filled bowels row upon row of arcade games where attendants in suits and white gloves silently collected empty beer cans and emptied ash trays for the hypnotized customers. Stores like Yellow Submarine carried esoteric and wildly popular toys, from outrageously expensive collector items to pre-bought toys from vending machines packaged at a slightly higher price so you don't have to risk the randomness of the machine to complete your collection. Add to this a whole other industry that caters to the introverted sexual whim of the dork, like Maid Cafes, where one can be waited on hand and foot by a beautiful young woman in a full French Maid outfit willing to serve you tea and snacks or massage your feet.. or even clean your ears with a frightening array of devices. There are also sex shops with cosplay sections, where one can fulfill the fantasy of sex with a favourite anime character for the small fee of a costume and a willing, if not grudgingly accepting, girlfriend/boyfriend.

And everywhere, everywhere, the Pachinko Parlour - a gambling hall of incredible noise and light choked with smoke and concerning itself with the movements of tiny metal balls. This odd compulsion exists in every corner of Japan, from tiny towns, across from ancient temples, to department stores and arcades. It is all pervasive, and addicting, and we avoided it like the plague.

Harajuku (made recently famous by the likes of Gwen Stefani) is supposed to be the fashion centre of Japan, particularly for the young, and it's tiny twisting lanes are littered with shops and stalls and it's outskirts are festooned with hip designer boutiques, fashion agencies and art galleries. I'm sure for someone interested in that it'd be like a fantastic dream, but for us, it was an annoying sea of slutty teenagers fascinated with crepes and hotpants with leotards and cowboy boots. It was the most crowded area we visited in our entire stay, not unlike a shopping mall after school lets out, and we lingered only long enough to realize we hated it before retreating to the nearby Yoyogi Park (an entirely different experience). The park is everything a public space should be, with every inch occupied by some group or club meeting to play and practice their respective interests. From kite flyers to jugglers, tap dancers, drummers, sword fighters and skateboarders, sports teams, magicians, musicians and animal trainers. With the brightly coloured autumn leaves and elaborate gardens as a backdrop, it was if a fair exists there every day. Not a single performer or musician has a hat or case for the donation of money, they seem to do it simply for the pleasure of it. Street booths near the entrance sell snacks like octopus balls or hotdogs as well as drinks of all sorts to the throngs that pass by, and the outer fence is lined with band after band with full gas generator set-ups including microphones and drum kits. It's also the best place to watch the infamous Tokyo crows, who congregate there in great numbers, bathing in the fountains and staring at the humans about them with some consternation.

Shibuya, home to the renowned 'scramble crossing', proved a delightfully entertaining example of Japanese oddities. When we first exited the station a huge crowd of men with impressive cameras were crowded around two girls, greedily snapping photos or merely gawking. One was a teenager and was singing, and at some point in her indecipherable serenade all the men around her burst into perfectly synchronized dance, including orchestrated shouts, before dispersing afterwards as if nothing had happened. The other girl was much younger, merely 6-7 years old, and simply posed with a puppy or a bottle of tea while her photo was taken. Also at the station was the statue of the faithful dog Hachiko, who waited for nine years for his deceased master to return home from work, eventually endearing himself to the city forever. Further up the street was a hidden store, several stories underground, filled with fantastic toys and comics - particularly some art books easily $100 cheaper than I could buy them for back home. There's also the Love Hotel Village, a quaint and surreal place filled with some bars, sex shops, but mostly just a huge proliferation of campy hotels for married couples and young lovers seeking respectful privacy for their lovemaking. We tried searching for the most ludicrous, but despite their colourful lobbies with bubbling glass doorways and thriving bouquets of fresh roses (or signs advertising rental sex toys and costumes) their rooms were pretty vanilla. The most adventurous had ceiling mirrors or glow-in-the-dark bath water, but that's about it. We passed 'Alcatraz' the prison/hospital themed bar and club, but it was too early to get in, and we didn't feel like sticking around.

The Tsukiji fish market has the freshest, and by far the most wildly diverse, collection of seafood in the world, and it's here we embarked to have the best sushi in the world - a shop located within the market stalls themselves, across from little forklift like trucks and lumbering vessels with the smell of the ocean all around you. We picked the shop with the most locals crowded outside and awaited our turn (after a short 'politeness argument' with a group of old women who we tried to allow in front of us). Incredibly cheap compared to our prices, and incredibly good, the sushi chefs behind the bar were members of a family who had operated the establishment for more than five generations. The lunch was marred only by my inability to swallow squid, which seems impenetrable to my feeble teeth.

Asakusa is home to one of the most celebrated, and the oldest, temple in Tokyo, the 'Sensoji' or 'Kannon Temple', and we had the good fortune to be lodging only a few blocks from it. Surrounding it is an old town dedicated to ancient families and their traditional products, from combs and knives to kimonos and painted fans, some of the stores are hundreds upon hundreds of years old (some having even survived the incendiary bombs during the war). I had delusions of purchasing a kitchen knife here but balked at the prices - I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised, as each one is handcrafted by a master knife maker. There is also, much in the spirit of the nation, many booths hawking absolute crap. We had sweet sake, ate red bean buns and other sweets, and took dozens of photos. Oddly, right next to the temple is a big entertainment and shopping centre where you can buy, to our great surprise, whale meat! I would've snagged some, but I didn't want to risk smuggling it back into the country.

Ueno station has a street called 'Candy Seller's Alley', a name that harkons back to the black market generated by the war and the illicit sales of sweets, and the area became the inspiration for the cityscape of Bladerunner. Most shops are under a train bridge, leaning against each other, bathed in neon light and selling sex toys, porn, knick-knacks, food and even... candy. The funny thing is, it's about as safe as a you could imagine, you can stroll through the seediest districts without a care in the world, happily taking in the bizarre sights of lolita videos on display to your heart's content.

God this is getting long, I think I'll just wrap it up and post the damn photos: we saw Hard Gay in person, took the Shinkansen to Kyoto and Osaka, were followed by cats everywhere, survived on instant food packages from convenience stores and an infinite variety of vending machines, the cars are exceptionally small, the Japanese love Canadian Maple Syrup and French Crepes to a startling degree, booze is so cheap it's mind boggling, the homeless are very polite and don't ask for change, and if you're ever there you HAVE to see the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, and don't drink the milk - the Japanese hate the smell milk causes your body to emanate, so they do this thing to it that makes it taste like corn.

Check out Viger's blog for a detailed account and other photos: www.gongaga.com in the 'Diary' section.


130+ PHOTOS!Collapse )
Wednesday, November 14th, 2007
10:20 pm
Now, to say I'm a fan of Jeff Smith's 'Bone' would be a gross understatement - that book is everything good about sequential art rolled into a fantastic story, topped with a delicious cherry of humour.

I was re-reading the 'Bone' brick like collection on the streetcar and I was thinking (as I'm sure many have) "Why isn't this thing a damn movie yet?" I got excited, I envisioned a renewed interest in classical animation and a whole generation of children introduced to a magical world and perhaps, just perhaps, a love of reading.

So, I looked it up.

Turns out Nickelodeon bought it up and tried to develop it.

This immediately set my Spider-Sense tingling...

A graphic novel of this sort should be an incredible asset for any production; at the very least all of the character and location designs are complete, you have some sort of market already in place, and the story is finished. Sure, there may be some tinkering if they truly feel that some instances won't translate into a movie format, and who can argue against that when the medium is so different? Even 'Lord of the Rings' lost Tom Bombadil after all. In the end however, the film is almost completely layed out and storyboarded in advance, courtesy of the artist, and the timing is masterful.

Enter the animator's mortal enemy; The Executive.

Executives are former frat-boys, who weren't intelligent enough to become scientists or engineers, not creative enough to become artists or writers, and not diligent or hard working enough to become tradesmen or lawyers. So, they get their degrees in either marketing or business, which is a sad kind of designation allowing you to be the leader of beaurocrats. It also gives them the unique and tragic ability to make final creative decisions involving film/series productions, which is a situation wholly mysterious to me.

After two years, and an amount of money I can scarcely imagine, the project was abandoned due to 'creative differences' between Smith and the studio. In particular he's been quoted as saying the turning point occurred when an executive pitched him on the idea of including a pop song in the movie to increase it's marketability (after he had secured the right, in writing, to deny any songs in the film).


You see, I used to want a job that afforded me creative flexibility and freedom - now what I really want is the money and power to act upon those creative impulses. Time after time fantastic shows and movies are killed, murdered outright by their distributors, despite a loyal fan following and groundbreaking accomplishments in animation and design. We'll make a short list:

- 'Futurama'; canceled despite a strong fan base and against a huge petition by the audience and it's creators, while The Simpsons lingered on well after it's expiration date, eventually reinstated (this November 27th) due to overwhelming DVD sales.
- 'The Family Guy'; everyone knows about the show that refused to die, despite the best efforts of the idiots running the network who kept trying to convince themselves it wasn't selling and shuffling the damn timeslot.
- 'Clone High'; I've heard alot of reasons for this one, from internal squabblings to diplomatic pressure. Beats me, but I miss it.
- 'El Tigre'; came in on time, under budget, and to huge ratings (3.4 million viewers) and fantastic reviews but was cancelled because it couldn't compete with the ratings of Spongebob. Though, in a terrible twist of irony, it faired better in it's first season than Spongebob did.
- 'Buzz on Maggie', 'The Oblongs', 'Mission Hill', 'Danny Phantom', 'Sons of Butcher' (not the greatest show but the ratings were phenomenal), 'Teacher's Pet' (though it did get it's own movie), and so on, and so on...

At least we still have 'Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends', probably because of it's numerous awards.

There are multiple excuses given as to why a show's been killed, but the main reasons seems to be:

1) It's just not popular enough - a show can have millions of viewers and it's own line of toys and it still won't be popular enough to last more than a season or two.
2) It conflicts with another show - a great series can be shuffled off to some godforsaken late night weekday timeslot so another one can grab the limelight, and it cuts it off at the knees.
3) The network is heading in a 'new direction' - a whole lineup of shows on one network got canned, some in mid production, all because the network executive was replaced and the new honcho wanted to make his mark. Seriously. These things happen.
4) Polls and focus groups - I can't... I can't even describe how much I loathe these things. They don't have anything to do with how a real audience responds, and the groups rarely have members made up of the target demographic to begin with.
5) It falls apart under it's own hubris - once a show gets popular it attracts attention, which means more executive decisions and network control, as they try to 'improve' it. Creative leads become frustrated and leave, cheap help is hired, the animation is outsourced, and the studio falls apart from within.


I have no idea how we can wrestle control from those who have it. Obviously some great people, particularly some great writers and designers, keep getting their own pilots picked up and so the calibre is maintained and improved upon steadily - but just as often the show dies, while other mediocre shows or remakes continue to receive full network support.

Pirate television network anyone? Online television? Free streaming and downloading, supported by advertisements and merchandise. Television shows like 'Heroes' and 'IT Crowd' have shown us it can be done, so perhaps.... perhaps...
Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007
9:54 am
More Whining about Work Conditions
I like being an animator, in particular I like being able to make my own hours and to help create something entertaining, and the work can offer challenges and variety.

The down side of the profession, and particularly the position itself, is that animators are considered on par with mentally impaired factory workers one shiny object away from completely forgetting where they are and walking into some sharp and pointy machine parts at any moment.

Line Managers, Production Assistants, Producers, Animation Supervisors, and even occasionally the mythical Directors themselves will descend from on high and take precious moments away from their hectic schedule of writing emails to condescend to you a very basic and easily learned principle of your job as if you had only moments before decided to pick up animation as a hobby or wandered into the studio by mistake thinking it was an elaborate fruit stand.

I'm not a veteran, but at four years on the job I've passed the point of being considered a rookie or someone who will at any moment realize my mistake and take that old job back with a sigh of relief, looking fondly some day on those wild and misspent efforts of being an animator. Furthermore, I'm not a simpleton, I've worked on many projects, of many shapes and variations, at many different studios - from low budget made for dvd movies to insipid children's cereal commercials, I have sampled the buffet of crap from many a lamp warmed table.

So when a background character isn't animated, it's not because I was lazy, or didn't read the email the day before about the importance of doing so (and subsequently I do not need a paragraph, that seems written by someone who has only a loose concept of sentence structure, reiterating the point at length) it's because the character's symbol comp was accidentally set to 'single frame' instead of 'play once', a problem which takes slightly less effort to correct than picking your nose.

If I have one more person give me that winning managerial smile and tell me the reason quota isn't met is my own 'time management' I may simply snap. It certainly has nothing to do with the scenes being stuck in the pipeline at design or layout for three days while I sat on my ass twiddling my thumbs, or the last minute storyboard revisions because someone felt, in their infinite wisdom, that the angle of the background was inconducive to the emotional impact of the scene where the character opens a door and walks through it. It's certainly not because the network is down for a few hours everyday, that the size of the BG's crashes the program half of the time you try to open it, or that the render farm crapped out overnight. I imagine it has nothing to do with revisions, when someone decides that they want to include a pose/prop/character/entire new line of dialogue into a scene that has already been storyboarded, layed out, animated and approved or those hours I spent swapping out a symbol in every scene after the Creative Executive Producer decided they didn't like the size of the character's ears three months into production. It has nothing to do with the difference between a 10 second scene of a talking head and a 3 second scene where an entire crowd of eight armed aliens spewing puss dances in front of an electric light show that I have to improvise out of my ass. It has nothing to do with hook up problems generated by giving everyone scenes out of sequence, so that the poses don't match up at all. It has nothing to do with dissolving entire departments into one and forcing animators to do designs and layout without decreasing the quota or increasing the pay. And last, but my favourite in terms of absolute hair tearing frustration, it is ludicrous to suggest that the three or four day wait I have on every scene I submit to be approved by the crack team of professional chair warmers has an effect on my ability to finish them before the end of a work week, while they sit in some quantum level of being both complete and incomplete at the same time.

Flash animation, while it has endless untapped potential for efficiency and variety, has been viciously kidnapped by studios that see only the possibility for lower production costs. With very little effort an entire show could be done paperless, drawings rendered on a Centiq screen or Wacom tablet in Alias Sketchbook, saved on a communal server and simply dragged into Flash to be broken up and symbolized, coloured, animated, and exported all in a single program, with only the necessity to slap those shots together in editing and fiddle with the sound as desired. The storyboard can be put directly into a Guide layer of the scene to be instantly referenced by the animator, down to the exact frame. Complicated animation can be reused by simply pasting it directly into the scene, mouth charts and hand positions can be chosen quickly from a list without having to draw them out, a character never has to be cleaned up or kept on model, drawings do not have to be scanned or photographed one by one and then clumsily synced up to some audio just to check out the rough animation. No inking and colouring of every frame! And so on, and so on. This should be a golden age of animation, where all of these time saving breakthroughs are passed on to pre-production and animation, quotas should be going down, not up!

And yet, Flash animated series often have quotas five times larger than their classic counterparts... If it's twice as easy to animate in this program, reasons the producer or accountant, then surely that means we can see twice the amount of seconds coming out of the studio.

And of course, despite this, we'll pay less, we'll spend less time on design and storyboard and leica reels, and we'll hire the entire production staff from a short contract pool of tired, poor and completely uninterested freelancers. And all that time saved cutting corners will be spent, with interest, on revision after revision.

On the average project I don't even speak to the Director, heck, sometimes I never even see what he looks like.

I get a lot of information from the Producer/Production Manager about quota, schedule, and where the bathroom is, but that's about it. Sometimes I get to speak, or communicate by way of very short emails, with an Animation Supervisor after I've completed some scenes, but that's it. Storyboards, if I even get a storyboard, usually have a singular pose for each shot, no matter the length or complexity. No notes in the margin, no descriptions of actions, simply nothing but a hastily drawn off model pose of a character by a rushed and underpaid storyboard artist.



I wanted to blow off steam about having been patronized one too many times by, honestly, well meaning supervisors who repeatedly assume I know so little about the production that they think I'm holding on to all manner of ludicrous notions (the actual incidence is so technical that it would appear nonsensical to someone who doesn't work in animation) and it turned into a rant about the state of the entire industry.

I wish, with futile effort sometimes, that I could be put into a position of authority so that I could rectify these failures of communication and organization - but truth be told, I doubt I'd be very good at it, or that any one person could even have the authority to do so.
2:11 am
I haven't posted in a long time, I can't say exactly why, but it might have to do with my camera having been taken in for repairs - luckily I have a ridiculously extensive warranty and my narcissism enabling baby will be back to me soon.

We completed the Zombie Walk yesterday, shambling through Toronto in full gorey regalia, covered in tattered filthy clothes and oozing coloured corn syrup from every appendage. In general I was disappointed by the costumery, with some exceptions most costumes consisted of some facepaint (leaving the ears, neck and hands to remain their original bright healthy hue) and a fake scar or wound slathered onto a cheek. Some of the kids were just out and about in their fetish gear, which while I appreciate a finely made thigh high plastic boot, seems to contradict the theme... Also, and I can't express my frustration with this enough, some of them seemed intent on smearing their bloody hands on every shop window and parked car nearby, thrusting their arms into windows and screaming at their inhabitants.

I have fun at the Zombie Walk, and it's expected that we'll disrupt traffic and daily life for everyone nearby a bit, and for the most part that's part of the charm. People come out of their houses and apartments to take photos, they honk their horns in support, and everywhere there are disbelieving smiles and interested faces. You ruin that however, when you purposely disrupt a business or cause some poor shopkeeper or innocent car owner to have to clean up your sticky red goo from their windows and upholstery.

I start animating on 'Total Drama Island' today, a very short contract of sorts, before moving on to 'Peep in the Big Wide World' after which I think I should probably stop mentioning the projects I work on in my public journal. I've been getting a surprising amount of referrals from Google, and I could do without the attention from an employer who thinks my playful use of language warrants a dismissal.

Recently some friends of ours were married, and their union was officiated at a Masonic Lodge... with an open bar! Sadly, and hilariously, neither of the pair could take advantage of the celebratory effects of alcohol. The bride was/is pregnant and the groom, who is a professional musician, blundered his wrist through a glass door, severing the tendons in his wrist and an artery only a few days before the big day. On the plus side, the painkillers seem to have put him in a fantastically calm mood.

I'm sure there's much more to report, given the month long hiatus from my last entry, but I just can't bring myself to type it all out... trust me that it was all very eventful and magnificent.

Also, Dumbledore is gay, and that's just fine.
Monday, September 24th, 2007
5:07 pm
Veege and I have taken rather suddenly to crafts, from making little plushies to paper mache' masks and other knick-knacks, and what we lack in supplies and know-how we make up for in enthusiasm and sheer talent.

For your viewing pleasure, the twisted fruits of our labour and a few photos of our mask collection as well:

Under the cutCollapse )
Thursday, September 20th, 2007
10:33 pm
MEMES
I did the CareerCruising meme before it was shut down, but didn't record my findings, reasoning that I could just go back later and do it. It wasn't terribly surprising, I received Animator, Comic Artist/Cartoonist, Illustrator, Professor and Editor all in the Top Ten (interesting trivia; the interviewed artist for Comic Artist is none other than Alex Ross!).


1. What is the status of you and the last person you kissed?
Landed Canadian Citizens without Criminal Records and in Good Health

2. What's bothering you right now?
I'd quite like to have more money, but very little bothers me

3. Will you kiss the last person you kissed again?
I should hope so


4. What is in your wallet?
- One Free Rent-a-Car
- Blockbuster Card
- Queen Video Card
- Bloor Cinema Membership
- HeadGear Animation Business Card
- A&C Games Business Card
- Royal Ontario Museum Membership Card
- Toronto Library Card
- Fraser Valley Regional Library Card
- BC care Card
- BC Drivers License
- VISA
- Royal Bank Card
- SIN Card
- Birth Certificate
- Drawing of Veege


5. Wallpaper on your computer's desktop?
Hellboy sketch by Mignola

7. Do you ever feel like you try really hard and nothing comes from it?
No, never, I pretty much achieve whatever I want

8. What do you want in your life right now?
A sudden an unexpected amount of money that would enable me to travel and pursue my studies

9. What are you listening to right now?
Piano Concerto No.1 in D minor, Op.15 - ii Adagio

10. Have you ever kissed anyone named Patty?
Not to my recollection

11. What do you smell like?
Sweat and lubricant

12. Eating/chewing?
Drinking tea

13. What's your favorite thing to have on your bed?
Me

14. Do you believe in a soul mate?
Not in any traditional sense

15. What do you wear to bed?
I have a whole collection of pajamas for many occasions

16. Do you remember your dreams?
Not usually

17. Who will you sleep with tonight?
Viger

18. Have you ever been gambling?
Not at any licensed establishment

19. What's something you wish you could understand better?
Everything, I want to immerse myself in every field

20. What did you do last weekend?
I was a surrogate wedding ring model for an absent fiance

21. Who do you miss?
Everyone

22. Who is the last guy you hugged?
Maybe Andre... I can't be certain

23. Orange or apple juice?
Cranberry juice

24. Who was the last person you went somewhere with?
Viger, we went to work and back

26. Have you kissed someone on your top friends?
Yes, quite a few of them

27. Would you?
Oh, many many things... what a philosophical question

28. What was the last thing you drank?
Tea

29. Whose house did you go to last night?
Only my own

30. Who was the last person you visited in the hospital?
My uncle Mark

31. Do you like someone right now?
To be fair, I like most people

32. Are you bored?
No, just enjoying a quiet evening moment

33. What is the last movie you watched?
'Iraq for Sale'

34. Name 3 drinks you regularly drink:
Tea, Coffee, Diet Coke

35. What are you excited about?
Books, going on trips, fresh mornings after the rain

36. Do you want someone you can't have?
No, I'll have it all eventually

37. Who was last to slap your butt?
Viger

where was the last place you went?
Shoppers Drug Mart

39. What's on your mind right now?
Filling out this meme

40. Have you cried recently?
Nope

41. If an unstoppable force comes across an unmovable object, then what happens?
It surrenders

42. Is taking a shower a daily habit?
No, not anymore

43. What products do you use in the shower?
Teatree oil and mint shampoo, and some nameless soap

44. How many times have you been to Disney World?
I've never been there, but I've been to Disneyland five times

45. What books are you reading?
Weeke's 'Agoraphobia', Moorcock's 'Elric Saga', 'The Science Class You Wish You Had' and various comics

46. What does your dad look like?
I have no idea

47. What was your favorite band/singer when you were in seventh grade?
Nirvana

48. Do you like Swedish Fish?
I'm sure it's delicious

49. What movie can you watch over and over, and it will never get old?
Army of Darkness

50. What are you wearing?
A long woman's t-shirt

52. Are you craving anything?
No, I'm pretty satisfied

53. If you have an iPod, did the typical white earphones that come with it break?
Non-applicable

54. Do you like chicken soup?
Only if it's real English chicken soup, with dumplings and the skin floating about in it

55. What was the best movie you've ever seen in theaters?
The Fountain

56. Whats your favorite song?
There was a screech just now, followed by a scream and a loud unmistakable crunch of a car colliding with something hard, now just the sound of the horn forever blaring. I can't see the accident from my balcony, but there's a large crowd down there... and now firetrucks and and ambulance.

57. Did you know that Josh, from the Nickelodeon show Drake and Josh, lost a ton of weight?
Who?

58. Have you ever had a television show that you really loved, get cancelled?
Several: Mission Hill, Oblongs, Undergrads, etc.

59. Don't you hate it when people misplace apostrophes (ex. apostrophe's)?
It used to bother me, now I've resigned myself to the slow and debilitating destruction of our written language.

60. Have you ever participated in a spelling bee?
No, all of my elementary schools were remarkably apathetic.

61. What color eyes do you have? What color would you prefer to have?
Blue, and I like them.

62. Do you think you're smart?
The more I learn, the more I discover I don't know.

63. Have you ever tried pistachio-flavored ice cream or pudding?
Not yet

64. What was your second-grade teacher's name?
I have no idea, save that she kept a drawing of a salmon I made her for years

65. Are you good at karaoke?
No, I refuse to participate

66. Do you tend to take things personally?
No, I don't think so, most people are simply doing the best they can with what they have

67. Do you have Tivo?
I don't even have cable

68. How much money do you have on you right now?
There's about $4 in change in a Chinese bowl by the door

69. Have you ever read a book by Sarah Dessen? Did you like it?
No, I know of her, but I'm afraid her works just don't appeal to me

70. How long has it been since you last ate?
There are now four firetrucks and five ambulances as well as a police car, all of the lights make it look like a night carnival and I can hear more in the distance - if the occupants of that car(s) manage to survive I'll be surprised.





Four jobs you've had in your life:

* Pizza Boy
* Dishwasher
* Drywaller
* Animator/Designer

Four movies you could watch over and over:

* Army of Darkness
* The Shawshank Redemption
* Amelie
* Cool Hand Luke

Four places you've lived:

* Vancouver, BC
* Miramichi, New Brunswick
* Toronto, Ontario
* Mission, BC

Four TV shows you love to watch:

* Heroes
* BBC News
* The Daily Show
* Daily Planet

Four places you've been on vacation:

* California
* Mexico
* Edmonton
* Sudbury

Four websites you visit daily:

* pockyway.com
* pvponline.com
* straightdope.com
* Many, many, many other webcomics

Four of your favorite foods:

* Bacon
* Beans in Tomato Sauce
* My Mother's Chili
* Garden Fresh Gourmet Salsa (Medium)

Four places you'd rather be:*

* Southern France
* Vancouver
* Ireland
* Scotland

* which is not to say, I'm unhappy where I am

Four albums you can't live without:
I don't own any albums

Four to pass this meme along to:

* I don't
* Give
* A Brass
* Farthing
Tuesday, September 18th, 2007
9:21 am
I had the oddest dream... I was lost in an apartment/office building, and then I woke up.

Still dreaming, I woke up and started walking around an unfamiliar house filled with stacks of things; books, cups, plates, baked trays of muffins and loafs, chairs, etc. Everything in the house had been precariously stacked. The owners of the house walked in, rather surprised, and asked with some annoyance why I had stacked all of their possessions (though they didn't seem surprised at all by my presence).

A few days earlier I had tapped Viger on the shoulder during the middle of the night and asked her to "Pass me the sphere." and then promptly fell asleep, when I woke up in the morning I had absolutely no memory of the event.



I should stop eating entire sausages before bed....
12:36 am
Monday, September 17th, 2007
9:48 pm
I'm back on Odd Job Jack until the end of the season, a relaxed position with an organized production where my only responsibilities center upon animating - a nice respite from previous jobs.

Excitement and trepidation continues to build for the upcoming trips; Japan in November, followed by Christmas in Sudbury and my birthday in Vancouver. We'll be in the Land of the Rising Sun for two weeks, staying in a ryokan and visiting everything from the gadget strewn halls of Akihabara to the beautiful Himeji Castle (we'll fit in some other uniquely Japanese experiences like a Love Hotel and fresh sushi right outside the Tsukiji Fish Market).

I'm terribly, terribly excited about it.


We've got a wedding shower to go to, apparently there will be a petting zoo of some sort and I'll be the only man there, so that's pretty neat too.


I've also got some nifty photos from our last trip to the museum, those membership cards were worth every penny.

PhotosCollapse )
Monday, September 3rd, 2007
8:13 pm
FanExpo 2007 and other Nonsense
We only attended the FanExpo this year for a single day, determining last time that there just weren't enough activities to warrant any more time at what is basically a glorified shopping mall for geeks.

The line to get in was staggering, an hour or more simply to buy tickets. One would assume, given that this event must generate some tens of thousands of dollars in sales revenue alone, that they would have hired more than four people to handle the ticket booths (perhaps they could have taken some of the staff off of the rigorous and exciting duty of policing these swarms of socially challenged teenagers and transferred them to a slightly more lucrative and logical position).

I immediately fought my way to the Artist's Alley and began to scrounge through the original artwork and sketches of those in attendance. I would have loved to purchase some, but the prices remained astronomical - $60 for a sketch? I appreciate your struggles fine sir, but I am but a humble animator myself, and cannot afford your decidedly awesome wares. Especially when I can get something like 'The Art of Silver' (with a signature and sketch) for $40 only fifteen feet away or three t-shirts with vintage glow-in-the-dark monster movie posters emblazoned on the front for only $50.

In particular I wanted a female spider creature inking from Ramon Perez, which I considered the jewel of the entire section, but alas... some other wealthier day.

Speaking of wanting to buy frivolous and amazing objects, The Great Professor Orbax was there again with his unicorns and three headed mice, along with a lamp made of skulls and stretched human faces. Viger barely made it out of his booth of Fiendish Curiosities without whipping out the credit card and clearing it out of obscene crimes against nature to decorate our home with.


We were on the way to Toronto Island for some lounging when we hit the 'Loudest Corner in All the World'; just outside the docks and south of Union Station there were hundreds of people with screaming babies, conversation, and horns honking in a strangled cacophany with the blazing sirens of a passing firetruck and the roar of jet engines as the Snow Birds flew overhead. Short of a complete breakdown from the excessive stimulation I resided instead just to become extremely grumpy and looked at others with a glance that told of their impending doom should they affront me in any fashion. Many hours later upon returning to the same intersection (after a ferry ride and line up resembling a twisted parody of the crowd in 'Soylent Green') on our way back home a small child resembling some kind of twisted manic goblin bounded up to us and began screaming in my face a general kind of gibberish. Too startled to react but instinctively twitching towards smacking the terrible thing upside the head it skittered off still wailing, and when I turned to give a look to Viger I discovered her gone, chasing it down the sidewalk screaming "Learn some manners!".

I hailed a cab, went home, and hid shivering under the covers like a modern Howard Hughes cursing the human race and it's frantic filthy flagellations.

I've been missing home much more acutely lately, with the pressure of this city beating down on me, with it's incessant pissy attitude, lifeless dry weeds growing between cracks in the sidewalk, the smell of the soiled masses rolling in sun exposed garbage and belching automotive waste, and everywhere the people, the people, the people. It is never ending, the ugliness of it, and the smallest and short lived breeze of fresh air or the caress of grass in a rare shaded patch against my hand is the only reminder that there is life hidden amidst it's metal innards. I'm overly sensitive because of the heat, the holiday crowds, and an abundance of time as I await my next contract (hopefully at a very nice studio who's offering me a position as we speak).

Vancouver is not a perfect place, and often it is unendingly gloomy with it's rain and it's severe lack of activities, but I took for granted it's mountains and oceans, it's wide open sidewalks and friendly faces. I'm sure I've become biased from nostalgia and some social isolation, and that Granville Island is no better than St. Lawrence Market, but it's hard to remain objective...

We've been reading Weekes' 'Agoraphobia', rereading the 'Elric Saga', and will be reading 'Serpent and the Rainbow' soon - also been reading up on the Judge Rotenberg School controversy regarding electric shock aversion therapy for aggressive retarded children with Lesch-Nyhan like self-destructive behaviours (in many respects I condone completely their methods, and their results, and on the other hand I abhor their blanket terms of asperger or autism in such low functioning patients).


Anyhoo, on a lighter note, photos from the Fan Expo:Collapse )
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