January 31, 2005


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This small, under-the-radar film finally showed up at our repertory theater last week (I wouldn't doubt it if it was already available on DVD). Billed as a star turn for Laura Linney, the film was somewhat uneven – good in parts, bizarre in others, and slow throughout. Still superior to mainstream glup, but disappointing considering the cast involved (Gabriel Byrne, Marcia Gay Harden, Paul Rudd – all woefully underused – and current it-boy Topher Grace, stronger here than in
In Good Company). Built on a paper-thin premise with a smattering of plot points bordering on the unbelievable, P.S. might as well stand for plain and simple. Nothing spectacular, but no harm done.

Side notes: Kerry spotted 2004 Governor General Award-winning author Miriam Toews in the theater.

Theater idiots: None.

P.S.: A vanload of coworkers and I – and Kerry – are leaving Winnipeg Wednesday night for a there-and-back road trip to New Orleans to witness the spectacle that is Mardi Gras. Five days, 3000 miles, non-stop. Yeah, I know. We're wacked out of our gourds. But wish us luck!

Pics and sketches when I get back. I promise.

January 29, 2005

04: Sumac!

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I nabbed this branch from a sumac bush (top left) last September along the Hunt Lake hiking trail in Whiteshell Provincial Park, and scanned it thinking some good use would eventually come out of it. So I turned it into these three Photoshop creations. I got to try out some things I would never get to do at work (radial blurs, radical hue/saturation shifts, custom brushes), and just spent a couple of hours seeing what I could make from a single scanned object. Kinda neat. I dunno. Whatever. They’re purdy.

January 24, 2005

Violent Cartoons Are The Best-est

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Kerry and I checked out Tex Avery and Friends: Screwball Animation Classics
at the Cinematheque – our local art-house movie theater – on Sunday. A part of their “Cabin Fever” promotion aimed at keeping kids busy during the winter with free films, I actually thought there would be more movie-buffs and animation geeks than l'il sprouts there. But I was really wrong; the place was crawling with 'em. I counted two other folks in the audience not affiliated with children of any kind. But the show was awesome. We saw vintage Disney, Looney Toons (Duck Dodgers vs. Marvin the Martian) and a handful of Avery staples, like King-Sized Canary, The Cat That Hated People (my fave) and Red Hot Riding Hood (more than an inspiration for Jim Carrey's antics in The Mask). A standout was a print of the 1933 original Popeye The Sailor Man with a cameo by Betty Boop. And most amazingly, those modern kids ate the stuff up. Old cartoons are great. They're somehow ultraviolent and harmless at the same time. I only wish they had shown some classic Tom & Jerry to sweeten the deal.

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We were watching part of The Empire Strikes Back on TV Saturday night. Kerry thinks the Imperial March (Darth Vader's theme) sounds like "A Spoonful Of Sugar" from Mary Poppins. We also rented We Don't Live Here Anymore (an angry downer, all four thumbs down) and Say Anything..., to satisfy Kerry's John Cusack jones and my having never seen it before. It was fun.

And we also checked out the Cream Gallery's "Love 2005" exhibit on Friday during another blizzard. Chatted with buddy/former college-mate Mark Kruk (congratulations!), saw my man Allan Lorde (hey!) and scoped works by another college-mate and illustrator extraordinaire Stephen Boychuk (kickass!).

January 23, 2005

03: Dudos

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI cheated a little on this one. I actually doodled these dudos in my notes while enrolled in Red River College's Creative Communications program about eight years ago. The birthplace of many careers in journalism, advertising and public relations (CTV sportscaster Rod Black, Lucasfilm web developer Pablo Hidalgo, my girlfriend Kerry and WWE superstar Chris Jericho, to name a few), Cre-Comm taught me one important thing: I'd rather be a graphic designer. But while committed to this course, I doodled frequently. These two hombres, Johnny Journalist and Al The Big Fat Ad-Man, represent two-thirds of Cre-Comm alumni. Greg The P.R. Clod wasn't included in this FreeHand re-imaging of the original doodles – he was just a pile of dirt (no offence to any PR graduates reading this).

January 22, 2005

Hindsight Is 20/20

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Above: The Dukes Of Hazzard and Roscoe P. Coltrane, by Jeope Wolfe (circa 1982). Marker and crayon on notepad. Artist's note: Looks like the Duke boys have won this one. Roscoe's overheatin', and about to run over a thumbtack.

When I was seven and eight years old, I would draw trains on rolls of accounting paper that would stretch across the room and out the door. Later on I would draw cartoon owls called ookpiks, after the Inuit toys I collected. I drew birds and maps. I never drew people because I didn't know how and was afraid of failing at it. And when I finally started, I drew astronauts so I wouldn't have to do faces. My friends in junior high held contests at who could draw the best Wolverine, but I didn't follow comic books. By high school I was pretty good at most stuff in art class, and in my graduating year I won the Art Award, consisting of a plaque and a set of Staedtler-Mars™ pens.

Then I did a terrible thing. When my mom and I moved from our house on Lenore Street (the last house I ever lived in), I purged a huge chunk of stuff from my room. My teenage years were almost over, and I was looking ahead. I threw out all manner of drawings, doodles and art class assignments because they no longer looked cool. They looked awkward and childish – which in retrospect, they were. But at the time I couldn't see their charm. Too bad. I'd like every one of them back now.

January 17, 2005

02: C'est Pa

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I sketched this image from a photograph on loan from a coworker who is visiting from France for a year. She took the photo of her father ("Pa") on a trip home in early December and was showing it off while we carpooled to work two weeks ago. So props go out to Lorène Lailler for the actual legwork of going across the Atlantic and shooting my subject for me.

I drew it over a couple of days with a 2B pencil – nuthin' fancy. But it's more than I've done with any kind of pencil in over a year, so for that alone it makes me happy. Hopefully Pa likes it.

January 16, 2005

In Good Company

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While surviving through the glut of loud and large-scale Christmas releases, I was pulled in by the trailer for
In Good Company. Kerry and I gave it a look this past weekend. It sucks outside right now (have I bitched about how cold it is? I think I have), and this movie could not have come at a better time; as a pick-me-up, it comes shining through. The movie is sweet, honest, touching, and most importantly, human. Some moments are so identifiable that it's laugh-out-loud (anyone wrapped in corporate culture will recognize the dreaded 360-review). And even though In Good Company walks obediently along with some typical lesson-learned movie conventions, those involved (Dennis Quaid, Scarlett Johansson, Topher Grace and a scene-swiping David Paymer) put in such smooth, controlled performances that it just didn't seem to matter. I left the theater feeling better than I did going in. Job done.

Side note: There's a potentially good soundtrack from this film, with some nice songs by Iron & Wine, The Shins, David Byrne and Damien Rice. Director Paul Weitz also helmed the equally cheerful-but-not-too-saccharine About A Boy.

Theater idiots: A bighead in front who overly enjoyed his rocking seat, a candy-bar crinkler to the right, chatty, light-bladdered elderly woman in the rear.

January 15, 2005

What's "Burping The Alphabet" In Danish?

I've perused a handful of blogs in this short time, and I've noticed one thing: They're fun. They're peppered with random musings. They tell stories. Mine has started off a little serious, a little impersonal. But I can be random, too. Swear to Gawd. Look:

Last Saturday after eating a bowl of Special K I tried to burp the alphabet, but I could only get as far as the letter 'M' – a far cry from my Coke-fueled teenage years. I was alone, so I thought I'd give it a try.

Co-workers and I went Danish this in our latest "Adventures In Dining" at the Bistro Dansk on Sherbrook Street. We've been here once before, and this place excels at making people happy when it's absolutely frigid outside – which it happens to be. A cabin-like ambiance, thick meat-and-sauce based dishes, more-than-generous portions and reasonably priced, it's a definitely an establishment in which to consume some food. I had the Mørbredbøf (pronounced like it's spelled – yeah right), a pork schnitzel gooped on with mushrooms, a red cabbage side and these (insert Napoleon Dynamite voice) sweet roasted potatoes. And a Tuborg. All in all, I give the Bistro Dansk a rating of eleven spatulas.

Like I said, it's f***ing cold. So last night, Kerry and I stayed in and hung out. She made this great salmon chowder and soda bread and I watched Spongebob Squarepants. We had some wine. We split two über-competitive games of air hockey. Watched The Daily Show, Malcolm In The Middle and some Kids In The Hall. Just cozy.

I'm also having a go at growing some sideburns. Kerry noticed this the other day and asked me if I would put this on my blog. So I said "yes". So here I am. Wish me luck.

January 12, 2005

I'm Gonna Die

A blizzard closed the office early today, and my carpool had to navigate home this afternoon through some terrible conditions. Seven of us sardined ourselves into an Astro-Van and made the slow trek back to Winnipeg.

Bad news! The van was rear-ended. Good news! It's a company van.

By the way, it's astounding how much easier this situation is when it's not your own vehicle.

But in a moment of complete and utter irony (maybe it's not irony, I dunno. Me and Alanis can never get it straight), CBC happened to play this little cherry only minutes before…

You'll Have Time (William Shatner/Ben Folds)

Live life like you're gonna die,
because you're gonna.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news,
but you're gonna die.

Maybe not today or even next year,

but before you know it, you'll be saying
"Is this all there was? What was all the fuss?
Why did I bother?"

Now, maybe you won't suffer. Maybe it's quick,
but you'll have time to think,
“Why did I waste it? Why didn't I taste it?”
You'll have time, because you're gonna die.

Yes it's gonna happen,
because it's happened to a lot of people I know.
My mother, my father, my loves.
The president, the kings and the pope.
They all had hope.

I tell you who else left us,
passed on down to heaven no longer with us:
Johnny Cash, JFK, that guy in the Stones
Lou Gehrig, Einstein, and Joey Ramone.
Have I convinced you? Do you read my lips?
This may come as news but it's time.
You're gonna die.
You're gonna die.

January 09, 2005

01: I Have A Horsey

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"I have a horsey. Neigh…" – Milhouse, at show-and-tell, on The Simpsons.

My first thingamabob: A horse. I wasn't sure what to do, so I delved into my stash of photos from a trip to London in 2003 in a random search for inspiration. I noticed this picture of a guard in the Parliament district and decided, since I had never drawn a horse before, that I would attempt to…well, draw a horse.

My first pencil sketch not shown was a bust (too careful). But my second crack over lunch at work on Thursday was better, and by this time I had decided I would take the sketch and simplify it into a more stylized jobbie – something 'snowboardy'. I used FreeHand to draw and Photoshop to add the textures, which consist of a cracked-earth layer and an aerial photo of horse-themed petroglyphs.

January 04, 2005


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Kinsey is a strong little movie. Liam Neeson's dedication to the role is amazing; he has one of those voices that I could just listen to all day. Laura Linney (quickly becoming one of my favourite actresses) is equally fine and up to the task in this one. I'd expect both of them – especially Neeson – to nab Oscar nominations for their work. The movie itself acts primarily as a supporter of Dr. Kinsey's research, but takes a few moments out to be impartial, and even takes some shots at Kinsey's overly calculated and headstrong attitude towards his work. As such, the movie is not for the overly squirmy or prudish. But as a character study, Kinsey is above average and worth a look.

Side note: Stay for the end credits.

Theater idiots: None. The place was practically empty.

January 03, 2005

Stuff I Done In Ought-Four

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Top row, left to right: Two-page Conservator spread on the creation of Manitoba's new water ministry, t-shirt design for the 2004 Ducks Unlimited Canada Great Greenwing Adventure, b&w photo of my new niece, Cadence. Middle row: Poster design (wedding present), autumn photo from Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario, Conservator spread on urban sprawl in Ontario. Bottom row: Logo design for the Winnipeg Foundation's Youth In Philanthropy program, composite photo of Mount Edith Cavell in Jasper National Park, Alberta.

This was 2004 in a nutshell. A handful of some of the better things I accomplished.