September 30, 2007

Zine In Your Face

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Clockwise from top right: Chris Pointon thanks contributers in attendance for their work; tabletop snapshot of the festivities; the cause célèbre – A Paw In My Face (cover art by Mr. Pointon); one of three poemlets submitted by Kerry; Allan aka El Negro Magnifico finishes up a PIMF street poster.

This past weekend, the cumulative efforts of our city's artistic establishment resulted in the grand release of the first issue of A Paw In My Face. The co-brainchild of Chris Pointon (he of the fabbo Pop77 mixes) and Meagan Radford, A Paw In My Face strives to achieve what the HOWieZine does on its more semi-regular basis: allow creatives to step outside the boundaries of their respective jobs and ... be creative.

Offering a premiere issue theme of love, contributions as varied as photographs, writing, doodles, designs, comics and one modified architectural drawing(!) came together and underwent careful mixing and editing by the two founders – culminating with the release Friday evening at the King's Head Pub. From here, the quest begins for at least one more issue (early indications hint at a theme of hate, how cool is that). For now though, the city's artsier and fartsier establishments get peppered with 200 copies, less handouts at the premiere and one copy stuffed in the hands of Premier Gary Doer, who for reasons unclear was also pubbing it up Friday night.

My own submission, not posted, may be familiar to some of you who drop in here – it was a modified version of this piece, drawn some time ago for Illustration Friday's theme of "song".

September 26, 2007

123: PotatoJugglerMan

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"It's no cakewalk being a single parent, juggling a career and family like so many juggling balls ... two, I suppose."
– Chief Wiggum, The Simpsons


I've been so hesitant to draw these days; I finally decided to do something. I started doodling this guy while Kerry and I played Scrabble™ and recovered at the park this weekend (she of stitches from a bike accident, me from a knockout tummy virus). It wasn't until later that evening I checked in with Illustration Friday's current theme – juggle – and began to modify it to suit. I don't really know what's going on with this drawing – just some gangsta doofus who can't juggle potatoes to save his South Side street cred. I apologize if you came for a deeper emotional attachment. I can't give it to you. Be sure to click here for a larger view.

Side note: as a 15-year-old, bored to tears one summer afternoon at home, I picked up three tennis balls and taught myself to juggle. Verging on 32 years of age, I am proud to report that I can now juggle ... three tennis balls. Or three spherical objects roughly the size of a tennis ball.

September 18, 2007

122: Flight Of Fantasy

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Photo Friday's current theme of fantasy brings me to this adjusted image taken not too long ago at the beach in Matlock, Manitoba. This is Kerry's nephew, monkeying around in the lake for me and my zoom lens (positioned on a pier about fifteen feet away). I would instruct him to submerge, then to explode through the surface of the water as high as he could. And of course, an experiment like this depends highly on the moment – nabbing the position and expression just so, otherwise losing it – which in itself relies a great deal on hope. The moment lasts milliseconds. Fortunately for me I nabbed this still (click here to see the original, untouched version), and then modified it in black-and-white largely using Photoshop sessions with the dodge and burn tools. Be sure to click here to view a larger version.

September 10, 2007

121: Great Lakes

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Top row (left to right): our only photo together, road-weary in Manistique; Riley the golden doodle; Frank and Sue on the Toronto Islands ferry. Middle row (left to right): blown away on the Bruce Peninsula; Kerry with Big Bay home-made ice-cream; a campsite squirrel prepares to speak. Bottom row (left to right): a Flowerpot Island duck stares me down; I show my good side; Kerry channels The King.

I've just completed the most wonderful vacation.

Following the 2005 meteorological disaster that was our venture into the Rockies, it took us a couple of years to fully lick our road-trip wounds. This time we chose the more predicable climes of Ontario, a two-week sojourn chock full of pit-stops, visits to friends and family, toe-dips in four of five Great Lakes (sorry, Erie) and a holiday schedule about as varied as they come.

Beginning with a two-and-a-bit day trek south through the
hugh-nigh steaks (as I referred to the U.S. as a tot) from home to London, Ont., the trip started with a late night on the road due to a dirt rally in the metropolis of Bemidji, Minn., that booked the entire town's worth of rooms. Not the best start – but in Grand Rapids we scored a cheap penthouse suite when the late-night hotel-dude couldn't figure out the computer. Our next night in the deathly quiet burgh of Manistique, Mich., also wound up fabulous with the twin discovery of whitefish dinners and Jilbert's ice cream (much props to buddy Lew, the northern Michigan expert, for cluing us in on both).

Back in Canada on our third night, we arrived unscathed at the house of Kerry's friend (and bursting with pregnancy) Christen, husband Phil and golden doodle Riley. Our two days in London were spent enjoying Ontario heat, an amazing performance of King Lear at the nearby Stratford Theater Festival and boundless tomfoolery from Riley the dog. Our time was capped with a day on our own at Pinery Provincial Park on the southern shores of Lake Huron, hiking some stubby trails and renting bikes. We learned that the tulip-tree is the largest in eastern North America. I never heard of the thing, but them suckers are indeed huge.

Our next stop leading into the long weekend was up-the-road Kitchener where daddy Frank and wife Sue lay waiting with an unbelievable palette of food (peaches!), wine and scheduling – a canoe trip on the Grand River, shopping for a brilliant decorative stained-glass window for our home and a day in The Big Smoke exploring Kensington Market, a brick-in-the-belly lunch at Big Fat Burrito with Kerry's now-Torontonian sister Kath, and the Toronto Islands. One day does not do the country's finest city justice, but we came as close as anyone.

The unofficial third leg of our grand tour had us striking out on our own to the Great Outdoors, beginning on the Bruce Peninsula with a one-night stay in tacky Tobermory – and with what now seems like a vacation staple of ours: stumbling into a place airing The Sopranos (a rarity for those on the cheap in Winnipeg). And to answer your next question, yes, Tobermory – population 500 – does have an Indonesian restaurant. Our days on the peninsula were spent in the (by now) never-ending sun trying to get lost on busy-busy Flowerpot Island, camping in the much-appreciated post-Labour Day solitude at Cyprus Lake and hiking scenic spurs of the world-renowned Bruce Trail.

Eleven sunny days into our trip, we left the Bruce after a wet, stormy night in the tent for the ferry that would take our little workhorse Civic to Manitoulin Island and onward to the wild north coast of Lake Superior. What had become our first lousy day of weather culminated in a gloriously colourful hazy evening sky over the aptly-named Lake Superior Provincial Park. And it was here, steps from our tent, on a miles-long beach, before a red-dot sun and after a campfire-trout dinner, that I proposed to Kerry and we decided to get married.

Lake Superior Park, for this reason and so much more, is now entrenched in my memory as one of the more beautiful locales I have seen in my lifetime. It was here my camera was stuffed with multi-part panoramic attempts and my chest caved in a way it only does before the most majestic surroundings.
It is a sight to behold first-hand. Besides a pair of beachside sunset meals, Kerry and I viewed Ojibwa pictographs, the tumbling cascades of Sand River, the knee-busting slopes of the Orphan Lake trail and postcard gawkings of the planet's Great Lake. The region's tempestuous weather was on our trail again, and after time that seemed so much longer than it was, we continued on.

And on, as things turned out. Our final two nights intended to be at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park near Thunder Bay were scuttled following a day of rainy, foggy, hilly, winding and semi-trucky driving and the frigid north winds that eventually chased it all away. We had few regrets though. Our time was done.

Stay tuned to Flickr for all the photos as they get uploaded over the following days and weeks.