March 30, 2009

185: Pepper!

Last week's grouchiness melted immediately at the sight of Pepper, on display at a local birdfeed and supply store as part of a fundraiser for a local owl-related charity.

On a hot tip from friend Steph, Kerry, my dad and I headed to see some hot live owls, originally slated to include a long-eared owl and a burrowing owl, which I was very excited to see up close (rare as they are). Instead of the burrowing owl though, there was Pepper – a one-year-old northern saw-whet owl (Aegolius acadicus).

I have never seen a saw-whet owl – common enough as they are here in the wild – though I've heard plenty during my annual volunteer stint as part of a local springtime nocturnal owl survey. But they happen to be my favourite bird. In the whole. Wide. World. As such, Pepper merely had to bat his big Bat-Boy eyes and everything seemed suddenly alright again.

No disrespect to Nemo (above, top left and bottom right), a long-eared owl also in attendance – you were OK, too. But please view some close-ups of Pepper here, and here.

March 26, 2009

Not A Great Week

Top row (left to right): Suzie Vinnick, singing her heart out at a recently-attended house concert; a friend, and former co-worker, who left the job to become an RCMP officer. Middle row (left to right): Jeope the wildcat; an offering from Blondie's, home of the city's best burger. Bottom row (left to right): little Bennett, new to the scene; a face at this year's Féstival.


It hasn't been a great week. It could be the blizzard that just bombed us back to January. Could be the pre-blizzard taxi that soaked me stupid – in white pants, no less – twenty paces from my own house. It could be a number of things. So I decided to gather a bundle of things together that made me feel happier of late (see above).

March 22, 2009

184: In Like A Lion

A project that's kept me away from my usual sordid activities here has been building the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada e-newsletter for their Manitoba chapter. Previously I had gone whole hog and constructed an InDesign-based layout file and subsequent PDF for download, but the GDC has since made it significantly easier for area communications reps to get their chapters' words out by supplying a ready-made template and system for regional newsletters. But the task of filling them with content will always exist – and well, that's what I've been up to. The first edition under the new system was emailed out to Manitoba membership this past week. Future editions should be popped out every two or three months, with the next slated after a new crop of design students hit the streets later this spring, post-graduation.

Click here to be whisked away to the newest GDC Manitoba e-news.

March 16, 2009

183: Trois jours à Montréal

Top row (left to right): a poisonous french frog; Death's Head moth (think Silence of the Lambs); living baseball cactus – real name, no foolin'. Middle row (left to right): Kerry is stonewalled by the Montréal phone book; atop the mountain. Bottom row (left to right): face in the crowd at a drum circle; beautiful worn typography; riot police!


Kerry and I took advantage of a midwinter airfare sale and booked a long-weekend getaway to Montréal this weekend, playing tourists in the country's most cosmopolitan city for three days that felt like a week (always the best sign, in my opinion, that a holiday is working).
Our first day out we took the Métro to the old Olympic park grounds to catch my annual glimpse of some penguins at the Bio-dome (Kerry was more transfixed at a display of poisonous tropical frogs), the curiousities of the Insectarium and the surrounding park's extensive network of greenhouses (eventually getting the boot as they closed shop, without ever getting to the much-ballyhooed display of live butterflies).

On Saturday we ventured into Vieux-Montréal to explore, and join the throngs on Saint-Catherine to shop (side note: I outshopped Kerry! Boys rule!). The old city was quite peaceful outside what I imagine the high season is like; only a single street performer was out entertaining a modest crowd, and Kerry found me a small shop chocabloc with Tintin-themed goodies.

Sunday featured our flatlander's exhausting yet successful attempt at scaling the city's namesake mountain, capped with a hazy spring view of the city and much people-watching of countless folks out for the beautiful day. We completed the day's ten-mile trek into Mile-End for some Fairmount bagels, a jaunt down Rue Saint-Laurent and, finally, we witnessed the tail end of another infamous Montréal tradition: a genuine street riot ­ this one, ironically, marking an international day against police brutality.

Kerry will tell you the highlights were definitely meal-oriented, and it is a sublime city to go and eat. We enjoyed tapas at a table with swings for seats, enchiladas draped in spicy chocolate sauce, cheese-stuffed multi-grain crèpes and fall-off-the-bone chicken and duck tajines at a boisterous basement Moroccan restaurant where we snuck in sans réservation thanks to
some extremely helpful and coincidental assistance from an off-duty employee.

March 09, 2009

182: Clobbersaurus Rex!

Aaaaaand introducing in the blue corner… she's a writer and a fighter… a poet who can throw it… dropping bombs and verse that puts opponents in a hearse… ­ rising up from the mean streets of Westwood, it's Kerry "Electrifyin" Ryan, aka Clobber! Saurus!! Rex!!!

Saturday night saw the culmination of two hard months of training, all in preparation of Kerry's first-ever match, held during Pan-Am Boxing Club's "white collar boxing" fundraiser. She's been with the club and attending their rigourous workouts for over a year, but when the opportunity arose earlier this winter to hone skills towards an actual match, she signed up.

All of her work went into a three-by-two, six-minute match that stayed incredibly close. In the end however, by the skin of a tie-breaking technicality, she was declared the champ. And a retired champ, too (more likely than not), boasting an unblemished career record of one win and zero losses.

These shots were taken in a dank basement club bordering on the stereotypical, and using flash carried a penalty of mass pummeling by staff. So what you see here is what you get, though there's a better flow and 10-image story being told in my official Fight Night Flickr slideshow.

March 07, 2009

181: Puffin

This sketch represents a couple of things that these days I rarely – if ever – do. One, I didn't colour it. Two, it wasn't for any Illustration Friday theme and doesn't have any larger creative connection. Three, I rejected the urge to dress it up in effect (in moderation or otherwise). So, in its little way, I hope it can help push me towards being less compelled by site hits or comments, and being a touch more "sketchy" and directed towards personal gain and joy.

This illo doesn't get off scot-free though. There was a second bird to the left that I wound up not enjoying near as much as this fellow, so I erased it. And a third one didn't even make it past the pencil stage.

This is an Atlantic puffin.