Sunday, April 26, 2009

on editors, again

oh, the terrible woes of cutting work down to fit...CBC's "As It Happens" played the audio of this Rowan Atkinson & Hugh Laurie sketch, in honour of Shakespeare's 445th birthday ("Shakey" was baptised on April 26th, 1564.)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

tonight in Dawson City

the amazing, the astonishing, the first...One-Minute Film Festival, created by Scott Amos...being held tonight, for one night only, at KIAC Artist-in-Residence building, the Macaulay House Residence. i wish i could be there...since i have a 1-minute film being screened at the event, with music created by Rozalind MacPhail.

participating filmmakers include Elisabeth Belliveau, Terry Haines, Deco Dawson, Scott Amos, Dan Sokolowski, David H. Fraser, Rachel Wiegers, Jessie Currell, Rozalind MacPhail, Karen MacKay, Jen LaLiberté, The KIAC Staff, Lulu Keating, Veronica Verkley and Charles Stankievech. and me, in what i suppose is my filmmaking debut. !

urban home: Foundry Lofts, Toronto

the idea of home is constantly evolving in cities--we live in old buildings, new buildings, converted buildings, factories, houses, apartments... right now, i'm living in a house that has been subdivided into apartments (i'm in the former attic.) across the street, there's a church being turned into townhouses, which seems to be a tediously slow project...whenever the weather is lousy, the construction crew stays home.

this week i was lucky to visit Toronto's Foundry Lofts--a site which originally produced steel railway rails, fences, fire hydrants...and rather splendid decorative dragons. the foundry company dates back to the 1870s; these buildings were mostly built in 1903. now, this main warehouse has been repurposed as lofts, with a massive communal shared atrium running down the middle of the space.
several of the buildings on the former 60-acre site have been given Heritage status, and deservedly so--the smokestack, above, built at the beginning of the 20th century, was once the 2nd tallest structure in all of Canada. several of the lofts look right out at the smokestack--including this one.

more on the evolution of the Foundry, in my series on homes in Toronto, for blogTO.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

one last post from the Yukon

...had the pleasure of recapping the Film Fest for the Whitehorse paper, The Yukon News...

Monday, April 20, 2009

get out there

so much more inspiring than "keep calm..." this is by moleiteau.
i found it at
43 Folders (really good ideas from Merlin Mann)
and you can download the image from

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

fest faves

so many good films at the Dawson Fest...there were nearly 150 movies being shown over the weekend. i didn't get to all of them but some of my favourites include:

Jeff Winch's Close & Low. a man, a dog, and a poetic leap through life--winner of this year's Lodestar Award.

Eva Weber's City of Cranes. who'd have thought crane operators in London would be such philosophical guys? and i don't know how she got such clear skies and luscious colours in grey London Town.

Anna McRoberts' The Windfisherman. this is such a funny fairytale, i want to believe that Gust Town actually exists somewhere in rural Alberta.

Daneil Janke's How People Got Fire. as told by elder Kitty Smith. the animation here is breath-taking, partly using painted live-action footage and partly sketched by artist Jay White. 1st place winner of the Yukon Energy Award.

Dustinn Craig's 4 Wheel War Pony. i never expected to love a film about skateboarding, but this is great--historic photos, Apache skateboarders, and smart split-screen effects.

Lulu Keating's Dog=God, made with Karen Hines. 2nd place winner of the Yukon Energy Award, with lush black & white footage Keating developed in a bucket, in her bathroom. (i love the idea & the word "bucket-development". must be the name of a production company somewhere...)

Duane Gastant' Aucoin's My Own Private Lower Post, which bravely explores his mother's experience in residential school, and its painful legacy in his own life.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

drivin' back to whitehorse a 1981 Dawson-ized Honda...

(okay, we took the caribou rack off for highway driving)

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Ampersand, part 3

last posting from Dawson for The National Post's Ampersand (some of the links are unembedded, alas)

(image: filmmaker Terry Haines clowns around with an old Super-8 camera, for Scott Amos' 1-minute-film project)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Ampersand, part 2

more on the Fest, in The National Post's Ampersand

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Ampersand, part 1

while i'm at the International Short Film Fest, i'm doing some journal entries for The National Post's blog, The Ampersand (scroll down for day one, otherwise you begin at day two).

Cattle Call

just before the outdoor screening, i ran into calligrapher Owen Williams, who recently finished a gallery performance in Whitehorse, where he drew 10,000 variations on the letter S.

i'm looking forward to checking back with Owen, to talk about Matthew Randin & Mike Maryniuk's film, Cattle Call--a wild animation inspired by an auctioneer at the Winnipeg stockyards, which include all kinds of text fonts & numbers. i had a chance to preview the film at Deco Dawson's afternoon talk. it's so fast-moving that a couple of viewings are i had a chance to see it again at the late night Friday screening. so far, it's one of my favourites of the festival.

below...getting the outdoor screening underway, in the window of the ODD gallery. even at 10pm, it's very bright outside...though by the last film of the outdoor series, night was definitely coming on.

Friday, April 10, 2009

fire for breakfast

another thing i love about Dawson: i wandered a few blocks over to filmmaker Lulu Keating's house this morning. a slew of people were sitting over breakfast, and within minutes i found myself with a cup of cloudberry tea, a toasted bagel, and a dog beside me, wanting to be petted (or maybe wanting my bagel, but she's a well-behaved mutt). conversation was fascinating--one of the women at breakfast used to work as a fire tower observer. made me think of Kerouac's Desolation Angels (which always incongruously reminds me of an apartment i had in Paris, next-door to where Picasso painted Guernica. art, around and around...)

(image from Flikr by Leesh)

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Bolex & banjo

i drove to Dawson City with five film-makers, twelve cameras, and a banjo. in the process, i learned a lot about the 16mm Bolex film cameras...because both Scott Amos & Deco Dawson broke out their cameras as we hit the road.

the opening screening for the Dawson City International Short Film Festival starts in 15 minutes, i better get going...

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

i got it bad...

i'm en route to Dawson for the International Short Film Festival. how can i resist a film fest that features an outdoor screening in the snow?

but for tonight, i'm in the 'Horse & while it's not cold, the city still looks wintery (as the view from my hotel room proves!) so i was amazed, walking along by the still-frozen river, to hear the jazzy notes of a saxophone drifting down. nice accompaniment to all the melting snow.

a street musician has to be the sweetest urban sign of spring. and the Baked Cafe has its chairs & tables set up in the sun on Main Street...

Monday, April 06, 2009

Thinking with other people

went to see an amazing performance by Rabih Mroue this past Friday night, as part of the Images Fest in Toronto. i wrote about it here for BlogTO

in the Q & A after the show, Lebanese director/playwright/performer Mroue said that this kind of performance "is a way of thinking with other people". which also, sometimes, describes blogs rather beautifully.

Tiki vs Slush

it's raining slush in Toronto today. so i decided to share some Tiki wonderfulness, to fight against the questionable spring weather.

this is the old Montreal Kon-Tiki restaurant at the Sheraton Hotel. i blame my parents for starting my Tiki obsession by taking me here at a young & impressionable age. Tiki sculptures, dry-ice volcano drinks, poo-poo platters...the works! tragically, this Kon-Tiki is no more...i wish i knew what happened to those Easter-Island type sculptures guarding the entrance.

i love Tiki. i've worked a few Tiki references into my novel (scenes set in the early Flamingo Casino.) there used to be a Trader Vic's in Vancouver within walking distance from my apartment...i was heartbroken when it closed (the only consolation is that some fellow-Tiki lover bought the pseudo-Polynesian building & had it towed out to Vancouver Island. long may its kick-ass gardenia-garnished drinks linger in memory.)

fortunately, i still know of one fantastic place to get a Mai Tai...unfortunately for me, it's in Sarasota, Florida. but if you're in the neighborhood, hit the Bahi Hut on Tamiami Trail. doesn't look like much from the outside...but the interior is all grass-roof 1954 Tiki authenticity. if there is such a thing. just plan on walking home.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Ministry of Edges

Glen Downie's Loyalty Management is this year's "Keep Toronto Reading One Book" choice. the title might be the worst ever for a book of poems, but maybe the idea is that the word management will snag people who otherwise avoid poetry like bubonic plague.

i picked up the book at the library & it opened to "Ministry of Edges"...which kicks off with:
Why a Ministry of the Interior? There is no Interior. There ought to be a Ministry of Edges.
- Canadian ex-patriot
so i brought the book home. Loyalty Management isn't as overtly Toronto-centric as last year's immensely popular "One Book" selection, Michael Redhill's novel, Consolation. i'm curious to see if Downie's book will get as much recognition. the opening pages of the book are accessible online, here.

(the photo above of the glorious urban edge of Highway 401 is by J. V. Salmon, taken in 1954.)