Saturday, December 25, 2010


Form over function. Style over content. Looking good vs thinking good .. gooder .. well .. whatever.

Does one trump the other, are they mutually exclusive, these are questions that have been kicking around for a long time. Almost as long as: Which came first, the chicken or the egg OR If a tree falls in the forest does it make a sound OR If Donald Trump is one of the richest men in the world why the fuck doesn't he get a better weave?

But let us shy away from any heady philosophical question (you do know which blog you are read correct?) and remain in a context that I understand. No, not beer, movies.

This is certainly an old topic of discussion when it comes to movie. There have always been those movies that looked great, from stunning full colour vistas to eye dazzling CGI effects but once you strip away the eye candy, all you had left was a crunchy frog .. that was a Monty Python reference, just to see if you were paying attention

A few years ago, Jennifer Lopez starred in a movie called The Cell, which concerned a woman who was able to get inside people's dreams, to help them with psychological issues

The concept was enticing, and the imagery was breathtaking .. even aside from Ms Lopez. There was an attempt at establishing an emotional connection, the plot involved Lopez "rescuing" someone from a serial killer. But in the long run, I felt more attention was paid to the visuals than the story, or even to the concept itself

Last year we saw Inception, another movie about people who are able to enter someone's dreams and alter their reality.

Certainly, the visuals, the look of the movie was breath taking. Like The Cell, this story also had an emotional connection but it's concept was about as fully realized as anything I've ever seen in a movie. This elevates the movie. You don't need the effects, the look, for this film to be compelling, the story (along with the fine ensemble acting) did that.

So, story over look, form over function? For me, usually, but not always. Film is, after all, a visual medium, and there are some film makers how can use the visual to tell their story.

Probably one of my favorite examples of this is Blade Runner directed by Ridley Scott

Blade Runner is one of those movies that had an immediate impact on and that has lasted for many years. There is a story here, sort of in a way if you really want there to be. I will not delve into the rumour that this movie was based on the Phillip K Dick novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. I in fact do not want to delve into the situation of all the movies that have been based, if that is the term, on the works of one of my favorite authors of all time. That will be a rant for another post (and it will be ugly, if I ever publish it, you may want to look away.
I prefer to consider Blade Runner as an entity all unto itself. And yes, it is an entity with a story. Beyond all the gobbly gook in the film (and my goodness there is a lot of gobbly gook) it is an examination of what makes a human, human. Or it is supposed to be. The script only lightly dwells on this topic and much of the action seems entirely unconnected with the basic premise.

But then there is the look of the movie. From the sets, to the camera work, to the costumes, the film had a very distinct look. It put you in a time and place, which is cool, because it is a time and place that never existed. That movie was very much about the look. The grimy, multi cultural, used up, low tech, environment trashed look of the thing said more about this world. While the plot unfolds it is the constant rain, the bombardment of commercial messages, the babel of many languages, the "worn out" high tech that informs us about this world as much as any dialogue.

Then you have Avatar. Another world, one entirely dependent upon effects.

The planet of Pandora is, of course, artificial. In more ways than one. Movies have always created pretend worlds but this was one of the first where not only every aspect of the planet existed in a computer, so did some of its most important characters.

I love this movie and I love its story. It is filled with emotion, with a sense of wonder, with a sense of outrage and in the character of Jake Sully, it is a story of redemption, one of my favorite themes. But it is also gorgeous to look at. But it is not just eye candy. James Cameron needed all the detail so that we were sucked into his world, that we totally bought Pandora and, more importantly, that we soon forgot that the Na'vi are computer generated fantasies and not flesh and blood creatures and allows us to fully experience the emotional core of the story

Which brings me to the movie that inspired all this ponderous pondering: Tron Legacy.

Tron, I think, is very much like Blade Runner in that the stunning visuals are integral to the telling of the story. Much of Tron takes place inside a computer, a place as artifical as the planet Pandora but a place that we have to "buy", that we must believe in, in order to care about the characters and the story. Both of which, by the way, are worth taking note.

We saw Tron in 3D and it was as good as Avatar, an immersive experience that totally makes sense to the setting. Some of the movie takes place in the real world and those scenes are in 2D. Inside the Grid, the computer, the scenes are in 3D. The film has a definite colour pallette, with lots of blacks and muted colours with sudden and dramatic splashes of bright yellow and neon blue. It all makes sense to the story, its all there for a purpose.

The look of this movie is important, the colours are like a kind of code that begin to make sense as the story unfolds. The colours and the animation are like a kind of dialogue, as much as the costumes and lighting designs of Blade Runner.

As I side, movies are a visual medium. M Night Shyamalan used the colour of red in The Sixth Sense to indicate when we were in the presence of a ghost. Kansas is black and white, Oz is in colour. In the original Stairway to Heaven, earth was in technicolour, Heaven was black and white. What we see can tell us a story as well

So form over function? You still need a story and characters and chicks with swords .. ok, maybe that last part is just for me. But you see my point. But in some cases, the form serves a function.

And there is never a function that cannot be served by a chick with a sword ...



The title paraphrases Robert Heinlein, just to get that out of the way
Our moon of course. The night of December 21, the winter solstice, a rare event by all understanding. Even more rare was a sky so clear that even with the high background of Toronto city lights, Collette and I were able to camp out in back yard and watch the whole thing unfold. And of course record it
The recording was made easier by a couple of early Christmas presents. The photo's in this post were taken by Collette, with her Nikon D-80, using her new telephoto lens with a maximum range of 400 mm.
She was able to get some nice images of the shadow passing over the moon and another thing that makes this eclipse special, was that as the shadow progressed, it made old Luna seem more Mars like. That is, red
It was a pretty cool effect I must admit. It really did remind me of Mars, but the with the imprint of the Moon's familiar craters. The whole thing took about 2 hours and were lucky that the sky remained clear for the whole thing. It was quite cloudy less than 2 hours before the eclipse began

At one point Collette, Jeff and I were all out there but Collette was the real trooper, she hung in for the whole event, sitting in one of the lawn chairs, in the snow, in her pajamas and a parka. That's my northern girl
It was an interesting event, an interesting night and a great opportunity to try out some new tunes. Here is a short video with images from Collette's Nikon, my venerable XL1 dv camcorder and my new Sony HDR-SR350 HD cam

Lunar Eclipse from Victor Kellar on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


The other night Collette and I took a journey. That was kind of accompanied by Journey. To a city in time, a city that was built by rock and roll, filled with people who want to rock, who want to know what love is, people who ain't gonna take it anymore and where strangers wander up and down the boulevard ...

We went to see the musical Rock of Ages

Rock of Ages is a musical review. The music existed first and the story was built around it. The music in question is from the 80's, provided by bands like Journey, White Snake, Twisted Sister even the Allan Parson Project (be honest, when was the last time you thought about the Allan Parsons Project, if at all)

Musical reviews are tenuous things. Often they are essentially concerts, usually performed by people not near as talented as the original artists. Story, if any, tends to be sketchy

It is essential that you like the music. The play Jersey Boys ran to packed houses here but there was no chance I was ever going to see it. Jersey Boys is based on the music of The Four Seasons and I would rather have my beard trimmed by Leatherface from Texas Chainsaw Massacre to sit through a show of Four Seasons songs

The musical We Will Rock You was based on the music of Queen. While I can't confess to be a true Queen fan, I enjoy the music .. and the play was so good Collette and I saw it twice. And would see it again

I was a bit nervous for Rock of Ages. I like a lot of that music but I didn't want to see a disguised concert. And it was not. It was actually one of the funniest shows I have seen in a long long time

The story is what it is, fairly standard for this sort of thing, boy and girl, meeting and leaving, getting lost, finding their way back to each other yadda yadda. Where the book of this play stand out is the presentation of the whole thing.

One of my favorite theatrical techniques is Pirandello, essentially a kind of slight of hand where you are told "Hey, we are about to fool you, you know we are going to fool you, but you're going to let you" During the show we were never left in doubt that we were watching a show.

At one point, the lovelorn male lead is feeling lost and confused. "I don't know what is going on" he moans. So he is handed the script of the play and asks what it is. "It's Rock of Ages" he is told, "the play you're in?"

The male lead, a wannabe rocker, is played by Yves Pedneualt, from We Will Rock You, a performer with a genuine rock and roll scream and a charming Quebecouis accent. In the the play he explains that he is from south Detroit (to set up the Journey song, Don't Stop Believing) but adds "by way of Montreal, to explain my noticeable French Canadian accent"

The person who informs Yves of his actual place in the universe is Lonny, sound man at the rock and roll bar where much of the action takes place and, essentially, the play's Greek chorus
Lonny is played by Aaron Walpole and for all the reasons to see this show, he may be the biggest one, in more than one sense. Mr Walpole is a rather large fellow but with an energy and physical grace that reminds you of John Belushi at his best. His energy is manic and you can't take your eyes off him. He played the audience like the live band played their instruments and his wit was a sharp in live impromtu asides as it was reading the script. On top of everything else, the man can sing.

There were other strong comedic performances. Cody Scott Lancaster played Franz, the disenfranchised son of a German real estate magnate who wants to tear down the Sunset Strip and kill rock and roll. Franz really wants to make candy and expresses himself with hilariously effeminate hip tosses and wrist flips. When he falls in love with a woman someone declares "I thought you were gay!" Franz replies "I'm not gay. I'm German"

As I noted earlier, most of the voices were strong. With the acception of Yves, who is a genuine rocker, these are stage performers. Their voices are beautiful but can you fairly compare them to David Coverdale or Mick Jones or Steve Perry. It's really a specious discussion. This was not a concert, it was a play and the performers were more than capable to that task.

Angela Teek, who played strip club owner Mother, particularly stood out. She has a sultry, snarly R&B voice that could belt Motown, blues and this lovely 80's puffery

I enjoyed the performances, I admired the way the songs were integrated into a story but really, it was the script that carried the day for me. There were times I was laughing so hard there were tears in my eyes.

I've heard people saying "I love this show, it really reminds me of the 80's" Well, perhaps the quality of the illicit drugs I did in the 80's weren't that good, I think this was an entertainment, not a time capsule. As Collette noted "I didn't think there was that much pole dancing in the 80's"

Monday, November 29, 2010


Surely you have heard of Leslie Nielson. And please, don't call him Shirley ...
These days Leslie is best know for movies like Airplane where that line was first uttered and for other satires and comedies like the Naked Gun movies
With his deadpan delivery and physical talents, Nielson made a steady living out of these slapstick comedies. But there was a lot more to him that. Like most actors who enjoyed a long career (the man made over 100 movies) his real talent seemed to be that of recreating himself, and recreating his career.

He was a Canadian priarie boy, son of an RCMP officer (which works nicely with his portrayal of a Mountie in the series Due South) who worked steadily in the early days of televison. In 1950 alone, he made over 50 appearances on TV. With his blonde hair and square jaw, he was the prototypical American leading man, most noted for his role as the stalwart spaceship commander in one of the greatest science fiction movies ever made, Forbidden Planet

It was a great movie, and successful, and he followed it up with starring roles in Ransom and Tammy and the Bachelor. He seemed to be on his way to being a romantic leading man but he had conflicts with the studio who held his contract and he left. He returned to television, taking the lead in a couple of Disney productions and co starring in big time TV series such as Hawaii Five O

In the movies, he underwent his first metamorphasis, from romantic leading man to villain. Yes, Leslie Nielson as a bad guy. And a really really good bad guy. A role that sticks out for me is his turn as a corrupt sheriff in Shadow Over Elveron. He still had that square jawed blonde look but he turned in an understated portrayal of evil with a slow fuse burning behind the eyes.

It was one of the reasons why Nielson was so damn effective in Airplane. With fellow TV tough guys Robert Stack and Lloyd Bridges, his dead pan delivery of the ridiculous dialogue was flat out hilarious. And it opened up yet another sea change for Leslie, one that would provide him with his greatest success and carry him through to the end of his career.

He followed up Airplane with the Naked Gun movies and many other comedies. Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of these movies, Airplane stands as a great comedy but it spawned a lot of inferior imitators. But clearly I may be alone in this assessment. Nielson was so successful as a comedian that people now would be surprised that he had a career as a leading man and shocked that he could portray such an effective screen villain.

Nielson was 54 when he made Airplane. At that point he was still working as an actor but was far from being a star. But he became one. He became more popular than at any other point in his career, but exploiting a talent for parody that he had never before been called upon to utilize

Perhaps that is the greatest tribute to him. He was an actor. He disappeared into his role, no matter what it may be. To the point we would forget what he had been before that moment.

He was a Canadian actor who found great success in Hollywood but never forgot his roots. He returned here many times to make shows and share his fame to promote various causes. For many people Leslie Nielson is the ultimate goof ball.

For sure, he laughed all the way to his grave.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


They lamented for loves broken. They celebrated for finding peace out of rage. They railed against broken promises. They delighted in finding bargain store panties ...

They are women singing the blues and this weekend they convened once again to share all these emotions and more at the 24th annual Women's Blues Review in Toronto

As is this case with this event you always get the expected (great music from 6 different performers backed but a kick ass all female band) as well as the unexpected. The unexpected usually takes the form of a new performer. We had that this year but the first surprise were the changes to the band itself

In its long history, this amazing band has had few changes. This year we had a new drummer, Lindsay Beaver (no I'm not making that up) who was both energetic and capable. The biggest change though was the band leader; the last few years that role has been filled with the terrific soloist Suzie Vinnik. This year the role fell to fireball guitarist Donna Granits. Last year Donna appeared on the show as the guitarist for blues belter Shakira S'Aida and it's pretty fair to say she pretty much stole the show. So although we missed Suzie, we were excited to see what this talented young guitar player would bring to the stage, literally

One of the things I love about this show is the diversity. Blues is a kind of big, encompassing terms, like "rock", it covers a lot of musical ground.

Opener Robin Banks is billed as a straight ahead blues belter but there is a lot of old fashioned soul in here delivery, and slight tinge of jazz. Both totally legitimate in the blues lexicon. Many of the women performing as well as band members played jazz in one form or another. I'm quite familiar with Robin and she certainly has legit blues roots; I remember seeing her many years ago at the beginning of her professional musical journey and was charmed by her energy and enthusiasm. This weekend she appeared much more professional, one could even say "slick" still very entertaining but I felt a bit of that charming soul had left her

Charming is certainly a phrase that applies to the performer who calls herself Little Miss Higgins. A wistful performer from the praries who favours gingham dresses and twangy guitar, Miss Higgins is noticeably removed from Robin Banks traditional blues stylings. There is a rich tradition of country blues. The Jimmy Rogers song I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry may not be 12 bar blues, but it certainly is the blues; it may be the saddest song ever written and as several of the evening's performers noted "blues is a feeling" Miss Higgin's songs about rusty tractors and the aforementioned discount undergarments were not sad, but the blues is also about celebration.

There was more than one song devoted to drinking in various forms. The one performer who was new to us, Alejandra Ribero, sang the refrain "let's just get stoned" Really, who could resist.

The blues when they are at their best share this trait with country when it is at its best: Songs of love, of love lost, of lust, of partying, of remorse, of simple joy ... common songs, that evoke common feelings. Universal feelings.

The amazing Alannah Bridgewater, who was Killer Queen in the local production of We Will Rock You, harkened a warm wistful remorse in Georgia On My Mind. Kellyee Evans, even though she was struggling with laryngitis evoked a kind of sensual warmth with her jazzy style

Alejandro Ribero had a unique style, not immediately identifable as blues, not really jazz, but filled with humour and passion, coming across a bit like a female Tom Waits.

Then there was Rita. The incredible Rita Chiarelli, one of our favorites. You get it all with Rita: Passion, humour, grace, grittiness .. Rita is a versatile performer, she has recorded a CD of traditional Italian music, but Rita knows the blues. And brother, can she sing them

Our friend who accompanied us is a music teacher. She enjoyed Rita's raspy, low register voice and her perfectly on key blues shouting but when she began to trade vocal "licks" with Donna's guitar, Rita hit a whole new register and all our friend could say was "Oh, oh my"

Each woman brought her own vision to this thing called the blues. At the end they all united on the stage, joining their varied artistic visions into one whole, uniting the thousands of us gathered in Massey Hall, lifting the roof and lifting our spirits

Keep singing, sisters

Sunday, November 21, 2010


History, that big vast clumsy all encompassing thing, the thing that just is, that just happened, that was simply us living without us worrying if, in the future, it would be all neat and definable or cateorizeable, that thing that we have some compulsion to define and organize ...

Sometimes the past, we find, has indeed already been defined, by the actions and usually the madness of one person.

Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, Ghengis Khan, Cleopatra, Elizabeth I ... all individuals who had remarkable influences on their time; empire builders. Civilizations creators and by the same token, civilization destroyers.

This weekend at the ROM (the Royal Ontario Museum) Collette and I got (kind of) up close and personal with just one of these builder/destroyers

Meet Qin Shi Huangdi, the First Emperor of China. We became aquainted with the Emperor at a an exhibit at the museum that featured pieces excavated from his tomb in China, considered the largest royal burial tomb ever discovered, including members of his famous terracotta warriors
Qin is the individual generally credited with uniting all the nations of China ... his name would be pronounced "Chin" so that gives you some indication. From a collection of smaller, warring kingdoms, Qin made his new nation, which included its first full time professional army, organized systems of trade, currency etc, pretty much out of the force of his own will

And quite a will it was

It was Emperor Qin who started the construction of the Great Wall

He was also responsible for building the subject of the ROM's exhibition, his remarkable tomb. A tomb that was first discovered in the 1970's and is still being excavated at this time. A tomb, that in its entirety, was a a city, complete with buildings, and court and retainers and entertainers and soldiers, all in life size
The army is what is best know today. An army of some 8,000 soldiers complete with armour, real weapons, chariots and horses. All life sized. And each one completely unique, no one the same as the other, all with incredible detail.

The ROM has on display several of these pieces, including two of the nine generals found (so far) in the pits, a couple of horses and several soldiers including this archer

There is a full compliment of archers in the tomb, and they are arranged as they would have been in battle, with a line standing, their crossbows loaded and a line kneeling in front of them, ready to stand and fire so their companions could reload. The level of detail is pretty astonishing. Moving behind the statue, we could see the textured sole of his shoe.

As if the thousands of life sized soldier, horses and chariots weren't enough, Qin's city would not be complete in the afterlife without a full contingent of courtiers and civil officials

These court officials also have remarkable detail. There is a slit in the side of their robe where in real life, they would have their tablet for accounting. Such attention to detail can also be found in the many animals in the tomb, such as the swan that was on display, whose head was titled as if looking up at for a bit of bread.

At the museum we watched a short video about how these thousands of objects were created; each one individually cast and "cooked" via a method that cannot be replicated today. There is much about Qin's tomb that puzzles archeologists. Before the tomb was first discovered in the 70's, many of the descriptions were thought to be preposterous. No one could really conceive of building an entire army out of clay, or equipping them with real weapons, or building huge structures underground ...

There were also descriptions that Qin wanted to mimic nature as well as man made objects. Ancient texts described rivers of mercury to represent actual Chinese rivers. Many scholars dismissed this idea ... until recently, when high mercury levels were recorded underneath the funeral mound

Seeing these objects, especially the beautiful and totally life like statues was impressive. Knowing that are thousands of more just as detailed, just as beautiful, was more impressive. But learning that Qin did all of this, the tomb, the terracotta army, the great wall, the creation of a unified state, in only 15 years ...

It rather boggles the mind. So much, in such a short period of time. Of course, Qin was quite mad or went mad at the end and he was entirely ruthless. Not only characters of clay were entombed down there, so were all his concubines who had not given birth and so were all the artisans, probably why we lost their knowledge.

He was ruthless on many levels and his tremendous conceit of fashioning himself a perfect life sized after life bankrupted the nation and eventually turned his own people upon him. The dynasty that followed Qin, the Han dynasty, learned from his mistakes. Their rulers also buried with them soldiers to take in to the afterlife but they were much smaller and much more modest

Qin must be regarded as one of the greatest empire builders in history. By consolodating the warring kingdoms he actually brought peace and stability to the area. He organized commerce and unified a vast and diversified people. But his arrogance, the very drive that helped him create China, also turned it against him in the long run

Arrogance, madness, vision .. it's all up to interpretation. In less than 20 years the First Emperor created a nation and oversaw the creation of objects that when viewed now, inspire awe.

Soldiers of clay, beautifully preserved. You can no longer see the blood

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


This past weekend I had the second week of my medieval fencing workshops at the Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts.

We went through the stances and basic postas again and I felt myself getting confused at some of the stances. Each posta or guard, can be done on either side of the body, so left posta's are done with the right foot forward, left posta's are done with the right foot forward and I kept screwing them up. I found this a bit surprising, as I usually have no problem distinguishing left from right.

Marx was on the left. Jerry Falwell is on the right. See, I know this ...

Then our instructor started to take us through the various cuts with the sword, each cut coming from a posta and then returning it. I did well with the cuts, edge straight and stopping it right on the mark.

The posta's then began to make some kind of sense to me. Instead of being absract stances, they were for something.

Standing and holding the sword with the tip down and in front of you (boar's tooth) then opening your wrist to hold it to one side (left or right tail) or laying the edge of the sword across your shoulder, tip pointed back (women's guard) began to make sense when moving the sword up through all the points, so I was swinging it up around my head to guard or turn into an attack

Some directional confusion aside, I like the precision of it, the control you must exact on the blade. This isn't Hollywood fencing with its big fast sweeping movements that look so cool on the screen. This is all based on reality, interpreted from the l'arte dell'armizare, not a fanciful work of fiction, but a training manual for fighting. Not fencing, not sport, but fighting

The instructors are very good at always explaining the real life application of everything that we're doing. And I see the benefit of learning all these elements, the guards and thrusts and cuts, and learning them precisely; it can be a very fine thing, your grip on the hilt, the position of the "true" or cutting edge of the sword always being aware of your feet and where the sword is pointed and where you are holding the balance of your body

That balance, of course, is a bit of an issue with me and my not so bionic ankle. The instructor kept questioning why I was having trouble shifting weight from the rear foot to the front foot and I had to explain my situation; I sometimes felt that if I shifted the weight the way she wanted, Vic would be more Weeble than D'Artagnan. But let's face it, I could never pull off a Musketeer, my French accent is really really stinky

I have four sessions left and I know we will continue to work on our stances, guards, cuts etc. I don't expect any sparring, I don't believe that's covered in the course. I've earned a month of free formal lessons at the academy which covers grappling, dagger, sword etc. I'm hoping by the time I reach the end of this course that I'll be able to evaluate whether or not I have the physical capacity to continue

Gee, imagine me learning bare hand and dagger and sword ...

Be afraid. Be very afraid (Oh, that advise wasn't for people on the street, it was for the EMT's and ER wards of Toronto, they should really just clear their calendars)

Monday, October 25, 2010


Sometimes it really is too easy

I just saw a TV commercial for a new infant product. It's Winnie. You know, the little honey loving bear. You know his full name.

Say it to yourself, just to make sure you have it

But he's not ordinary Winnie. He's a baby Winnie, to relate to your human baby one supposes

Now we have Winnie and it comes with a rattle that the baby can hold. When baby shakes the rattle, baby Winnie dances .. ok, it just sits there and vibrates but that pretty much emulates an infant's dance style. And after a couple of tequilla's it pretty much emulates my dance style as well


So baby shakes the rattle and baby Winnie dances. Or, as the commercial copy declares, Winnie "goes" Except they don't use baby Winnie's first name. They use his appelation. Now, say Winnie's full name again. Say it, don't spell it, just do it phonetically. Keep the "baby" part in the name please

Yes lady and gentlemen, give your baby a rattle and when she sakes it really really hard, you can "watch baby poo go"

Sometimes, it's just too easy

Sunday, October 17, 2010


But they did. Give me a sword that is.
The "they" in question is the Academy of European Martial Arts based here in Toronto

AEMMA teaches, studies and competes in the form of medieval fencing known as l'arte dell 'armizare as chronicled in a 14th century manuscript by Fiore dei Liberi. This swordmaster laid out in detail, with illustrations, the tenets of grappling, dagger and sword fighting. The Academy teaches these disciplines as faithfully as possible
Which brings us to me. You know, the guy with the messed up ankle and the 50 something body who's major form of exercise is hoisting pints of beer .. hmmm .. does fencing require strong elbows?

OK, I'm not that bad, but seriously, I am not in the greatest of shape (remember, I sit on my bum for a living and no, I don't have any job openings just now). And that ankle is pretty much a mess. I know it can be more flexible but for sure there is a limit to that flexibility. The other issue I have is my balance. Like .. I really don't have it anymore. Once upon a time I was quick and I had good balance. I'm still fairly quick ... watch me pop the lid off this beer bottle.

Oh too bad. You blinked.

So anyway ... AEMMA offers all kinds of instructional variants, starting out with a apprentice style system and working your way up. Commitment to time and commitment to money. I found a way to test the waters as it were: A six week course offered through the ROM. A basic introduction to the the, um, basics that would allow to me A: see how my ankle would fare and B: just find out if I wanted to commit to further training.

It's not that I have failure to commit ... I wouldn't want to make that strong of a statement .. cause that would be .. well .. commiting.

I had my first class this past Saturday. The stated capacity of the class was supposed to be 20 students which I thought was pretty good. It got even better. There are five students and three instructors which is about as good a ratio for which you could ask.

And I'm probably going to need all the personal attention I can get.

The class is four guys and one girl, all of them of the age where they could call me Dad .. or maybe even Grandpa. Hell, the instructors could call me Grandpa. Hmm, I know online I must be able to buy a walker with a custom sword attachment

This first class covered the very basics, namely postures and the basic guards, called postes. Unlike formal European competition fencing, this form is based on the reality of the situation, it's not a sport, it's a defensive art form. So instead of moving in a straight line, the postes are designed to give you 360 degree protection from your enemies. With me, though, I found my enemies may need to give me a moment while I sort out my lefts from rights. It's not something I normally have issues with, but it's the point of the sword point always aimed at the person to whom you want to kill ... Which is funny, cuz the instructors seemed like such nice guys ..

I could see that once I became comfortable with these postes, that everything flows from them, including your attacks. There's a logic and precision in it that appeals to me so it all comes down to practise and execution ...

Um, perhaps "execution" is a bad choice of words when discussing swords

Stay tuned

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Hey stranger, welcome to Vic's Warthog Bar. Take a stool (don't mind the crumbs and the spilled beer and the discarded video tapes, it's that kind of place) and enjoy our special today: Our annual Thanksgiving repast. A big warm bowl of family and friends, served on the rocks .. the rocks of Georgian Bay that is.
Yup, this is no ordinary Thanksgiving Special my friend. Oh sure, you have your turkey and your gravy and your stuffing, but this is the Pointe Au Baril Special so you also have your rocks, your waters and your trees changing colour

Now Thanksgiving in Canada, as you would know dear patron (cuz if you're a patron of the Warthog Bar you would be up on your history, down on judgement perhaps, but up on history) has nothing to do with Pilgrims, it is essentially the tradition of the harvest festival. In some parts of the country that would mean conveying oneself to the celebration in a horse and buggy, or a hay wagon, or a Massey-Ferguson combine, but up here in Pointe Au Baril, they prefer a more aquatic friendly mode of transportation

The ingredients for this Pointe Au Baril Thanksgiving Special are pretty simple. Mix in some sun .
... waves ...

... and of course a nice cold beverage
But of course this is Thanksgiving on the rocks, and by rocks I don't just mean the ice in Dennis's cooler, I mean the rocks of the Canadian Shield that make up the island which provides us with our dining space.
Yes, no cushy couches for the patrons of the warthog bar, these are Georgian Bay people, hardy and rugged .. and um, ok, sometimes passed out on a mattress with the baby

Thanksgiving on the rocks would not be complete without gifts of course. But we are not exchanging turkies here brother, it's only quality goods all the way

You could call this group social Thanksgiveners, they don't like to thank all by themselves

They come in groups, party as a group and of course leave as a group. Head counts are almost as important as beer counts. Almost

So another serving of Thanksgiving served. The imbibers and digesters and game players gone back across the water to their homes. With nothing left behind on the Bay, except of course, the rocks

Oh, and of course, a video

Pointe Au Baril Thanksgiving from Victor Kellar on Vimeo.

Top Blogs Pets

Add to Technorati Favorites