Monday, August 29, 2011

FAN EXPO 2011:

You really have to give it the TTC. They keep raising the fares here in Toronto but I guess I shouldn't complain. Most subways take you across your city, ours takes you to another dimension: A strange land populated by game warrirors come to life

 and kick ass schoolgirls

and monsters

and superheroes

... or it just takes you to downtown Toronto to this year's Fan Expo.

I do go to the fan expo to find some deals on books, comics, gams, movies etc but definitely a big part of the fun are the costumes. All the usual inspirations were in attendance, from anime
from TV

from movies
from comics
and from gaming

Last year Steam Punk was the "new thing" at the convention. A visual style influenced by writers like Bruce Stirling, it posits a technological society from a Victorian sensibility

This year the convention "offically" welcome loli, a street fashion originating in Japan (where else) where girls wear exaggerated frilly dresses, umbrellas and usually huge blond wigs. Now, there have always been loli girls (the term stems from lolita, and is often called Goth Loli though that variant of course focuses and darker clothes) but this year there were even more of them. What does one call a group of loli girls? Perhaps a parasol of lolis ...
Besides buying crap that I don't need and that I want (and let's face fact, when you're talking about a Japanese movie about the legendary blind swordsman Zatoichi done a musical, the line between need and want quickly blurs) and gawking at kids in costumes, what else does the Fan Expo have to offer?

One of my favorite areas at the convention is Artist Alley where you can actually converse with artists, look at their products, talking about past and future projects and sometimes land some good deals. This year I picked up a couple of prints from a young Japanese artist, barely two years out of art school and perhaps this could be one of those "I knew him when" moments ... or I'll promptly forget who the guy is. At any rate, I picked up some lovely art at a good price.

The gaming area was much better this year, there were more new games being demoed and you could go play some of them in a tournament style setting. No, I did not participate. It's tough enough when a computer keeps slaying me in a game, I can't bear the thought of a 12 yr kid kicking my ass as hundreds watched.

The other draw at the expo are the celebs who show up. I'm happy to saw that comic book and anime creators got as much if not more buzz than the Hollywood types. The year Stan Lee came the place went nuts but having said that, William Shatner was back this year and proved to be the most popular in terms of ticket sales for his autograph .... that being over 80 bucks. As much as I love Bill (and we all know that I do) the man is all over TV .. he don't need my money that badly.

I won't pay for anyone's autograph but the two people who I would have considered was Michael Biehn, who I missed and Eliza Dushku who I did see. Some may know this actress as Faith from the TV version of Buffy but for me, she is Rubi Malone, the foul mouth mercenary from the video game Wet. Seriously, she was too cute and too charming to be so rough and tumble.
Another relatively new event at the convention, or at least one I had not before seen, was the dancing .. there was dancing at the Let's Dance video game booth (no surprise there) and apparantly spontaneous dancing from the costumed kids that I believe is called J Pop. I'm not sure exactly what this is, but it was both funny and frightening .. check out the video to see why.
Obviously, there is a lot of commercialisim involved in a function such as this. People are there to sell you shit; fair enough, I'm there to sell shit. Problem is, I'm not sure exactly what people are trying to sell, as evidence by the next few pics ... I'm pretty sure as a happily enspoused man, I'm not allowed to buy whatever is being sold here.

So that was my Fan Expo experience this year. In the coming months I'll be reviewing some of my purchases. Enjoy the video below and here's just a few more pics to give you that warm fuzzy "oooh weirdo's in costume" feeling.

So stop your gawking, this isn't that kind of post .... here's the video

Sunday, August 28, 2011


There have always been strange and unexplained events that happen on a regular basis: Swans returning to Capistrano, wildebeast migrations, Parliment sitting .. here in Toronto we have such a bizarre event: The streets of the St. Lawrence Market district are suddenly flooded with jugglers and clowns and fire twirlers ... oh my!

Yes, Buskerfest has returned to Toronto

With Collette still recovering for recent surgery we knew that we would not be able to stay as long as we normally do but who can resist the notion of wandering around amongst a bunch of face painted, spangly tighted, backflipping freaks .. and they aren't related to you?

Our first encounter was with a capoeira troup. We caught the tail end of their martial arts demo (as you'll see in the video) but we were able to see them demonstrate some impressive acrobatic skills, as in back flipping over human beings. I'm not sure I really want to contemplate the practical application of this skill.
Australia seems to be exporting fire acts at a fairly impressive rate. Two years ago we encountered Dream State Circus and this year we found another troupe, mostly Ozzies who performed a variety of stunts.

They had a pair of girls who performed together with hoops ...
... and of course did a fire act. Being broad daylight, they limited to what they would perform at night but it was still lovely, lyrical and delicate as opposed to "oooh ahhh" but still indicative of a great deal of skill.
You'll see their full act and highlights of the day in the video below

Thursday, August 25, 2011


The other day we felt an earthquake here. Tonight we had tornado warnings, thunder and what felt like hours of lighting. At one point we were getting strike after strike, huge ones that lit up the sky

Not too much to say about this video. I set up the tripod and used our little Panasonic point and shoot waterproof cam. Shot in HD then outputted to standard def. Pressed Rec and went back inside to have a beer.

Let's be honest, I'm a lazy bugger and I like any video I can shoot from my porch ... while drinking a beer ..

Saturday, August 20, 2011


I'm still working on my Iceland videos and preparing them for publishing but in the meantime, life goes on. This past Thursday the Toronto Blues Society presented a free concert here in Nathan Phillips Square.
The show featured the six finalists in their new talent search which, I gather, has been going on for some time. I missed the first act but got to hear the rest of the entrants. Over all the quality was pretty good and ranged from delta style blues, to a jazzier feel to wannabe Steve Ray Vaughns. Mostly, it was the kind of stuff you'd hear in a decent bar, enjoy for the evening but not necessarily remember a week later. But there were a few standouts.

Nicole Richardson is a very rootsy artist, giving a personal spin to some very traditional woman-with-a-guitar blues, her voice echoing that of Sue Foley, not a bad thing at all
Ken Yoshioka is a Delta bluesman by way of Japan .... a very respectable slide guitar and harp style colored by and ESL take on the lyrics. The man can definitely play, his harp playing is respectable and his lyrical interpretation is ... interesting.
Distillery is a trio, guitar, harmonica and female singer. Their sound was jazzy inspired, the musicians were competent but overall they seem uninspired. The singer sometimes had difficulty finding her range.

The Fraser Melvin Blues Band was a full outfit and tried for a rocking blues style. One would think that if a band was named for one of its members, that individual would be the strongest player .. but he was not. Melvin's guitar playing was adequate, he clearly wants to be the next Stevie Ray but has a long way to go and his singing seemed very forced. The sax player, however, was quite good.

Although I enjoyed the first two individual acts I was finding no inspiration .. until a man with horn rimmed glasses, a pork pie hat and a bobble head Jesus hit the stage. Bradleyboy MacArthur is a one man band; guitar, high hat, harmonica and a suit case as a base drum. This was Tom Waits visiting swamp blues and from the first frayed chaotic riff, I was pretty much in love
While Bradleyboy may not have fit as neatly into a blues slot as some of the other players, this was something primal and raw and the only thing that made me feel like dancing. Not only did his voice resemble Mr Waits, he also had the sense of humour. One of his songs begins: "When I was born at the age of sixteen ..."
I wasn't the only one in love with this darkly comedic one man band; Bradleyboy won the competition. Which means he may be soon coming to your town. Go see him. But you may want to check your back seat on the way home.

If you'd like to see the HD version of this video, click the link below:

Blues Contest

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Well of course I was going to make a full trailer from my footage from Iceland, even after doing the Ten Days in Ten Shots vid

Going through more of the footage I just couldn't help myself. Although I of course intend to edit the footage into a series of detailed videos, I couldn't resist selecting a bunch of shots and editing them to music.

That's what a trailer usually is for me: A music video. Music is a vehicle that lets me select and manipulate the shots in a way to illicit a more emotional response. Yes, I did say manipulate. The idea of a trailer is to generate excitement and using a filter or two takes the video from documentary to expressive .. .hopefully

The song I chose is one of my "got to" pieces of music: Dreams by the Cranberries. I normally don't use this for trailers, at least the whole song due to it's length, but damn, I have a lot of footage.

So Blogger is still being a bit of a bitch in terms of allowing me to embed videos in their proper widescreen format. To that end I urge you follow the link below to view the trailer in all its dazzling glory ... ahem

Iceland: The Trailer

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


No. Not gunshots. When I talk about "shots" I talk about something I've taken with my camera, not an Ak-47.

Get over yourself.

I've just finished uploading all my raw camera footage from the HDD I took to Iceland to the work computer. Once I unwrapped it from its compressed storage medium to full Pro Rez 422 I ended up with about 400 GB of video.

I did the math and that comes out as ... a fuck of a lot.

It will take a while to log all the footage and find a suitable program format etc. I will probably document that oh so fascinating process on my other blog, Idiot With a Camera

In the meantime I decided to make a little trailer, a tease if you will. Normally I would select a dynamic piece of music and cut to it, lots of fast cuts with some filters, titles etc. I still may do that but looking at this footage, shot in this incredible country, I found that it mostly speaks for itself. It did not really need "jazzed" up.

I realized I could best create a teaser of our Iceland trip just by presenting a few clips as they were captured, with the naturally occurring ambient audio. But how to package that? The solution seemed obvious: Our trip lasted 10 days, including our 6 day guided tour around the country. So what about picking one shot to represent each day of the trip: Ten days in ten shots

Simple yet difficult. Each day, especially during the tour, was jam packed with events and sights and sounds. We went a lot of places, we saw a lot of things ... in one day on the tour we could visit 3 or 4 locations. How do I pick just one locale? And from that, pick one shot.

The answer was to pick an event and/or place that had the greatest impact, that lingered in my mind: The beautiful church that is the focal point of the pretty capitol city of Reykjavik; a storm racked bit of coast line in Snaefelles; the bubbling and steam of the hottest spring in the country; the slick back of a minke whale breaking the surface; the thunder of the most proficient waterfall in Europe; an ice berg floating in a glacial bay; ice adorned mountains guarding a gigantic glacier; the explosion a huge geyser; gulls circling the City Pond back in Reykjavik; steam gilding bathers at the Blue Lagoon ...

I could easily re edit this piece, finding more and more compelling images. But the exercise was to just string together a string of impressions. For me, they are memories. I hope, for you, they are enticements to stay tuned ...

Top Blogs Pets

Add to Technorati Favorites