Monday, June 29, 2015

Ghost Hunter Party Girl, R.I.P.

For the last two nights I have come home looking to see if our apartment has been fucked with. Has anything been moved around or placed upside down> The world’s number one fan of the Afterlife has died. My mum spent her whole life reading and researching UFOs, reincarnation, accounts of life after death, Edgar Cayce, Alan Watts, spiritual healing, comparative religions essays, astrology, ESP, ghost stories and you name it. If it was alternative, or otherworld she was into it. She had an opinion or book to recommend. She was obsessed with horror movies and began initiating my sister and I into cemetery visits and scary movies as soon as she could. I have no idea how young we were….but I don’t remember any time with my mother where the conversation about death or immortality and the afterlife didn’t occur. I also don’t remember any weekend or time visiting her and we didn’t end up in bed watching some kind of paranormal documentary or slasher film. This woman loved a mystery. Maybe because she was a mystery. I’ve never seen anyone who could clean a house like she could. Obsessed with cleaning, decorating and hard-core order. In some ways she was like a mad magician. It would be no big deal to come home from school and find the house completely redecorated, restructured and painted.I remember as a teenager when it occurred to me that our house was a little different, because my friends would come over and be kind of blown away by how the house looked. Fur couches, orange walls, think oak round table, art, pillows, candles. And books. Books everywhere and giant home made stereo speakers. She was kind of ahead of her time for conservative Canada. She ran housekeeping like it was of massive military industrial complexity. I believe her need for order and beauty was because she was a chaos machine. She struggled with “cycling” of her thoughts, and childhood trauma she never resolved. Almost no one except my sister and I, and maybe one or two of her friends, even knew how she suffered and her struggle. She kept a tight grip on her appearances and her home and her jobs.To the world she was a work-a-colic, the-life-of-the-party and a high priestess of slapstick humour. I can’t tell you how many times I saw her fall off a dock, or a boat, or wipe out jumping a  fence (to chase our pet squirrel or raid an orchard) or almost pee herself laughing. She absolutely filled a room. There’s a good reason my sister and I are good listeners, and able to step back and let others be the center of action, like our kids, or friends. We grew up with a crazy, loud, manic star and we were both quiet shy kids in response. Halloween was the central driving holiday in our house. Who cares about Christmas when this horror superman was in full force? No room was left behind. Orange and black  and bats and candles and crepe and lanterns and pumpkins everywhere. I remember one time in Winnipeg, she had built a massive scene of hay stacks, and several paper pumpkins. she would annually build this tall human scaled creature holding brooms and weapons and with a paper pumpkin candle lit head. She made it every year and it was terrifying. We loved it! And one year it caught fire. Fuck, I’m telling you the mayhem that broke out pounding batting blankets snuffing, buckets of water throwing. My sister and I inside I don’t remember either awe or fear…just sitting there stunned. Later the laughing. Her and her mum just losing it and recounting the ordeal. We lived with our grandparents….and there would have been cocktails and great snacks and insane revelry about how silly my mum was and how we almost all died. And laughing, and re-eneacting every detail. I should slip in here...that mum was also a professional inappropriate laugher. Something in her contrasting of order and chaos seemed to manifest itself that she would laugh a the worst moments...often contagiously making anyone like my sister and I join her. We would drag out this Halloween story over the years and eventually I remember learning to see how funny it was…as a child I just snuffed out my emotions. Too scary. My father was furious. He also would recount the story but with a lot of blaming and disgust at how my mum almost killed us all. He was so mad decades later, two wives later, in the hospital in his last couple weeks of life he typed a message to me about “your damned mother” and her Halloween antics. Of course I laughed because how powerful my mother was to haunt my father like that so many years and so many miles away. He also would talk about how beautiful she was, how she had the tiniest waist. Yes, that’s right this intense force of nature was only 5’4” or something, with the tiniest of bone structures.  How could someone so small be so large.  And as she tormented dad, I understood because she was no easy person to spend time with if she was in a mood or you were trying to take up center stage. Her pain, her cycling, her anger were just as vibrant as her need for excitement and mystery. She was one of the most generous people in the world and also one of the cruelest I’ve known. She was a mystery. She also loved outdoors life and was fairly athletic in many ways at odds with her clumsiness. She loved camping and the woods and nature. I have such an overwhelming feeling of her being at peace at last. I also feel she might finally understand why reincarnation might exist. I hope the Afterlife is holding a  huge Halloween Pagan celebration for their number one investigator and fan. Meanwhile I’m making sure she hasn’t put salt in my sugar bowl, or lined our bed with cornflakes. I have  no doubt she is going to try to haunt my sister, me and my daughter, her favorite audience.

And here is what I wrote for my dad...

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Pepper King

 We roperd Stagg into helping at one of my jobs this past week...he chopped peppers for 10 hours!!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Film Noir Month

I am doing the online course for film noir on TCM. 8 weeks, so cool! #NoirSummer

The camera position seems to be in a secluded viewpoint. As if we, the viewer were hiding and watching. Very voyueristic feeling. Also, there is a feeling of very quiet courtyard despite the children playing. No adults at first visible. Then the camera tilts up, again as if we are hiding and watching for adults. We see women doing laundry. The children are playing a game in which they count and then dis-count and eliminate a player from a  circle. 

The mothers discuss how annoying the children morbid song lyrics are in the game but they also agree that as long as they are singing they know they are safe. This riffs on the idea that the mothers are identifying, and accounting for their children. When children play in groups or do school trips together it is common for adults to take a head count. This sense of paying attention to the numbers and amount of children to keep safe, gives a sense of importance to how valuable their numbers are and keeping track of children. This also is a very urban kind of worldview where large populations can obscure our catering and watching of our children.

The poster of the murderer-at-large confirms and justifies the mothers fears of keeping track of their children. The little girl seems so vulnerable playing with her ball when we mostly only see the figures of adults around her, but few face. Then the silhouette of a stranger overtop the murder poster shows us how we can not see the person...possibly the murderer could be anyone and this is so frightening and effective at putting fear into us observing.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

And Even More Workshops And Learning!

 If it wasn't enough to be gilding an historic house museum this week, I also had scheduled more camera operating classes. The thing with ilm that is different than painting is the kind of practice that the material is innovative every couple of years....but for the most part, once I learned how to use stays the same. However with film, the technology changes all the time. So you have to have workshops if you want to feel comfortable with the equipment...and also to be able to rent equipment. You can't rent camera and film equipment at most places unless you are qualified. I belong to three tim cooperatives and societies....they offer workshops and training all the time. 

So here are the other people in our workshop this month. We spent a lot of the day wrapping up the equipment, winding and unwilling cables and cords and pressing buttons ha ha ha! Just checking that equipment works and is set up takes a lot of time. A lot of filmmaking is concerned with phone calls, time, (scheduling, be punctual, and the actual film is based on time) and set up and break down of equipment.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Society Of Gilders

 This week, my good friend Martina has been in town for a Gilding Conference. Yes, she gilds things, all kinds of things. So every couple of years gilders get together and learn new mad skills. Today I got to witness, and participate in a  volunteer project gilding a museum in downtown Chicago. Wow!

Above photo you can see the before and after.
 Here is one of the conference participants, and professions gold/gild artist and tradesperson up on a ladder applying gold leaf to the damaged ceiling. The former work was flawed or damaged....and this project allows people to help out and learn. It was pretty amazing to be able to be in a  museum when it was closed and see this work being done.

 I was able to help out. My first job was to pick up gold leaf that flys off the ceiling or drops as it's being applied. All the bits that fall off or are "skewered" (extra overlapping  gold leaf) are reclaimed and recycled. The gold can be melted and cleaned and turned into ignots. So I used a cone bag....which was purposed into a cone from a paper shopping bag. I used a paint brush to gather the fallen gold leaf.
 See, the little bits of gold on the floor? Thats what gets recycled.
 The museum is The Gleaner House....which was built in late 1800's...I'll post a link later. You can see that it is a fully furnished and from a huge rich family...and it is massive.
 Here is the whole gang! We were working from 10-4 so of course we went for a break and lunch. After lunch I climbed up on the scaffolding and was gilding all afternoon. We are going back tomorrow morning for another day of work.

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