Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Reimagining Politics Alberta Liberal Party Style

This weekend Sylvia and I drove to Calgary to take part in the Alberta Liberal Party's annual convention, themed "Politics Reimagined." Less than two percent of Canadians belong to a political party, so much of what follows may seem a little arcane. But the decisions made by party members often have consequences that reach far beyond the relatively tiny circle of partisans. I think that's especially true in the case of the changes wrought by Alberta Liberals this weekend, which have made the ALP the most open party in Canada.
Leadership hopeful Bruce Payne gives fellow leadership candidate Raj Sherman a thumbs-up.
The most dramatic change is the creation of a new membership category - the "registered supporter." In other political parties, citizens must become party members and pay membership fees in order to be eligible to vote in leadership races. Not so for the Alberta Liberals! Now any Albertan can vote in our current and future leadership races, without needing to become a member.

I'm quite proud of this innovation, because it recognizes that most Canadians simply aren't comfortable tying themselves to one party or another - probably a reflection of our common desire to get along with as little acrimony as possible. This resolution recognizes that reality, welcoming anyone to participate without requiring anything more than contact information.

Some pundits are already saying that this change is risky, that it leaves the ALP prone to hijacking by hostile interests. But I don't think these fears are terribly troubling. If the Wildrose or the Progressive Conservatives wanted to stir up trouble, they have the funds to buy thousands of memberships; money is no barrier. Furthermore, these kind of shenanigans usually involve hundreds or thousands of people trying to guess who would be the weakest leadership candidate and voting for that person to sabotage the other party come the general election. But who's to say that they'll guess correctly? Perhaps they'll choose someone who really resonates with voters, despite all expectations.

Even if there were any merit to this argument, I think it's worth the risk. And shouldn't democratic principles include the right to vote across a spectrum of contests? I wouldn't mind having a say in the election of the next PC party leader, the next New Democrat Leader, the next Wildrose Leader. If we all had that power, wouldn't we all be prone to picking the best possible choice for each party? That way, no matter which party wins the general election, we wind up with the best possible Premier. I think that possibility might improve turnout considerably!

For more information on the groundbreaking resolutions passed at the convention, I invite you to read ALP Executive Director Corey Hogan's slick booklet explaining the changes. In the meantime, here are some more images from the convention:

Sylvia and I took a break to explore the shopping opportunities at Cross Iron Mills.
Raj Sherman officially launched his leadership campaign at the convention.

...unfortunately his sign started to come loose halfway through his speech. But Raj was unflappable.
Payne campaign director Neil Mackie speaks with MLA Bridget Pastoor as Andrew Fisher drops a photobomb.
Sylvia and Kim enjoy one of the hospitality suites hosted by the leadership candidates.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Hundreds Tell Alberta Government "Don't Drop the Ball" on Education


Yesterday hundreds of Albertans gathered for a "Don't Drop the Ball" rally to protest funding shortfalls that have forced school boards across the province to lay off hundreds of teachers and increase class sizes. Alberta Liberal MLA Hugh MacDonald spoke on the steps of the Legislature in defence of public education, and suggested that the sustainability fund should be used to cover the funding shortfall.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Betty Brant's Shocking Secret

In this fascinating panel from The Amazing Spider-Man #88 (1970), readers learn that longtime Daily Bugle secretary (and former girlfriend of Peter Parker) Betty Brant is telepathic! As indicated by the puffy cloud shape of his word balloon, Peter is merely thinking about J. Jonah Jameson's whereabouts, but Betty speaks aloud in answer to Peter's unspoken musings. Betty is clearly a mutant - she should seek out the help of Professor X and join the X-Men!

I suppose it's also possible that Betty merely intuited Peter's thoughts. Or that the artist simply used the wrong form of word balloon.

But I think I like my interpretation better.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Desert Island DVDs

Imagine that capricious aliens conducting an incomprehensible experiment snatch you away from your home and plunk you onto a desert island. But the aliens are not insanely cruel; they create a small, comfortable home for you, with hot and cold running water, toilet facilities, a kitchen stocked with an inexhaustible supply of food, and oddly enough, a luxurious home theatre with 7.1 surround sound, a blu-ray player and a 100 inch high-definition display.

But there's a catch: the aliens will allow you to choose just one film per decade, beginning in 1900 and including the decade of the 20-teens, which we've just entered. Each film you choose will be made available in high definition for your viewing pleasure, even if it hasn't been released on disc by humans yet. Every decade you'll be able to choose one additional film from a list provided to you by the aliens. Of course, not having seen any of these films, your new once-a-decade choice will be essentiall random, excepting of course new films with titles that make the subject obvious - "Star Wars Episode VII: Legacy of the Force," for example, will almost certainly be a new Star Wars movie. "Hamlet" will probably be a new adaptation of the Shakespearian play.

You can't leave the island, nor are there other entertainment options, unless you decide to start writing or drawing for your own pleasure (the aliens have provided plentiful paper, pens and pencils) or craft some kind of sport from the island's natural resources. Your film choices are, therefore, quite important - these are the only movies you'll get to see for a long, long time.

Here then, are my choices:

19-aughts
The Great Train Robbery (Directed by Edwin S. Porter, 1903) - It's silent and 12 minutes long, but I've never seen it, and since there aren't a lot of exemplary choices from the early days of film, I may as well give this one a shot. Certainly it's one of a handful of films from the era to retain some awareness in the popular consciousness, so it must have some redeeming virtues.

19-teens
Intolerance (Directed by D.W. Griffith, 1916)
I've already seen Birth of a Nation, so Griffith's response to his earlier controversial film seems like a good choice. And it's three and a half hours long, which will eat up a tiny slice of the interminable years to come.

1920s
The General (Directed by Clyde Bruckman and Buster Keaton, 1926)
From here on out the choices get much tougher. I wavered between The General and Fritz Lang's Metropolis, but in the end I think Keaton's genius for slapstick humour would serve my long-term mental health better.

1930s
King Kong (Directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, 1933)
A fantastic decade for film made this one of the toughest choices. This was the decade of the great Universal monster movies - Dracula, Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, The Wolf Man. It's the decade of The Wizard of Oz, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Chaplin's City Lights, the Tarzan films, Captain Blood and so many other wonderful films. But in the end, I chose King Kong, one of the great monster movies and one of the great tragic love stories.

1940s
Double Indemnity (Directed by Billy Wilder, 1944)
This was the decade of film noir, and Double Indemnity is one of the finest examples of the genre. The script is full of snappy dialogue, the mood is darkly atmospheric, the story is compelling, the acting superb. Eminently rewatchable.

1950s
The Searchers (Directed by John Ford, 1956)
The 1950s were chock full of fun B-movie science fiction thrillers and the best of Alfred Hitchcock's magnificent ouvre, as well as classic dramas such as The African Queen, Sunset Boulevard, Ben-Hur...in the end I had to choose The Searchers, a film whose power and beauty remains undiminished.

1960s
West Side Story (Directed by Robert Wise, 1961)
This is the decade of Lawrence of Arabia, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Planet of the Apes, the early James Bond films, the early Pink Panther films, the great exploitation cheapies of Roger Corman...but if I'm going to be on a desert island with only a handful of movies, I'm going to need a musical to sing along with. And West Side Story is my favourite musical of all.

1970s
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (Directed by Robert Wise, 1979)
The 1970s started off as a time of experimental cinema in Hollywood, and then Jaws and Star Wars started the age of the blockbuster summer hits. My short list includes Dirty Harry, Network, The Conversation, All the President's Men, Mad Max, Logan's Run, Enter the Dragon, Chinatown, and most especially, Superman. But I need one Star Trek film on my list, because the characters and stories of the original series shaped who I am. Plus this first feature outing is the last time Star Trek really attempted to tell a true science fiction story, before lapsing into space opera. Choosing between this film and Richard Donner's Superman was the toughest choice of this entire exercise.

1980s
Big Trouble in Little China (Directed by John Carpenter, 1986)
These were my teenage years, and I remember many films of this era fondly - the Star Trek, Star Wars and Superman sequels (well, just Superman III, really), the Indiana Jones movies, a slew of great horror and science fiction films from John Carpenter and some of the best work of David Lynch. I chose Big Trouble in Little China because of its tongue-in-cheek humour and over-the-top dialogue and action. It's a ridiculous but fun film that will ease the burden of my isolation.

1990s
Pulp Fiction (Directed by Quentin Tarantino, 1994)
The 1990s is perhaps my least favourite film decade. Though there were certainly a number of good films - The Shawshank Redemption, Shakespeare in Love, The Big Lebowski, The Usual Suspects, Twelve Monkeys, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead, among others - most of the decade's offerings haven't stuck in my mind. But Pulp Fiction does, with its non-linear storytelling and trademark Tarantino dialogue.

20-aughts
Serenity (Directed by Joss Whedon, 2005)
The first decade of the 21st century, on the other hand, has been great for film.The Lord of the Rings trilogy brought back the epic scale and feel of the big pictures of the 1930s.  David Lynch returned to form with Mulholland Drive. This was the decade of There Will Be Blood, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Dark Knight, Spider-Man 2Memento, the enormously fun new take on Star Trek, No Country for Old Men, and the delightful but flawed Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Serenity, though, is another film featuring familiar old characters I adore, characters who will help see me through the island's isolation.

20-teens
Source Code (Directed by Duncan Jones, 2011)
As unfair as it is for the aliens to force me to choose a movie for a decade that's only a couple of years old, these are the circumstances of the hypothetical. So I choose Source Code, a film I haven't seen, based on the strength of reviews and my admiration of Jones' first film, the enjoyable Moon.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Connecting with Albertans


Here's a very slick new video from the Official Opposition that introduces the Alberta Liberal Caucus' new approach to social media. Our website, Twitter and YouTube pages now have a uniform look and feel, and our outgoing Public Affairs Coordinator Andrew Fisher has done a remarkable job of increasing the Official Opposition presence in the Twittersphere.

If you look closely at the video, you'll see cameos from my colleagues Kim and Andrew, who are busily tapping away on their iDevices; Andrew is leaning against the Legislature, Kim is relaxing on the grass. They look like movie stars! Or at least television stars.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Peters' Drive-In

Stephen Fitzpatrick first introduced me to the famous Peters' Drive-In in Calgary way back in the mid-80s, the first time we attended the Con-Version science fiction convention. I love a good burger, and Peters' delivers. I made the mistake of ordering the large fries, which of course can feed a family of four with leftovers. Never again!

Pictured above, though, are my friends Jeff and Susan, seen here at Peters' sometime in the 1990s. I'm not sure what we were doing in Calgary, as the other photos on the same strip of negatives don't offer any contextual clues. Such are the hazards of visiting the archives! Hopefully I scrawled an explanatory note on the back of the print, as is my custom.

Sylvia and I will be in Calgary tomorrow to attend Politics Reimagined, the 2011 Alberta Liberal convention and annual general meeting. Maybe I'll see some of you there!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Globe and Fail

Here's an interesting question from yesterday's Globe and Mail: where should Canada's foreign aid efforts be focused? Hmmm, let's see...the Americas...well, I don't know, does North America really need foreign aid? Maybe they mean Haiti.

South Asia...developing economies, sure, Bangladesh is in rough shape...

The Middle East...aren't they rolling in oil cash and military aid already?

Eastern Europe? I suppose they're poor compared to Western Europe...seems like there might be poorer countries somewhere on the planet, though...

Hey wait a minute...there's something missing from this list, I just can't put my finger on it.

Oh wait...WHAT ABOUT AFRICA? The most impoverished continent? The one with the poorest nations by far?

Coincidentally - or not - this poll ran right next to an opinion column by Campbell Clark extolling the virtues of Stephen Harper's "America First" foreign aid strategy. Now, there may be merits to Clark's argument; there may even be merits to Harper's strategy. I haven't examined the issue at all. But it does seem awfully manipulative to limit the polling choices like this - almost as if they're looking for a particular result. And speaking of the results...


Gee, what  a surprise. That's the liberal media for you, I guess!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Photography in the Raw

During the course of my ongoing archiving project, I stumbled across two short strips of black and white negatives shot by me sometime during grade eight, when I was studying photography as part of the industrial arts curriculum. The photography component was the only section of industrial arts I enjoyed at all; leather working, pottery, woodworking and power mechanics were all a bust, though I do appreciate the hands-on experience.

The following photos are pretty bad, but they have the virtue of being shot with a real 35 mm camera using real black and white film. The only shot that turned out at all is the last; I was attempting to film a moving vehicle and produce motion blur in the background, an effect that I think I achieved.

All of these photos were shot just outside Leduc Junior High School, and I developed the images in the school's lab.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Destinations

Exploring the world is one of life's greatest joys. If I had the resources, I would spend my days wandering the globe to discover all its wonders for myself.

So far I've travelled throughout much of Canada and the western United States; the furthest I've travelled is Singapore, with a side stop in Indonesia. So as much for my own reference as anything, here's the list of places I'd like to go, in roughly ascending order of difficulty and desire:

1) Northwest Territories/Yukon - I figure I could do this in one road trip.
2) Mount Rushmore, South Dakota - I'm thinking of doing this this year.
3) Atlantic Canada
4) Nunavut - mainly because as a Canadian I feel obligated to visit every corner of Canada
5) Florida - to see Cape Canaveral
6) Mexico - for the pyramids
7) Cuba - to see a Communist state
8) United Kingdom - for the history and culture, and for ancestral reasons
9) Continental Europe - ditto
10) Argentina/Brazil
11) Japan/China
12) India
13) Australia/New Zealand
14) Pitcairn Island
15) Low Earth Orbit - if I win the lottery, who knows? Space tourism is approaching fast.
16) Mars - if I live long enough, who knows?
17) A habitable extrasolar planet - see 16

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sylvia in Motion

I'm not sure exactly how I achieved this effect, but sometimes screwing up your camera settings can produce attractive results. Of course it helps that the camera was pointing at Sylvia.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Sylvia's Rapture

Surprising everyone, including him, Earl gets raptured.
 According to religious shyster Harold Camping, the world was supposed to end today. As we prepared to head out for breakfast, Sylvia said, "Well, it looks like the world didn't end after all."

"No, I suppose not," I said, then paused in the act of closing the car door for her. "Unless," I said slowly, "Unless...we're the only people left on Earth."

"Then we are looting," Sylvia said. "And we're taking over a mansion." I laughed.

Sylvia's reaction encapsulates the powerful appeal of post-apocalyptic fiction. Who among us hasn't imagined being one of a few lucky or hardy survivors in a world emptied of most other people? We imagine unparalleled freedom to explore the world, to plunder the riches left behind by the dead, to drive at reckless speeds, to indulge our inner cavemen and destroy things for no good reason?

It's a nihilistic, selfish fantasy, but I've indulged it often. In one of my favourite scenarios, I'm visiting Leaf Rapids in midsummer when the apocalypse strikes. With only a few weeks to go before winter hits, can I find the resources to make my way to warmer climes to escape a chilly grave? You can't go far on one tank of gas, and once the power goes out refills would be impossible, at least for someone like me, with no practical skills whatsoever. Actually, I probably wouldn't last long at all without the comforts of modern infrastructure...nor, despite survivalist fantasies, would most other products of 21st century western culture.

Doomsday appeals to many people. Perhaps if we worked harder at building a civilization that works for everyone, these fantasies would lose their lustre.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Albertan Graffiti

I snapped this passionate but futile snippet of graffiti back in the early 90s. The provocateur's call was ignored by all but a few. Amazing to think that that was only about halfway through the era of Tory rule in Alberta so far. Heck, for all we know one day the 90s will be considered the early years of Alberta's never-ending Tory dynasty...

"Jug-eared buffoon" seems pretty unkind nowadays, especially considering the former premier's progressive dementia. I'm sure even the person that scrawled this, however justified his or her anger, probably wouldn't want any political foe to suffer what Klein is suffering now.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Preferential Ballot

Like a lot of self-described progressives, I'm still annoyed that the Harper Conservatives managed to eke out a majority government earlier this month, despite winning significantly less than fifty percent of the vote. Moderate and left-leaning Canadians in swing ridings are forced to vote strategically, trying to predict which candidate - the Liberal or the New Democrat - has a better chance of defeating the Conservative. As we saw in Edmonton-Centre and a number of other ridings across Canada, the resulting vote split allowed Tories to win by "running up the middle" and capturing a plurality, but not a majority, of votes...and a plurality is all you need to win in our first-past-the-post system. Folks on the right had the same problem when the Progressive Conservative/Reform split allowed Jean Chretien's Liberals to win a succession of majority governments.

A lot of folks on the centre-left have suggested that proportional representation might better represent the true intentions of voters, but the most common criticism of this route is its unlikelihood of producing majority governments.

Another option occurred to me on the drive home from work yesterday: what if we kept the first-past-the-post system, but used preferential ballots to rank the candidates? Also called "instant runoff voting," this gives voters in a multi-party system the freedom to choose candidates without the fear of handing the race to their least favourite candidate.

For example, a ballot in Quebec might be filled in thusly:

Ralph Hardliner (Conservative): 3
Joe Moderate (Liberal): 1
Annie Socialist (NDP): 2
Anna Verte (Green): 5
Marie Vivrelibre (Bloq): 4

If none of the candidates manage to get a majority of first-place votes, then a second round of counting begins, with the candidate with the least number of first-place ballots eliminated. His or her ballots are reallocated to the remaining candidates, with the second choice on those ballots being awarded to whichever candidate earned them. This process continues until one candidate has a majority of first and second place ballots. He or she wins the seat.

Assuming that voters in Edmonton-Centre listed the Liberal and New Democrat candidates as their first or second choices, in whatever order, then one of them likely would have won. Of course that assumes that all Liberal voters choose the New Democrats as their second choice, and all New Democrats reciprocate...a dangerous assumption! But at the very least, it seems as though this system would stand a slightly better chance of producing less polarized results, with fewer disappointed voters.

Cast your vote in order of preference:

Earl, you're on the right track
Earl, this is a dumb idea because you haven't considered all the ramifications
Earl, I wish you'd blog less about politics and more about popular culture
Earl, I wish you'd blog less about popular culture and more about politics
Earl, I wish you'd learn HTML so you could have put a voting widget here

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Don't Mess with Mom

Last night I received an email from Mom. She and Dad were gardening, refilling their planters with new soil. While carrying one of the pots from the front yard to the back, she tripped over a downspout and fell face-first into a potentilla bush. In her words,
One of the branches from the bush was driven into my head from the force of the fall. I got up and pulled the branch out of my skull (it took quite a tug to get it out). Your dad helped me clean up all the blood that was streaming down my face, and pulled the few remaining twigs from my scalp. I am grateful that there were no passers-by to witness this.

I am fine and none the worse for wear.
I was pretty upset when I read this and phoned Mom and Dad immediately, but Mom was laughing about it. She didn't even bother to go to the hospital. "We just poured peroxide on it," she said. (Thank goodness Mom had a tetanus shot recently.)

I should have remembered that Mom kicked cancer's ass last year and that she's never been much bothered by blood and gore. In fact, about fifteen years ago Mom happened by while I was watching Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter. She paused to reflect during the scene in which one of Jesse's buddies is slowly dying of a gunshot wound.

"That's a sucking chest wound," Mom commented. "There should be pink foam coming out."

Manitoba farm girls are a hardy breed.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Slave Lake Disaster

Slave Lake is on fire. Thankfully no lives have been lost, but the destruction is already widespread, with many homes, the library, the mall and the town hall already burned down and the hospital and high school threatened. Thousands are already homeless.

I've never been to Slave Lake, but I've often feared that a fire could one day destroy all my possessions. The loss of furniture and the like wouldn't be so bad, but I'd be devastated to lose my books, and completely at sea if I lost my photographs and home videos. Right now the people of Slave Lake are living that nightmare.

My boss, Dr. David Swann, just released a statement that I think captures the feelings of most Albertans today:
Statement from David Swann,
Leader of the Official Opposition
Slave Lake Fires
May 16, 2011

My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Slave Lake, who at this moment are enduring the worst natural disaster to ever hit their community – indeed, one of the worst natural disasters to ever hit this province. Thankfully no lives have been lost, and for that I commend the men and women fighting the wildfires, emergency services workers, and most of all the people of Slave Lake, who have reacted with calm, intelligence and determination.

Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition stands with Premier Stelmach to ensure that those affected by the fires will receive the help they need as quickly as possible.

Already Albertans across the province are coming together to provide support. We remind all Albertans that the Red Cross is accepting donations to help displaced residents of Slave Lake. You can donate by calling 1.800.418.1111.

In times of crisis, Albertans never fail to unite as one people. Together, we will get through this; together, we will rebuild.
I don't know anyone in Slave Lake, but my thoughts are certainly with my fellow Albertans today and in the hard days to come.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

No Mere Paltry Sapien

My old friend Tony Longworth (pictured above falling down a flight of stairs in the University of Alberta's Student Union Building) has started a fascinating new blog called The Paltry Sapien. It's quite eclectic and well-designed, with some pretty big-name contributors. Check it out!

Friday, May 13, 2011

New Alberta Liberal Caucus Website

I love the collaborative aspects of my chosen career. During the course of the last several weeks I've had the pleasure of working with a number of very talented designers to rebrand and redesign the Alberta Liberal Caucus website. I think it looks pretty slick - certainly an improvement over the old website. We've also added new skins to our Twitter feed and YouTube account.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Mighty Good Thor

With Thor, Kenneth Branagh, renowned for his epic adaptations of Hamlet and Henry V, makes his first foray into a field as intensely studied and debated as Shakespeare's canon - that of comic book superheroes, whose mythology and decades-long storylines are as hotly debated as the Bard's work...at least among admirers of popular culture.

Aside from the groundbreaking run byWalt Simonson, I've never been a fan of Thor's comic book, but I do adore this movie. Branagh has created a world awesome in its grandeur and majesty, a cosmology of epic wonders peopled by all-too-human gods and godesses, a place where science and magic have become indistinguishable. The towers and palaces of Asgard are truly a sight to behold, rivalling and even surpassing the beautiful landscapes of James Cameron's Avatar. The rainbow bridge linking Asgard to Midgard (Earth), made so famously iconic through the artwork of Jack Kirby, is brilliantly realized here - an artifact of advanced beings that looks at once a triumph of engineering and sorcery.

For all its grandeur, however, this is a very human story. Thor's pride and arrogance lead him on a painful personal journey; he is cast out of heaven and forced to live as a mere mortal in our earthly realm, providing much humour from the winsome and personable Chris Hemsworth in his breakout role as the lead character. As a stranger in a strange land, Thor is at first enraged by his predicament, then amused, then dismayed, and finally he begins to come to terms with his new situation and to enjoy mortals as people of value and worth.

For the first time in ages, Thor presents audiences with a genuine role model, which seems to me precisely the most important job of a superhero film. Thor has his faults, but he learns to be kind and compassionate to a fault, even to his enemies. His initial pride is soon cleaved away by events, leaving room for his better nature to shine through. When a powerless Thor risks everything to save hundreds of innocents, the moment is completely believeable and even moving. I hope children across the world are inspired by this film to be better people, the way I was inspired by Christopher Reeve's Superman and William Shatner's James T. Kirk.

Thor is not only a good superhero film, it's a flat-out good film on its own merits. There's far too much cynicism at the movies today; thank the gods for Thor, which wears its decency, hope and moral centre on its sleeve for all to see.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Red Earth

What ichor flows through these plastic veins?
Yellow putrescence  mocking dreary rituals of life
A bilious thread of bubbling rot
Corrupting the vital web of community
 Its strands quivering silently, then suddenly alight in damning flame
 Plastic paradise erupting in terrible, jubilant sacrifice
The many-limbed and mindless mob cheering its own bloody baptism
These figurines of folly
Their bulwarks naught but ashes
Of a better, kinder age.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

More Special Effects on the Cheap

Yesterday I shared some of my haphazard attempts to create film special effects. My old friend Jeff Pitts was there to help on that day in the fall of 1987; here he is waving a sparkler around and somehow, miraculously, failing to get hurt. (Jeff's suffered many accidental injuries in his life, a lamentable fact his friends nonetheless mock him roundly for.)
It almost looks like Jeff has some kind of strange super-power here...projecting a ring of electrical energy from his mind.
Beware Jeff's power - his sparkling lights!
And just because I missed it yesterday, here's another shot of the Enterprise.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Special Effects on the Cheap

Back in 1987, budding moviemakers didn't have access to Photoshop of AfterEffects. We had to make do with plastic model kits, sparklers and some trick photography. Here the USS Enterprise fires off a photon torpedo at an unseen foe, accomplished by sticking a sparkler into the model, lighting it, and taking a snapshot with a long exposure time.
Kind of a shame I didn't take the time to disguise the walls of my bedroom with construction paper or something.
The Enterprise and a Klingon D7 exchange torpedoes.
A torpedo approaches the Enterprise from the starboard. Actually, these look more like the energy bolts Vejur used in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. All in all, I think these turned out reasonably well considering I had no photography skills and no budget.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Images of Mom

Mom worked hard all her life to make sure that Sean and I would enjoy happiness. Now she and Dad are both healthy and happily retired. For all this, I consider myself very fortunate indeed. I hate to resort to cliche, but words are truly inadequate to express my love and appreciation, so in lieu of inadequate language, I simply present some of my favourite images of Mom.
Thanks, Mom.