Saturday, May 31, 2014

Kowtows and Karaoke - The Month of May can go EFF itself

I don't know about you, but I for one am ready to flush the month of May down the crapper like an unwanted sanitary napkin. This past month was supposed to include a week in Edmonton, a week in Ottawa, and then a trip to Germany, in which we were to see The National, live in concert in Munich on Monday. But instead, it turned into an exhausting month of endless hospital visits to see our ailing family members. If you were related to us, you had a distinctly elevated chance of being hospitalized this past month.

Before we could close out the month, we had to attend a funeral, in which buddhist monks performed rituals to send off the spirit of my uncle. There were a lot of calls to 'chant along with us', which would have been fine if I could speak Mandarin/ read Chinese, but I don't. Not to make light of a very sombre and melancholic event, but due to this, there was a lot of random kowtowing and mumbling the sounds of passages I knew not the meaning of. Imagine being asked to sing a song you didn't know at karaoke, in Ukrainian. Difficult, at best.

And if there's one thing I've learnt, it's that nothing can prepare you for the emotion of seeing a casket of a loved one being closed. There is a heavy feeling of finality to that gesture that hits you deep in the chest, knocking the wind out of you.

Here's hoping the light of June will bring less ill tidings and tragedy for all.

The Grounds of Gyeongbokgung-2

The Grounds of Gyeongbokgung -

The Pavilion of Far Reaching Fragrance

Photos above taken with a Holga 120N on Ilford XP2 Super 400. Shot inside the grounds of Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul, Korea last year.

Monday, May 26, 2014

_like peeling two pieces of velcro apart_

The result was bloody, and the onslaught unrelenting, but we emerged victorious from the battle for Fort Mach (aka my backyard shed) against a hoard of ravenous vermin, a devastating massacre of mice (a mouse-acre?). Had this been the era of Spartacus and arena gladiator battles, I would be crowned the almighty Verminator for my rodent slaying prowess.
Level up music plays, Valour +2.

Enough with the nerdy dungeons and dragons storytelling. What actually happened: we found evidence of mice (ie: poop!) in our shed, and sought ways to eliminate them. My battle with these pooping mice wasn't actually all that epic. We set a few traps, they walked across them and got their heads, necks, and spines snapped.
Valour -1.

The only bit of excitement was the one mouse carcass this weekend that bled out, leaving a puddle behind. When I went to pick it up for disposal, its fur was matted to the floor, and so was a bit like peeling two pieces of Velcro apart, complete with sound effects. I was rather grossed out by this, and MAY have closed my eyes while doing it.
Game over music plays, Valour -5. Dammit!!

And when I told Anita this, she figured that rather than clean up the mess, we needed to burn the shed down.
Overkill +2.

Avert thine eyes if thy stomach ist weaketh of constitution:
Mice Massacre - Censored

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Friends on Film - Mother's Day as Dean's +1

Dean invited me out to his folks' Mother's Day dinner a couple weekends ago. As his longtime Facebook boyfriend, I couldn't very well stand him up when his actual girlfriend - the 12 year old-ish looking gal in the photos (I haven't seen proof, but apparently she's actually like 20-something) - wasn't able to attend, so I went along as his plus one. Minus the Wendy's pigtails, we look pretty much the same, no?

Dean's Plus One-3
My Facebook boyfriend molesting his 12 year old looking actual girlfriend. Yeah, it's as messed up as it sounds.

Dean's Plus One
Gabs, aka the new Wendy's model.

Dean's Plus One-2
Me. Maybe not quite as pretty as Gabs. But a close second, yes?

Dean's Plus One-6
Mr. Welsh. I still find it weird to refer to former school teachers by their first names now that we're adults.

Dean's Plus One-4
Mrs. Welsh.

Dean's Plus One-5
Dean's Grandma.

Dean's Plus One-7
This one was shot at 1/15 of a second, hence the blur.

All shot with the Kiev88CM on Kodak Tri-X 400, dev'd in Ilfosol 3, 1+9 @ 68 deg. F for 7:30.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

_Mocking his garbled objections_

Since we're on a roll with hospital related blog posts, here's one more of yet another family member of mine who recently spent some time in the big H. May I present to you, my brother in post and pre-op jaw surgery photos. Cause honestly, who else would let me photograph them after devastating facial reconstruction surgery. I'm sure he actually objects to my use of his likeness without his permission, but blah blah blah blah… no, I'm not downplaying his legitimate concerns about his mug ending up on the web where predators and creeps clad only in tightey whiteys lurk, I'm merely mocking his garbled objections because his mouth is still elastic'd shut and blah blah blah blah is the sound he emits when he tries to talk.

The Unnecessary Jaw Surgery
The "I can only eat liquids through a syringe" aftermath.

The Unnecessary Jaw Surgery-1
The "I have no idea what I've signed myself up for" pre-op photo.

Yes, I'm a firm believer in karma, so when I'm doped up in the hospital after a colonoscopy, I will deserve it when photos of my drooling mug end up online for worldwide mockery.

Photonerds: shots taken at the Royal Alex Hospital, with the Kiev 88CM on Kodak Tri-X 400, developed in Ilfosol 3, 1+9 at 68 deg. F for 7:30.

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Tale of Two Uncles - Past and Present

It has been a strange weekend of waiting, worrying, and reminiscing, spent mostly at the hospital by my uncle's bedside. And while the mood was generally sombre, there was also laughter and mirth mixed in, as the family reconnected over the mutual bond of what are likely the final days of an uncle, a father, a brother, a husband, a godfather, and a friend to many - a central support pillar in our respective networks.

The jumble of emotions and how we are supposed to feel and act at this time is confusing - sadness and despair, mixed in amongst happy memories of a man who did so much to bring us joy throughout the years. Equally as confusing, I have trouble reconciling the two divergent images I have of my uncle. On the one hand, his frail and failing body lays in the hospital, struggling for breath, fighting off the sleep that lengthens between each period of wakeful lucidity. And on the other, my mind is flooded with memories of a jovial, strong, energetic, and eternally smiling man, who would find ways to crack jokes about everything and make you laugh.

I did see a connection between these two past and present portraits of my uncle this weekend though: despite being gravely ill, he still smiled and cracked a couple jokes, serving to remind us that though his body was broken, his spirit was not. While he is the one who currently needs comfort, he spent his energy comforting us, telling us not to weep for him, and that everything would be okay. That is the measure of a man who has bravely made peace with his situation, and his words have convinced me that we must soldier on with our lives, even in the darkness of a looming loss.

The Eternally Smiling Uncle
An image of my uncle from last year, smiling while preparing food - two things I most associated with him.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

"Love is watching someone die"

I'm at a loss for words to describe the emotion and overwhelming sense of helplessness I feel at the moment. An uncle near and dear to me is in the hospital fighting the battle of his life, and all I can do is watch as he slips from us. A set of lyrics from a song written by Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie come to mind:

'Cause there's no comfort in the waiting room
Just nervous pacers bracing for bad news
And then the nurse comes round and everyone will lift their heads
But I'm thinking of what Sarah said that "Love is watching someone die"

That last phrase has never rung more true than these last two nights. When I first encountered these lyrics over a decade ago, I glossed over them in my youthful naiveté, failing to recognize their meaning as they related to those around me. But as I've gotten older, I've witnessed first hand the fragility of our mortal shells, and the poignancy of the line, "Love is watching someone die." And the blunt truth of that statement sucks.

Go hug the ones you love. Now.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Life Drawing - Harcourt House - May 2014

Couple of results from tonight's life drawing session at Harcourt House in Edmonton. I'm not at home, so can't do proper scans of the originals - these are photographs of the sketches instead. Maybe it was me worrying about some personal family stuff, or maybe it was just boredom, but I really wasn't feeling it tonight. These two were okay, but the rest of my results were rather ehhhhh.

Life Drawing - Harcourt House - May 2014-5

Life Drawing - Harcourt House - May 2014-6

Pentel Pocket Brush, and Shinhan Touch markers, on Bee Paper's Bogus Recycled Sketch pad.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Hey look, it's TERRIBLE PHOTO TUESDAY (you can basically make up a theme for any day of the week)! In this episode, we explore two images shot on film that were supposed to be sharp portraits, but turned into these blurry (and slightly creepy) B-sides because I apparently don't know how to work a camera. Huzzah. These are a couple outtakes from rolls I shot recently, that I like despite their terrible flaws (blurry, shutter was sticky, and one was just an accidental trip of the shutter when I was focussing).

B-sides Film Photos-2

B-sides Film Photos

Tomorrow night, we go draw nekkid people at Harcourt House in Edmonton. Text me if you're interested in joining us. G'night!