Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Fall of Saigon - A Personal Connection

Forty years ago today, the Viet Cong tanks rolled into Saigon, and the South fell to the Communist forces of North Vietnam while the US military evacuated the last of their troops, ending the Vietnam War. For my family, like hundreds of thousands of others, this would eventually lead to a mass exodus of Vietnamese and Chinese ex-pats who would become refugees known as the Boat People, fleeing their homeland with little more than the clothes on their backs. Only after numerous attempts to elicit the story in various fragments from my family members who lived through this period, have I finally come to fully grasp what a harrowing experience this was.

While our story is fascinating, frustrating, and heartbreaking all at once, it is too long to retell here. Just know that the very fact that we are friends or acquaintances or colleagues, or however it is you ended up here reading this often ridiculous blog of mine, we owe to those very tanks crashing through the gates of the Presidential Palace in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh city)... had the South not fallen on April 30, 1975, my family wouldn't have fled, and who knows where (or if) I would even have been born.

Tank 843-1
April 30,1975 - Tank 843, the first to smash through the gates of the Presidential Palace, effectively signalling the end of South Vietnam. (This isn't my photo, obviously - I shot a picture of this photo in an exhibit)

Tank 843-2
The restored Tank 843, now on display at the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh city.

For those of you who are interested in learning more about those final few days of South Vietnam, I would highly suggest watching the documentary Last Days in Vietnam. It's gripping and suspenseful, despite you already knowing the outcome, while telling the very tragic and human stories of those who so desperately wanted to escape.

And for you Canadian readers, you should check out this CBC article about Canada's coverage of the events in those final days. Interestingly, Mike Duffy (the now disgraced Senator) was one of the last Canadian reporters on the ground before the South's fall.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

_obnoxious faacking phone calls from the Jim Prentice Team_

Things that the world could use a whole lot less of:

a) People surnamed Kardashian; b) Truck Nuts; c) Guns; and most importantly, d) obnoxious faacking phone calls from the Jim Prentice Team.

Because an in person cold call, and four unsolicited phone calls in 2 days is excessive. You do that with a girl you like, and that's a one way ticket to "You're a stalker-ville", don't forget to grab your complimentary restraining order. This same principle should apply in political cold calls.

One would assume the message was loud and clear when the first of four conversations went like this:
Her: "On May 5th, can we count on your support for Teresa Woo-Paw" (my PC MLA)
Me: "No"
Her: slightly taken aback... "Oh, well that's okay too."
But nope, in came three more calls from this same (obviously poorly organized) team. So by the time the fourth call came around, there were no more niceties.
Him: "Hello, I'm calling from the Jim Prentice Team and..."
Me: "I've already told you guys, no one in this household has ever voted Conservative, and never will. Please take us off of every list you own. And please tell Teresa Woo-Paw that I will be sure to NOT vote for her. Fack you very much."

This election campaign can't end soon enough. I'm tired of posting politically themed shit.

Devil Prentice-1

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Photographing the Pupils, Part VII - A Party of Photography and Politics

A crony of my riding's PC MLA came by today to solicit my 'support' for them. All I wanted to do was shout obscenities at him, but I couldn't bring myself to even say anything impolite, and instead just asked him to move on. What's wrong with me? Talk about failing to seize the moment... But it pleases me to no end that Prentice got his ass handed to him during the leaders debate last week. If I were to write a tagline for what happened, it would read "Prentice, prick PC Premier, performs pompously; party polls poorly."

While teaching a class on Saturday, one of my students asked me what I thought of the debate. I was a little wary of how to answer this, because talking politics can either forge bonds from the hate for a common enemy, or ignite fireworks of righteous indignation and sour relationships. Luckily we were very much on the same page, and we all agreed that Prentice is an out of touch and arrogant expletive deleted. Haters unite! Get out and cast your ballot on May 5, and stick it to this cockface!

And here are my students from said class. Photos taken with the Hasselblad 500CM, on Ilford Delta 400 film. Souped in Rodinal 1+24, for 9:00min at 68 deg. F.


Photographing the Pupils, Part VII-1

Photographing the Pupils, Part VII-5

Photographing the Pupils, Part VII-4

Photographing the Pupils, Part VII-2

Photographing the Pupils, Part VII-3

Photographing the Pupils, Part VII-6
Note to students: pay attention to your composition - a shoot through umbrella should not be part of your final portrait.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

"My name Stephen... i like maths"

Weh weh weeehhhhh!!! Waaahh!!! Go! Go! Go! aaaahh... uuuhoooo!!! Ohwayway ... Weeeehhhhh... Whayaahhh!!

In case you need a translation, that's Anita-ese for "You stupid Flames, go score a goal", while she watches the Flames/ Canucks game. Her random sound effects are actually far more entertaining than the game itself. Grab a beer, come over, and join me in this performance of the Anita Philharmonic Voicebox Orchestra.

Anyways... a colleague of mine lives in the riding of our fearless leader, Stephen Harper. He recently sent out some propaganda about his tax policies to his constituents, featuring a giant calculator. And like a 12 year old defacing a math textbook in class, I gleefully gave him a bit of a makeover with my pen. I think he looks much better like this.

My Name Stephen-1
"My name Stephen... i like maths"

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Brienne of Tarth

Unexpected random goodies from this weekend included: 1) seeing Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth!) checking into her hotel while we were having drinks in the lounge; 2) scoring free tix to the Calgary Comic Expo; and 3) TAX REFUND! Woo!

Re: the tax refund - it's not unlike the Oilers winning the draft lottery yet again. You secretly hope for it, but don't actually expect to have that kind of luck.

Seeing Brienne for the second time this weekend, this time in a formal panel at the Comic Expo.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Street Hawkers of Ho Chi Minh

Street photography (from wikipedia: photography that features the human condition within public places...) is a genre I enjoy shooting, despite being absolute crap at it. There's something about timing your shot to capture a fleeting and candid moment of life, and these scenes become particularly interesting for me when they document a way of life that is so utterly different than our experiences back home.

Here are a handful of shots taken while we were in Ho Chi Minh (and one from Mui Ne), Vietnam, of the various vendors and hawkers at street level.

Ho Chi Minh Hawkers-8

Ho Chi Minh Hawkers-6

Ho Chi Minh Hawkers-1

Ho Chi Minh Hawkers-2

Ho Chi Minh Hawkers-3

Ho Chi Minh Hawkers-4

Ho Chi Minh Hawkers-5

Ho Chi Minh Hawkers-7

Ho Chi Minh Hawkers-9

Ho Chi Minh Hawkers-10

Ho Chi Minh Hawkers-11

Ho Chi Minh Hawkers-12

Ho Chi Minh Hawkers-13

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Papercraft Nikon F

Check out this sweet new camera of mine (on the left). Another fine picture making machine... crafted entirely of fine polished paper and gluestick. Oh, and it doesn't actually take pictures. Marc sent me a papercraft kit for a Nikon F a long time ago, and I finally got around to putting it together.

Nikon F Papercraft-2
Left: Papercraft Nikon F. Right: Nikon FE.

Nikon F Papercraft-1
Left: Nikon FG. Mid: Papercraft Nikon F. Right: Nikon FE.

Nikon F Papercraft-3

Nikon F Papercraft-4

Nikon F Papercraft-5
Details, right down to the strap lugs on the side.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Drinking, Fooding, and Chretien-ing

Easter weekend shenanigans included drinking, fooding, and Chretien-ing. That's a game in which you attempt your best (or most ridiculous) impression of our former Prime Minister, Jean Chretien. While this game may seem mean spirited, it wasn't actually intended that way, but more so as harkening back to an age when our country wasn't ruled by an iron-fisted dictator robot.


This one is funny, because it's not that different than the last time we met up and I asked Dean to pose as Margaret Thatcher - see below:

The Polaroid Party-9

Chretien-ing selfie. Note: I do not have long enough arms to do a selfie with the Hasselblad and 80mm lens (can't focus that close).

Chretien threatened to strangle people?? Edit: Yes, yes he did



This is more Anthony Hopkins Legends of the Fall than Chretien, but whatever.


And then there's Russell, who's clearly doesn't know how to play this game.

Above photos shot with the Hasselblad 500CM on Kodak T-Max 400, developed in Ilfosol 3, 1+9 for 6:00min. Photos below shot with the Fuji X100s. I like how the running theme (completely unintentional) is apparently: weird dude, normal gal.

YEG Food and Drink Adventure-1

YEG Food and Drink Adventure-2

YEG Food and Drink Adventure-6

YEG Food and Drink Adventure-5

YEG Food and Drink Adventure-3

YEG Food and Drink Adventure-7
Okay, maybe Nicole's not so normal either.