Thursday, April 28, 2005

Flip your world upside down

A streetcar on Queen street west.

I have a boss that I've been working with on various projects off and on for the last eight years. For the most part he's okay to work for. I have had, like most people I'm sure, a various assortment of bosses over my lifetime ranging from the really evil to the really amazing. I would like to point out that my current boss is nowhere near evil but lies somewhere between evil and amazing.

The type of industry we’re in there can be a lot of stress and I would not want my boss’ job. I can understand that he can have his bad days. Which is why I put up with some of the crap he lays on me. Unfortunately I've been declared his personal punching bag at the company. He lays on a lot of crap. It took me a while to realize this but a lot of co-workers (and friends) have been saying this for months now. Due to his actions I would rank my boss in the bone head category.

Over the last few years he's been doing things that have been starting to get to me and like a piece of glass under your skin it starts to irritate you until you can't take it any more and have to remove it by any means necessary. I'm bad that way. I'll usually let things slide thinking it’s a small thing, it’s not something to lose your head over, and usually it’s something that will not reoccur. Usually.

The following characteristics are the things that put me up in arms about my boss. 1) He doesn't keep promises made. Everything from benefits, to job descriptions, to wages, to things he’ll do. You can’t really count on him. 2) He doesn't take any responsibility for his actions. If something goes wrong with a project there’s always someone else who will get the heat. 3) He’s vague most of the time (I guess this is an offshoot of number two), and 4) He has been jabbing me with insults.

Recently, within the last few years (yes years), he's been getting more vocal with the insulting and has started doing it more publicly, in front of other employees, clients, and sub contractors. It’s not as blatant as “Derek is a dumb ass.”, it’s usually more subtle “Well if Derek was doing his job maybe blah blah blah” .

There was a thing last year when I sent out some files to the clients specs. When the client couldn’t read the files my boss started yelling at me stating that I always screwed the job up. This was in front of all the employees, as we work in a big room. After his blow out, maybe 10 minutes or so, the client called back saying they gave us the wrong specs and apologized for doing so. Did my boss make a public apology? Did he apologize in private? The answer would be no to both. Dumb ass.

I know you’re wondering “Who the heck would put up with crap like that and for so long?”. I’m sure a lot of people out there are afraid to confront their boss because it may mean losing your job or at the very least don’t want to cause waves. Part of this is true for me.

This year I decided not to take that kind of crap. I told myself that if I worked for him again I would I would take him aside and tell him when he was doing something to irritate me upon doing so or just after. It didn’t take long for old habits to kick in. Tuesday during a production meeting he blurted the usual “Well if Derek did any work…. blah blah blah” in front of other management. After the meeting I took him aside into a small room and told him that he was being a dumb ass (I’m paraphrasing here. I was actually more polite). He apologized and we moved on.

Today he did something pretty slimy. He hired a coordinator to work on a project without telling me. Two days prior to this he poked me in the back telling me I would be coordinating the project until sometime near the end of May. He wouldn’t give me an actual end date (that vague thing). The way I found out about the new coordinator was meeting the coordinator and being asked if I could ramp her up on the project.

He and the company have a history of laying off people without giving them notice. Just after Christmas he let the 3D department go (see previous entry). I figured I’d try to get another job somewhere else. Near the end of the day he called me into his office to tell me not to worry about the job. I was taken away from it because he was going to put me on another one. Way to go. By this point I’d already taken measures to get a job somewhere else and was waiting to see if I got hired.

So I told him that I was going to have to get back to him before starting the new job. He wanted to know why I’d even consider taking on other work when he "promised" that I’d be working on the first job offered (which I won’t be working on). Well that opened the flood gates.

I started by informing him of his past decisions to lay people off (including me) without notice and my disapproval. Then I proceeded to tell him how his little jabs have been wearing on me. I went to town. He got defencive blaming his actions on the influence of another worker. He then tried to put off my little soap box rant by asking me to talk to him about it over lunch some where out side the office.

We were in his office at the time. Although I wasn’t yelling at him I wondered if he was looking at the reactions of the other workers faces who might see us through the office's window. Were they even looking our way? I didn’t know. I was facing away from the office window.

I didn't let up and told him that I wanted to finish my discussion with him then and there. I wasn't going to let him weasel out of this happy moment. Besides, I was on a roll. He had put me through months of irritation that I carried on my shoulders until today. I figured he could take a five minute talk from me.

When I was done talking I must admit I felt pretty good getting all that crap off my chest. My boss hid in his office for the remainder of the day until he had to go to a meeting. I hate the idea that I’d have to be pushed so far to even do something like that but it’s been a long week, working long hours, and I missed a dinner that I was invited to for helping shoot the fashion show. Free food and models!

In the end I must say I've been feeling pretty good about myself even though I might be unemployed next week.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

When Worlds Collide

Rochelle, the girl with the purse and Scott the guy with the girl.

In the hectic schedule of a seven day, 10 hours a day, work week, I found the time to go see my friend Emmanual give another speech. This time to "business" type people. I'm not really sure what these folk worked at but most of them (giving them a precursory glance) seemed to be banker types. Shirt, tie, business suit wearing, nice hair and shoes lot. Interestingly enough, with the exception of a marketing guy, the rest of the people I "networked" with were composed of an aromatheripist, a comic book artist (not just any comic, but Marvel Comics- ed), a childrens story book artist, a photographer and a girl with a purse. I'll get to that later.

It just goes to show that you can't judge a book by it's cover and you can't assume a person wearing business clothes is a banker, account, government worker, I.T. guy. It kinda of took me back when I first met Mike Johnston. During first year, I was sitting happily among other geeky people in a computer science lab, one of my classes. Then in comes a tough looking mean guy with leather coat, leather boats with metal, a mohawk, and on top of that he towered over you (well we were sitting at the time afterall). I thought he was an extra from one of the "Road Warrior" films. Was he in the wrong class? This was computer science after all. Was that a metal boomerang in his hand? No... just a pile of books. He made a bee line right for the seat next to me. The first thought to come to my brain was "Can I use a print out to defend myself?" then "Ack! I don't have a printout!" and finally "Please don't hurt me.". Young, naive, over worked imagination. I possessed all three. I was shocked when he put on small wirey John Lennon nerdy glasses and said "Hello". Geeks come in all shapes and sizes.

All the listening and talking with other people, it soon occured to me that I was parched. I needed liquid sustenance. I went to the back of the room where there was a table of food. Pizza, cookies, coffee, tea, a tub of ice cubes. Drat! All the cold drinks were gone. It occured to me that I passed some coke machines down the hall before arriving at the conference room. Check the pockets. A five dollar bill! Since this was a networking thing I figured I'd introduce myself, then ask for change. The first three people, however interesting, where changeless. While trying to talk to them I could feel my sand paper like tongue getting drier by the minute. Trying my best not to be rude I exited each conversation by introducing the person I met to another person, allowing me to move to the next change victim.

Then like an oasis in a desert, I noticed the girl with the purse. "Change!" I thought to myself. I was willing to exchange the five for a toonie (that's a two dollar coin here in Canada). I was that thirsty. She had correct change and I noticed something familar about her. I couldn't put my finger on it. She had the same feeling but unlike me voiced it. "Where do I know you from?". We arrived at an answer in about two minutes. Once she said she worked at the Keg (a steak resturant) I immediately put together that she knew Michi and/or Kyoko. Then I remembered that I saw her during the christmas holidays with her dad at Kyokos house. Everything fell into place after that.

It was odd meeting a person from one group of friends through another group of friends without said friends knowing about it and saying "Oh yes by the way here's so and so...." It was truly a Kevin Bacon moment (The degree of seperation was one). Rochelle and Scott (her boy friend) who it turns out works with michi's boyfriend... what a small world, were at the seminar because they too knew Emmanuel.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Spring Time

Colin and Angie, some flirty friends I have.

The snow is all gone (hopefully until next winter) and with it our preference to stay indoors. Today was the day for eating out on the patio as temperatures hit 23 degrees C. It's still not short and tank top weather but you don't have to wear that heavy winter coat anymore.

Today, after work, while walking home, I bumped into Colin and Angie. They were looking to find a resturant that sold pizza and were determined to sit outside on a patio. Since I haven't seen them in a while I thought I'd tag along interfering with any romantic outing they might have. To be honest I wasn't really thinking about that until after dinner when I noticed they were doing their flirty "eye thing".

The "eye thing" happens a lot with couples. It's that communication that happens between two people without the use of words. It's kind of an eerie magic. As a single person it's like being around a bunch of aliens. The couple in question will both start giggling at the same time for no apparent reason, they finish each other thoughts, they are in sync with one another. Kind of like the borg from Star Trek. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's noticed this. A quick eye movement in the proper direction, a raised eyebrow, lip pout, the subtle hair fling, by one person and the other person becomes happy, depressed, or crying in the corner. It's interesting to see this phenomena in action. You read about stuff like this in dating books and articles on meeting people (so I've been told) but to actually observe these things in "real life" is, well, pretty amazing.

As an animator I remember trying analyze the nuaunces of specific human movement just before doing some work on a job. Since I haven't animated characters in a while I haven't really paid much attention to the little details that people do. At least not on a conscious level. Until recently that is. After putting on the photographer hat, I've been looking at everything as a potential Kodak moment. I've been reading books and articles on taking better pictures of people and now whenever I look at someone I'm always trying to figure the best angle, the best lighting, and best pose to shoot them, and what lens to use. Suddenly, the subtle body movement that I've overlooked over all these years has hit me like a sledge hammer. Maybe it's the spring thing but it seems like all around town there are couples wandering the streets doing this flirty thing.

Something else I've noticed being a photographer is the fine line one walks when shooting candid pictures. When you take great pictures people are always clamering all over you to get copies and say how they enjoy your work, how you've captured the moment, etc, etc. It's when you're actually taking the pictures that you get the opposite effect. People hide behind things, state that they're ugly, unphotogenic, fat, have zits, the list goes on. Some may even want to punch you and maybe even destroy your camera... lots of negative energy. Understandable I suppose. So to help other photographers out there I have come up with four solutions.

1) get a longer lens. 1000mm lenses or more will allow you to shoot people from far far away without them noticing. Note: make sure you're at least across the street, a picture up someone's nose doesn't a great shot make plus you'll stand out with such a huge honking lens on your camera. (and if spotted you can always run away as you've got that extra block as a head start). The drawbacks here are the heavier equipment and the need for more light so you don't have to use a tripod.

2) Be around friends that love their picture taken. I find hanging around actor and performer types help.

3) Hire models to shoot. It'll be harder to get those candid shots but hey you're shooting people. The drawback here is monetary. Not everyone has money to blow.

4) Just give up doing candid pictures of people altogether and shoot animals, or go into landscape or still life photography.

Although options 1 and 3 are pretty pricey it seems that option 2 is your best bet.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Silver Elvis!

Silver Elvis ( Peter Jarvis) entertains people as a dancing statue in front of the Eaton Centre.

On my way into work I had to go to the Eaton centre to pick up a bunch of photos I had printed. I noticed a semi-large group of people in front of the south entrance of the Eaton Centre. "Don't be cruel" music played out of a portable boom box and once the crowd of heads parted I noticed there was a Silver Elvis on a platform. Moving like a robot to the music Peter Jarvis looked like he was on a turn table. Kind of like moonwalking he rotated using his feet.

I've seen him before at various other locations last year I think I might even have a picture of him before the mirrored coat. I suppose with performers on the street it truly is spring time here in T.O.

For those of you that do not live in the area you can almost go out in shorts. No more snow (knock on wood).

Saturday, April 16, 2005

So Shoe Me

Kiri stands next to a rather large addidas shoe on Queen street.

Saturday. Walking from work towards downtown (I wanted to drop off some files to make some digital prints at a local photo store), Kiri and I noticed a big running shoe in front of some junk store. It just seemed so odd and out of place I had to take a picture of it.

After shooting the shoe and walking away it occurred to me that I should have checked the price on that thing. Mostly to put an end to my curiosity. My brain is packed with tons of odd trivial information that when used improperly labels you as "weird". But under the right conditions just labels you as a little off.

For example. If at a party you were to meet someone and your opening line was "A hamster crawls on average two miles a day.". That could seem a little strange. The other person would probably fly towards the safety of the nearest crowd of people not with you.

"A baby pig under duress can squeel louder than a jet engine." Interesting maybe. Strange definately. Some how I really don't imagine getting many dates with topics like these. Yet still the knowledge of buying a 6 foot shoe still intriges me.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Horta poo

The big bowl of soup at Swatow surrounded by Darryl Gold, Jane Luk, and Rob Hawk.

Thursday. After a long day at work... well not really that long I left at 6:15. Darryl and I went to see the premiere of "Hongbu & Nolbu: The tale of the Magic Pumpkins". It's a play that's on right now at the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People until May 9th. Jane Luk, one of our actor friends has a role playing an assortment of characters.

After seeing most of the play. I hate to say this but I fell asleep during part of the play then woke up to the loud noise of a canon going off. I don't want to wreak the story for you. You'll just have to find a way to go and see it. The play was great. Really. I was just really tired from the last few days at work.

Anyhoo... After the play there was a small post play party with korean snack foods made of rice, walnut cake... mmmm walnut cake. If you've never tried it, it's cake that has been formed in the shape (and size) of a walnut and is stuffed with some kind of paste made from walnuts. Wine and beer and a large assortment of chip dip type stuff was also made available.

After the enormous patting each other on the back for a show well done. A few of us went to Swatow, a favorite late night haven for food. For some reason Rob had this thing for finding out how big the large soup was. We had it in our minds that it was a giant pot that had to be brought to the table by two waiters (okay it was just me thinking this) supposedly the large was/is big enough to serve six people.

We ordered it just to see how big it was thinking if it was too big we'd bring the rest home as take away. It was a lot of soup but it was no problem finishing it off. Not bad for a bunch that stuffed themselves with a bunch of Korean food moments before.

We talked about theatre and eventually turned our attention to costumes, the "last human" in the new Doctor Who series and Star Trek. Specifically the Horta or guy under the rug (star trek TOS "Devil in the Dark"). For those of you unfortunate enough not to know what the Horta is, it's a silicon based life form that tunnels through solid rock as easily as humans can walk through air. In the show, Spock mind melds with it to figure out why it's killing off the miners of the planet after they reach a certain level for mining. Upon doing this the Horta learns a bit of english and writes "No Kill I" in the floor surface.

This then became the central topic for the night. How did the Horta write this note to Kirk? Did it use Horta pee? Was there another level on the planet with different Horta nodules. The Horta poo level? Exactly where was Nimoy putting his hands on the actor under the Horta costume? Was it even an actor under the rug or was it a grip that was on set not having anything better to do? Could you get a bowl of Horta pee at a federation resturant? Would the spoon melt?

This last week has been pretty crazy with work. And although I'm only working one job now I'm still trying to catch up on my sleep.

Until next time...

Monday, April 11, 2005

Science Can Be Fun

Ashley Wolstat - Woman of Science!

Sunday. The ending of the crazy week that had been draining the energy out of me couldn't have come at a better time. What a better way to end the weekend than to have my first model shoot. I booked a small studio, a make-up artist and a model all on saturday for a sunday shoot.

I was really exhausted from the previous week but everything just seemed to come together on friday. I bumped into Amanda who had studio space, I met Mandy Zackowski, a peppy make up artist on friday at the fashion show, and the model, Ashley, who I met on Tilt called me up to say she was available. I figured I'd take advantage of all this tired or not.

Armed with a bunch of test tubes from Active surplus, an old lab coat from past halloween parties, some swiss army googles, some food coloring, and a bag of bagels I was ready to shoot. Yes bagels. This is BagelHot after all.

She's Bagel Hot!

So okay I'm trying to play down the burning mouth story and adding "Bagel Hot" as an adjective for describing beautiful, cute, sexy women. Take that Merriam-Webster! You heard the term used here first. The shoot went very smoothly and for the most part I am very happy with the results. But like anything it's amazing what you start nit picking once you look at it some more. If only the lights were turned that way, that pen wasn't in the shot, the eyes were more focused, the cropping was a little tighter and so on. The list really does go on for a while. I'll have to make note of these things and try to correct for them in the future.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Model Behaviour

The hell assignment of shooting a bunch of half naked women before a fashion show.

After only 30 minutes of non-quality sleep I managed to drag my self over to set for the 7am crew call. My brain felt like Jello but I managed to get through the eleven hour day. I actually managed to leave an hour early thanks to the AD saying that I didn't have to stay the standard twelve hours. An ordinary human would have probably gone home to sleep. I ended up going to the St. Lawerence Market where Andrew Majtenyi was having his fashion show. A few weeks ago he asked if I could take pictures to help him "record" his event. I almost forgot about this until Darryl had to work on a video for the show all this week.

Not being familiar with fashion shows, I was amazed that the show only lasts for about 10 minutes. Over 400 people were going to pack a room for 10-15 minutes? This seemed a bit nutty. So I figured I'd get to the show, shoot the models going down the runway then go home. When I got there an hour early I wondered what I was going to do. Help with rigging? Sit and wait for the show to start?

I had my name on a list that let me in. Andrew's head was poking out from behind a curtain. He saw me and told me to go to the changing area and start taking pictures. What? Was that a bunch of wax in my ears? The sleep and dating deprivation had finally taken it's toll. I was imagining crazy stuff.

I had to verify what he just said. "What do you want me to shoot exactly?". "The girls. Shoot the girls getting dressed and made up. Shoot everything." Didn't have to hear that twice. Just to make sure I didn't piss him off with disobedience I whipped out the camera and began shooting wildly at the first half naked model trying to squish into some kind of plastic pant things.

"Pant things", now there's a term in the fashion industry that will point out that you should really not be taking part in any of this. But if a picture is worth a thousand words then here a few hundred pictures are worth no words at all. I guess I was concentrating so much on getting good shots, a large number of shots from various angles of the room and subject matter, all the models, and make up artists just assumed I'd been doing this for years. I mean hey they saw me talking to the designer after all. I was given the stamp of approval.

I thought my cover was blown when a model actually looked at my ID tag on my camera bag. Instead of jumping up and screaming imposter (or something to that effect) looked perplexed when it read "Visual Effects Supervisor", shrugged to the other models who I guess were wondering who I was as well, then somehow maybe thought they had read it wrong and didn't want to look again now that I was eyeing them. Like sheep in headlights they just posed thinking I wanted to take their picture.

One make-up artist asked what kind of model shoots I do as he hadn't seen me before in the fashion industry. I didn't really think about that question to hard and told him the first thing to come to mind. Since I've really only been getting the tiny gigs doing the punk band and rapper circuit I told him bands (not really indicating I did it professionally or just as a hobby for the most part). He gave me his card and said if I do a shoot with a band (like the Rollings Stones) to give him a call. He would make the trip to toronto just for me. I heard he just got back from Thailand doing three suimsuit shoots. Sports Illustrated, Playboy and something else. Hmmmm.... yes. If I shoot Shania Twain, AC/DC, or U2 I'll have to keep him in mind.

The make up on these models was put on pretty thick. For you readers wondering, yes, there were male models there as well and as a side note not all male models are gay. But getting back to the point I was trying to make... The first thing I noticed, on their faces anyway, were the eyes! They just jumped right out at you. The black stuff (mascara and eye liner) added so much contrast to the whites of the eyes. Kind of like being surrounded by women in the Robert Palmer video, "Addicted to Love".

Friday, April 08, 2005

24 hours in a day

Stef Guzman of The Hussies

Okay I know it's been a while since the last post. Remember how I said I should make more time for non work related things? Starting Monday right out of the gate so to speak I was sick yes another stuffed up nose, crud in the lungs kind of deal. By Tuesday night I decided to leave work (job #1) early at 6:30pm to go home to go to sleep. Upon arriving at home I noticed my red flashy blinky light on my answering machine. Unfortunetly, I am one of those people that have to see what messages are waiting for me... right away.

I found out that my call to set friday (job #2) had been moved to wednesday 10am. Yes the next day. The job is a bunch of animations I'd started but had not finished. I figured I'd have at least two more days to work on them and maybe I could sick in some sleep time to help get over the "cold". no sir-e-bob.

Forcing myself to sleep between 10pm and 1am, I then woke up and forced myself to do all the designing, rendering and assembling the animations. At around 4:00am I was getting ahead of my preset schedule so I decided to make some macaroni beef, do some laundry and even clean out some of the alien fungi cultivating in my fridge. That's when my hard drive died.

I lost about half my work. The other half was recovered because I was trying to save time by rendering on my second machine. As luck would have it and the skills of corner cutting I managed to complete all 10 animations, install them on the laptop and burn the CDs by 8:30am. I took another half hour snooze and left at 9:00am. Once on set I found that my scenes were pushed so I ended up waiting another five hours before doing anything. The crew wrapped at around 6:30pm and I got home by about 7:30pm. I fell into bed pretty easily.

Today was pretty normal back at job #1. I'm feeling a little bit better considering three others at job #1 are now ill. I was all set to go to sleep when I got a call from Al. It turned out Scandalnavia was playing tonight at Sneaky Dees. It would be a good opportunity to get that CD of pictures I took of them last month to Nas. So I ended up going.

We got there just in time to hear the second last song. The band finished playing and Nas had to take off for work. We probably saw her for 5, maybe 10 minutes. On the flip side we also got to see an Ottawa band, The Hussies, play. The lead was an incredible singer for such a small person, she could really belt out those notes.

Tomorrow I'm on set for 7am. I know, I know, there are only 24 hours in a day.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Stop and smell the Storm Troopers

Two Storm Troopers positioned outside of the Silver Snail (a local comic and action figure shop)located on Queen street west.

When I take on jobs I tend to disappear, especially in the last few years, from the rest of the living world. It's not a good thing when friends email messages like "doing those long hours again =(" instead of "oh great you're working". Well they say that too, but mostly because they don't want to see you living out of a card board box on the street or worse on their couch in their living room.

I have found that working twelve to sixteen hour days tends to really limit your social life, including the possibility of meeting new people. Like duh. Well okay there are the odd exceptions. The wandering guy on the dark street corner asking for change, the taxi cab driver, the people on the transit, and maybe even the late night hot dog vendor. Interesting people sure. Dating potentials... no. It's odd that there aren't any cute hot dog vendor women out there. If it's late and they are female, they tend to take on the resemblance of the grumpy old women that used to slop food on your plate back at the school cafeteria.

Sure in a dark alley armed for combat they would be great to know. But for dating, yes call me shallow, nope. Then again ask me in two years. They do sell food after all. And it's cooked (most of the time). Until they invent the "hooker" closet like that of Logan's Run I guess I'll have to make more of an effort to making the time to meet people and actually meeting them.

All the long work hours mean that my "living" has to take place on the weekends. As per usual I met up with the usual bunch for dim sum, being a saturday and all. After dim sum, part of the group went to see Sin City, others went home, and I, being the ever diligent workaholic, made my way in to work. Even though it was raining lightly I decided to walk, take in the scenery and work off some of the food I ate.

Had I taken the TTC (Toronto transit) I would have missed the storm troopers in front of the Snail. Sure it's not a big event for most people but it brought a smile to my face as they posed with other passerbys and when you go home at night looking at hot dog vendors well it can't be all that bad.