F 1 D 0 - 2003 03 23 at 01 00

About sixty cents.

The link above failed when I 
tried it, but Google insists
that it is the real thing. Maybe
you will have better luck.

This one worked.

Lakehead University has a visiting artist
program, which is sponsored in part by the
Canada Council (or something). 

There were three altogether, but it the
other two were here while I was away.

I got to meet Peter von Tiesenhausen. He's
so nice!

It was almost an accident how I ended up at
his lecture on time. I wasn't sure I'd enjoy 
hearing about art. 

You see, I was predicting a chat about the 
spirituality of it all. I was afraid of some 
long winded post modern presentation. Nope, it 
was entirely down to earth.

I went to the university because there was a
concert Peter wanted to see while he was here,
but when I went to the Auditorium, the show is
for NEXT week, not (this) thursday. Yikes! The
girl at the counter refunded for me, and gave
me a chance to call people up to see if there
was something they'd be interested in for this
weekend. When I couldn't get anyone on the phone
live, I decided to just ride the bike to the 
Visual Arts building, and wait for Ann to finish
her class. I was going to catch her between 
her class and Peter's presentation.

He came in front of a room full of students and
professors, and explained that he wanted to be a
painter. He had this job, which was seasonal, and
kept him busy during the good weather. So he was
free to paint scenes of Northern Alberta during
the bad months. From what I can gather, his part
of Canada makes mine look like a walk in the park.

He'd paint more than 200 pictures a year. Landscapes
of roads, of wilderness, of trees, of skies.

It didn't take him long to see these weren't selling
very well. Or at all. He could remember which ones 
were still around.

He's about an hour north of Grand Prarie, which is
six hours north of Edmonton. The town used to have
a name and exist, but they closed the postoffice, so
the town was history now too. 

Why do people move and live so far away from cities?

In his case, he loved the land, the rivers, the trees,
the environment.

So the first bother was all of the oil wells. The
whole area was pock marked with oil pumps.  He showed
some aerial photos of his region. Most of it looked bad.

"It's gotten a lot worse since this picture was taken,"
he explains. "A tree which takes about hundred years to
grow, these Aspen trees, are considered weeds. Weed trees.
Maybe that's because they will sprout again after they're
chopped down. Well anyway, the lumber yards realized they
could make different kinds of pressboard and fibreboard
from even these Aspens. Fifty to a hundred years, and it
is worth about 60 cents. Sixty Cents. It hardly seems fair.
But that means that someone could purchase a tract of land
up here for 20,000.00 and sell the trees overnight and get
30,000.00 or more.  So place after place was getting sold
and turned ugly. ..."

So Peter's purpose in life wasn't simply to be an artist,
but was to somehow find a way to slow down this progress
towards ruining a lovely part of the world he lives in.

He had lots of stories.  I wish I could remember more of
them. He's fighting back as best he can. The oil people
want to run pipes on his land, and keep offering him large
sums of cash. Life is hard, and even one pay out from the
firm would keep his family comfortable for four or five 
years, easily. But it feels like a sell out, so he takes
a deep breath, and keeps refusing to let them in. 

Since the government has given these oil corporations the
rights to property up there, he had to find other legal
precedents to keep them at bay. So far so good. 

Peter came to join us on Wednesday, and the faculty have
been meeting and doing things together with him until today,
when he flew to his next engagement. He'll be back.

- - 

North of Superior Film Festival.

This is the 10th such festival here! It is a big deal.

We get films that are foreign or off base enough that
mainstream cinema won't bring them in.  The festival is
Thurs, Fri, Sat and Sunday. So we have one day left.

I got a strange buzz from seeing one film after
another. Last year I saw them *all*. This year
that isn't possible.  And with the visiting artist
program, I didn't try to see every possible show.

I'll describe what I can remember of the ones I've seen.

Thursday's Gala Opening. Standing in the Shadows of Motown USA.

We tried to see Talk to Her, but this one was entirely
full. There was an unheard of band, called The Funk Brothers,
who played the backup for so very many names. These people
were still photogenic on film today. Oh, some of them have
passed away, but they pulled together a band, and got that
original sound right back again. The movie makes you feel
some sadness for these musicians. They were a team, but the
big singers got the glory. They were just Studio Guys. It was
a good documentary.

After the film, we met at Creed's cafe for more Gala treats.
I may not know everyone's name, but I recognized so many of
the faces in that room.


There was an opportunity to see two out of eight films,
but I missed it. Instead I had dinner with Maria and Rolly,
and we carried on in the exchange of stories between the

I played with Skeet, a black schnauser whose fur
resembled poodle. Does not shed. I was able to get
lots of action from this dog by taking his toys, and
trading them. "Skeet!? Go get Santa! Go get Santa!" And
away he'd go, looking for a squeak toy.


A Passage to Ottawa. An 8 year old boy comes from India
to visit with family. But he has a mission. To bring back
a man! This man has to be big! And Strong! And like a Super
Hero! But Real! He befriends the teen girl, his cousin, who
offers him advice, "not to rush and go all the way with a
man" lest he selects some kind of loser. This was entertaining,
but some how disturbing to me. Sad, at least a little. 

Talk to Her. Director Pedro Almodovar follows the life of two
men with a similar spooky condition. They both are in love with
women who are in a coma. One is a dancer, who's had a car accident,
and the other is a bullfighter, who's been gored. Spanish with
English subtitles, I found this movie strangely disturbing again.
It didn't seem fair, I guess. Life goes on, mind you.

Personal Velocity. This movie is more like three tales, or portraits
of women. The first one surprised me, no, shocked me, and I wondered
whether I'd stay. This woman began the school slut, and liked the
power. Eventually she fell in love with someone who liked her ass
so very much, he had to have her for himself. The frightening scene
is how he *suddenly* grabs her hair, and smashes her face directly
against the table repeatedly.  After this, the portrait settles down
into how she takes control of her life once again. The next vignette
is about an editor who becomes more and more successful. Her husband
is very nice, but lacks spark. At the end, while we don't actually
see the divorce, we can see she's decided to cut this paragraph from
her life. The third one is about a girl who goes to a party, and just
by being in the wrong place at the right time, the guy she meets there
gets struck down in a sudden car crash. If it had happened a moment 
earlier, this would have been her. So she has to deal with the meaning
of all of this. These were all strangely disturbing to me. Go see
them anyway.

Orfeu. This film is Portugese with English subtitles. It takes
place in the poorest part of Rio.  We see how people live in
the shanty town. Drug deals. Evil police. Guns. Religion. This
takes place during the Carnival. The hero dies, and so does his
favourite girl. 

The Tunnel. This reminded me of The Great Escape, with Steve
McQueen, except it has all of the German actors. Long movie,
at 160 minutes. I still recommend it. It describes how one
tunnel was built to get people from East to West Germany. It
highlighted the differences in government, and how the officers
used average people as spies, tossing them aside when they
were no longer useful or reliable. It was presented a lot
like a documentary, especially at the end, where we are told
about the lives of the participants in our present day.

My head is buzzing from having watched so very many
films at once. More for tomorrow too.

That's all I know.