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chase the light

Hello

Hello. I miss you. I think about you a lot and I’m not ignoring you. I live in Canada now. Isn’t that crazy?

Bubbles! B u b b l e s! BUBBLES!!!

During the holidays we made a ton of trips to Costco. Right at the front next to all the TVs and audio gear was this massive bubble machine. The price was £34, about $50. I kept thinking it seems very inexpensive. Every time we went I looked at it and thought, well it must me junk or something and they’re trying to get rid of them. It didn’t look like they were selling many of them. So I thought who would actually buy a massive bubble machine in the middle of winter in northern England? Well me, I would.

He had a little fish bubble machine that he absolutely loved, but the bubble fluid got into the electronics and it stopped working. Poor fish. Ever try to explain to a child that their toy is broken? “More?” Oh no, no more… He understands stuck, but that’s a temporary situation. That weekend, on our way back from the aquarium, we stopped at a different Costco and I told myself if they have it in stock I’m getting it! We also had room in the car so the planets were aligned. There it was, beautiful black metal, and two twirly bits, and 100w fans.

The only thing I had to buy was a long extension to run the power from the garage. Done. Xavier’s cousins came by the house and I got the machine out and fired it up! Man oh man it is worth every pence. Waaay better than the fish! Armed with daddy’s new toy, a 4K GoPro and brushless gimbal stablizer I captured the excitement. Every weekend I break the bubble machine out and it gets the same reaction. Pure joy.

I burned a longer version of the video above to dvd and he asks to watch that on the TV when he can’t go outside. That my friends is a good purchase.

2014 Wrap Up!

For a long I’ve put off writing one of those monthly “This month you did this…” blog posts for obvious reasons. Everybody does that, they’re cheesy, what’s so interesting to people outside the immediate circle? etc.

Well, it turns out there’s a lot of good reasons. The one that has struck me most recently is that every time one of his favorite shows comes on he immediately wants to dance to the theme song. The best part is he’ll run over and grab my hand to get me to dance with him. Some day he’s not going to do that. I don’t know when that will be but I hope it’s not for a long long time. But, he will stop at some point. I’d like him to know he use to do that. Maybe he’ll find it interesting to know what mummy and daddy did with him or our thoughts about him. I have very limited memory of early childhood and it’s mostly through pictures that fill the gaps. So why not fill these early times with a written history? Oral histories get lost.

The other reason I’m finding these times interesting is how much, exponentially, he is learning. From birth to about 1 year it’s slow going as far as their communication. They’re busy growing, pooping, sleeping, and making cool noises, but until they’re brain grabs some traction it’s rather by the book. Feed him, change him, keep him warm, make faces at him, etc.

I’ve been trying to make a special poster of him for big events. I’ve been wanting to do an album cover for awhile but couldn’t come up with anything. Then after buying Christmas jumpers and listening to Phil Spector Christmas albums, it struck me. A Christmas album cover poster. We’ve got two big events coming up this year, another birthday and a new Star Wars coming out. That’s gotta be celebrated in poster form, right?! My little padawan.

All that said it’s been a very busy year and my weekends are consumed with trips to the store, entertaining Xavier, and making cups of tea for Liza. This has left very little time for opening the lid of the computer to edit photos for this webpage of mine. Which is 12 years old next month I might add. There have been some big gaps in posts but not adventures.

So… Dear Xavier. Ha. Can’t do it! Let’s do a year in review.

In January we moved to England. Looking back at the pictures of Xavier he seems so small now. He was not even a year old and arrived in England with a passport and social security number. He is now a dual citizen. Something neither Liza and I have. In May our little Gemini man celebrated his 1st birthday with a Frozen themed party. Amira made an Olaf and Sven cake and we also had Olaf and Sven standees. All sorts of helium ‘boons as you call them, and it was amazing! Last December I had received a Frozen screener and we put it on and you watched it nearly all the way through. Mesmerized by the snow effects you’ve watched it over and over and over. I can honestly say you probably watched it over a 100 times at this point. I think I’m being conservative in that number. Looking back at an old video, whenever Elsa’s making snow you raise your hands as if doing it too. Argh, I’ve switched tense and writing TO you. Haw. So yes, birthday 1 was a big success and you started to grasp the idea of opening presents. You didn’t much care what was in them just tearing paper was fun.

I started the year at MPC hired for the film Exodus. When I arrived I was told I would be on Guardians of the Galaxy for a bit because they needed some help and then would go back. I then went back to Exodus, and then went back again to Guardians because they needed help again for the final push. I worked on Guardians for 3 weeks and then magically got told I would be laid off at the end of the show. WHA?!? This is the day after I signed an extension to my contract for 3 months. I was pretty baffled as I was always just supposed to be on Exodus for the run of the show. Anyway, word got around and the realization was that they were laying anybody off without a contract extension. Long story short they messed up and 4 hours later I had my job back. Ain’t the visual effects world grand? In the end they didn;t lay of anybody because Exodus was now behind because we were all on Guardians. Got that straight? We finished Exodus in September and now I’m on The Jungle Book through next year. Until they need us on another show. Haw. I don’t much like London. It’s a great place to visit but a very trying place to live. Just this week I saw an article about how it’s cheaper to live in Barcelona and commute to London each day. It’s that’s crazy.

In late August I got very ill. For about a month+ I was non stop sick. Possibly the worst cold or flu I’ve ever had. It was awful. It just kept moving around from throat, sinus, lungs, aches, ugh. At one point I thought it was over because for three days I felt pretty good. Then it relapsed and I felt even worse.

The summer was quite nice but I didn’t take any time off because of the show schedules. A few weekends I had to stay in London because of work which made it really hard to be away from Liza and Xavier. One time it was for three weeks. They came down to London in August and we did a bit of sightseeing. Xavier was quite ill though and didn’t have a very good time. The pictures are good though, but he hated the Tube. Too dark and noisy at the time. I think he’d be fine with it now.

In September my Mom came for a three week visit. I was able to take a few weeks off after she got to London. She arrived on a British Airways A380. She spent a few days in London resting and we did some sight seeing. We took a canal boat tour and went to Greenwich. Friday I put her on the train to Liverpool while I worked and then I came up on the train later that evening. Turns out that night was one of the worst train commutes I’ve ever had. An absolute nightmare and glad my mom left earlier. I was still very sick and the journey was nearly 6 hours long and the train was so late I missed other connections and ended up having to just take a taxi home at some point. I got some sleep and finally my cold started to lift. And two weeks of holiday started.

For my birthday we went to the Lake District and rented a cottage in Grasmere and it was an incredible 4 days. Picturesque England at its finest. The rush hour traffic was cows blocking the road on their way to pasture every morning and evening. Xavier loved it! Mom loved it too. The next week we attempted a short trip to Wales but Xavier had a slight fever. We kept an eye on it but he was really upset at everything. We got to Bangor, Wales and checked into the hotel and got ready for bed. The neighbors upstairs were a nightmare. Two kids wearing Frankenstein boots jumping up and down non stop. Xavier’s fever reached a 104 and we called Amira and she suggested we call the local emergency line if we felt like we needed too. It turns out the line doesn’t work in Wales, only England. I made the decision to get the hell out of there so we could call the doctor when we got back in England. Xavier was really upset at this point and we gave him some Calpol to bring down the fever. I went down to Mom’s room, she was in bed watching TV, and told her we’re leaving!

We got ready in 15 minutes hit the road and an hour half later we were able to talk to a doctor. Liza was on the phone with them for 1/2 an hour going through the questions, had he hit his head?, is he eating?, etc. I was just glad he was getting home to be in his own bed. He eventually fell asleep in the car and we arrived home all stressed out about midnight. Good decision though. He was back on his feet in a few days. That Sunday night my Mom and I headed back to London and I took her to Heathrow and saw her off. Sad to see her go.

In October Liza’s sister Amira got married in Marrakech. I only took a week off because I wasn’t sure we’d even be in England as my contract was ending before then. Turns out it would have been great to have two weeks but I needed to pay for the trip anyway! So back to work after a week. I flew into Marrakech from London and everyone else came in from Manchester. I got in first and waited in the horrendous passport control line that greets every arrival. They really need to fix that bottleneck. It’s by far the worst one I’ve ever seen. 2 hours for that line alone. Anyway, that’s always the worst part.

I waited by the luggage for another hour and a half until everyone else got through. We hopped in the mini buses and headed to our first hotel. Very tired and the beds were good but the hotel was mediocre. Cold pool, okay food, nice enough staff, but just not great. I liked the room the best, which is never my first priority. It is for others, but nice enough is good enough for me. I took a trip to the Square and it’s so in your face I don’t really enjoy it but it’s so fascinating. I almost wish I could go with an invisibility cloak to look around and not be hassled. That’s its charm to some, but not me. We then checked into the hotel where the wedding would be. The nice thing was having the hotel fully booked by the wedding party. No strangers milling about. I once again found the pool too cold. Warmer than the first place but come on people! The staff was amazing though and Xavier loved every one of them and they were so good to him. He was King of the Casbah. I’d put him the pram and we walk in the gardens and I’d ask him which way he’d want to go and he’d point and say, “There!”. He loooved it because it was the first time I think he felt he had control of his environment and could make a decision on his own. He still does it to this day. “There!” A big milestone in independence. The wedding was great and I had to leave right after so missed a nice stay at the Four Seasons the following week. Grrrrr…

You have to work Thanksgiving Day and the day after here in England. What up with that? Where’s my 4 day weekend? Taking pity on me and also to connect Xavier off with his American roots Liza and her mum put together a Thanksgiving feast on the weekend. I was able to locate some pumpkin pie ingredients at the American Store in London and Pat cooked a big bird with all of the fixins. Liza made her first pumpkin pies and they came out great! And in true Thanksgiving tradition we over ate, loosened our pants, and fell asleep on the couch. Some more than others.

Christmas arrived quickly and in the excitement we bought every toy on the planet for Xavier. Well, let’s just say he scored this year. Post Frozen, the movie of choice has been Cars. Also the CBeebies show Chuggington, and of course Thomas and Friends. Trains and cars are now the go to toys. We picked a selection of engines out and also purchased a large play table to build a wooden track for him. Oh and also a parking garage set. He got a lot of engines… Here we go… Thomas, Percy, Emily, Hiro from Thomas and Friends, and Winston, Old Puffer Pete, and Frostini from Chuggington. He already had a steam engine from York when we went to the National Railway Museum. We wrapped his table in paper and had him come in the room Christmas morning and he tore it right open and made his OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOh face. So cute his head nearly exploded. That was about 10 in the morning. He only left the table twice that day. Once to eat and another to open the parking garage present which was just as big a hit. At 10pm he’d had enough. Exhausted. He just spent 10 hours playing with a train set, it was amazing. I think we have 9 hours of video. He must of circled the table a 100 times playing with all the bits. Ahhhhhh the satisfaction of a good gift.

New Years was a new year. Just a number really. Everybody went up to bed before midnight and I decided to start this novella. It will more likely be less pictures and more text this year due to the nature of the beast.

Happy 2015 from England.

Tower Bridge

Chris Cunningham

Yep, hitting all the touristy sites.

After work this week I headed down to the Emirates Air Line. It’s basically like the old sky buckets at Disneyland. Or a ski gondola up Mammoth. You choose your childhood experience. Anyway, ran out of work at 6:30 since it closes at 8:00. Eventually got to the Jubilee line and over to Greenwich peninsula. Again by the O2 arena… Whoa look at all the people. Must be a show on… Walking, walking…. Beyoncé! Ha. Not my thing of course, but I briefly entertained the idea of getting a ticket. Oh so briefly. Would have been a big spectacle show, right?

I made my way over to the Air Line, stupid name, and paid for my ticket with my Oyster card and hopped on. I really don’t think this is going to be around very long as I was practically the only one on it. Views are okay, but mainly of the O2 and Canary Wharf. I rode it round trip and then walked along the river walk up to the Thames Clipper service. A boat taxi of sorts. The next boat would be an hour so I went to Nandos and had dinner and then walked back to the ramp and boarded. It was about the same cost as the Air Line, but waaaaay better views cruising up the Thames. So amazing at night. I even saw a group of kayakers. I suggested that as a lighting team activity some time after work. Everybody seemed into it. We went under the Tower Bridge, and at night it’s really spectacular. I got off the boat at Embankment and walked the rest of the way home. Was nice out, and really my only venture out this week. Although, on another night I did get over to Harrods for 15 minutes before they closed. Even London closes early. So frustrating sometimes. Everybody’s just at pubs, not really doing anything.

At lunch I sometimes go over to Denmark street where all the music shops are located. Guitars, guitars, guitars, galore. I didn’t bring any guitars over here so I sometimes go to the stores and play a little bit. On the way over to that street I pass Trident Studios which is where Bowie recorded Ziggy Stardust and Queen recorded their first albums. Then a little further along is MPL. McCartney Productions Ltd. Yes, Sir Paul’s office. Soho’s a bit crazy with music sights. Even the underground toilet right outside of work is an exclusive club where John Lennon use to “work”. [LINK]

Back on the train from Liverpool to London. I got in Friday night at about 11:15. Think that’s the earliest by a few minutes. Liza met me at the door but Xavier wasn’t awake. Chatted for a bit and we made plans for Saturday to have breakfast at The Carvery and then head into Liverpool. Went to bed and got up and did just that. Had a full English breakfast. It was me, Liza, Xavier, Soraya, and their mom. I wasn’t in the mood for it really but it ended up tasting better to me than all the other times we went. Go figure. After lunch we headed down to Liverpool 1 for some emergency shopping. Xavier’s pram broke this week and while usable it’s a bit wobbly. Also we needed and new car seat. Which is about 4 months over due. He outgrew his first one very fast. I knew we were getting the car seat this weekend but the new pram was going to be a few months because it is expensive. Well, I had to bite the bullet and get it before his stroller collapsed beneath him.

What did we get? Well… drumroll…. The Bugaboo Buffalo. Gulp. Had to be done really as it’s the biggest stroller made, and he’s off the charts for growth so we needed something industrial. Watch a group of hipsters, with their hipster beards, in their hipster video, be hipsters with their Bugaboo Buffaloes. [LINK] Oh man, I hope I don’t look like that. It’s like Mumford & Sons all had babies. We also got the Axxis car seat which turns towards the car door so you can sit him down and strap him in then rotate him into the car. So much easier. He also made out with a little car walker and a new bed thanks to grandma. Quite a day for him. The real relief was he actually fell asleep in the new car seat. He wasn’t doing that anymore in the old cramped seat.

I’m now back in London and checked in for the night across from St. Pancras station. It’s beautiful, so I might have breakfast in the station tomorrow. Because I can. Nope, didn’t happen.

It’s Thursday night and it was an uneventful week. I’ve now had a few good meals out in London, including a Lebanese place tonight. I leave for Liverpool after work tomorrow. Taking an earlier train which will be super busy, but then a later train Sunday evening to be able to put Xavier asleep before heading back to London. Now that I’ve been in London a bit I’m rereading a lot of events that make much more spacial sense to me now. Particularly the London bombings in 2005. I was reading the Wiki on the history of King’s Cross and St. Pancras stations. Of course the usual Harry Potter history comes up… Platform 9 3/4 and the outside locations of St. Pancras, but I came across the section about the starting point of the London bombings being King’s Cross. I’ve ridden both the tube lines from there and the bus route the bus bombing occurred on. So strange that it’s so close, but so far away. [LINK]

I was supposed to do some laundry tonight, but I’m still at work using the web access to write, and catch up with a few people. If I didn’t catch up with you, I might not have because I wrote the above.

Blighty’s Curiosities

Stitched Panorama

A few things that have humored me this week. Door knobs in the middle of the door. How Victorian, and useless. Also, if you put a pull handle on a door, make it for pulling, not pushing. On the shopping carts, all of the wheels rotate. Not just the front two like in the States. It’s weird, my cart always feels like it’s losing control as I go down the aisles sideways.

I’m now in the routine of work. I don’t know everything yet but that will come with time. Doing some Look Development. Not much to report this week, just glad to be checking out of the hostel for a few days this weekend.

On Wednesday I went to see the play Strangers on a Train. It’s based on the novel, but most people know the Hitchcock film. Hitchcock took quite a few liberties with the film version. The play had Imogen Stubbs in it from one of my favorite movies A Summer Story. It was pretty good but I’m uncomfortable with stage acting. I couldn’t help but think, “where’s the orchestra?” Probably why I prefer a big loud musical than a stage play. The whole cast was doing American accents that were hit and miss. You could hear some of them slip into their English accents quite often. The exception, the girl playing the southern belle type character laid the accent on thick and was very very good. But then she got strangled. Ha. I got the ticket at the TCKT booth at Leicester Square. 1/2 off day of tickets and I got 7th row. Amazing. I’m going to try and make that my weekly entertainment while I’m alone in London. I’m thinking The Book of Mormon for next week.

On Thursday night the lighting team went and played a Round Robin tournament of laser tag in North Greenwich. My code name was Quebec, on the Blue Team. First game I was “Most accurate”, but not a lot of points. Each round I played I kept scoring higher and higher but my accuracy went down. I realized spraying bullets in shotgun mode is pretty much the best way for a large body count. So I started out all Lee Harvey Oswald and then went all Bonnie and Clyde. Is that how I deal with situations though? At first I can be all focused, precise, and methodical, but then if the time comes I can basically shoot the place up. “Trigger Happy” honors went to the guy next to me at work. And you know what? That seems about right. So go play Laser Tag, and get your Kierkegarrd on.

After Laser Tag everybody went to a pub at the O2 Arena. I was too hungry at that point and looked around for something to eat but everything had just closed. I said my goodbyes, but had a walk around the O2. It’s really pretty at night. They have a thing where you can walk over the top of the dome so I’ll check into that some weekend I stay in London. I’m glad they’ve done something cool with the place. Really bummed to have missed the Zeppelin show there in 2007. I was in town and everything.

In other news, George is heading to Liverpool with me tonight to hang out before he heads back to New Zealand. He’ll be there for a few weeks to wrap up selling his house and then will come back to London with his partner Claire and their little dog. He’ll get to meet Xavier and see Liza again. Nice to be getting out of the city. The cable for internet was accidentally cut at the house so it might be a radio silence weekend. I’ll have a look…

From Soho Down to Soho

Chris Cunningham

Well well well, England is certainly living up to its reputation for crap weather. Every storm that is laying down snow on the US east coast basically picks up steam across the Atlantic and becomes biblical in proportion. 120 mile an hour winds in Liverpool this week. Zoiks’, hurricane force winds. The whole south west in Cornwall is a flooded disaster, and they’ve even closed the Thames barrier. London would be like Venice right now if they hadn’t put that in. They’ve now closed the Thames barrier more in the last few months than they have in the previous 20 years. 25% of the total amount of times they’ve ever closed it has happened in the last few months. Noahs’ Ark stock just hit an all time high. It’s nar nar as they say on ViceTV.

Winter in London has certainly made me appreciate a few things. The sun. I was walking down the street this week and the sun broke through and shined right in my eyes. I actually stopped and just stood there. It paralyzed my brain.

It’s also nice to reflect on how good Mexican food is in L.A. Even a chain like Chipotle is slightly off here, so it’s disappointing. It’s like the worst day at Chipotle in U.S. is the best day at Chipotle in the U.K. I had a burrito at some place this week that tasted like they took a can of Dennison’s chili and put it in a tortilla. Sure, you could do that, but you probably shouldn’t.

An amazing thing about London though is the staggering amount of the things to look at. Look at that, ooh, look at that, whoa, look at that. It’s super intense. I went to Selfridges department store this week to have a look and spent 25 minutes just in the neon sign section. Not the “OPEN” neon sign type that you get at Costco, but full blown artistic neon signs. That’s an actual section in the store. What?! £6000 for a sign if you’re interested.

It’s weird how L.A. has lousy coverage when it comes to public transport, but it generally works and is efficient. That is, if it’s going to where you want to go. London has tons and tons of transport, and it is definitely going where you want to go. Which in turn seems to make it snarl and everything runs late, or runs really late. Oh how I appreciate you 720 express bus on Wilshire. There are no express buses in London. That just made me laugh by the way. An express bus in London would arrive at the same time as a, well, a bus.

Since I’m traveling back and forth to Liverpool on the weekends I haven’t done much sight seeing. I usually take a lunchtime walk around Soho, but I can’t really get very far and then also have lunch. Local areas are all very touristy so it’s not much fun. Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, etc.

I’m leaving the hotel behind this weekend and heading to a hostel that’s nearer to work. This will save some money on transport costs at the very least. George is also staying there so maybe we can share one of the shared rooms at some point. I need a few pay checks to be able to get a flat in London. It’s incredibly expensive and since Liza and Xavier are up north I can handle the hostel on my own. Work is busy enough and I’ve just been going straight to the hotel and watching some TV anyway. I skipped watching any of the Olympics in Sochi this year for lack of interest really. Most of time I fell asleep with the BBC on.

On Valentine’s Day I picked up some nice fairy cakes for Liza from Selfridges. Seen above all decked out in Valentine red. Of course by the time I arrived in Liverpool the cup cakes were smashed. Boo. They were made by the same people who made the wedding cake or something for William and Kate. Shrug. I dunno. I also picked up a Baby Bullet for making Xavier’s food. It’s quite cute and of course kitchen appliances always make a romantic Valentine’s Day gift. It wasn’t really for Valentine’s Day, that’s what smashed cakes are for.

I arrived into Liverpool fairly late Friday and a taxi was waiting for me. The last two weeks Mersey Rail has been doing improvements so it’s been shut down from Liverpool and Formby. All the roads are windy in that area so by the time I get to the house I’m really car sick. Every time. Xavier had woken up just before I arrived so I got to see him and he smiled big even in his sleepy state. Saturday we had a few errands to do but didn’t get to the main one which was to change some money before the banks closed. We did get Xavier’s passport pictures done, which are incredibly cute. Also got the paperwork for his British passport and will try to get that sorted this week. We also went and looked into the local Formby pool. It’s really nice and will be a great place to take Xavier to continue getting him used to water.

It’s Sunday and I took the train back to London. Liza packed a lunch for me and I ate most of it on the train. I had a first class seat today and got a little snack box. First class on a plane is radically different than a first class seat on a train but there is more room and less people than the plebes in the other coaches. See how quickly you become snobby? I’ll be back with my second class citizens on Friday. I shot some video out the window to get an idea of Liverpool.

I’m starting to miss home a little more now. I knew there would come a time where I felt like this. The “Okay, vacation is over let’s go home” feeling. But we aren’t on vacation and someone else lives in our house. So, to combat some of those feelings I have to keep making plans for fun things to do. This Thursday I’m playing laser tag with the lighting team at work. In North Greenwich somewhere. I’ve never played but I’m glad it doesn’t involve paint.

Another thing coming up is in a few months. I have a very exciting once in a lifetime opportunity to visit Studio 2 at Abbey Road Studios. I also get to meet the authors of Recording the Beatles, a massive box set book I bought a few years ago. All the Beatles albums, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here, the Star Wars scores, Kate Bush were all recorded here. Amazing. Every trip to London I’ve always visited the outside of the studio. This time I will get to go in. That. Is. Amazing.

I got into London right at 4pm and went straight to the hostel to check in. After getting the run down from reception I went up to the room. I opened the door and George was there! My first thought was how random we got the same room, but he said he had set it up. There’s no place to hang out in the room so we headed down to Costa Coffee and sat for a few hours and then went to a Thai restaurant for a meal and sat there for another few hours.

It’s now Sunday night and I’m laying in a steel bunk bed at a hostel in Soho. The ceiling is three feet from my face. I’m not sure how long i will put up with this. Traveling on the cheap, maybe. Living, no. So, it’s not ideal, and I’m not particularly pleased, but we have to make it work for the time being. I feel homeless, even though I’m far far from that.

We usually put Xavier to sleep with the Eagles, so tonight it’s my turn. Take it Easy…

Hello England!

020214

A few months back we had a decision to make. Dallas or London? I had an offer in hand from ReelFx in Dallas. A decent one and I was mentally in Dallas. Enough to even know where we would be living and how to pull it off. The film, a Guillermo Del Toro animated film with the backdrop of the Day of the Dead? Why not, that sounds great. Besides, London didn’t look like it was going to happen in time before I had to take the Dallas job. Then the email offer came in. That just complicated things. Standing between us and London was a logistical nightmare. Government work visas, packing, storage unit, movers, flights, and many many pitfalls we could never predict. I had to make a decision in a day because Dallas was waiting. We talked, and that night I wrote back to MPC and accepted their offer, and then wrote ReelFX and turned them down. Liza has her permanent green card, but not her citizenship in the U.S. so that’s something we’re going to have to put I hold for now. Years of memories were about to be left behind in storage and just 4 bags will be going with us. Starting over.

After the offer came in it took a few days of comprehending what we had to do. First thing first was dealing with the work visa. I had to fill out all the online documents on the UK government website. Then it had to be checked by MPC, then I had to sign it, then they had to pay for it, etc. it went back and forth for a couple of weeks. Once it was approved I had to go to my biometrics appointment at the nondescript government building on Pico. Which was the same place Liza had to do all her biometrics too. I had that appointment on the Friday after Christmas and as soon as it was done I Fedex’d my paperwork and passport to New York. Then I waited with fingers crossed. The other thing we had to decide was what to do with Xavier. He had his U.S. Passport, but we wouldn’t have time to get his UK passport. We decided to register him with the UK by getting him a British birth certificate. More online research and then we Fedex’d his package off to Washington. Again, we had to wait with fingers crossed.

Now to start packing and plan the move. There were so many scenarios including moving the two storage units down by my parents and get a larger unit for the same money. In the end the most sensible thing was to get a larger unit where we already were and move the current units into it and then the furniture from the house on moving day. A couple of weeks in, packing was going very slow and I was making daily trips to the storage unit. Watching it slowly fill up felt kinda sad. It’s not what I had envisioned for my “stuff”. It’s in stuff prison.

I finally got an email from the UK government that my work visa had been approved! It arrived a few days later, and Xavier’s UK style birth certificate also arrived the same day. Double relief. My only concern then was going to be at immigration at the airport. I would be entering the UK on a work visa, Liza is British, but Xavier would be entering on a tourist visa which means he can only stay for 90 days. I’d read some bad stories on ex-pat sites.

The final week at the house was so busy I feel it’s just a blur and a shame. Things just kept piling up. The movers were scheduled to come on Monday and our flights were Tuesday afternoon. Mistake? Oh yes. The movers came and were amazing. So professional and quick. The house took about an hour and a half to get loaded up and I accompanied them to the storage unit and they got it all in. Amazingly enough. Too close for comfort though. I went back to the house to take one last load. Our neighbor Lai babysat Xavier all day. I’m not sure we would have gotten out of there without her help. That gave Liza all day to paint the apartment to try and get our security deposit back as it was a lot of money to lose. She painted all day. All. Day. Mistake? Oh yes. Every single person I talked to said not to bother since they paint it their color anyway. When I got home about 3/4 of the house was done, but the paint was just not covering the dark walls and it looked like shanty town. It’s now 6:30 and I make the decision, Liza has to go to the hotel and get Xavier to sleep and I’ll finish the apartment. There was still a lot to do besides the painting.

I took her and Xavier over to the Farmers Daughter and got them settled. Then the work began. I went to Lowe’s and told the guy, “look I have a emergency. I need to paint a whole apartment tonight that has dark walls. You close in 1 hour and I have to have enough to not run out”. Money solves problems, so I ended up with a 5 gallon bucket of the thickest paint they had. I ran home and started going at it with an 18 inch roller. Oh man, it’s actually working. I took a break about 10pm to walk over to the pool to say goodbye to my jacuzzi friends and Marc offered to help finish up the painting. Sometime after midnight I finished the painting much to the detriment of the floor. Not much I could do about that, but the walls looked much better. No longer shanty town. Now I just had to finish cleaning up the bathroom, kitchen, and patio. A few more hours and I wrap that up. There were a few things left but I could deal with that the next day before we leave. It’s now 3:30am. Oh no. I still have my whole last minute check list to get to tomorrow.

I got back to the hotel and laid right down but didn’t dose off for awhile as I was sore and Liza and I chatted for a bit. My parents were also coming first thing in the morning to help and then take us to the airport.

Back up after a maybe three hours of sleep, my dad and I did the last minute stuff like returning the cable box, changing addresses at the post office, bank visits, etc. Liza and Mom took Xavier to his last doctors appointment and the we met for lunch. After that we all went back to the apartment. Liza had to lighten her bags as they were all over the weight limit. So there was a last minute edit while I turned in the keys and threw away the last bit of trash. Xavier didn’t seem to know what was going on and I felt terrible about it. He kept looking around the empty space and saying oooooooooooo with a concerned look on his face. To ease my mind I just kept in mind that I moved at a little over a year old and have no recollection of it. We locked the door, and headed to the airport.

We were so pressed for time it feels like proper goodbyes were not doable and we slipped through security and waved goodbye from afar.

We got on the plane and got Xavier settled in and he was an absolute angel the whole way. Not a cry taking off or landing. Just wanted milk and food. What an amazing trip. In just under 10 hours we got into London. The flight way for the plane was broken so we had to disembark by stairs and take a bus to the terminal. Of course with Xavier we were the last off the plane and had to transfer to our connecting flight to get to Liverpool. After a couple customs stops we had to go through security again. Ugh. They went through everything. They called my bag “very busy”. It had all our computer things in it. Lots of cables and hard drives. After we got through that we came around the corner and heard “Last call for Cunningham for flight…” Oh nooooooooo… I took off running with the pram, while Liza was carrying Xavier. Someone up ahead saw us running and radioed the gate and said we were there. We wheeled onto the plane and it quite empty. Whew.

No problems at Manchester and every piece of luggage was accounted for including the car seats pieces. Veronica was there to meet Xavier for the first time and we headed off to Liza’s mum’s house. We got in and Xavier got to meet another aunt and his great grandmother for the first time. We finally got to relax and I slept for a bit. Then slept some more, and then some more.

Sometime Thursday I woke up and we went to Formby village, and Friday too. On Saturday Nadia, Chris, Veronica, Rick. Ava, and Safiya all came to the house to see Xavier. Later in the evening I went upstairs to pack as I got ready to travel down to London on Sunday.

This morning I got up and said my goodbyes to family and sadly Xavier. I won’t see him for a week. I haven’t spent a day without him for 8 months so it’s going to feel strange. So here I sit on the train heading to London to begin a new life. At least for awhile.

Hello London.

Goodbye

Chris Cunningham

Goodbye In-N-Out. Goodbye Tito’s Tacos. Goodbye Paco’s Tacos Cantina. Goodbye Benito’s. Goodbye Rickey’s Fish Tacos. Goodbye Olvera Street. Goodbye Spitz’s. Goodbye Kogi Truck. Goodbye Fatburger. Goodbye Griffith Observatory. Goodbye Gladstone’s. Goodbye Buddha’s Belly. Goodbye Langer’s. Goodbye Canter’s. Goodbye Paradise Cove. Goodbye Wacko/Soap Plant. Goodbye stuff in my storage unit. Goodbye LACMA Rock. Goodbye LACMA Lights. Goodbye Tar in the tar pits. Goodbye Grove. Goodbye Disneyland. Goodbye Hollywood Bowl. Goodbye Hollywood Sign. Goodbye my Honda s2000. Goodbye Yai Thai. Goodbye PCH. Goodbye 3rd Street Promenade. Goodbye Lincoln Ave. Goodbye Alcott Street. Good riddance 405. Goodbye Aeron chair. Goodbye Curson Ave. Goodbye Park La Brea. Goodbye Park La Brea pools and hot tub. Goodbye Miracle Mile. Goodbye Los Angeles. Goodbye California. Goodbye USA. Goodbye North America. Goodbye Americas.

Goodbye family and friends, we’re off… See you soon.

The Year in Review

It’s been 7 months since Xavier burst onto the scene. The lack of updates to this website attests to the amount of time it takes to attend to a newborn child. I’ve mainly been updating his website for all his ‘fans’ around the world. From the typical jaundiced look of a newborn to the little man sitting in his fire truck, here’s a sampler platter from birth until Christmas. It’s been absolutely amazing to watch him see and do things for the first time. His personality started showing up at about 2 months. There hasn’t been anybody he hasn’t smiled and laughed at and in return he always gets a smile and laugh in return. Even my most jaded non-baby friends love him. He really is the perfect little boy. I can’t believe he’s ours. Way too many people have said they want to eat him up. Please don’t eat my baby.

Then there this…

While 2013 has been a terrible and frightening year financially, we’re about to embark on a new adventure that will change our lives yet again… So stay tuned, hopefully it will be getting more interesting ’round these parts in February. It will even include more picture taking and posts too! My New Years promise to you website.

Los Angeles Space Shuttle #3

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On a visit to Little Tokyo I spotted another Space Shuttle. I realized later that I kinda knew it was there but had forgotten about it. It was Labor Day so not a lot of people were downtown. So, to recap the Shuttles… Endeavour at the Science Center, Challenger/Columbia memorial in Burbank, another Challenger atop the memorial for Ellison S. Onizuka in Little Tokyo. Yay for Shuttles!

Birth Announcements

Chris Cunningham

Seriously, who has a white lightsaber? Xavier has a freakin’ white lightsaber, that’s who! After a few attempts at some birth announcement cards I silently gave up. Only because they seemed so boring. Everybody does those, right? Now I’m kinda behind schedule so I stayed up all night illustrating and designing this movie poster for his birth cards. Which turned into actual movie posters. The original idea was to make a concert poster like the old style Fillmore Posters. Suddenly it got way more complicated and I found myself driving around town getting qoutes on card stocks. Ahhhh just like the old days at the magazines. Anyway I found a place on Pico just west of the 405 called Copyland. They actually do posters like those at El Rey and such. They quoted me a ridiculously low price and so I was really skeptical but they did a great job. They’re absolutely beautiful. I had 50 of them printed up at 14″x22″ and hand wrote thank you’s on the bottom. The best part was handing them to the doctors. Dr. Banooni was particularly pleased with being the director. They’re totally going to be collector items because he’s a national treasure. BTW… Ted “Theodore” Logan is Ted from Bill & Ted’s excellent adventure.

In other news I finished Smurfs 2 at Sony and then went to Siggraph in Anaheim which was a big bust. Siggraph is a shell of its former self. Later in the same day I had my camera stolen at Downtown Disney. Hence the lack of updates. Turned my back for a second and it was gone. Strangely, before I left the house I put on the cheapest lens I have. So now I’m camera shopping. In the meantime there are large gaps of time missing on this site because of busyness so maybe I’ll go plug some of those holes. Be aware you people I’ve shot photos of…

Ciclavia in 11 Minutes

Get your cheese songs ready to ride down Wilshire Blvd. for the summer Ciclavia event! Missing Persons, Randy Newman, and FOGHAT! Things to look out for in the time breakdown below.

Read the rest of this entry »

1 Month

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As of today it’s been a month since he barreled into the world. Lot’s of milk, diapers, and spit ups going on, but it’s all amazing. Fascinating really. I’ve seen him go from a little bundle of squinty eyes in a swaddle to a strong little man kicking his feet out, grasping things, and the first signs of smiling. Seeing someone learn about the world is a strange thing. How do hands work? What is that? I’ll stare at it. What happens when I do this? Oh, I don’t like that. Everything is a first. A clean slate. Makes you realize how everything really is amazing.

He really loves his orca plushy and stares at it the whole time he’s in the play pen. His newborn jaundice is almost completely gone, right on time with that too. If that isn’t enough he is getting his first movie credit next month! He’ll call you. We have a summer of aunties flying in to see him. Auntie TT in July, Auntie Mimi in August, Auntie Naddie in September, and then grandma’s back in October.

Hello World!

xavier@earth: 1 > perl -E “say ‘Hello World!'”
Hello World!

6 years

6 years ago this week I went to England and met Liza. Just before I left I was at the cafe across the street and the Jacaranda trees were in full bloom. I took a picture. I always kind of associate those trees blooming with that trip. Here we are 6 years later and about to go to the hospital. I walked over to that same cafe, took the same picture, and in a few hours welcomed our little one Xavier Bowe Cunningham into the world.

Xavier Bowe Cunningham was born at 12:48pm. Weighing in at 11lbs 10oz and 21.25 inches long.

Arrested Development Comes Home

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For years Arrested Development occasionally filmed outside the windows of my office. I would see the airline stair truck go by the windows with someone chasing it or a bike riding beside it. I didn’t watch the show at the time so I had no real interest in the goings on outside. I only really discovered it after it had gone off the air a few years and now kick myself for not paying more attention. Love it now of course.

For the new season’s promotion they set up a Bluth’s Original Frozen Banana stand right in the heart of the area they used to film. The line was around the block for the whole day.

Jerry’s Market

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Jerry’s Market
3969 Higuera St, Culver City, CA

“We don’t want to hire unlucky people!” said the interviewer and randomly discarded half of the applications.

Space Shuttle Columbia Memorial

Space Shuttle Columbia Memorial

Burbank fun facts. Did you know there are two Space Shuttles in L.A.? Read the rest of this entry »

Rain Rain Rain


The Seventh Veil & LACMA. Two places you can find nudes.

Art(uro)’s Not Dead Gallery Show

Liza and I participated in a gallery show with some other L.A. artists. Here’s our wall. It was a good excuse to get my Bridge photos framed, and also Liza’s Americana-inspired triptych.

The artists:
Arturo Aguilar: Los Angeles lifer, photographer and computer artist. He has spent the last decade in the film industry creating simulation art for DreamWorks and Sony Pictures. art-speaks.blogspot.com | instagram.com/art_werks

Asylm: Asylm is an L.A.-based graffiti artist, fine artist and muralist. Asylm.com

Chris Cunningham: Photographs, lights, composites, musics, and 3D enthusiasts. Chasethelight.com

Liza Lemsatef Cunningham: Artist, photographer, designer of fine web and print offerings, art history nerd. Not necessarily in that order. Ellelens.com | Jaunty Angles blog

Brendan Eddy: A director of both film and visual effects, and a musician currently working in Los Angeles. brendaneddy.com | Invisiblehero.net

Eyeone is an artist and graphic designer based in Los Angeles. His work is rooted in graffiti, printmaking, photography, and punk rock. Eyelost.com

Sofia Gonzalez has been professionally designing and screen printing in LA since the 90s, yo! Sofialeegonzalez.com

Michael Hackett: “Michael Hackett explores the space where an information system becomes so complex, that it’s orderliness diminishes and begins to take on organic characteristics.”

Mad Guru: Adnan was raised in both the U.S. and Pakistan on a childhood of writing stories. Besides visual effects and animation on feature films for the likes of Disney and Sony, he works under his company Mad Guru, to create animated films and projects designed to provoke thought and bring diverse people together. Madguru.com

Photos by Liza Lemsatef Cunningham