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chase the light

104th Annual Polar Bear Swim

No, I didn’t. 6° Celsius water temperature, I’ll watch. The 104th year of freezing your whatever you have off. I usually walk down to English Bay and on the way think, “you know, next year I’m really going to do this.” Then I get down there and look at the horror on people’s faces and say yeeeeah, no, they are not having a good time.

The Hasselblad XPan is back!

My favorite camera ever by far and I currently own about 100 cameras. How did that happen? In 1999 I was working in beautiful downtown Palo Alto. Should of bought a house there, ugh. Anyway, Hasselblad came out with a special new camera called the XPan. I rented it and thought it was amazing. Then I rented it again and thought it was amazing again. So I bought one and it was really amazing once again but now I could use it all the time! It was $1999, like the year, which was an extraordinary amount of money for me at the time, but I was so happy.

One of the reasons I wanted to purchase it is because I was going to Bora Bora and I wanted some special photos. I think every photo I took there was a keeper. Just amazing. Then it broke. Not sure how or exactly when but I was under the Golden Gate Bridge and while looking through the viewfinder it wouldn’t focus. I was standing there wondering what was wrong and I pointed it to a group of people all lined up and silhouetted which I thought was more interesting than the bridge. As I’m looking through the camera being puzzled by what was wrong, I sense this person approaching and come up to my left side. I bring the camera down and look and him and he says with a deep growl, “don’t you fucking take pictures of me you mother fucker”. Uhhhh, what? Who the hell are you? Anyway I just said I don’t know what you’re talking about but I think my camera’s actually broken dude. He just glared at me and walked away. Well then… roid rage anyone? You’re not suspicious at all but I don’t want to die so yeah I’m heading out. So that’s what I think about when I see the Golden Gate Bridge. My broken XPan and someone who is probably locked up now for killing someone at this point in time.

After I moved back to Los Angeles I took it to Steve’s Camera in Culver City and they fixed the viewfinder and all was well. Just a mechanical problem. I also then took it to China but I have never properly scanned those images. I’m anxious to see those so many years later now that I have a scanning setup that is really awesome. Then life happened and the camera went into storage in beautiful downtown Burbank. Ya know, digital was everything now. It sat there for years and it was really the only thing I would want if the whole storage facility burned down. Finally after I went and rescued the storage unit a few years ago I had my XPan back and all was good. Or was it? It didn’t turn on! Noooooo! XPan’s are notorious for being difficult to fix and Hasselblad had to stop making them because they used mercury in the soldering. The European Union banned them and so they’re a rare commodity now and only about 16,000 were made. If the electronics are shot I’ve got a bricked camera and it’s just going on the shelf.

From Vancouver my friend Kevin said when he gets back to LA he’d take it into Steve’s again to see if they can fix it. 1 month, nothing. 2 months, nothing… 5 months later still radio silence. WTF Steve? Where’s my camera? Kevin called the shop and they said they got it to power on for a second then when they put it back together it didn’t come back on. They said they’re done with it and can’t fix it. Come pick it up. Ugh. The only glimmer of hope I had was that they did get power to it so the electronics must not be fried! Now what do I do? Nobody really fixes these things anymore. I resigned myself that it was now a shelf queen.

I did the occasional search over the last couple years. Reddit, Flickr, Discord, photo.net, Facebook XPan groups. One name did keep coming up. Wilco. Wilco Jannsen. “Wilco fixed mine!” “Yeah Wilco is great!” “Wilco brought mine back to life!” Oh wow, maybe there is an XPan whisperer out there! So I wrote Wilco in The Netherlands and told him what was wrong and that someone else had tried to repair it. His first question was what did they do and hoped they hadn’t messed it up even more. He said he sees that a lot. Well because children take up all your extra cash (worth it) I never really got around to sending it to Wilco. Then one day I just did. Sorry kid, no new ipad for school. All the way to The Netherlands it went, or almost. About 5 days later the package I sent off came back to me. Yadda yadda yadda you can’t ship batteries inside a camera. But it didn’t have a battery!!!!! I even showed the guy working behind the counter at Canadian Post, look no battery! I packaged it up in front of him and then he only wrote “camera” on it. That was all it took for someone in customs to say “camera, must have battery” so back it goes! OMG So off I went to FedEx a few days later and sucked up the $90 to ship it and whoosh it went on it’s way this time.

About a day after it arrived Wilco wrote me… I thought oh damn he’s got bad news already, but no! He said that’ll be $690 for the repair plus the shipping back. Here’s what is wrong, here are the parts, and yes the last place that worked on it looks like they just stuffed everything back inside like the monsters that they are. Do I approve the price for him fixing it? Oh hellz yes! OMG my camera is going to work! About two weeks later it showed up and there were even fresh batteries in it! When I turned it on all the lcds lit up and the shutter fired. What a beautiful sound. XPan is back baby! One of the things I read on a Reddit thread was from a technician who said “the best way to keep an XPan working is to use it”. Alrighty then, no more storage units for you oh mighty XPan. Also the last two actual sales on eBay for this camera were for $6,500. So I think I made the right initial purchase AND the right decision to get it fixed, but I’ll never sell it.

So here we are, we stopped by the fish hatchery along the Capilano river this week for a short hike to Cleveland Dam. Unfortunately the roll shot by the dam was a bad roll or something. Ah the perils of analog film.

Remember the Name… The Struts

Do you like Queen? Bowie? Slade? T. Rex? Sweet? Well I know I certainly do. I finally got to see The Struts at the Commodore Ballroom and they were sooo freaking great! The setlist was amazing and it included guitar and drum solos, band introductions, and they even joined hands at the end of the show and did bows! There was a lot of “come on baby! that’s right baby!” too. They’ve got that Big Arena Rock Energy! In the Houston clip below you can see Luke keeps a Freddie Pop! figurine on his piano. It’s like having a mini Beethoven bust. Strange Days into Could Have Been Me was such an excellent encore. As I write this a few days later I’ve kept thinking about the show and it’s the best I’ve seen in years and years.

Fun fact about the Commodore Ballroom is that when it was originally built for dancing, the floor was designed with tires stuffed with horsehair overlaid with 2×3 boards and then covered with shiplap. It gave the floor this bouncy feel so when everyone was dancing the whole floor would feel a bit like a trampoline. They have since updated the floor with layers of plywood, drywall, cork and foam rubber. It is a little disconcerting feeling a 1000 people jumping up and down shaking the building. You can’t spell disconcerting without concert. See what I did there? I might add that this venue is on the second floor so some day when the ballroom comes crashing through the ceiling it’s got a hard landing onto a bowling alley.

Oh also, I just got my Hasselblad XPan back from the Netherlands were it was finally getting fixed by someone who isn’t a flounder. More on that fascinating (depending on who you are) journey to get it working again. I’ve taken it all over the world so it’s good to have it back. Look at all that film pano goodness!

New Cast Member Badges

I’ve had a few of these cast member badges over the years (see below). They sent out badges to every Disney employee around the world. Weird how 100 years doesn’t seem that long ago anymore. Only 34 years before I was born. That would be 1989 for someone born today. The very beginning of the Disney Company. Oof, mortality. I do like shifting timelines though as a mind exercise. Such as shifting The Beatles to where we are today. If they were to release their last album Let it Be today, that would mean the whole of The Beatles catalog would have been released between 2016-2023. The Beatles would have come and gone in the time I’ve lived in Vancouver. That’s messed up, and quite frankly astonishing. How about this one? Thriller is closer in time to Elvis Presley releasing his very first recording than we are from Thriller’s release. How is that possible?! Or how about Cleopatra timeline that sometimes gets posted about? She is closer in time to us than she was to the building of the pyramids. Even she thought the pyramids were ancient. How about that Kurt Cobain has now been dead longer than he was alive? Oh, here’s a good one I came up with. The movie Grease came out in 1978. It was depicting a time only 20 years before, 1958. That’s like a movie being released today about 2003. Here is a thing I recently read. The tortoise that Charles Darwin brought back from the Galapagos to study and come up with his theory of evolution only died in 2006! That tortoise saw Charles Darwin! And it died at the Australia Zoo owned by Steve Irwin. There are pictures of Steve Irwin with Darwin’s tortoise! WTF. That also plays into the crazy fact that none of the founding fathers of the U.S. knew what a dinosaur was. Yet we cling to the second amendment that was written during the time of muskets. Things change people. Especially fire power. I knew I could get politics in here somewhere. Feel the Bern. Also, one of the Wright Brothers got to see planes destroy Pearl Harbor and drop the bombs on Japan. So that plays right into this thought. The debut of MTV is closer to Pearl Harbor than we are to MTVs debut. Well, I’m glad we had this conversation about my badge.

Some things of note. Dinosaur is included in that image above. Aladar on the right in back towering above everyone. Dinosaur was very controversial when it was being worked on and some didn’t consider it part of the Disney Animation oeuvre. We were even in a different building deep in the bowels of Burbank. So, glad it’s in there. Also, Peter Pan is riding on the back of Pete’s Dragon. Get it?

Peter Gabriel #5 at Rogers Arena

Awww look at everyone sitting there nicely enjoying some music. My fifth time seeing Peter! Forum 2x, Staples, Irvine Meadows and now Rogers Arena. I doubt it will be the last as I expect he will do a ‘this is it’ tour as so many others are doing now. Pete (he told me to call him Pete) was in fine vocal form. Bonus is he’s not having to change the vocal lines to suit his voice like Bono and Elton have to. The band with Tony Levin, Manu Katché and David Rhodes is always amazing. David Rhodes was the musical director and guitarist for the Kate Bush shows in London. Tony is a god amongst bassists.

You know what’s great about living in Vancouver, or at least downtown? You get to walk to all the major concerts. And it’s all downhill! Both wa… well one way! I look down the street and there they are! Right there! I see you big BC Place stadium, big Rogers Arena, large Queen Elizabeth concert hall, medium sized Orpheum venue, and in between all you smaller Commodore-like clubs. All that and we still don’t get a visit from Tay Tay. Come on Taylor. Yeeeeah, I don’t really care.

I knew the set list (as generated below, I love setlist.fm for that) going in, and that half of it was all new material. I’m not fond of the new album so I bought a cheap ticket just to be in the building. Let’s face it ticket prices are absurd. I had a front row end seat above the wheelchair section near an exit tunnel. Which worked out great because after songs I wanted to hear I could go walk around the arena and marvel at the concession prices. One slice of pizza for $11! Amazing. That’s like seven Costco hot dogs just across the street. No wonder Costco’s concession is packed on event nights. Walking to the far side of the arena, which would have been behind the stage, I just sat down for a bit and listened. I was there all by myself. Nobody around, nothing. Pretty cool to hear Gabriel echoing through the promenade. Then I would walk back and hear Red Rain or whatever. Then I’d go look at merch or mooch around and look at the high end vending machines. There’s a lot of those now. Even a cake one. So back in my seat, Big Time, which isn’t my favorite song, it was the highlight though! Unbelievable staging and graphics going on. Just loved it. And of course Solsbury Hill. Who doesn’t love a song in the 7/4 time signature? Solsbury Hill, Money by Pink Floyd, All You Need Is Love The Beatles, the keyboard solo in Jive Talkin’ (seriously), verses in Tattooed Love Boys by Pretenders. It schwings baby, go ahead tap those songs out. I dare you baby! Could an Austin Powers movie actually get made these days? Anyway, I had decided I was going to leave before the encores to get a jump on the crowds, but come ooooonnn! In Your Eyes and Biko! Ya gotta stay right? Turns out with all the crap going on in the world Biko is still excellent and feels current. I stayed to the end which I haven’t done in awhile and then right outside I hopped on an electric Citybike and was home in just minutes! In Your Eyeeees… someone really needs to dress up as John Cusack and walk down the aisle towards the stage with a boombox above his head. Oh me? No not me, but someone should.

He did address AI and all things avatarry. Themes of his latest release. Stating that ABBA made themselves younger but that he, meaning the Peter on stage talking to us, was actually his avatar but his was 20 years older and 20 pounds heavier than real Peter. Real Peter was lying horizontal on a beach in the South of France with an Adonis style body. Oooooo Abba, he referenced something I worked on! Whoop! Planning a trip to Venice next year with a stop in London and they’ve extended the Abba Voyage dates through the summer so I might actually get to see it! Voulez-Vous! That’s French for “Do you want (to)?” Why yes I do.

So… upcoming concerts, Stephen Sanchez (oh bloody hell, ugh, just cancelled day of show). Sorta Twin Peaks meets Enchantment Under the Sea meets Elvis. Oh well. Springsteen (ugh, was postponed), Kiss (last one), The Struts (Freddie vibes), Big Wreck (Oh Canada!). Skipped Iron Maiden last week but they aren’t going anywhere and I’ve seen them a trazillion times.

Goodnight Peter. Goodnight Rogers Arena. Goodnight $11 pizza slice. Goodnight Chinatown station. Goodnight future Fogo de Chão location (see you next year), Goodnight Granville and Georgia hot dog vendor. Goodnight giant British lions at the art gallery. Goodnight cargo ships sparkling out on the water. Goodnight Moon and goodnight to you.

Peter Gabriel Setlist Rogers Arena, Vancouver, BC, Canada 2023, i/o The Tour

Erickson Update

Project time. I’ve had this guitar an awfully long time. It even made an appearance in the before times here. I had it made in 1986 by a luthier in Fountain Valley. Gary Erickson. Super religious dude that held bible studies in his shop during non working hours. He made good guitars though and after 37 years it needed some love. I’ve always loved the zebra wood and it was pretty rare even back then. A chunk this big would jack up price like crazy so fake zebra wood guitars are now a thing and they look atrocious so I got lucky. After all this time and a couple of different storage unit stints the brass hardware was looking pretty junky and it didn’t stay in tune anymore. I decided to black the hardware out much like my favorite look for motorcycles. Fortunately I could buy all the replacement parts online. Kahler is still in business for the bridge, Schaller is still going for the tuners, and a knock off jack plate from China as Fender doesn’t make black ones. All in for a couple of hundred bucks and it’s back baby! It’s back! Now time for some strings and to intonate it up. (Fake update to make it seem like time has elapsed) Update! It sounds amazing all amped up and jammin’ some Crüe. And get a load of that circle gallery.

Old! Boo!

Night Moves @ The Wise Hall

I’ve been listening to Night Moves a lot this year and out of curiosity I had thought “hey, are they out on tour?” Wouldn’t you know it they have an upcoming gig in Vancouver! What timing for that thought. At The Cobalt though? Isn’t that a slumlord building that is about to be condemned but has a club on the bottom floor? Why yes it is, and yes the concert was moved to The Wise Hall due to all the danger of dying in a fleabag concert venue. Anyway, skipped the opening band and showed up at 10pm for Night Moves and it sure is nice to be back out seeing small shows again. Not gonna lie. Love their sound. I also brought out my Canon 7NE loaded with Ilford HP5 film to capture some of that tasty 70s vibe on silver halide crystals. Look at those sprockets! Don’t you just love them? It’s like it’s 1976 all over again and Jim Ladd is playing Bob Seger’s Night Moves the song on The Might Met I’m under the covers listening to my transistor radio on a school night and it’s past midnight. Magical days.
So Carl Sagan the song from Night Moves the band on Splotchified while you stare at the picture.

Oh wow, hello there.

For the last 20 years or so I’ve used Mediatemple as my website host. Ya know, they were based in Culver City so home town team vibes and all. They were great. If I ever had a problem I could chat to them on the website and they fixed any problem within minutes. Well along come Godaddy and they bought out Mediatemple and when they flipped the switch last October my website immediately stopped working. Way to go. You could view some of it but I couldn’t log in anymore and any links to other parts of the site downloaded small php files. So it sat and sat and sat… then I thought I’d try to contact Godaddy. No reply, months and months. Then I texted them and had a chat with a bot on my phone until finally it said I’ll connect you with an agent. !!!!!wHaT?? Then my phone sat there for hours because bot said they had high demand. This never happened with Mediatemple. 4 hours later an agent finally texts back and I had to jump through so many hoops to prove who I was and this all played out over about 6 hours. Then they said they had to hand it off to someone higher up to help fix the problem and I never received another text. So I tried again today and same thing, wait wait wait and I tore a strip off poor Santosh when he finally came on. I had to go through the same verification processes and I just said ugh forget it and closed the chat. Useless.
After a few hours of research I finally found an answer to my problem. Thank you random internet poster. One stupid line of code I had to delete out of an access file and all is well. Ugh. So anyway happy it’s fixed but annoyed at Godaddy support. I didn’t choose you Godaddy and I hated your boob-centric ads too.

On We All Plod

On the Move On the Move On the Move On the Move On the Move

So COVID finally decided to pound on my door this week. And I answered. Two and half years in and probably 75 rapid and 10 PCR tests taken, I just knew I was going to be positive this time. And I was. As I recover away from work I was thinking of the backlog created in my projects. Prior to the ABBA show opening I had five projects done over the past two years that hadn’t seen the light of day. ABBA opened to frankly astonishing reviews, then DC League of Super-Pets, now The Sandman is out on Netflix. We got keychains from Neil Gaiman as a little crew gift, so that was fun. Andor comes out on Sept 21st and contains my favorite shot I’ve ever done on a film. Not a particularly hard shot per se just an absolute iconic Star Wars type shot. The day I was assigned that shot I was so excited I went back and watched the original three. “Make it look like that shot in Jedi”, they said. Oh my gawd, and I did. Sigh of relief. A whole career waiting for that moment to be asked to work on a Star Wars project then given an iconic shot. It goes by in seconds and nothing really happens but it’s beautiful and I feel a part of Star Wars now. May of 1977 started my winding path to my North Star.

Current project Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The trailer exploded at Comic-Con this year. Really one of the best trailers for a sequel ever made. Whoever cut that is punching above their pay grade. I’ve had a very fortunate few years with a couple of years that have wreaked havoc for many but on we all plod. A little advice, when Wakanda opens be in the theater before the lights go out. If you aren’t crying before the movie even starts you’re a monster.

Hang Out With Me

Late night overtime has necessitated headphones and a playlist. These all conjure a time and place for me and I sometimes stop to listen to a large portion of the song. Come on join me for late night work. Throw some candles on and open your window. The one song that stops me in my tracks every single time is A Change is Gonna Come. Possibly the greatest song ever written. Because of this, a few years I was gifted the song in gold leaf audio waveform and I just love it. It hangs next to my Kate Bush confetti souvenir from her London shows. I saw Kate Bush live. That still blows my mind. Who knew she’d be bigger than ever today? 1:20 AM, I’m tired.

On the Move

Three Forty One

On the Move

Did you know a part of me has been in L.A. this whole time? I loathe having to need a storage unit, but they’ve become a necessity because, well space. I hate that I’ve spent thousands for something just sitting there and no access to it since it’s so far away. That storage unit is a slice of my life from the 90s to about 2013. All physical memories have been held hostage within those walls. And there it sat like a little money vampire. Every month having to pipe down money to the US to pay for it. I couldn’t even go through it to throw things away. I finished a show, see below, and decided I would go save Private Ryan. Okay, Operation Storage Unit 341.

On the Move On the Move On the Move

I got online and started pricing U Hauls, time, routes, motels, logistics in general and came up with a mighty plan. Would it work? Let’s find out. Got my flight and booked my COVID test the day before flying. Although I self tested many times before to keep and eye on it. Negative, I can fly. April 9th I flew down to Santa Ana and met my mom at the airport. I took her to Disneyland because it’s just too close not to go, right? Damn I miss being able to go down there just for lunch and ride a few rides. Took my employee pass and got us in freeeeeee and visited Galaxy’s Edge for the first time and Avenger’s Campus in California Adventure. Picked up some gifts and then stayed at my parents. Just hung out a bit that weekend and went through some boxes before beginning the journey north on Monday morning.

Epic boring road trip alert ahead. Picked up the U Haul and drove to Burbank where I expected some friends to show but a lack of communication led to me loading the whole truck by myself. 3 hours later… done. 341 is now in the truck. Quick stop for lunch at the Burbank In-N-Out and… what no? Driving a 20′ truck through Burbank and into that parking lot is too much for how tired I was. I would have loved some Tito’s or Paco’s on the west side but the thought of going back over the hill was also too much, so Burbank Zankou Chicken it is. After I got some wifi I was finally able get messages from some friends and they all drove to Burbank to have lunch and see me off. Blaine brought me two bikes that he had in storage at his house for the last 7 years. Yikes. I walked out to the truck to open it up and the worst thing that can happen to a load, happened. The load had shifted and all the boxes came sliding out and crashing into the parking lot. Broken china, a box of loose pictures started blowing down San Fernando Rd. etc What a mess, gah. I was so tired but everyone came running and rescued everything and we reloaded the truck better this time. Hopefully that’s the worst thing that happens.

I booked a motel in Santa Nella right next to Pea Soup Anderson’s because you know, pea soup. Long day but a short day of driving and uneventful after Burbank. The Grapevine was beautiful and I’ve driven it hundreds of times. Checked into San Nella about 9pm and then grabbed dinner and crashed. Tomorrow is the first day of two days of long haul driving.

Good night of sleep but I have to get up into Oregon by tonight to stay on schedule. I might have to add here that I have to get to the Vancouver storage unit by Thursday with plenty of time because it’s closed on Good Friday and have to return the truck by Saturday morning. So 10+ hours today and 2 tank fills at $150 a pop. #$#! Rotten Robbie is the cheapest gas in the valley, but he sure is rotten. Anyway, I cycled through the four types of radio stations in the Central Valley… Ranchero, Religious, Country and Classic Rock. Alright, classic rock it is. Insert montage video of road trip footage with rock soundtrack. Got into Oregon and the higher passes had some snow and rain. Rain, wind, snow, sun is all just regular weather. Hurricane, blizzard, heatwave those are all bad weather. Didn’t have that. Stayed in Roseburg along the river and found a Costco nearby so I thought I’d pop in and have a look. Wow, there is NOBODY here. Maybe 10 shoppers in the whole of the warehouse. They’re usually so over-subscribed it was nice to just randomly walk through. They also had a petrol station outside with even cheaper gas than Robbie. Take that you rotten scoundrel. Then sleep took over my body.

On the Move

Second day of long haul driving. Left Roseburg with the goal of either getting to my sister’s or Bellingham. I found the farthest north In-N-Out as of this writing and grabbed lunch. After driving for a long time through Eugene, Salem, Portland, Tacoma, and then Seattle I really didn’t feel like catching a ferry out to the island to see my sister, so just staying in Bellingham. Got into Bellingham at 6pm which is pretty late to find a hotel not booked up. Yep, five hotels later I finally found a Holiday Inn by Bellingham Airport with a couple rooms. Went to dinner and then crashed.

Final day of road trip and crossing the border. Got up pretty early and hit the road, another Costco fuel up nearby and got to Peace Arch by 10AM. It’s nerve wracking crossing the border but the officer was cool. Triple vaxxed, had all my paper work and explained about never being able to get my stuff up to Canada before especially the last 2 years and she waved me through. Got into the storage unit and nailed the landing. I was so used to this bucket of bolts and its size I backed right into the loading bay like a boss. The new storage is so nice and clean and bright and and and just so damn convenient. My stuff is near me. So, unloaded… three hours later… done. Getting a peek into some of the clear boxes for the first time in 7 years was so exciting but going through all of this is for another time. I still had to move the other smaller storage unit into this one. Yes, I had three storage units to deal with. One tiny one in the building, one in downtown Vancouver, and one in L.A. Now it’s just one big one nearby. So it’s done, the last vestiges of a life in L.A. has come to an end. I had really hoped/thought I’d come back so I think the storage unit represented that little bit of holding on. But as it became clear that life is different now and in a good place, 341 belongs up here. Although you have a new name, 133, you’re still 341 to me.

Gather round for the upcoming “crazy things found in my time capsule storage unit” posts as I go down memory lane.

On the Move On the Move


There are a few things I can’t talk about at the moment because they’re in a galaxy far, far away but this one is imminent. I’ve been staring at ABBA a lot lately making sure everything is in place for the shows in London. ABBAtars still cracks me up. They got lucky with that one. Anyway, I wish I could see my grandad walk around the room again, maybe before polio struck. Just to watch and see and get a feel for him again.

What a year (or two), seriously.

Forecast is for a White Christmas and I love a good copyright claim on a youtube video. The annual gift never disappoints but of course this one ends up costing money because now you have to restart a vinyl collection that you gave away many years ago. I had Xavier choose a record and he very nearly chose Hendrix’ Are You Experienced? because it looked like a Beatles record but he decided on a Christmas record. And a good choice at that.

Halloween 2021

Trick or treating in that costume was going to be impossible so we made a movie. Then he switched to Jon Snow for the evening. Candy is coming.

Over the Moon

Over the Moon

That time I showed up to work with my old brand new to me Russian Kiev 4 camera with a roll of black and white film and had never used the camera before that has no light meter and the crew photo photographer they hired for Over the Moon directed by Disney legend Glen Keane (crouched in the front row) decided to take one shot and leave and nobody was ready. They wanted more. “Hey Chris, you have a camera…” But but but… alright, time to step up. I calculated the exposure, prayed that the camera actually worked, and hoped for the best in developing it. Ermagerd, nailed it! Whew. Now it looks like we made the film sometime during World War II.

Snow Day

Schools closed and only 5 minutes from home. Such a beautiful day. Funny I only hear his English accent when I’m on the phone or I hear it on a recording. Still amazing.

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. Then everybody moved to Exodus because it was now behind schedule because we were all on Guardians. 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 times I had to stay in London because of work which made it really hard to be away from Liza and Xavier. 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.



I always wanted to go to Brighton because of Quadrophenia. Seeing movies I love that are shot in places I’ve never been always intrigued me. So off I went. I had to work Saturday and also the bank holiday Monday, so that only left one day off. Normally I would go home to Liverpool but the rail lines are being worked on for 3 weekends in August and that means it’s about a 6 hour train ride each way. Liza was also busy with family things even farther north so it would have been an epicly long journey.

I booked a Bed and Breakfast from air BnB in Rottingdean on the advice of my friend Laszlo from work. He and his wife have a boat in Brighton Harbor that they stay on during the weekends.

After work on Saturday I got to Victoria station and checked out which platform I would be leaving from and found I had enough time to run to the bank for some cash. That done I boarded the train it was a quick 50 minutes to the coast. The only problem with the train is there’s not much to see. The train spends most of the time in a cut ravine, so it’s just trees rushing by. Rather boring compared to the Liverpool train that is mostly out in the countryside.

I got into the station and needed to find a bus. I walked around a bit to see if I was missing anything obvious about buying tickets. Nothing. I saw the busses picking people up but wanted to check on day passes and finally had to ask for help. I guy changing the train ticket machines pointed my to an office and the lady there was very helpful and set me up with two day passes. £3.30 for all you can eat bus travel! Such a bargain after London. All told I didn’t get away from the station for about 40 minutes, then the bus ride would be about half an hour to Rottingdean. Then a walk up to the BnB. The bus made its way through Brighton and we turned towards Brighton Pier and it was amazing. I’d seen so many pictures of it. It has a strange mix of Victorian and Eastern influences. I wanted to go back later that night to see it all lit up. I finally got to the BnB and Scott answered the door and got me set up. The room was really nice and I unpacked and relaxed for a short time.

I wanted to get back to Brighton before the sun set so I walked down through the village of Rottingdean and saw some Ye Oldie stuff. I hopped the bus and went to Brighton Pier but got off about 3 stops too early. I hoofed it along the strand where there’s a small version of an Eye. It was here I first noticed a Mod. Full wartime coat and bullseye patches, Who patches, it was great, ha! Then I thought, he looks pretty old! Then I saw more and they were all old. I didn’t find out until I was leaving Brighton why they were all old.

There were a few tricked out scooters in front of Brighton Pier but it was getting dark quickly so I walked on the pier. It was great, and it’s kept up very well. One of the nicer Victorian Piers that doesn’t feel like it’s going to collapse into the ocean. The arcade was packed and the rides at the end of the pier were your usual carnival rides you’d find in the states, except for one. Duhn duhn duhnnnn… A Helter Skelter! I’ve never seen one in person. So cool. It’s just a big old slide but you grab your mat and slide down, and then go back to the top for another ride when you get to the bottom and I’ll see you again! Yeah yeah yeah yeah… You might even get blisters on your fingers. So, yes, this is the ride made famous by the Beatles, and then infamous from the Manson murders with it being written in blood on a door. All it is is a slide! Weird. So I loved walking the pier but my feet were killing me at this point so I decided to call it a night. Saw a few more old Mods and some young ones with girls all dressed up. I thought it was interesting that the culture was still kind of alive.

I got up Sunday morning and took the bus to Beachyhead which is the tallest chalk cliff in England. The bus pulled over and few of us got out but I really had no idea where to go. So I just walked up hill and in no time I’m standing on the ledge of a white cliff. Frankly there wasn’t much to see. Maybe the lighthouse below but you can’t really appreciate it. I suppose it’s like trying to see Mt. Everest while you’re at the summit. When I was on the bus we passed a car that had a champlain in it. Ya know, in case you’re feeling the urge to jump. Beachyhead is the #1 suicide spot in England. They even have a website http://www.bhct.org.uk/wp/. There was an uptick in despondent people in the last week because of the death of Robin Williams. Apparently whenever there is a high profile suicide the rate of ‘incidents’ go up.

Anyway, sights… I decided to head back to Brighton. I sent a message to my buddy Laszlo and he called me to say they were taking their boat out and if I wanted to go along. I had other things I wanted to see so I passed but would meet up with them for dinner. Right after I hung up the bus pulled up to Seven Sisters. I made the quick decision to enjoy a hike out to the coast for some pictures. I walked pass a curvy section of a river where some kayakers were paddling around. Over a little bridge was an Inn that I stopped at and had lunch out on their deck. It was beeeeeeautiful out. Warm sun, light breeze, green all around, blue skies. I ordered a burger and it was the best burger I’ve had since getting to the UK. Okay, so I’m all full and hydrated, time for the walk. I asked the server which way I should go and he asked what was my goal. I said pictures of the Seven Sisters. He pointed to the sheep gate at the end of the car park and off I went.

It took about 30 minutes to walk out to the beach on a rather rocky path. Not much to see really until you get right to the inlet of the estuary. Then the full view of the cliffs is there with lots of people about enjoying the views. The beaches in Brighton area are not really nice though. They’re all rock. Smooth though like fist sized river rocks. I walked up to the cottages and got some great views of the cliffs behind them. Next time I would probably take the path on the other side of the estuary to get right underneath the cliffs. I took the scenic route over the close proximity route.

I took a different track back which took me through the sheep farms. Lots of black headed sheep and a lot smoother walking path. I got back to the Inn and walked to the bus stop and sat down on the grass. That was a 2.5 hour tramp and my feet were hurting. So I thought I would sit down and put my hand in a pile of red ants. That was awesome. Even better was it took me a couple of minutes to notice.

The bus came and I got on a was ready to head back into Brighton but I was so tired and hot I decided to stop at the BnB and have a shower and rest. That was the best shower I’ve ever used. Then I called my parents and then Liza. Laszlo got back in from their sailing excursion so I headed down to the marina to have dinner. On the way there and old man sat next to me and some scooters went by. He looked at me and said, it’s been years since the mods and rockers. Then said he moved there in 1966 and that the media played it up more than what really happened. That was it. The whole conversation. It was later that I discovered it was Mod weekend in Brighton but I hadn’t actually spent much time in Brighton so I missed it all. But that explained why I saw so many scooters and Mods dressed up. They were just there for the rally.

It was his wife’s birthday so we had reason to celebrate. We went to a big wooden restaurant. That’s the best way to describe it. Like it was made of ships. We also met up with some friends of theirs that were on the boat today. His friend told a hilarious story about the movie The Grudge. How a friend of his freaked him out while watching the movie. Right after a particularly scary scene his friend pauses the movie and says, I have something to show you… He shuts the lights off and hands him a flashlight. He takes him to the kitchen and has them both crawl on the ground to this spot until they’re face to face. His friend sticks his finger in the floor board and starts pulling the board up… He tells him to look into the floor. Of course he’s freaking out because they’re in the middle of watching The Grudge. Underneath the floor board is a pitch black hole. His friend tells him to take the flashlight and shine it down the hole. haha And just as he’s about to look in this hole his friend lets out a massive scream and he jumps five feet in the air. This guys house was built over an old well! We were all busting up laughing at the story. Then he had to go back and finish The Grudge. It got late so we said our goodbyes and I headed to the bus. Got into bed and it started raining. Nice.

I got up Monday morning and caught the bus back to Brighton Station, and then the train to Victoria. Bye bye Brighton.

Abbey Road Studios

Today I got to do something I’ve always wanted to do. Go inside Abbey Road Studios. In particular, Studio 2. Every trip I’ve made to London has included a visit to Abbey Road. Now that I live here I think it’s fair to say I deserve to go in! I’m a bit of a recording studio fan. I think they’re incredibly exciting places that are slowly dying.

A few years ago I purchased a massive boxed book set called Recording The Beatles. It’s very comprehensive and I love it. If there was one book I would have wanted to bring with me it would have been that one. Just to massive and heavy. The two guys who wrote the book were doing a talk at Abbey Road, along with Ken Duncan who was an engineer on some of The Beatles recordings. So a little dream has come true.

I got up this morning and took my camera and walked to the station only to realize I left my ticket in another bag! Ran back, grabbed it and ended up in a cab just to make sure I got there in time. As I got out of the cab there were people already milling about. The Studios have installed a Crossing Cam that me and my friends back home always look at to watch people nearly get run over. Knowing I was going to be there the stayed up until about 2am waiting for me. It also has audio so I goofed around in front of the camera for a bit and then stood below it and yelled at Kevin. He heard me in Burbank. Ha.

The started letting us in at 10am, and in the door I went. The front part of. The studios. Is basically a house and reception area, while where gardens used to be is where the studios are. I walked down the hallway and in Studio 2. It’s a fairly large space and to the right as you enter is that famous staircase up to the recording area. They pulled out some of the pianos and organs, consoles, etc from the archives. I bought another book from one of the authors which also includes his work atTrident studios which is across the street from work. The talk was interesting and included a ge etchings I didn’t know, but one struck ore that others. It was where in thee studio the recorded. I happened to sit on the end of the row near the back end of the studio. They played some clips of a drummer that were recorded in each studio so we could hear the difference in sound. Then they played twist and shout and you could hear the same sound of the stidio. Quite amazing really. The they showed a diagram of how the Beatles used to record which was like a live set because that’s all they new. They diagram showed the very corner I was sitting in and basically was sitting whe the mic that john and Paul would sing into. Weird to think they sat there and recorded on that spot. Then they asked a few people to come up and they had 3 of the pianos there and marked of the chords for the massive chord at the end of a day in the life. 1, 2, 3…, bahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhmmmmmmmmmmmmm. End of Sgt peppers right there before your ears. Cool.