Cousin Edra – The Winter Series

Reid Dickie

Previously I have posted two black and white snapshots of my cousin Edra when she was a child in the early 1940s. Both pictures were taken outdoors in winter with incongruent clothing and furniture. The images popped out of the hundreds of typical family pictures for obvious reasons.

The first was Sweet Dream Baby when she was about a year old. Click pics to enlarge

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The second was Dreaming of Tea Time. She’s about three here.

FAM - DREAMING OF TEA TIME

Recently I came across two more pictures of Edra from The Winter Series, as I’ve come to call it. This time she’s seated next to her brother Arvin on the same little chairs from Tea Time. She’s about two years old. It’s called Me and My Big Brother.

FAM scan0002The final picture in The Winter Series, at least so far, is Edra wearing my Mom’s hat taken in 1944. She’s almost five. I call it Auntie Helen’s Hat.

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Here’s my Mom wearing the same hat on her wedding day two years before.

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Coming Soon to a Canada Near You

c51

If Harper gets his way…

 Click the pic

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My Letter to Harper about Secret Police Bill C-51

Reid Dickie

I sent the following letter to Stephen Harper today regarding Bill C-51 which is supposed to give police power to deal with “terrorism.” Instead it takes away our right and freedoms based on little more than fear-mongering and media booga booga.

Because the Ref-Cons are under the thumb of Big Pharma, Bill C-51 contains directives regarding alternative medicine. For example, up to $5 million fine for growing, preserving or sharing an unregistered natural health product like garlic, vitamins, herbs. The bill turns ordinary Canadians into “terrorists” if we use medicinal alternatives.

My letter went to every MP in Ottawa via one mass emailing. You can find all their email addresses here.  Scroll down, copy and paste them into your address bar.

http://butterflystorms.blog.ca/2011/07/05/canadian-mps-email-addresses-web-pages-11431378/

Mr. Harper,

   Bill C-51 is your most anti-Canadian bill yet.

   This dreadful secret police bill is much too vague in all its definitions, gives too much power to CSIS and overreaches far too deeply into the lives of ordinary Canadians. It gives police the power to detain people who haven’t committed a crime based on mere suspicion, i.e. search and seizure without warrant. This is your devious way of trying to get control of the internet, censor its content and to control medical alternatives. Why are directives against alternative medicine included in this bill?

   This bill does nothing to protect our freedoms; it undermines them. No matter how much fear-mongering you do or how many phony terrorists you haul out in front of the cameras, we are not willing to give up our rights and freedoms. Your paranoid anti-democratic views represent a very small portion of Canadians.  

    C-51 is alien legislation. This wasn’t even drafted in Canada. It was written elsewhere and you were told to apply it to Canada. You know you are wrong which is why you are desperate to limit debate and abuse your power further. How can you make an informed decision without all the information?

    The current oversight of CSIS has been under funded and understaffed for the duration of your reign and now you claim this new bill has sufficient oversight. There will be even less oversight and accountability with C-51. What kind of spooks are you turning our country over to?

   I am 100% opposed to Bill C-51. It should be scrapped now.

      Sincerely,

        Reid Dickie

            Winnipeg

Read Ralph Nader’s letter to Harper about Bill C-51 here

http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/02/18/whats-happening-canada-open-letter-stephen-harper

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Classic Cars, Trucks and Machinery at Carberry Heritage Festival

Snapshot 1 (17-02-2015 12-29 PM)

Reid Dickie

This 1919 Ford truck was one of the many vintage vehicles on display at the Carberry Heritage Festival. As you can see it’s a crank start. Click the pic to watch my two-minute video of some of the other cars, trucks and farm machinery at the festival.

The 2015 Carberry Heritage Festival takes place Friday & Saturday August 7 & 8.

The festival website is http://www.carberryheritagefestival.com

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Filed under Carberry, Festivals, Manitoba Heritage, Pioneers

Slammin’ with Kayla Fraser and Steve Currie

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Reid Dickie

To end the week of slam poets I’ll feature two Winnipeg poets, Kayla Fraser and Steve Currie, info on local slam events in 2015 and finish with Andrea Gibson who was the inspiration for this series.

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Click her pic for Kayla Fraser to perform The Poetry Game.

Winnipeg Poetry Slam has a new home at the Winnipeg Poetry Project which will hold the second of four events to determine the local slam poets that go to the nationals. The event is Wednesday, February 25, 2015 at the West End Cultural Centre. Sign-in 7:15. Slam 8:00. Details are available. You can see a tally of the top slam poets and their point totals on the site, videos and audio tracks of poets performing and an application form if you want to prowl the stage and share your wisdom.

Another event under the auspices of the Winnipeg Poetry Project is the annual Winnipeg Spoken Word Festival, June 10 to 13, 2015 at the Gas Station Theatre. Details as they emerge.

A collaborative project called F-Wordz combining performing poets and filmmakers is evolving to its May 3, 2015 competition at the Park Theatre. The Winnipeg Film Group offers info.

currie

Steve Currie is vying for a spot on Winnipeg’s Slam Team this year and reads a work pulled from today’s headlines about Manitoba’s 10,000 foster children. Click his pic to watch Steve perform To Whom It May Concern.

I recently discovered the performance poetry of Andrea Gibson and posted about her. Her work inspired my explorations of current slam poetry resulting in this series. To end off, two poems by Andrea Gibson. Click pic to watch her perform Prism

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Click pic for her performance of Panic Button Collector

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 What’s this series about?

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Slammin’ with George Watsky and James Judd

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Reid Dickie

Two more slam poets today.

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Click his pic to watch George Watsky perform Drunk Text Message to God

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One of the funniest slam poets is James Judd performing his story poem The Book Report

What’s this series about?

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Slammin’ with Jeanann Verlee and Carlos Andres Gomez

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Reid Dickie

A trio of slam poems today. Jeanann Verlee, whom I featured earlier in this series, and Carlos Andres Gomez, each performing separately and together.

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Click her pic to watch Jeanann Verlee perform 40 Love Letters.

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Click their pic to watch Jeanann Verlee and Carlos Andres Gomez perform Wait.

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Click his pic to see Carlos Andres Gomez perform What’s Genocide?

What’s this series about?

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Slammin’ with Shane Koyczan and Rudy Francisco

slam 3

Reid Dickie

Today’s poets are Shane Koyczan from Penticton, B.C. and Rudy Francisco.

shane

Click his pic to watch Shane Koyczan perform his story poem Why Does This Man’s Grandfather Fight Monsters? Shane is performing in Winnipeg at the West End Cultural Centre on April 5, 2015.

rudy

Click his pic to watch Rudy Francisco perform his poem Complainers.

What’s this series about?

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Slammin’ with Megan Maughan and Noah St. John

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Reid Dickie

Two youthful voices on today’s slam.

megan

Click her pic to watch Megan Maughan perform Five Reasons to Date a Girl with an Eating Disorder.

noah

Click his pic to watch Noah St. John perform his poem Capoeira.

What’s this series about?

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Slammin’ with Neil Hilborn and Michael Lee

slam

Reid Dickie

Two more contemporary slam poets in my series on words at work.

neil

Click his pic to watch Neil Hilborn perform OCD.

michael lee

Click his pic to watch Michael Lee perform Pass On.

What’s this series about?

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Slammin’ with Jeanann Verlee and Josh Healey

slam 1

Reid Dickie

We live in a time when words have been reduced to a series of abbreviations on tiny text screens, when clarity and truth are drained daily from language replaced by doublespeak that supports an agenda, when the inability to form a complete sentence results in the inability to think critically, when powerful voices that promote sanity and goodness are routinely silenced. But words still work. They can still tell the truth when employed by active minds and engaged  imaginations. In this case, I mean slam poetry. Click the pic below for a poet slam primer under 60 seconds.

rules

This is the first of six or seven posts featuring contemporary slam poets performing their work. Each one of these voices offers his or her unique perspective on life in the 21st century, usually personal, sometimes cringingly so, frequently funny, always pertinent and inspirational. Instead of writing about each poet’s background I have included links to their websites. Most of these slam poets have won awards for their performance poetry.

jean

Click her pic to watch Jeanann Verlee perform Communion.

josh h

Click his pic to watch Josh Healey perform Coming Out Straight.

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Fake Winnipeg Nostalgia – Char Broiler Commercial

FOOD DD

You don’t actually remember this Char Broiler commercial but after you watch it you’ll think you do.

False memories are hidden in the food.

Can you decode this order?

FOOD OO

Watch Char Broiler commercial parody 1:30

Click a pic

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Principal Sparling School, 1150 Sherburn Street, Winnipeg (1913)

Principal Sparling can0001

Reid Dickie

By the time this “lovely castle” was built, school architect J. B. Mitchell was delightfully combining elements from several architectural styles, creating a stunning array of Principal Sparling can0003structures.

Two-storey Principal Sparling School is a luxurious sight, rich with detail, solid but enticingly airy with glorious fenestration all around. Executed by expert craftsmen, the school incorporates Gothic and Classical Revival design elements.

The elevated limestone portico and the tower above it (left) are the building’s most striking feature. Transverse stairways lead to the portico landing, which is open on each side.

Overhead Dutch gables crown three sides of the portico, the front has a large medallion in a floral motif, all Principal Sparling can0004 - Copycomplimenting the arched doorway into the school, the stained glass window above it and the open tower atop. The name of the school is inscribed on a large limestone plaque on the face of the tower at eave level. (right) Although I’ve never seen anything to indicate J. B. Mitchell belonged to the Masonic Lodge, it is highly likely he was a member. On other schools Mitchell has left us a few hints of his understanding and use of the Golden Section. On Principal Sparling, the overlapping Os in School create the vesica pisces.

A storey and a half above the low-pitched hip roof, the square tower culminates in four open arcades of rounded and square columns. Resembling tracery, the arcades are aPrincipal Sparling can0009 medieval touch. The top of the tower (left) has a curving belt course supported by arcades of corbelling of very high quality – it feels as if it drips from the building. An angled parapet crowns the tower.

The symmetrical facade has large end wings that bring a churchy Gothic effect Principal Sparling can0006because they are windowless but for the round openings on the stone-capped Dutch  gable ends. The sections that would have been windows are indented and surmounted with exquisite corbelling. (left) There is a pair of dormers on the front elevation and a limestone belt course with diamond shapes.

Demonstrating Mitchell’s attention to detail there is the letter S on each of the downspout collectors that deliver rainwater directly into the sewer.Principal Sparling can0010

On the sides (right) projecting sections are in a Gothic motif with stone lintels over the windows, peaked stone cap on the cornice with orbs and a pointed finial. Again, the arcade of corbelling on the face of the wings and Gothic end pavilions is superb. The rear has two Classical Revival porches, one obscured by the 1987 gymnasium. They feature wide arched entranceways with a three-sided hip roof that points up to a recessed arched window.

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A recurring feature of school design was stained glass panels at the top of rectangular windows. At Principal Sparling, the original stain glass remains on the façade windows only, as it was when Mitchell designed it.

Of brick and concrete construction, the masonry overall is fine work. The bond of the building is American bond with a slight variation – usually every fifth or sixth course is headers rather than stretchers. On Principal Sparling School, every fourth row is headers,Principal Sparling can0007 requiring proportionally more bricks to construct.

Notice the tall, rusticated foundation (right) with many windows. This allows classrooms in the basement to have ample light. Limestone is used to great effect from the foundation to the lintels and sills, the belt course and the curved gables.

The interior has a central hallway with rooms leading off both sides. The hallway is extraordinarily wide and the ceilings are very high. The stairwells are concrete with the original cast iron railings embellished by flower medallions. One of the classrooms has the original slate blackboards and the basement rooms have the old hardwood floors that bear the warm patina from the feet of five generations of children.

When Principal Sparling School was built, architect Mitchell was incorporating the latest principal s 3innovations in heating and ventilation. The school still has the original arched vents that accordion out two-thirds the way up the wall that allowed cross-ventilation when combined with window transoms.

Former Principal Denise Smith found the original school boilerplate stored away when she arrived at the school. She had it polished up and proudly displays it in the main hallway.

Every year the graduating Grade 6 class, with the help of the Parent Council, purchases a piece of art for the school, usually a print of a great master or a historic depiction.

All former principals have their pictures displayed in the foyer (above) and a photograph of principal s himselfReverend Joseph Walter Sparling (1842-1912) (right) hangs in a revered place in the hall. Sparling, a theologian and teacher, was known as “the father of Winnipeg Methodism.” Born in Perth County, Ontario, educated in Ontario and Illinois, he was ordained in 1871. After serving in numerous parishes, he was sent to Winnipeg in 1888 to establish Wesley College, now the University of Winnipeg. In a small rented room, Wesley College started with three students. Four hundred were attending at the time of Sparling’s death.

Sparling died in 1912, the year construction on this school began. His son, Jack Sparling attended the official opening in 1914, his granddaughter, Mrs. Joseph Walter Sparling, served tea at the 50th Anniversary in 1962.

The contractor was a Winnipeg firm, S. Brynjolfsson and Son who built the seventeen room school for $142,000. Cost of the 2.6 acre lot was $30,500. Construction began inprincipalsparlingschool2 1912; the cornerstone was laid by Johnson Douglass, merchant and school board member.

Although the official opening occurred in March 1914, the school (archive photo right) offered classes starting in August 18, 1913. Two hundred students enrolled the first day to attend Grades 1 to 8 taught by eight teachers and principal Harry McIntosh. The curriculum included Home Economics and Industrial Arts. As the West End district around Principal Sparling School developed, by 1922 the student population grew to over 800 taught by 19 teachers.

In 1986 a new gymnasium with modern facilities was added to the school based on a design by Stechesen Katz Architects. The addition was built by Levasseur Construction Co. at a cost of $552,000. The old gym was converted into a multi-purpose room and a resource teaching area.

In 2013/2014 Principal Sparling’s enrolment was 212 students in Nursery to Grade 6. Ethnic breakdown is 65% Philippine, 17% aboriginal and the balance mixed.

Principal Sparling School’s heritage designation is Level 3, meaning it is reasonably safe from demolition. There is an active Parent Council at the school which renovated the play structure and added a picnic area and landscaping with 20 trees.

 PROFILE

Principal Sparling School

Built 1913

Additions 1986

Materials: tan brick, limestone, concrete

Style: Gothic Revival, Classical Revival two storey

Architect J. B. Mitchell

Original cost $172,500

Current assessed value $1,779,000

Acreage 2.6 acres

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Filed under Education, Heritage Buildings, Manitobans of Note, Schools

Tim Horton’s Beans in Our Ears

Snapshot 1 (29-01-2015 4-38 PM)

Reid Dickie

Just for fun I’m weighing in on the changes afoot at defining Canadian icon, Tim Horton’s. Snapshot 4 (29-01-2015 4-40 PM)Former defining icon is better now that it’s owned by Brazilian mega-corporation 3G Capital. Tim Horton’s came as part of the 3G deal to buy Burger King which was blessed by the Ref-Con trained seals in Ottawa.

My fake backstory regarding Tim Horton’s revolves mainly around a little brown brick building near Pembina and Grant in Winnipeg. I have habituated this building for centuries. Before it was Tim’s, Robin’s Donuts operated from it as did Loopins and Snapshot 3 (29-01-2015 4-39 PM)Standards. In the 1950s it was The Sassafras, a coffee and malt shop that catered to teens and adults and maintained an uneasy detente between them. During The War, it was Stookie’s, a smoky diner at an important bus stop that led into new suburbs in south and west Winnipeg. During the Dust Bowl days three sisters, all named Thelma, ran it. Of course it was called Betty’s Place so as not to Snapshot 6 (29-01-2015 4-41 PM)confuse people. Just after the First Big War when it was Mike’s you could buy coffee and pie over the counter, booze, hookers and reefer under the counter. Even before the new century began, on this spot Pounder’s Stopping Off was a widening of the Pembina Trail where you stocked up on supplies coming and going. Porridge Pounder always had plenty of guns and ammunition to sell. Before anything took root at the meeting of the rivers, Cree and Saulteaux sometimes used thisSnapshot 7 (29-01-2015 4-41 PM) place as a campsite due to it’s closeness to the Red River. For thousands of years before that, it was just me and the woolly mammoths drinking from the river with the wind whistling through the willows.

Most of the above paragraph is not true; it is fiction, historical riffing, guff. In that spirit I created a short video to commemorate the assimilation of Tim Horton’s into its new Snapshot 2 (29-01-2015 4-39 PM)corporate maw. I scrounged around on archive.org and found some vintage footage of Brazilian coffee growers and refiners, added Soul Coughing’s The Coffee Song and uploaded it to YouTube. Fellini would appreciate the final few scenes. Click any picture to watch the 2:30 video.

For clarity I have been a long-time customer of Tim Horton’s and witnessed their inevitable decline. Of late, I frequent other coffee shops, local and much more interesting. Comments sections online are filled with people vowing to boycott Tim Horton’s for their recent actions. In my case, the Horts just ran its course after lo, these many thousands of years.

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Filed under Guff, Humour, video art

Andrea Gibson, Poet

andrea g

Reid Dickie

I wish I was a photograph
tucked into the corners of your wallet
I wish I was a photograph
you carried like a future in your back pocket
I wish I was that face you show to strangers
when they ask you where you come from
I wish I was that someone that you come from
every time you get there
And when you get there
I wish I was that someone who got phone calls
And postcards saying
Wish you were here

That is how Andrea Gibson’s poem Photograph begins. Listen to her read the whole thing.

From her websiteAndrea Gibson is not gentle with her truths. It is this raw fearlessness that has led her to the forefront of the spoken word movement – the first winner of the Women’s World Poetry Slam – Gibson has headlined prestigious performance venues coast to coast with powerful readings on war, class, gender, bullying, white privilege, sexuality, love, and spirituality.

I came across Andrea’s work recently while downloading some sound poetry. Her written words are provocative but it’s her inspiring spoken performances that give them vivid freshness. Her thoughts bombard you with a stimulating flurry of intelligence and awareness, as effective poetry should. Listen to her poem Stay.

YouTube has many videos of Andrea’s performances. This one is called Jellyfish. Click pic.

andrea vid

Andrea is currently on a North American tour which moves to Europe in the spring.

  • She performs in Toronto, ON on February 3, 2015 at a free show at Lunik Co-Op, Glendon College.
  • On February 17, 2015 she’s at Alix Goolden Performance Hall in Victoria, BC. Tickets available through her website.
  • On April 4, 2015 she’s back for the Toronto Poetry Slam at Bloor Cinema. For tickets contact info@torontopoetryslam.com

Andrea’s website is http://www.andreagibson.org/

Two more readings by Andrea to finish off: Asking Too Much and Say Yes.

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Filed under Ancient Wisdom, Art, Inspiration, Truth, Wisdom

Linwood School, 266 Linwood Street, Winnipeg (1913)

LINWOOD SCHOOL 2

Reid Dickie

Pop quiz!

What Winnipeg school’s alumni includes the City’s first woman mayor Susan Thompson, bandleader Jimmy King, Liberal Cabinet Minister Mitchell Sharp, Olympic speed skater Gordon Audley, Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger and former National Defense Headquarters Chief of Air Staff Ken Pennie?

Hint: it’s in St James.

This diverse group all haunted the halls of Linwood School.

Though having recently celebrated its 100th anniversary, Linwood School sits on a lot used for schools for 130 years. St James School, a white two-storey wooden building with a large bell tower that sat on the southeast corner of the lot was the original school on the site. Built in 1885 and known in the neighbourhood as The White School, it burned down in 1913. Students attended classes in tents during construction of the current building, also called St James School. The name was changed to Linwood School in 1951 to avoid confusion with the newly opened St James Collegiate.

The original trustees’ names are carved in limestone on the front of the school. The architect is LINWOOD11scan0007listed as A. Melville and the trustees were Alex Gunn, Chas. Holden and J.H. Cotter.

Scottish-born Winnipeg architect Alexander Melville designed the present building. Melville, and his enigmatic brother William, a civil engineer, were responsible for at least 14 of Winnipeg’s fire halls, many of them still standing. (Under the heading of Winnipeg Degrees of Separation, we find Susan Thompson who, besides attending the Melville-designed Linwood School, was later a resident in a fire hall on Dorchester that had been renovated into condominiums. This fire hall was a Melville Brothers design.)

The Melvilles created plans for the Empire Hotel on Main Street, Broadway Court Apartments, Ashford Apartments on Balmoral, Touraine Apartments on Ellice and the Coliseum Dance Hall, all now demolished. One of the few houses the brothers designed, the G.A. Glines house, still stands at 55 Hargrave though its exterior has been substantially changed. Check out this Manitoba Historical Society page for all of Melville’s buildings.

The stately, two storey red brick and concrete Linwood School resembles the size andLINWOOD22scan0001 shape of British Board schools but with a more horizontal emphasis. A large school, it has 20 classrooms set on a tall foundation allowing adequate basement usage. The bricks, laid in running bond, have developed a beautiful patina that changes colour: in shadow, it is deep wine-red; in sun, it turns almost chestnut. Seven belt courses of contrasting limestone surround the building from cornice to foundation complimenting the school’s seven bays. Ribbed pilasters are used to great effect on all elevations.

LINWOOD SCHOOLThe formal front entrance (left) has wide stairs leading toward double doors and sidelights under a low arch with decorative stone keystone and label. Above that, a limestone ledge and brackets sustain three narrow windows and more elaborate limestone work is crowned with the school’s name and datestone.

The school’s fenestration, over 150 windows, adds lightness and openness to the exterior. All windows have limestone lintels and sills.

At the back of the completely symmetrical school is a pair of entrances (below). Grandly carved in limestone over one door is “BOYS”, over the other “GIRLS”. Thought this conjures all manner of questions, the reason was simply logistical: boys and girls lockers were most easily accessible through the separate doors.

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Inside, the hallways are wide and bright with pilasters and beautifully restored oak throughout. The wainscoting and trim around all the blackboards is oak. The large marble sections at the entrances have recently been cleaned and refurbished. Original interior glass is etched with decorative floral designs. On the lower level, there is a large assembly room with built-in stage original to the building.

Classrooms have high ceilings and five large windows making them bright and airy. The linwoodschool1 rearpressed tin ceilings are gone; however, the cast iron railings with oak banisters remain.

From its opening in 1914, the school held elementary classes on the main floor and high school classes above. When St. James Collegiate opened in the early 1950s, the higher grades moved there.

An annex was added on the north side in 1953 and the gym in the early 60s. Though both are brick, their one-level utilitarian style is dwarfed by the mass and scale of Melville’s creation. Above is a view of the symmetrical rear elevation.

The school proudly displays an Honour Roll of former students who died in both World Wars, a venerable and appropriate tribute found in many Winnipeg schools.

In 2013 Linwood School celebrated its 100th anniversary with student reunions and nostalgic events. Watch a four minute video created for Linwood’s centenary.

There has long been a connection between Linwood School and the St James Horticultural Society. The Society has used the school for monthly meetings and flower shows since 1914.

Administered by the St James-Assiniboia School Division, today Linwood School educates 197 children (2012) from Kindergarten to Grade 5. The middle class neighbourhood around the school has been stable for so long that third and fourth generations of the same families are now attending Linwood. The school is so integrated into the community it has over 100 volunteers every year. With its stately and solid appearance, this fine old building grandly reflects the stability of the area it serves.

 PROFILE

Linwood School

Built 1913

Additions 1953, ca 1961

Materials: red brick, limestone, concrete

Style: Georgian Revival, Romanesque Revival two-storey

Architect: Alexander Melville

Current assessed value: $2,217,000

Acreage: 4.2 acres

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January 16, 2015 · 6:30 pm

My Cathedrals

SL TREES

Reid Dickie

We moved to Shoal Lake in 1957 when I was eight and I left for the city at nineteen. Those are formative years when one grows from an egocentric to sociocentric worldview, taking the role of the Other, starting to think about thinking and finally feeling like a citizen of the planet. Just before I left home, my father said that no matter where I roamed or what I accomplished in my life, I would always think of Shoal Lake as my hometown. He was right.

My cathedrals were somewhat more humble than the stone behemoths the word usually conjures. Though it was a town of 800 with five spired churches (Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Baptist, Anglican, United), my cathedrals were the movie theatre, the town hall, the high school, the ice rink, the train bridge and the spruce grove by the lake.

The only cathedral left standing today in 2015 is the grove of spruce trees that decorate a slow incline up and away from the water’s edge at the north end of the lake. They were planted in 1928 as part of the village landscaping. The trees wrap around the closest thing the lake ever had to a beach, vulnerable to the prevailing, often harsh, northwest winds. During their eighty-seven years, the trees have adopted a slight lean away from the wind.  It’s not a thick grove but an airy and light stand with sky at the top end and water at the bottom. Underfoot lies decades of brown needles thatched in slow decay.

By the 1960s the spruce were at their most verdant, early maturity brought a luscious deep green to the shore when viewed in perfect morning light. It was under these sheltering branches that many rites of passage and epiphanal moments occurred for my friends and me. Here bonding moments so serene, proving moments so intense and our  love for the whole wide world, created new beings out of us. Boundless expressions of song sang with spruce gum and lake water in the hot sizzle of the metal camp stove, our incense and laughter echoing beyond the trees into the starry night. Acoustic guitars strummed to bleeding during long rambling confessions of angst, love and guilt, inspired by the Doors’ The End. In this confessional, the trees listened patiently, ever returning each of us to sanctity, to grace.

Today the trees are past maturity; their trunks three-quarters bare of branches, the foliage now a rickety umbrella high overhead. The bare overripe spruce are easy pickings for wind; they creak now even in small breezes. Crushing windstorms from the northwest break off the old trees regularly. Yet they remain my one cathedral, still bending in the wind, becoming more majestic in their age and decline.

To walk among them now is to hear the echoes of old friend’s young voices and see them splashing in the shiny water; it is to hear the blues played on a harmonica at the edge of a prairie lake by a farm boy whose father works him like slave. During spring break-up on the lake there are a few days when tinkling needles of ice produce the sound of delicate wind chimes as they float in the cold water, playing counterpoint to the trees combing sighs from a passing breeze. When I walk among these trees today I am among friends, closer to the wisdom of age and experience that we intuited as youth but only recognize now as we grow long in the tooth.

How we worshiped with vigor and hope at that church of green timber! Confusing, hormone-befuddled days turned into evenings of comradeship, peace and caring, of understandings that curious youth bring only to each other. Spirit lived in my cathedrals then and still does today. The link we share with our past when using the local knowledge of a place and its landmarks allows us to discover Spirit in yet another form.

Even though today grass grows thick over my parent’s graves in Shoal Lake Cemetery and I have few friends left in the town and fewer reasons to return, Shoal Lake is still home in the sense of it being the repository of my growing and changing. It is where memories reside. It will always be home to the cathedrals that played significant roles in my youth, cathedrals that time and progress have taken away. When I left Shoal Lake, I forfeited the right to own my cathedrals anywhere but in memory. As it should be.

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Filed under Ancient Wisdom, Churches, Hope

Inside the Mind of a 15-Year-Old Beatlemaniac

REID ages 14 to 17 1963 to 1967

Reid Dickie

That would be me (1964 school picture above).

To establish my credibility as a Beatlemaniac I offer as evidence this envelop from 1965.

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In the summer of 1964, to appeal to the newly-defined generation who were becoming eager, horny teenagers, CBC-TV ran a summer music series called Let’s Go. Produced in Vancouver, the show featured a variety of good local musicians. In the fall it was added to the CBC CHADschedule as a daily after-school show called Music Hop. The novelty was the half-hour show came from a different city every day: Monday from Vancouver, Tuesday Winnipeg, Wednesday Toronto, Thursday Montreal and Friday Halifax. A house band and other local musicians performed hits of the day along with some original material. The Guess Who were the Winnipeg house band here, the host was Chad Allen (above).

In the fall of 1964 Let’s Go from Vancouver (the west coast show kept the original series name) ran a Flip Your Wig contest. Beatlemania was still growing daily so the audience was asked to draw a Beatles wig on a famous person, add a caption and send it in. Being a little overachiever, I thought why stop at just one picture, why not make a book!  Thus was born, perhaps rendered would be better, My Sick Beatle Book. In this case, please use the Mad Magazine definition of sick.

I clipped 20 pictures from the newspaper, added crude Beatles wigs with a thick black felt marker, pasted them in a twenty page booklet I made, thought up witty (for a 15-year-old) captions for each picture and submitted it.

I bound the book with a glue that still holds it firmly together 50 years later easily surviving the scanning process. I jotted the captions in pen dispatching with Elvis immediately and giving the centre spread to the Dave Clark Five since they were The Beatles main “rivals” at the time. The rest are assorted politicians, sports figures and so on. This is from the time when the politically-correct nanny state was newly under construction. My captions and picture choice reflect the era.

Since The Beatles and their fans were the brunt of continuous jokes from adults, my book had a bit of a revenge aspect. Beatlizing these old people was very satisfying for me, doubly CBC REDso when, despite the crudeness of the book, the judges saw my intent and were amused.

Imagine my delight when Red Robinson (right) announced I’d won the contest and would receive a complete Beatles library. Happy prairie boy! A few days later I received the package via Air Mail. There were, in fact, five albums, not four as the transfer slip says: Beatlemania: With the Beatles, Twist & Shout, Long Tall Sally, Hard Day’s Night and Something New along with ten Beatles 45s.

In 1964 Capitol Records played catch-up with the British releases which began in early 1963. The North American permutations of Beatles albums haphazardly chopped up the track lists, added a B-side or two resulting in “new” Beatles product. Six albums, including The Beatles Story, were released here in 1964.

With slight embarrassment for my 15-year-old self, I offer, in its entirety, My Sick Beatle Book followed by the letter and the transfer slip from CBC. Some pictures are at odd angles. I’m still not much of a book designer.

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Thank you and good night.

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Filed under 1960s, Humour, Music

Penis Fun #5

From The Meaning of Life, Eric Idle performs his tribute to custard launchers the world over. Click the pic for The Penis Song.

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Previous Penis Fun One  Two  Three  Four

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Achieving Geezerhood – Reid’s 2014 Year-End Review

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Reid Dickie

Geezerhood

Somehow life managed to transport me to age 65 this year placing me firmly in the category of senior citizen. Of course, I resist that as much as possible while still getting the geezer discounts and pensions that accrue to me. Turns out, for me, 65 is the new 45. I originally told friends 65 is the new 40 then I started comparing myself to some 40-year-olds I know and realized I needed to adjust my figures.

It’s become obvious from The Long View that there are at least two kinds of age: the number of years I’m around which is relevant to the system as my part of the herd, and age as a state of awareness which is relevant to me as an individual and the growth I accomplish in this life. Both need to be honoured.

The Distance

The Mighty Avenger accompanied/enabled me on my 14,000 kms of summer travel, alas, for the final time. Dodge has decided to discontinue making Avengers so my moving persona will be overhauled next year when it comes time for Mother Enterprise to birth me a new vehicle. I will miss the Avenger. Over the past five summers I’ve driven ten different Avengers, all basically the same. Sitting in the car was as familiar as sitting in my living room. The performance was consistent car to car, year to year, as was the service I received at Enterprise.

Personal Creative

My large video project The Lonesomes: 16 Prairie Stories wound up on YouTube afterSnapshot 1 (23-05-2013 5-59 PM) many unsuccessful attempts at getting it into film festivals. YouTube has the individual stories plus the entire work. Along with the sixteen short videos, I posted the script and the backstory for each story on my blog. This was the year I went after free wild samples big time, downloading hours of free images and sounds from sites like freesound.org and archive.org. This provided the basic content for a few dozen short videos which I call absurd found art.  One example I’m especially fond of is called The Curve. I downloaded a short black and white video clip of a curve in a road and added the muffled sound of people walking. I decribed ten spontaneous stories of events that happened at this curve. The parameters of the descriptions were easy: each had to contain a number. I combined  the stories with the video and an hour later had my piece. It needed an intro. The images of the red curtain rising and falling is perfectly absurd. Click the picture below to watch The Curve. It’s 3:45 long. Snapshot 1 (22-12-2014 1-46 PM) Incorporating found material I created four short videos using my flash fiction stories as narratives. Click the pics to watch. Snapshot 1 (22-12-2014 10-40 PM)        Itinerary Item  1:35     Snapshot 1 (29-03-2014 9-28 PM)    Grass of the Apocalypse   1:17     Snapshot 2 (22-05-2014 6-55 PM)    I Am Aspen Smoke  4:38     Snapshot 1 (22-12-2014 10-54 PM)    God is At Home/Atomic Prayer  4:53     Along with my found art and other video documentations this year, I have been compelled by The Muse to write my coming-of-age in a small town in the 1960s novel, now almost complete. The working title is Some Stuff. My hometown provides the physical layout for the town in the story. None of the characters, including mine, bears much resemblance to anyone in particular. Instead the characters are composites of aspects and traits I’ve noticed over my life. I’ve never embarked on a project this intense or complex. It requires me to spend five to eight hours a day writing. Backed up with a solid outline, the thing starts to write itself after awhile. Characters become overly familiar and take on a life of their own. I see them at the coffee shop or grocery store. A couple of characters have suggested their own destiny to me, some quibble about a line of dialogue I have written for them, other characters will join in the debate. It’s a long conversation that goes on in my head which I empty out daily, spattering it across the pages. No matter how good or bad a character is, I am responsible for every one of them; they live and die by my key strokes. Despite that, I find the characters sometimes use me as their conduit to get the words on the page. I just type what they tell me to.

Heritage

Criddle/Vane house

CRIDDLE HOUSE 001 Over the past five years I’ve devoted an enormous amount of energy and time studying the Criddle/Vane family and their incredible story of survival as pioneers on the Canadian plains. Their reasonably intact homestead has been a constant source of inspiration as I followed their story with the intent of it becoming a screenplay one day. Regular readers of this blog know the homestead is a favourite haunt of mine. FLOOD JULY 2 to 4 2014 pics 002I visited the homestead on Monday, June 23 with my cousin Vonda who had never been there before. The house had recently been boarded up (above) so no access inside was available. I’ve felt for some time this would be an excellent idea, at least to protect it somehow. Two days later on Wednesday June 25 arsonists burned the 120 year old Criddle/Vane house to the ground. The crime remains unsolved. The sign on the left is located about three miles south of the turn-off to the Criddle/Vane homestead. Although the house is gone, documentation of it exists in several ways. One of them is my 3:55 video tour of both floors of the interior of the house which I shot in 2013. I haven’t returned to the homestead this year. I can’t really bring myself to see it without the eight-bedroom house towering over the remains of the family’s history, the enormous amount of wood the place required and the glories and tragedies the house contained. It makes me angry that more protection wasn’t given to the place; the threats to it were real and obvious. Another effect of the loss has been a dulling of my interest in heritage. Over the years my endeavors have been quite scatter-gun all over the province, dabbling in this and that. Moving past that I decided to focus my heritage energies on one location and try to make a difference there.

Carberry

Deciding where to focus my energy and intent was quite easy. I just picked the place with the best heritage stuff outside of Winnipeg – Carberry. I’d helped promote the first Carberry Heritage Festival in 2013 by writing a media release for them and documenting the festival. In 2014 I was much more involved in the festival, attending planning meetings and promoting the event. A family emergency prevented me from attending the 2014 festival but it was deemed a success by organizers and the next festival is August 7 and 8, 2015. Check out the festival website. It wasn’t just the heritage buildings and unique history that attracted me to Carberry, it was and still is the people. I’ve met some of the nicest, most sincere people of my life in Carberry. When I go there I am reminded of growing up in Shoal Lake – the leisurely pace of life, the friendliness of people even to strangers, the lack of most of the crappy things about urban life and the sound and vibration of trains going through town. Carberry heritage people are very appreciative of my contributions. In addition to building the festival website, this year I also wrote and designed a walking tour book of Carberry that features 45 heritage places. I’m still working on some design features for the book but hope to have it available for the summer of 2015. Possibly the Carberry town council will help fund the book then the local heritage organizations can sell it as a fund raiser. I’ll keep you posted.

Winnipeg’s Grand Old Schools

One of my heritage interests has always been Winnipeg’s grand old schools, the ones built in the first half of the 20th century. Over a decade ago I did a freelance series for the Winnipeg Free Press on the schools, even writing and designing a book on the subject that no one wanted to publish. This year I updated the school features and posted them on my EARL GREY 1Schools page. Earl Grey School (left) was my alma mater for the series which I explain in the article. The other schools already posted are Isbister/Adult Education Centre, Ecole Provencher, Luxton, La Verendrye and Laura Secord. I am posting them in chronological order by the year they were built. I expect to post six to eight school features a year. In addition to the old schools that still stand, I feature ten schools that have been demolished with pictures and descriptions. Along with posts on Winnipeg schools, the Schools page has articles on many rural schools, architect J. B. Mitchell, spiral fire escapes, live-in custodian suites in schools, William Sisler, the first junior high school and much more. I had a teacher mom and I have posted her Grade 11 exams from 1930 along with the rules of conduct teachers of the era were expected to follow. Coming soon is a feature on some of the teaching materials Mom used in the 1930s when she taught in rural Manitoba.

Favourite Spots

Besides Carberry and the nearby Camp Hughes, two of my favourite spots this year have been Beaudry Park and Alexander Ridge Park. Beaudry is a small provincial park on the bend of the Assiniboine with some hiking trails and picnic areas. It sports a bit of original tall grass prairie. Situated just west of Headingley, the park is perfect for an afternoon’s relaxation to bask in the sun or sit in the shade and work on some details of my novel. alex 2Alexander Ridge Park (left) is halfway up the escarpment just west of Miami, Manitoba. The view of the vast lake bed below is spectacular making the 75 minute drive from Winnipeg well worth it. This year the park added a new lookout tower and a washroom. I spent many long hours working out details of the book at the park. I took a couple of old buddies to enjoy the view. Afterward a drive up onto the top of the escarpment wending my way back to the city.

Culturebound

Movies

I have a short list of artists of all stripes with whom I will gladly go wherever they want to take me. Musically Tom Waits is on my list, cinematically Federico Fellini and fully completely Dali. Obviously I have tendencies toward the surreal. I miss Fellini’s fantastic visions and not having a new Fellini film to look forward to. To remedy that I seek out filmmakers with similar artistic motives and motifs finding two this year. I have already posted about The Color of Pomegranates (1968), a surrealistic telling of thecolor pomogranates life of Armenian poet Sayat Nova by Russian director Sergei Parajanov. Released the year before Fellini’s Satyricon, the film creates similar trance-like imagery. The image on the right is from the film. This year I discovered a more recent film The Great Beauty (La Grande Bellezza, 2013) that celebrates Rome as enthusiastically and humourously as Fellini’s portrait of the great 3city in Roma (1972). Well-known and well-loved writer Jep Gambardella, handsomely portrayed by Toni Servillo (left), has just turned 65 and attends party after party in his honour between which he reminisces about his life in Rome and his love affairs while interviewing a parade of odd characters for a book. Director Paolo Sorrentino, who also wrote the screenplay, often goes full homage to Fellini as in the early scene with the nun on a ladder half obscured by a lemon tree followed by a murmuration of black birds across a chem trail. At the 37 minute point there is a scene in a hallway of two men grieving for the same dead woman that is breath-taking! Modern Rome and Old Rome mesh in delightful ways: Jep’s apartment looks out onto thegreat 1 Colosseum and a performance artist does her bizarre act at the ancient Roman aqueduct. Jep’s friend Stefano has a case that contains the keys to Rome’s most beautiful buildings so we accompany them on a long nighttime jaunt through empty museums, palaces, promenades and incredibly ornate rooms, filmed with a definite shout-out to Fellini’s brothel scene in Satyricon. The sources of humour in The Great Beauty are the same as Fellini’s: bureaucracy, politicians, sexuality, religion. Jep interviews a 104-year- great 4old saint (her feet don’t touch the floor) whose minder says the most outrageous things about her. At Jep’s dinner party in the saint’s honour, a flock of flamingos show up on his balcony (above) followed by the saint’s odd reaction. The Great Beauty won the Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film in 2014. If you like witnessing unlikely things you’ve never seen before, The Great Beauty provides two hours and twenty minutes of it, every moment striking and unusual. It’s not for everyone but it could be for you. Netflix has it in Italian with English subtitles. Watch the trailer. Other new movies I enjoyed included St. Vincent, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Guardians of the Galaxy (yes, I admit it!), Gone Girl, On the Road and The Hobbit. I’ve just come from seeing The Hobbit in 3-D D-Box. D-Box is where the seat moves and rumbles coordinated with the screen action. It added four bucks to my ticket price but nothing to the movie, immediately becoming more distracting than enhancing. The only time D-Box gave me a convincing sensation of the action was when people rode horses. The Hobbit was terrific fun. Martin Freeman has the perfect Hobbit face. birdmanTwo movies I especially enjoyed mastered very specific cinematic techniques to tell their well-written stories. Birdman (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) has Michael Keaton (left) as a washed-up movie superhero trying to make a credible comeback on Broadway. Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone and the rest of the cast are marvelous as is the script. The entire movie appears to be one long take, i.e. one uninterrupted shot with no editing. Credit and, hopefully, some awards should go to cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki for the seamlessness of the movie. The stylish technique created a floating sensation for me that lasted the whole film. If you missed its first run, see it during its Oscar run in theatres. Birdman trailer. Locke takes place entirely inside a car at night and the only actor we see is the driver. That might sound tedious but write a well-oiled script that uses modern telephone technology in a new and inventive fashion to tell the story then hire one of today’s best, thoughlocke 1 somewhat unknown, actors and the result is riveting entertainment. British writer/director Steven Knight (he created TV show Who Wants to be a Millionaire?) is responsible for the story and the vision and actor Tom Hardy (above) is the driver. The car never stops so the film unfolds virtually in real time. Hardy says near the beginning he’s ninety minutes away from London and he arrives almost exactly ninety minutes later. Considering he has only his chest and above to act with as he talks to various people on his hands-free car phone, Hardy easily overcomes the limitation and makes the role utterly convincing. During the shoot, Hardy caught a head cold which is incorporated into the drive as one more way his life is unraveling. Tom Hardy is under-appreciated even though he’s been in Inception, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Lawless (amazing role) and The Dark Knight Rises. Next summer he is Mad Max. Maybe then he’ll get the recognition his talent merits. Watch Locke trailer.

TV Series

sherlock-holmes-450794Thanks to Netflix I watched the British TV series Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch as the title character and Martin Freeman as Watson (left). This is Sherlock for the 21st century and it’s a hoot with three seasons done and a fourth on the way. Its fun trailer. A fascinating series called Rectify with Aden Young as a newly released prisoner returning to his hometown has two seasons under its belt and returns in the spring. Netflix also has Lie To Me, one of the last series Linda and I watched together. Tim Roth reads facial expressions and body language to determine who’s lying and who isn’t. Educational and fun.

Podcast

National Public Radio in the U.S. produced a 12-part podcast called Serial that revisits a real 15 year old murder by interviewing all the principals and seeking out new information on the case. Beautifully written and voiced by Sarah Koenig with very high production values I highly recommend it. Serial is available here.baseballs 2

Music

Late in the year I discovered a German throwback band called the Baseballs (right) who capture the genre’s brash fun. Their original songs are often pastiches of numerous hits from the 1950s and 60s. They also rockabilly up some modern songs. On the player below hear the Baseballs jumped up versions of Leona Lewis’s Bleeding Love, Alicia Keys’ No One and Robbie Williams’ Angels.

Blog Life

2014 at readreidread.com was a very good year with almost 80,000 views from 160 countries. I created 132 posts during the year and uploaded 679 pictures to my blog. This year-end review will be my 1010th post. Here’s how my blogging life went month by month.

January

EARL GREY 1I started the old schools series with Earl Grey School (left) in all its glory. I posted an article from elsewhere on ways to rebel in the Matrix and added an absurd cut-up video called What He Rebels Against.

February

Though I eliminated my Fiction page because WordPress is a crappy forum for almost everything now, I posted a short fiction called Bad Men Who Love Jesus. I profiled Isbister School now the Adult Education Centre and offered a feature on the 1948 Reavis Report on the future of schools and education in Winnipeg.

March

Ecole Provencher was the next old school feature. This month my large video work The Snapshot 9 (06-02-2012 1-55 PM)Lonesomes: 16 Prairie Stories (right) was posted on my blog and also on my YouTube channel. You can read the scripts and backstory here and watch the video here. I posted on movies about the Beats made in the 21st century.

April

We had spring flooding in Manitoba this year that caused Spruce Woods Park to be closed for a while. I did three on-site reports. The next old school is Luxton in Winnipeg’s North End. I documented the ten years of my radio career with pictures and charts in a post called Read Reid Radio.

May

I reported on my first Spirit Sands hike of the year, my train trip to Dauphin and the awakening of the garter snakes at Narcisse in a post called Snakes Without Ladders. I re-reported on Kevin Richardson and the lions shot with a GoPro camera. An amazing story!

June

I reported on my visit to the Criddle/Vane homestead discovering the house had been sealed off (left). Two daysCRIDDLE HOUSE 001 later the house was burned to the ground by arsonists. I posted a short fiction piece called Watching the River Flow, a life-changing conversation between a husband and wife

July

More flooding at Spruce Woods Park with on-the-spot video and pictures. The Cooks Creek Medieval Festival was held this year and I have a full report plus video. I helped promote the Carberry Heritage Festival this year and posted often about it.

August

A major attraction at the Medieval Festival was the Prairie Caravan Tribal Belly Dancers. ISnapshot 4 (17-08-2014 12-46 PM) offer some background on the troupe and video (right) of one of their festival dances. The heritage festival in Carberry was a success prompting a third year. Check out the Carberry Heritage Festival website for the latest information. More short fiction What Ever Happened To the Squareaway ChildrenGrindel, Cheyenne, Colloquia.

September

An offshoot of my rooting around for found footage online I created a daily short video series called The Good Old Days which started last month and accounted for the rest of my posts this month. See two samples: Five-horse, one man swather and stooker :55 and Cigarettes, Oh Boy 1:18

October

I celebrated John Cleese’s birthday, offered a new short video called Tesla As a Boy. I did a CKY JUNE 64scan0002feature on a 1960s radio contest where CKY (left) tried to get a town to change its name to Seekaywye. I report on Marshall McLuhan’s 1977 visit to Brandon. La Verendrye School is next in the schools series and a new found video Guitar Concerto.

November

I posted the feature on Birtle Indian Residential School which I shot in June when my  friend Mark and I went for a drive in western Manitoba. I created two more found videos – Just This and Oasis in Space which uses the sound poetry of Kurt Schwitters as its audio. I found some TV commercials Federico Fellini produced in the late 1960s including one for Campari. Five versions of one song – The Chokin’ Kind – rounded out the month.

December

I kicked off the month with a feature on Winnipeg 1910 to 1919 which tied into Laura Secord School. I found some lovely old calendar art from the 1920s which got me curious about calendar art in general. On the 124th anniversary of his death I posted two shortFAM MOM TEACH0009 fictions about Sitting Bull with an added bit of film this year. Then I started the 12 Days of Christmas – a daily look at one of Carberry’s wonderful heritage buildings. The series was very popular. Party hats (right) from the 1930s was a timely post. Over the Christmas holidays, due to hundreds of Facebook links, my post on the Vickers Viscount airplane in Garland from 2013 generated thousands of views giving my blog its best day ever and second best month ever.

Ezra

I’ll give the last picture and the last word to my namesake Ezra Reid Scholl who’s just turned two. The little guy enriches my life beyond measure. I revel in watching him grow and change and learn. Among the many things Ezra has taught me so far is there is no better reason to make a silly fool of yourself if it makes a two-year-old laugh. This picture is Ezra at 17 months. Below that is a one-minute video mash-up I did of Ezra being extra cute. Click the pic. Happy New Year!

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Snapshot 1 (02-10-2014 9-53 PM)

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Filed under Architecture, Art, Blog Life, Carberry, Education, Flood, Heritage Buildings, Heritage Festival, Momentous Day, Museum, Music, Schools, The Lonesomes, Year-End Review 2014