Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things


I love traditional, hand-drawn animation and spent a very happy hour over the holidays reading this article by New Yorker film critic Richard Brody about early (meaning, silent era) animation and artists.

Brody notes from the outset that all the works he’s talking about can be viewed on YouTube, so I fired up the computer and after reading Brody’s description of an early animation in my print magazine, I’d watch it online. (If you read the article online, it links directly to the animations, because that’s how the internet works and I am not sure why I forgot that.)

I enjoyed all the clips I watched, but was especially struck by the work of brothers Max and Dave Fleischer (best known, says Brody, for creating “Popeye” and “Betty Boop” in the sound era):

Their silent “Out of the Inkwell” shorts are delirious metafictions that show Max at work in his office, drawing a small clown who finds ways to escape the sheet of paper and make mischief in the outside world.

Does reincarnation work backwards? Could I come back as a a silent-era animation artist? Because that really appeals to me.

And if you are wondering what the Cape Breton angle to this story is, it’s this: I am a Cape Bretoner who likes silent-era animation. Solid, right?


They’re hiring!

we're hiring signOn the other hand, maybe I could become the CBRM’s communications/information officer.

No, I couldn’t. I’d fall at the first hurdle:

Diplomacy in dealing with staff, Council and members of the public.

“What is climate change? Didn’t we have this conversation yesterday, councilor?”

So I’m having fun today (it’s Friday, remember) imagining that someone who’s been annoyed by the CBRM’s secrecy somehow gets the job and spends a glorious week finding things out and answering questions to the best of their ability until HR realizes their terrible mistake and has them escorted out.

They’d be fired but they’d be legendary.

Also, if they went in expecting to last a week, tops, they wouldn’t have to deal with the downsides of the job, which apparently include stress (noted twice in the description) and overtime (also mentioned twice).

They also wouldn’t have to bone up on the Freedom of Information Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPOP), mastery of which is apparently a prerequisite because there are four  FOIPOP-related duties associated with the job, one of which involves “developing orientation and training material” for staff on FOIPOP (a law that predates the CBRM, having been in force since 1993, and for which you would have thought some “orientation and training material” already existed).

The deadline for applications is Valentine’s Day. There’s a joke in there but I am too lazy to look for it.



Oval dream

John White wants to establish a one-kilometer skating oval in the New Aberdeen neighborhood of Glace Bay and I am lacing up my skates in anticipation, which could make for an awkward few months, since his best-case scenario has a temporary ice surface opening in 2021.

I know, I know: I should do my due diligence, find out how much it would cost to construct and maintain, look up figures for the skating oval in Halifax, weigh the costs against potential other uses for the money, wonder about the effects of climate change on future winter temperatures, and I’m sure I will do all of this in good time but for now, I’m just going to go with my initial response when I read about the plan in the Post which was, “Hell, yeah!”

I love the idea of a skating oval generally, but I really love the idea of a skating oval in Glace Bay, especially now that we have improved transit between there and Sydney (and I say that even though I took the bus to Glace Bay on Wednesday and ended up standing in the cold for 20 minutes at the CBU ‘transit hub’ realizing that I have become a big baby about winter). One of the things our community of communities needs is good reasons to go from one community to another and I don’t know about you, but the chance to skate on an outdoor oval would get me to Glace Bay — regularly, during a good skating season.

I like that White is thinking big. He’s not talking about the rather sad attempts at outdoor skating rinks we’ve tried in the Open Hearth Park — the temporary 100 X 60 foot ice surface in the parking lot that was opened in January 2018 but failed due to warm temperatures and rain or the “small kidney bean-shaped natural ice track” in the north end of the park that never opened and remains, to this day, a “small kidney bean-shaped” strip of concrete that will no doubt mystify future archaeologists.

Skating oval, Halifax

Skating oval, Halifax

The great thing about a skating oval is that — weather permitting — it would be available to skaters at their convenience. The oval in Halifax, except for regular maintenance and the odd hour reserved for Speed Skate NS or people learning to skate, is open to the public most of the time — morning, afternoon and evening. And admission is free.

But I’ll let White make the case for a skating oval in Glace Bay. Here’s what he says on the Facebook page he’s established to promote his idea:

Community success depends greatly on members who are actively engaged and both physically and mentally healthy. Community is about the little things like deciding how to spend your evenings or weekends, pulling together when someone falls ill, and celebrating the rich history of the area.

Relationships are built one casual interaction at a time yet they are so important to our state of mental health and overall well being. A sense of pride and ownership binds us all and [cannot] be overemphasized when talking about youthful behaviours or their hopes and dreams of remaining in their hometown.

This project could serve as an incubator for all the above offering quality family time, a place to strengthen relationships and develop new ones, a proud connection to the community and people, and a safe place to live an active lifestyle.

White has organized a public meeting to discuss the proposal. It will be held on February 5th at 7:00 pm at Ring 73, Sixth Street in the Hub. “All are welcome!”


Movie night

I was a little hard on the CBRM recreation department for their parking lot skating rink, so I’ll make up for it now by congratulating them on the Indie Film Series they are running in February.

The department has teamed with local filmmaker Nelson MacDonald to program the four-film series — including two documentaries — which will screen on consecutive Thursday evenings in a variety of locations around the CBRM.

The line-up looks like this:

DateTimeVenueAddressFilm Sponsor
February 67:00 PM to 9:00 PMHighland Arts Theatre40 Bentinck St, SydneyThe Body Remembers When the World Broke OpenCape Breton University & the Native2Native Speaker Series
February 138:00 PM to 9:30 PMYellow Dog Yoga Studio258 Commercial St, North SydneyMaison du Bonheur
February 207:00 PM to 9:00 PMOld Sydney Society173 Charlotte St, SydneyThe Twentieth Century
February 277:00 PM to 9:00 PMBoardmore PlayhouseCBU, 1250 Grand Lake Rd, SydneyJordan River Anderson, The MessengerUnama'ki College

The film series is part of the CBRM’s Taste of Winter festival and you can find more information about it on the municipal website.

Between outdoor skating and documentaries, the CBRM is really singing my song this week.

If it adds: “Draft and implement a public-by-default information policy for the municipality” to the list of the communications officer’s duties, I’ll think I’ve died and come back as a silent film-era animator.