Geeky Godmother

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Once Upon a Time...

My random nattering about all things geek, including family, friends and what I find to be fantastic and fun!

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Disney Animation Celebration

Posted on September 22, 2014 at 8:00 AM Comments comments (0)

A couple of days ago I wrote about my day spent at the Ottawa International Animation Festival. I had a wonderful time. I made a new friend. I learned a lot. I thought I was good to go. But yesterday was the last day of the Festival, and part of it was the Disney celebration at Silvercity Theatre. I decided to attend and I ended up learning a whole lot more.


The first part of the celebration was the screening and talk about Disney's newest short - Feast.



It's created and directed by one of the people who also worked on Paperman. Patrick Osborne is an animator, and now director, and he was at the Festival to give us a detailed behind the scenes talk about the entire process, from how he came up with the idea, to the very details of its creation. I learned that only about 2 years ago Disney formalized a new shorts program. They asked all their employees to pitch ideas to them. Patrick pitched three ideas and Feast (which he first titled "While We Were Eating") was his favourite. It was Disney's too. They picked him and his idea to be the first short to be made under the new program. His story is the creation of a family told through their meals. Food is the centre of the story and Winston, the dog, is in a sense the storyteller. One of my favourite things he talked about was that they brought in a food stylist to help the animators learn to make the food look appetizing. I also love that the animators got to spend a whole work day playing with two adorable dogs to learn their mannerisms.


When the screening and talk were done, we got a surprise. The director would sign posters for us.


Director Patrick Osborne signing mine for Miranda

(it's her birthday this week)


When I got my hands on the poster I realized it was no ordinary poster. It's a proper lithograph and it's even stamped with proof of authenticity. The edge is even set in for framing! Good show Disney.


And that was just the first part of the celebration. Next up was The Little Mermaid 25th Anniversary screening. The theatre was packed with Festival attendees and lots of families. It was wonderful to see so many little ones who would be seeing it on a big screen for the very first time. The creators/directors of Little Mermaid were there to introduce it. They were very pleased to see so many families there to share the experience with the next generation. After the screening there was an incredible party!


The theatre was packed with very happy wee ones.


     

Little princess Noa dressed for the occasion, and Miriam got her face painted at the party.

Both said they loved seeing The Little Mermaid on a big screen.


I asked a number of the children at the party what they thought about seeing the movie on a big screen for the very first time. Every one of them was thrilled and excited. One little cutie said she got scared when "the sea witch got big". I said it was ok because Eric got her and she agreed and smiled and said "yes, it had a happy ending".  The pure joy on her face was priceless.


    

Here's a couple of other reasons for their excitement. Balloons and Cake.

(Birthday Party Magic and Cici & Co. - a Bakery)

The Animation Festival seriously knows how to do things right.


But that's not all. I reluctantly left the party to attend the last part of my day with Disney. The finale was a selection of vintage Disney shorts ranging from the 1930s to the 1950s. It included a few rarely seen pieces like "Der Fuehrer's Face", "Reason and Emotion" and "Duck Pimples" - which definitely had Jessica Rabbit's ancestor. She was identical in shape, hair and dress to the later femme fatale. There was even one that had Goofy trying to quit smoking (he doesn't). I learned that times have changed in a big way for animation. From the styles and techniques, to the change in attitudes about what's considered appropriate to show children.


It was a fantastic day watching the work of generations of Disney animators. The imagination and the joy of creation hasn't changed, that's for sure. I have a new respect for the Disney animators and I truly hope Disney appreciates the gems in their castle.


All the best, your GG

Ottawa International Animation Festival

Posted on September 19, 2014 at 8:30 AM Comments comments (0)

I am a huge fan of animation. Most of my exposure to it has been Saturday morning cartoons watched as a child and again with my girls. I was finally introduced to Japanese animation when I met my husband Pat. But yesterday I attended my first day at the Ottawa International Animation Festival, and my mind was blown wide open.




I started my day at the Canadian Student Competition.


We got to meet these brilliant young artists before the screening.


These shorts were made by individuals and groups from colleges and universities across Canada. Every last one was very different from the next. My absolute favourites were Leggo my Preggo, Plugin, Pet, Blobby , The Hunt, and Lucy and The Limbs. We have an awful lot of talent in our country. Hurray for us!


Next thing I watched was the Animated Series for Kids Competition. These entries were from around the world and it was brilliant to see how styles, and their approach to what children may like, were so incredibly varied. They were all beautiful to watch, but my favourites were Patchwork Chicken, Regular Show, and The Christmas Log.


Regular Show - episode about an elusive laser disk player was hilarious


When I came out from this event, there was already a line up started for the next one. I quickly got a small bag of chips to eat for my lunch so I could quickly get in line. Yes, I know, horribly unhealthy, but it was well worth it to get in for Behind The Scenes: The Boxtrolls. The creators of Coraline, Paranorman and The Boxtrolls, Laika was there to talk about how it was made. So. Much. Information. It was wonderful. And best of all was that they brought two of the actual Boxtrolls used for filming... and more!


    

If I wasn't excited enough about the Boxtrolls, then he brought out the armature for Coraline!


Recognize this half face?

It's Norman, from ParaNorman.

Check out that realism and detail!


After all that excitement, I had a short time to stop for dinner. Then I was off to the Bytowne for an animated feature film from France - Tante Hilda - story of a spirited botanist fighting a Monsanto type company. Of course I had to get prepared for this one...


Mmmm... popcorn


Way back in July I talked about kids and family activities available at this year's Ottawa International Animation Festival. That was for very specific events happening for them during the Festival. However, I did see a number of small children and their families at a few of the screenings I attended yesterday, including the Animated Series for Kids Competition and Tante Hilda.


The last screening I attended was definitely not for children. This was a collection of animated shorts of the supernatural kind. Ghost stories.They were creepy, some very weird - I'm talking about yours David Lynch, but mostly well told. My absolute favourite was Mountain Ash.


What have I learned from my time at the festival so far - Animation is for all ages. I've also learned that it is a moving form of art that can be sweet or sour, but every story speaks from the animator's heart. And it's most definitely a labour of love!


There is still time to attend. There are events and screenings happening today, Saturday and Sunday. You can find out more about how to purchase tickets at their website.


All the best, your GG

Nebula Awards Showcase 2014

Posted on September 18, 2014 at 7:00 AM Comments comments (0)

When Pyr Science Fiction sent me the Nebula Awards Showcase for 2014, I wasn't sure how to go about reviewing it. This is the first time I've had the pleasure to read such a collection of award winning stories, short stories and poems.


Even the cover is Epic


While most of what I receive is fantasy and mystery, this is pure unadulterated science fiction. It was refreshing, and every story was unique and wonderful. My absolute favourite was definitely Nancy Kress's winning novella - After The Fall, Before The Fall, During The Fall.


In just 108 pages she tells the stories of two very different main characters, slowly bringing their stories together all while switching back and forth through time at breakneck speed, but keeping the story intelligible and interesting. I also appreciated that there were no holds barred when it came to relationships, raw emotions and fears, and the joys and pain of parenthood. The author truly deserved the award.


I also enjoyed learning more about the awards and seeing past winners from as far back as 1965. I bet there are a lot of people who have been buying these compilations since the first one printed in 1966. What a fantastic collection for any library.


I leave you with my favourite character/creature from this collection - Bo, the space dog, from Close Encounters by Andy Duncan. I would love my own space dog.


You can get a copy of this year's winning collection of stories through amazon.ca


All the best, your GG

Geek Hero This Week - Bunny Bennett

Posted on September 17, 2014 at 7:00 AM Comments comments (0)

This past weekend I was incredibly lucky to do social media and green room hosting at the very first Grand Canadian Steampunk Exposition.


One of the guests/headliners at the event was Steam Powered Giraffe.




Before the event, I knew of the band and I liked their music, but I didn't know much about the members themselves. On Saturday, I spent a lot of my day in the green room, so I had a chance to chat with members of the group, including Bunny Bennett whose robot alter ego is named Rabbit.



Photo by GeekShot Photography


When I first saw photos of Bunny, aka Rabbit, I was surprised that they had brought on a new member, but pleased that member was a girl. What I found out when I got to meet and talk to Bunny in person is even more awesome. Bunny is the original lead singer and never left (or came on as a new member). She is transitioning both in real life and on stage at the same time.


This video from a year ago is an interview she did about being transgender. At that time she had decided to make her robot character male.


You need Adobe Flash Player to view this content.


What a difference a year makes! Bunny's character Rabbit is now transitioning as well. Bunny Bennett talks more about it on her blog.


You need Adobe Flash Player to view this content.



She is very open about her transition and she hopes it will encourage others. She is an inspiration for a new generation trying to learn about and embrace their true selves, whatever that may be. You go Bunny!


All the best, your GG

Geek Hero This Week - Harriet Brooks

Posted on September 10, 2014 at 10:00 AM Comments comments (0)

This week I'm heading off to spend some time at a Canadian historical landmark. Because of my upcoming trip, I got thinking that this week's Geek Hero should be a historical figure. I was incredibly lucky to find the perfect person. Not only a great Canadian historical person, but a scientist, a woman, and she was born very close to where I'm headed.


Harriet Brooks

(image from the Canada Science and Technology Museum)


This brilliant lady was a pioneering nuclear physicist at a time when it was near impossible for a woman to enter such a field of learning. She graduated from McGill University in 1898 with degrees in mathematics and natural philosophy. Brooks went on to get her Masters degree in electricity and magnetism in 1901. She was the very first woman at McGill to receive a Masters degree!


She became part of a team at McGill investigating the behaviour of radium. They discovered that it decayed into a new element - radon. She was one of the first people whose experiments laid the foundation for understanding radiation and the creation of nuclear science.


She was so highly regarded that she was able to spend some time working with Marie Curie in Paris. Unfortunately, a short time afterward she was married and forced to leave her position at Barnard College in New York. It was standard university policy that married women had to resign their position.


She died in 1933 at the age of 57. Leukemia is suspected. Scientists of the time who worked with radioactive materials did not wear protective gear. Today she is very highly regarded in the world of science and she is a member of the Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame.


All the best, your GG

GG On The Road

Posted on September 9, 2014 at 8:20 AM Comments comments (4)

Hello everyone, and goodbye... Oh, don't worry, it's only temporary, and for a very good reason!


I'm off to do some incredibly fun work in a different part of Ontario. Niagara-On-The-Lake to be precise. I will be working at the largest steampunk event EVER held in Canada!



This event is part music festival, part carnival, part historical exhibition. It's being held at the wonderfully haunted Fort George. Which brings me to another incredible part of this job - I actually get to stay in the barracks (for the military history fans - the windows are gun slots). It's a joy to me to be up close and personal with a historic landmark.


I have been working for the Exposition over the past few months coordinating social media coverage. While at the event I'll be live-blogging, as well as doing what your GG does, helping where needed. Mainly making sure musicians are well cared for - fed, watered, comfortable. Did I mention music. Oh yes!


The Exposition has gotten some incredible talent from around the globe including Professor Elemental from the UK, Jardin Mecanique from Montreal, and two bands from the US - Steam Powered Giraffe and Abney Park



There are also a huge number of roaming daytime acts, a tea tent, a hot air balloon, ghost tours, Fort and children's activities, fireworks and more. The whole weekend is outrageously jam packed!


People can live vicariously through my updates via a few of my usual channels so be sure to watch for photos and more on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Tumblr.


If you'd like to join me, you can still get tickets online (until tomorrow at midnight) and then at the entrance to the Fort. If you need somewhere to stay, check the Expo accommodations page for available spaces.


All the best until I return, your GG

Geek Hero This Week - Lucy Cooke

Posted on September 3, 2014 at 7:30 AM Comments comments (0)

This week's Geek Hero is an incredible woman with a huge heart... for ugly animals.


Lucy Cooke


Lucy Cooke is a zoologist and National Geographic explorer. She is "on a one-woman crusade to show the world why some of the most unlovable animals are actually the most interesting and deserving of our attention, study, and protection.

Cooke's popular blogs, online videos, films, and TV programs bring her trademark humor and quirky storytelling style to a serious message: If we only care for the best known and best loved species, other enormously crucial parts of the web of life could vanish forever. With her unconventional attitude, she leverages the Internet to reach a new audience that more traditional wildlife programming has yet to tap." (National Geographic)


One of her favourite creatures is also one of mine - Sloths.  She even went so far as to produce and film an amazing documentary - Meet the Sloths.


Lucy at the santuary in Costa Rica


This wonderful lady loves them so much, she has even gone so far as to start a Sloth Appreciation Club - Slothville. Guess what I've just joined...


How can you resist that adorable face?

(photo by Lucy Cooke)


Hooray for Lucy Cooke and her brilliant, modern approach to teaching about all creatures on our planet, not just the beautiful ones!


All the best, your GG


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