Friday, December 25, 2009

Gallery No. 2: Cats (Californian)

In the spirit of Christmas, I wanted to give my readers a small gift--my second gallery! 'Tis the season, they do say. In case you were not aware, I am writing from San Diego, California right now, as I have returned to the place of my birth to spend the holidays with family. I'm currently staying at my aunt & uncle's place, along with their FIVE CATS: Maurice, Moo Shu, Buddy, Sofie and Chloe (listed in the order from cat I like the best to cat I like the least).

I wanted to share some pictures of these felines that have been my closest friends the past five days. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

First, a mini-gallery to Maurice, the 23 pound gorgeous orange tabby.

You can gain an idea of how large Maurice is by comparing his head to Devin's.

Look at this model.

Maurice likes to go outside for brief moments so he can eat as much grass as possible. He usually throws it up in the next few minutes, but doesn't he look radiant in the sunshine?

Maurice and I surfing the web together.

Maurice is simply beautiful, like a tamed tiger that sleeps in your bed and lets you pet his belly, yet still doesn't respond to his name.

Moving on to my next favorite cat: Moo Shu.

Moo Shu is the oldest cat in the house, the king cat that reigns supreme. He's a slightly cross-eyed, ancient Siamese cat whose meows are so loud they can wake you up at night. The past 3 nights, in fact. In his old age, he has gained the wisdom to actually open up the cabinet drawer where his treats are stored and then paw at the treats until you give him one. He is aging with both dignity and sass.

Moo Shu is Devin's cat of choice in this house.

BUDDY! Buddy used to be the heaviest cat in the house, but has now slimmed down to a lithe 19 pounds. Buddy doesn't like to leave the couch very much and is maybe the sweetest cat in the house. He's ready to give his love, if you're ready to receive it.

Devin and Buddy. I should also mention that Buddy also has the most sensitive stomach in the house and often throws up indoors. A piece of gossip: Buddy also loses it if he gets his paws on catnip.

This little bag of fur is Sofie. Sofie is a rescue cat that used to be bald and now she has the softest, most beautiful fur. She's kinda prissy and has very short legs.

Here's Sofie watching Maurice eat.

And here's the final cat of the bunch: Chloe. I don't have many pictures of Chloe because she is my least favorite. There's nothing really wrong with her; she just doesn't have the model-esque looks of Maurice, the wisdom of Moo Shu or the sweetness of Buddy. She also pees on everything in the house. When I asked my Uncle Mike which cat he'd get rid of, if he absolutely had to, he replied without missing a beat "Chloe." But rest assured, Chloe is very loved and is a happy cat.

Here's Chloe on a box, because CATS LOVE BOXES.

See? They all clamored to sit on this box.

Guess who won?


A very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the crew at Samantha Clark Cuts it Out!

I thank you all for your love, online and off. In the new year, I hope you will all buy more of my artwork.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


December 9th, 2009, was a very important date for me. It marked the one-year anniversary of my first letter to Great Grains. Who knew so much could happen in a year? It was a year of new friendship (me, Kim, Collies), a year of marketing (my Canadian Great Grains shipping program has at least 9 non-active participants), and ultimately, a year of disappointment (no Great Grains for me or Canada).

In case you haven't been following my year-long quest with Post Cereal, I've been involved in a letter writing campaign with Post to convince them to begin shipping my favorite cereal, Great Grains, to Canada. Or at least to me. I've sent 4 letters, each with helpful ideas and urgings to begin a Canadian Great Grains shipping program (see my original post earlier in my blog for actual letters). While I have yet to receive a single box of cereal, I haven't deemed it a total failure, as I've made some friends along the way.
I recently wrote to Great Grains again to wish them a happy Halloween, receive a status update, etc. It had been a few months since my last letter so we had a lot to catch up on. See my letter below:

I expected a nice, formal response from Collies as usual, but man, just when I thought I really knew Collies, my world was rocked by scandal.

Honestly, this was the last thing I expected to read. A new owner?! That really throws a kink into my plans. Part of me thinks that Collies, Kim & Co. are most likely pretty happy to be rid of me. Except they're not.

I'm currently waiting back to hear if Collies wishes to pursue our correspondence. I'm also gearing myself up to begin back at step one in a new letter writing campaign for the new owners in 2010. I think this new campaign needs to be more aggressive--which is why I'm inviting YOU, dear readers, the most intelligent people I know, to join me in my campaign. I promise if we are successful, I will share my boxes of Great Grains to everyone who has contributed (except for people in the USA; you guys have unlimited access and should really be helping to ship them to Canada).

Send me copies of your letters, your t-shirt designs, protest pics, fan-art, etc. I will proudly post them (please see my first piece of fan-art from a reader who's got it going on--the picture at the top is courtesy of the lovely Leslie U.). Got any ideas for a better campaign? I'd love to hear them.
As well, anyone care to elaborate on whether Collies is a man or woman? In my head, I picture a 30-something woman but apparently it may be a man's name. Collies in my head is also a little bit exasperated, maybe a bit of a stern taskmaster, but in a still-secretly-rooting-for-me kinda way. It's like a zen thing, you know?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Buffy: Day 16

Day 16 was a small shoot with just me, Rob and Amy (or Buffy, Xander and Willow), but it was particularly exciting because it was our first day of shooting actual DIALOGUE! We did a scene set outside of Sunnydale High (University of Toronto did a pretty nice job of subbing in).

Mood: Freezing

The day started with some location scouting and apparently a Chinese Lantern festival.

Ready for your first glance at Buffy, Xander and Willow? Dream Team!

We did some publicity photos and took a few shots to test the lighting before our rehearsals and filming.

Hey, look! We're having a perfectly normal conversation! Pretty good acting, huh?

Sunnydale High? Sure.

Rob's wardrobe as Xander consists almost entirely of polyester shirts. And strangely enough, Wardrobe found most of them in the women's section. You certainly can't tell.

It was a short scene that we shot, but it was so cold outside that I had goosebumps all over my skin. Note Zak's winter jacket, which probably kept him pretty warm against the wind. Note my bare arms, which did not. I'm sure people in California sometimes shiver and have chattering teeth while in the sunshine, right? This episode is going to be picked apart by the critics.

Nice socks, Amy!

All in all, once we got a few rehearsals out of the way, the scene went well. However, I'm slightly worried that I may be a horrible actor. I'm still surprised by how long it takes to film even the shortest scene--this one took at least 2 hours. Now we have 1 page of the script done--46 to go! We're still working on scheduling issues but hopefully the next update I have will include some Spike & Drusilla footage and some graveyard scenes. My current project is working on creating the 'Vampyr' book that's featured in all of the Buffy openings and making more tombstones (the invitation for fan-art tombstones still stands!).

So just a quick update from me; keep an eye in the media for us, I think word is starting to spread after some interviews. But don't worry, I promise that artistic integrity will remain our primary focus!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Carla and the Canadian Dairy Commission

Hello everyone! I'd like to thank you all and Samantha for letting me join her on the blogging world. It's my first time blogging so I am very excited. I hope you will accept me as a new friend.

I would like to share with some of my letters. As Samantha mentioned, I do enjoy sending letters to various companies and groups. I believe letter writing is a wonderful way to let these companies know your thoughts. Sometimes I send letters praising products. It also seems that I receive an unusually high number of defective products, though I'm not sure why, but believe me when I say that I let those companies know about it. I like to think that I am sticking up for people like us everywhere when I send a letter. I also like to send in my own sketches with letters; I've taken a few art classes back in secondary school and like to make use of my skills when I can.

Here is a letter I wrote to the Canadian Dairy Commission. I wrote this letter at a point when I was feeling quite lackluster and a bit lost in my career. I have always enjoyed milk, so naturally my mind turned to the dairy farming world. I'll let the letter do the explaining.

This is a sketch of my proposed Dairy Farm. I included this so they would know that I was serious about becoming a dairy farmer, not just one of those people who pretend to be interested just for the perks.

To my delight, I received a reply back from the Canadian Dairy Commission! It was a truly lovely letter.

After reading it, I felt quite inspired. Chantal liked my dairy farm and wanted me to be a dairy farmer like her! However, events transpired in the following months which left me feeling defeated and, I hate to say it, a bit down on dairy. I felt lost, so I reached out to Chantal again, hoping she could brighten my thoughts like she did last time.

I don't know if my letter was lost in the mail or if perhaps Chantal was promoted to a different department, but I still haven't received a reply back. It'd be easy to be mad at Chantal or take out my hurt on the Canadian Dairy Commission, but I couldn't do that. Chantal is a lovely person who loves dairy, so I can't wish her anything but the best.

I'm happy to report that I am back in an office job (I don't wish to disclose many more details for fear of history repeating!) and my lactose intolerance seems to have cleared up. I am back to drinking milk and have a general appreciation for my life. Though sometimes my mind does still wander to what could have been with my dairy farm, at least I know that the Canadian Dairy Commisison is (almost) always there for me.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Buffy: Day 8

The documentation of the making of Buffy continues with Day 8 of work!

Mood: Excited, with a touch of nerves.

I met with the majority of the cast and we continued our work on the opening credits. It was a great day, though long and cold. It was the first time that the actors playing Xander and Willow and I were all together (I've decided to proceed with using actors instead of waiting for the original cast to reply; if needed, we will do re-shoots using original members). I'm happy to report that I think the three of us definitely have the chemistry needed to portray such close friends. Though I didn't manage to grab any pictures with my friend Amy (playing Willow) or the 3 of us together, I'll be sure to post some next time, along with some fun costume photos. Dressing for the 90s is an awesome task; Velvet has a SuperGirl baby-tee that I'm dying to wear.

We filmed quite a bit of action shots for the montage; including a sword-wielding scene in the park, Buffy swinging on a soccer goalpost and kicking a demon, Willow & Xander exploring an attic (ahem, crypt) and a graveyard candlelit demon-raising. You know, an entirely average day.

Let's check it out!

Here we are between shots. Velvet's inspecting my hair and makeup while Jordan and Zak set up for the next take.

Your first look at Giles: Andrew (standing in until we hear from Anthony Stewart-Head) and I begin to develop our Watcher/Slayer relationship. Here Andrew instructs me on a move while I learn. Andrew's wearing the "casual Giles" sweater.

Jordan was again our go-to demon for the shoot. Velvet made him into a gray-faced suit demon (as a loosely based homage to the demons in Buffy "Hush"). I then promptly kicked him in the chest and pushed him into the ground. Sorry Jordan; life of a demon. Here he is relaxing between takes.

Watcher/Slayer/Red Velour Pants

These are some shots from the night-time action scene, which included us huddled around a gravestone chanting and running through the thick smoke (fog machine) on our way to stake something (or someone...).

Xander, Giles and Buffy, just chilling before heading to the Bronze. (Fun fact: it was actually very cold this night, but you could never tell it by looking at us--that's called acting).


You should probably also know that we filmed these scenes (and last week's) in my backyard, which opens up to an entire row of condo windows. So far we've only witnessed two (strangely human-like) cats at a window watching us film, but I'm guessing that lots of neighbors are raising their eyebrows at us chanting Latin over a makeshift tombstone, holding a cat up to the heavens in sacrifice and running at full speed while clutching wooden stakes (see below).

Little does Velvet know the grave peril she's in. I like to routinely test my cast/crew by doing random stakings in order to weed out any vampire infiltrations. Velvet passed (this time).

This action sequence took about 20 minutes to film. It involved me throwing both Jordan and Zak into piles of leaves after fending off attacks from them. Don't worry, both of them ended up battered and bruised. This scene also marked Velvet's first time filming in the project. I think she did a great job--it was a hard scene with lots of angles and fast-paced action. Look for it in the opening! It's got her personal touches all over it.

So that's the latest batch of pictures (thanks again to Heather Trollope, our set photographer) chronicling the adventures of our Buffy episode. It's been great fun so far, but I'm realizing that scheduling is going to be an issue. As with any large cast, gathering people together for rehearsals/shootings is becoming quite difficult. I would love to film for a week straight and finish it before January, but I don't think it will be possible. Our "Sunnydale" may have to include lots of snow and winter coats. We still haven't had a full cast read-through, which worries me a bit. However, we're filming again this weekend and will hopefully see our first glimpses of Drusilla and Cordelia.

As always, stay tuned for more updates. Any thoughts or suggestions? I wanna know.

PS--My cameraman informed that the REAL Drusilla, Juliet Landeau (an apparent gothic princess), will actually be in town THIS SATURDAY, at the Silver Snail comic shop signing autographs. Hmm--is this the perfect opportunity to personally hand over her script and do a little PR magic? She's charging $25 for an autograph, so it seems like she means business. Perhaps I'll stop by if I can work up the nerve, and cash. She knows she'd be working pro-bono for me, but my offer of 2 stacks of magazines still stands. We'll see if she accepts.

Introducing Carla

Hello everyone; I just wanted to give you a heads-up that my dear friend Carla K. Thasman will be joining me on some posts in the near future. Since I'm very busy with Buffy, Carla will help to keep the posts coming at a meteoric rate.

I've known Carla for many years and consider her both a friend and a teacher. Carla enjoys writing letters to various companies, and encouraged me to do the same. Carla goes beyond little cereal complaints and writes about subjects that really matter, like soups, squash, Hilary Swank, etc. She's the real master.

I hope you'll give her a warm welcome, as you have given to me.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Buffy: Day One

As you all know from your diligent readings of my blog, work has begun on filming the episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that I wrote. I have reached out and contacted the cast about reprising their roles and am still awaiting replies. I imagine that it may take awhile to go through all of the red tape and make arrangements with agents, publicists, etc., so I have decided to begin the filming myself.

This past Sunday, my crew and I began work on Buffy: "Slays Come Undone." I have decided to document the entire journey of creating this episode.

So here we are: Buffy Day One. Mood? Optimistic.

As Giles would say, every good project must begin with the proper research.

Our Props Master displays some of his finery, while I begin character exercises to get into the mind of Buffy Summers.

We will be requiring extensive stage combat training. Here, my friend Robert (understudy for role of "Spike" for James Marsters) displays the incorrect way to hold a stake. I believe my stake handling could kill any vampire.

I consider myself truly lucky to have a crew willing to go the extra length for a shot. A lot of times people forget the artistry behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and that's really a shame. But it's not the case here.

Here we have a demon's ritual sacrifice of a cat. I like to give my actors a lot of freedom for improv and creativity. It was in this scene that Jordan uttered the line "I OFFER THIS SACRIFICE TO YOU, LORD QUANTUS!" When we asked him who Lord Quantus was, he said that he didn't know. Beautiful shot, beautiful line.

Our Art Director and Cinematographer, working with the elements while Jordan performs his yoga breathing exercises.

Our makeup team worked wonders--Jordan was transformed into a half-buried demon corpse.

For obvious liability issues, the producers wanted me to use a stunt double for most of my work. However, I really prefer doing my own stunts; I find my performance is just that much more authentic and real that way.

Again, my own stunt work.

I really have to give props to the make-up and wardrobe teams. When I asked for Zak to be made into a Cryulean demon, they knew exactly the look I was going for and nailed it. Amazing work.

As you can imagine, this is the beginning of a lot of stake work we'll be doing. This particular shot took at least 6 takes to really get the proper angles and form. When Sarah Michelle Gellar responds to my letter, I can now tell her I can completely relate to the stress she felt as Buffy. It's hard work (but enjoyable).

So Buffy Day One is complete, and Day Two is approaching this Sunday. I'll be sure to keep this blog updated with our progress. STAY TUNED!

*Photo credits and much appreciation go to the talented Heather Trollope.