Sunday, June 28, 2009



Last Friday, I was lucky enough to catch a free showing of Sharkwater at the Park Theater, presented by the Vancouver Aquarium.

While it has been a very movie-centic week (Sharkwater, Transformers 2, Night at the Museum 2, and a Ghostbusters double feature in theaters), I haven't neglected the prehistoric side of life! ART Evolved's third Gallery - Pterosaurs - is opening up on July 1st! Canada Day! My azhdarchid piece is almost finished. Send your submission to Anyway, sharks...

When I was seven, I watched a taped-off-the-tv VHS copy of Jaws (the swearing was edited out by just cutting the sound!) This and the subsequent 99 viewings changed my life. Most people end up scared of the water after seeing Jaws, but me, I became drawn to the sea and to the great beasts within. I fell in love with sharks, so I had to learn to dive.

Sadly, I seem to be unique in my response. What Jaws and the subsequent media frenzy did was label sharks as ugly, mindless, savage, killing machines, unchanged for millions of years, who hunt and kill humans. People became terrified of the animals and felt no remorse for killing them. This shark apathy allowed the explosion of shark-finning operations. Over 100 million sharks were, and are still killed annually, with fins fetching over $300 each!

And if you will allow me to continue ranting, once the fins have been cut off the shark, it is thrown back into the water, still alive and unable to swim. It either dies of blood-loss or drowns once it's on the bottom and cannot move forward. All this just to make soup.

But no one cares because they are sharks.

No one except Rob Stewart.

Stewart is a Canadian film-maker with a passion and a love for sharks. He made the 2007 documentary Sharkwater in the effort to stop shark-finning in Costa Rica and the Galapagos Islands. Being one year younger than me and a Canadian with a passion for film and sharks, I feel a certain connection with him. His movie is an amazing and exciting tale of the beauty of sharks.

Please see this movie if you haven't already. Read and learn about sharks. Don't eat at restaurants that serve shark-fin soup. Sign petitions calling for a stop to shark-finning. Support campaigns to save sharks at SaveTheBlue. See them in aquariums.

Should we blame Jaws for the world's terror and apathy towards sharks? Are there any redeeming features?

Sharkwater and Jaws are great films, each an opposing view of a beautiful and impressive creature. The shark.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Review of Transformers: Rise of the...Ugh. I can't go on. It's a terrible film.

Dear Micheal Bay,
Why? Oh my gosh, why? Why didn't you learn from the first one?

I have just returned home after the midnight screening of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and I am just so disappointed. Unlike the first Transformers movie - which was silly but still fun and exciting - this one is silly, crude, dull, confusing, and offensive.

I don't even know where to begin. Before the film started, my friend and I made a list of everything we didn't want to see from the first movie: less comedy, no stupid robots and robot personalities, no complex story, more robot fighting, more cool. None of what we wanted happened. The story was just as complicated and confusing as the first one, but this time, I didn't care.

First off: Language, Autobots! I couldn't believe the amount of foul language uttered by not only the humans in the film, but also by the robots! Why does Bay/Spielberg/Writers have to give the robots such ridiculous personalities and dialog? And why all the sexual and crude humour? No one was laughing. I really miss the cartoon.

At one point, Optimus Prime - defender of the good and moral safe-guardian of life - actually says, "We should kill them." And then sticks a glowing metal sword through a defeated Decepticon's skull. Kill them!?! There is an unconscionable amount of death and gruesome dismemberment in this film. It feels very cold.

I am also surprised by Egypt allowing this production to film there. It portrays Egyptians as solely desert-dwelling, goat-and-chicken-raising nomads, and basically shows nothing but destruction of the glorious places in Egypt.

Speaking of offending others, there are a number of Transformers who portray offensive stereotypes. The worst being a couple of Autobots (the Twins) who seem to be derogatory black stereotypes, including gold teeth, the inability to read, and ..ugh.. horrible slang speech.

And what of the women? I was happy to hear the ArCee (from the cartoon) was joining the cast this time round. Sadly, she was on screen for 5 seconds and did nothing to advance the plot. There is also another female transformer in the film I won't reveal, but let's just say I was appalled and disgusted by her use. Unbelievable.

For a positive slant, the only thing I can think of is that there are one or two cool robot fights. But, as usual, Micheal Bay ruins them by getting the camera too close to the action. Shiny metal bits tumble through the frame and I can't tell who is who. After a bit, I don't care. At least no one got peed on.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen has fallen for me as the worst movie of the year. It is worse than Wolverine...and in my mind worse than Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull - which is really saying something.

Original Transformers cartoon. This is cool! Why not more of this?

Epilogue - The Good: So far, this summer, I've loved Terminator: Salvation (for it's action and story), Star Trek (for it's fun and awesomeness), and Up (for it's heart, comedy and wonderful animation). Still want to see The Hangover, Night at the Museum 2, and Ice Age 3 - hopefully these won't disappoint me as much as Transformers did.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


I just had this brainwave about a palaeontology-themed birthday cake!
Dig site cake, complete with "strata"-cake layers, grass icing, and plastic dino bones and palaeontologists. Could be Lego men with a red Lego truck.

Please somebody make this for me!

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Love Letter to Canada

What would you do if you had one day, one week, or one month to live?

This is the premise behind the new film "One Week" (now on DVD). It stars Joshua Jackson as a young man diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, who decides to motorcycle across Canada - from Toronto to Tofino. Filled with stunningly beautiful images of Canada along with Canadian icons, such as the Stanley Cup and Gord Downey of the Tragically Hip, "One Week" really is a love letter to my country.

For those palaeo-people out there, Joshua does ride through Drumheller (poses with the World's Largest Dinosaur) and stops at Dinosaur Provincial Park, where he takes a moment to equate his potential fate with that of the long-lost reptiles. The breathtaking shots of the badlands took me right back to 2002-04, when I lived amongst them...

But it was the film's central question that made me think. What would I do with a week to live? I identified greatly with Joshua's character in the film; both the same age (30), same career (teachers), similar look, similar decision making processes... I often found myself intensely emotionally invested in his choices.

But what would I do if I had one week to live?

I don't know. Until I'm faced with that situation, I don't think I could say. But I do have a few ideas...
  • Travel Canada and the USA in the circle - cross Canada, down the East Coast, through Texas, up through California, Arizona, Montana, back to Vancouver.
  • Be alone for a day. Reminisce. Write a book.
  • Spend as much time with family and friends as possible. Laugh.
...I just realized as I wrote this that my first and third point seem mutually exclusive. Hmm. Being selfish and doing what you think needs doing, or sharing your time. Can these be reconciled? Time is precious when there isn't much of it.

I guess that is one of the points of the film. For all my fellow Canadians out there and everyone else around the world, see this movie. Not just to ponder this deep moral question, but also to experience just how damn beautiful Canada is!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Everything Pterosaurs

With ART Evolved's next gallery - Pterosaurs - coming up fast (opens July 1st!), I have been reading tons and learning a lot about these wonderful animals. Anatomy, musculature, behavior, locomotion... and reproduction. Not sex per say, but birth and babies!

With the wonderful discussion on pterosaur locomotion and wing attachment here on ART Evolved and through searching reliable sites on the net, such as Pterosaur Net, I found answers to few of my questions: Did pterosaurs lay eggs? Yes, pterosaur eggs were found in 2004. Hard or soft shelled eggs? Soft, like those of turtles and crocodiles. Were parents involved in raising their babies? Maybe not, as pterosaur babies hatch with a mostly formed bones and wings, so it could walk and maybe fly upon hatching. Thus having no need for parents to bring them food, etc.

But I have a few unanswered questions that maybe a few of you in the palaeological community might help me out and make my art better!
  1. How many eggs/babies did pterosaurs have each season?
  2. How well could baby pterosaurs fly?
  3. What would baby pterosaurs eat? (I am specifically interested in azhdarchids)

As for my piece, here are quick sketches of four ideas I had. I am pulled toward the last one:

The last sketch shows an azhdarchid feeding its child. Since sketching it, I'm leaning more towards the parent NOT being so important in baby pterosaur lives. So I developed the next sketch:A mother azhdarchid leaves her nest, while three babies pop out of the vegetation covering their eggs and stretch their wings. I really love Mark Witton's quadruped interpretation of these huge pterosaurs, so this painting will be an homage to his style!

Any help making this reconstruction more accurate would be greatly appreciated.