Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"Ever Since I Met You On a Cloudy Monday...'

As the sun rose yesterday, I sat listening to the humming of air conditioning and the rhythmic thumping of a heartbeat belonging to someone I had not yet met. Everyone around me drifted in and out of sleep, but I sat awake, staring out of the fifth floor window of the delivery room.

Mom and I arrived at 3:30 AM Sunday night/Monday morning, a couple hours after Jessi was scheduled for her labor to be induced. Her mom and Kris were there and I was shocked by the laid back atmosphere as they sat and watched Cartoon Network and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.

I've never been present while anyone was in labor before. I know there would be a hefty amount of waiting involved, but I figured it wouldn't be too long of a wait since the labor was induced. I was a little off the mark with my figuring.

The morning went on without a hitch. Dad and Jessi's dad swung through on the way to work to see how things were going.

Mom sipped on tea and I sipped on hot chocolate, staring out into the foggy morning.

After 7 AM, Jessi's daughter, Hanna, and her sister, Kari, joined us. A short while later, things began to pick up.

A little before 11:00, Jessi asked us to leave the room so the doctor could check and make sure everything was going smoothly. We grabbed our stuff and Hanna, Kari, Mom, and I headed to the waiting room.

The girls played their Nintendo DS games, I played around on my computer, and time passed. At 12:30, Kris slid through the doors to tell us "it's go time." Mom kissed him and wished him luck and he disappeared behind the doors.

We waited, all of us nervous and excited. Hanna spoke of the butterflies that had taken up residence in her stomach since the night before.

Just before 1:00 PM, Jessi's mom, Tina, burst into the waiting room, digital camera in hand, and showed us the first picture of baby Matthew. He arrived at 12:54 PM on November 26th, 2007. It had happened, everything went well, and he was here.
The girls bounced off the walls, talking about how cute he is. Mom smiled through teary eyes. I looked at the photo in disbelief. I was an uncle.
Tina ran back in, promising to come get us a soon as everything was cleaned up.
We packed our things and waited for the word.

Moments later, Lullaby and Goodnight echoed throughout the halls of the hospital, a signal to everyone there that a baby had just been born.
I've heard that song countless times before, but it never made me feel the way I did in that moment. Hanna and Kari listened in the hall with enormous smiles.

Jessi's dad, Bob, returned bearing cheeseburgers, knowing nobody had eaten. The girls wolfed some down, but Mom and I were too anxious.

Not much time had passed and Tina returned to bring us back. We followed the winding halls and entered the room to the sound of a tiny cry. I turned the corner in the doorway and saw the little pink source of the cry. There was my nephew. Matthew Robert Drake. All seven pound and seven ounces of him wrapped up in a nineteen and a half inch package.

Everyone took their turn greeting and snuggling the little guy in the order we came into the room. I looked on and before I knew it, it was my turn.

Kris brought him down in front of me and I softly said my first words to him, "Hey, buddy."
He reached his tiny, long-fingered hand up out of his swaddling clothes and gave me what looked like a little wave before briefly opening his eyes. He was just beautiful. I've never seen such a peaceful and content little baby.

Grandma & Grandson

Brother, Sister, and Grandma

Nephew & Aunt


Jessi looked great and seemed serene. Kris was overjoyed and swimming in pure happiness.

We all hung around for a few hours, everyone snapping pictures and taking turns cuddling Matthew. People slowly started trickling out and heading home. Before we left, Dad, Grandma, and Maude arrived to see the munchkin.

They took their turns snuggling and saying hello.

Now a Great Aunt

Grandpa & Grandson

Great Grandma

As it approached 6:00 PM, we headed home, but not before we each got one more snuggle in.

We made our way home through the slick, rainy evening. I picked at some dinner and tried to write this blog entry, but only made it halfway through, as I kept dozing off for a few seconds as I typed. I gave up just after midnight, at which point I had been awake for thirty five hours straight. I then slept for thirteen.

I still can't quite believe what happened in one small room yesterday. Parents became grandparents, grandparents became great grandparents, a little girl became a big sister, I became an uncle, my brother became a father, and a new person came to be.

Little Matthew, I'm so happy and honored I was able to be near when you came into the world. I'm glad I was there to welcome you along with the rest of your family. I know your namesake was there with us too.

Welcome to the world, Matthew (and to our hearts.)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Busy Thanksgiving Week

The snow has definitely been trying its hardest to make its presence known and didn't have too much luck, aside from a dusting that stuck to the tops of vehicles. Thanksgiving was the first day I'd say it really snowed, which it did all day. The roads were left a bit slick, but it was nice to watch the snow fall. It's all melted already, but I'm sure there will be plenty more before I know it.

Thanksgiving week was nice and full of goings on. Everyone was back in town, so the challenge arose to see as many people as I could before they headed back to their respective jobs and schools.

Corey drove in on Tuesday night, so we kicked back and caught up a bit before Wednesday night's game night extravaganza, when Eric, Jeff, Brendan, and Mikey joined us. Craziness ensued, fun was had, and the villagers rejoiced.

We went to Grandma's on Thanksgiving, which was nice, despite my exhaustion. I didn't get to sleep until 9:00 that morning as I was frantically editing video. A little family dance video I made as a joke a couple years ago has almost started to become its own little tradition, the family expects to see a new one at the holidays. I managed to pull it off this time and everyone seemed to like it, so I suppose it was well worth just getting a four hour nap.

Corey, Eric, and Aaron swung by later for a couple games of TimeSplitters. Always a good time.

Black Friday rolled around and I stayed inside, safely away from the rabid bargain hunters. They're a dangerous lot. I already finished most of my shopping online in the days before, so I was set.
Mikey and Jake came over in the evening and we chilled for a bit. After Jake had to go, Nikki joined us and we watched MirrorMask. I liked the movie the first time I saw it, but I see more and more layers every time I watch it, I love it.

Saturday was a night many months in the making. Nerd Night.
When it was first announced there would be a Battlestar Galactica TV movie in between seasons three and four, Eric and I agreed we had to make an event of it. Last night, Eric, Brendan, and I plopped down in front of the TV, turned on the surround sound, shut off the lights, and geeked out to Battlestar Galactica: Razor. It was intense and I loved it.
We rounded out Nerd Night with a dash of Soul Calibur II and a pinch of TimeSplitters.

Unfortunately, my busy week delayed the animation process. Again. I'm still moving forward though. I admit, I'm getting pretty antsy to work on some new project and ideas I've got bopping around in my brain, but Fan Film and Ghost are top priority.

Raine Maida's recently completed solo album, The Hunter's Lullaby, was released a couple weeks ago. Released along with it was a great music video that chronicles Raine's day of busking in the streets of Toronto with the goal of raising $30,000 for War Child Canada to build a school in Congo. I'll close today's blog entry with the video for Yellow Brick Road.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

My Training Wheels

The first day of the shoot was an experience, to say the least. I woke around noon (early) to the sound of my phone and confirmed what time I had to be there. Things went as they usually do, not as planned, and I fell a bit behind schedule.

Mom, Aunt Karen, and I hit the road and arrived at the set around 4 PM, but not before getting lost and driving past the building twice.

The Bullcrank boys had everything set up inside. They had lights and cameras, but the action was still a couple hours off. I roamed the maze of cubicles, trying to familiarize myself with it and take everything in.

Hanging with Larry, Travis, and Aaron

Clint, me, and Ian

We all ended up hanging out for a while and had some spaghetti, thanks to Mom and Aunt Karen.

As we finished, more crew and the cast started trickling in. I saw lots of familiar faces and met a few new ones. Everyone scurried about the set doing what had to be done: getting into costume, troubleshooting the sound equipment, etc. That's when I began to wonder what I should be doing. And that's when my first directorial duty arose as our lead actress, Marisa Tomasic, came to me asking which outfit she should wear. A fairly easy first task.

Marisa displaying outfit options

Donna puts Larry's face on

Rick being all suave

Minutes later, everyone was ready and I was set up in front of my monitor behind camera one. Things looked good, Larry and Rick were ready to go and I called "Action!". With that utterance, my complete inexperience was revealed. Apparently the cameras have to be rolling before action gets called. Who knew?

Aaron, Ian, and Andy were a huge help the whole time, I think I'd have been pretty lost and miserable otherwise.

The night went on, not without its bumps, but everything kept moving forward. I know I must have looked like a deer in headlights, as that's exactly how I felt, but I'm glad I was there. The long day ended as we headed home at 2 AM, after ten hours on set. That's nothing, compared to the others, who were there for thirteen hours and doing a lot more than me.

The foggy road home seemed fitting at the end of the first day of filming this werewolf movie.

Day two began around 4:30, after a rainy drive back to the set. I was more on track with everyone else, as they were just setting up when I got there. The days shoot involved much simpler shots, which made things much easier and less chaotic. There was also excitement in the air, as this was the day we were filming with Cleveland legend, Big Chuck Schodowski.

Day two

Big Chuck and Larry

Chuck arrived and donned his security guard uniform. Ian called for the cameras to roll, I called action, Marisa rushed through the doorway, and Chuck greeted her with "...I didn't hear 'action.'"

I spoke up and it was smoother from then on.

Big Chuck and Lil' Jay

I enjoyed the second day much more than the first. Communication was better, the setup was better, Chuck was hilarious, and I think we got some great stuff. Aaron's lighting was especially awesome looking. I can't wait to see the whole thing put together.

Directing Big Chuck

Kickin' it with the stars

Vince works the camera

We wrapped up around 9 PM and did the obligatory group photo before anyone left. The remaining crew dismantled the set and returned the building to its usual state while pausing for sloppy joes.

The Brothers Longstreth relax after a long day

"Leave no evidence we were here!"

We all ended up leaving at about 10, ending my time on this movie. Back at home, I relaxed by watching the Werewolf episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

The rest of the gang will continue filming over the next several weekends, including a trip to New York City to film with Lloyd Kaufman. Meanwhile, I'll be here hammering on The Greatest Fan Film of All Time.

It was a crazy weekend that initially left me a little wary of the whole filmmaking process, but I feel like I learned a lot and when the opportunity arises again, I think I'll be ready for more.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Stepping It Up

Well, that snow they were forecasting never hit us. It hit all the areas around us, but all we got was sporadic rain throughout the week. A brief reprieve before the inevitable arrival of the real deal.

Tomorrow marks the first time in my filmmaking career that I'll be directing actors who weren't drawn by me. Yes, actual living, breathing human beings.
Larry asked me to direct some scenes for the upcoming Bullcrank film, currently titled either An American Werewolf in America or The Wimp Whose Woman Was a Werewolf. Larry loves the long titles.
I've spent the last few days making up storyboards and doing the things I suspect a director would do to prepare. It must have worked, as I feel prepared and surprisingly un-nervous. We'll be filming Saturday and Sunday. I'll most likely post a small update or two over the weekend.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Last Minute Pumpkin Run

Halloween has come and gone and now November is here. Thanksgiving is three weeks from today with Christmas and snow and all that is wintry right behind it. The year sure is flying by. I think I say that every year. Yesterday, on the other hand, seemed to go on forever.

I had to be up ridiculously early (9 AM is ridiculously early for me) for a doctor's appointment. Just a check up, all is well.

From there, I did a little shopping with Mom and bought myself the sixth season of Scrubs on DVD. We grabbed a bite to eat and headed out to hunt down some pumpkins.

We learned an important Halloween lesson this year: don't wait until Halloween to buy pumpkins. Something came up every time we were planning to go, so it came down to the last minute. When we got there, the pumpkin patch was just a patch. On the bright side, I guess it made it easier to decide which ones to get.

Look at all of them!

Back home, I tried to come up with a design. I usually start planning days in advance, but I just got too distracted I guess. Animating will have that effect. With the clock ticking down to the arrival of trick-or-treaters, I had to come up with something fairly simple and fast. Friends gave me some great suggestions like the Guy Fawkes mask, Jack Skellington, my own face, characters from The Girl and the Ghost and a lot more. I know I could have lots of fun with those, but I just didn't have enough time. Of course, Eric suggested a series of Battlestar Galactica options. Maybe next year. I ended up deciding on our design of Darkseid from The Greatest Fan Film of All Time.

It actually kind of looks like me as a zombie.

I rounded out the night by watching Pushing Daisies and Ghost Hunters.

The news just said we might get our first snow next week. I'm already under a blanket. I'm prepared.