a TigerRAWk Film

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

A Shared Life: The Holidays 2020 - Apocalypse Edition (November - December)

As it was with the rest of the year 2020, it was an apocalyptic holiday season due to COVID-19 which meant there were some adjustments to our plans and travels. We still traveled to Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving but we ended up canceling the plans to go to North Carolina which meant a Christmas in Chicago. I believe we planned for a few days to be available during this trip for hunting even before the apocalypse began but with the Russia trip being canceled, more time was available. As I wrote before, during the Thanksgiving visit to Pennsylvania, it was decided to cancel our usual Christmas trip to North Carolina as well, increasing the time available to hunt through the entire season.

https://youtu.be/X04W_OqHCm4 or try https://odysee.com/@TigerRAWk:2/a-shared-life-the-holidays-2020:a

On Wednesday November 25th - Apocalypse day 256, I left work around lunch time to make a rainy drive to Warren, Pennsylvania so we could spend Thanksgiving with my family...well my immediate family as the usual Thanksgiving gathering was canceled due to COVID-19 related pandemic restrictions on gatherings. This was probably for the best as a few family members who would have been there ended up contracting COVID-19. We arrived in Pennsylvania without much issue other than the weather and dodging a few deer. It gave me some optimism regarding the hunting season seeing so many deer. I just hoped that there would be some in the area where I would be hunting for the season. On Thursday November 26th - Apocalypse day 257, we had Thanksgiving dinner with my parents and brother. We also hoped to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers football game against the Baltimore Ravens but COVID-19 among Ravens players caused the game to be postponed almost an entire week. I spent a little time in the woods where I planned to hunt, scouting for signs of possible deer and figuring out where I would post up for the season. On Friday November 27th - Apocalypse day 258, I went to the woods to do a little more scouting and made some plans for some alternate hunting spots in case where I hoped to go didn't pan out or there were more hunters in those areas. I brought my crossbow with me but the crank to cock it had somehow wrapped itself around in a way I couldn't get it lose. I'm not sure I would have tried to shoot at anything since I hadn't taken the time to calibrate the sights yet. I also had to take the car for an inspection which was a bit of a hassle and annoyance due to continued conflict with my father on that issue. I was able to get it into a place that evening. This day was not captured in any video. We learned that it was not possible to visit with my Grandpa because the Rouse Nursing Home had suspended visitation due to the COVID-19 surge. In Warren, the numbers had been very low most of the duration until this point.

Hunting season began on Saturday November 28th - Apocalypse day 259. I was hunting in an area in which only legal antlered deer were permitted to be shot during the first week. My father and I rode together (my car needed more attention at a shop) and got settled in our respective posts before daylight...though technically shooting time may have already started before we were in place. It wasn't too long before I saw the first deer of the day. I felt pretty good about my post as I saw a few more deer, all of which were in range to shoot had they been legal antlered deer. Unfortunately there were no antlers that I could see on any of these deer. In the first couple hours, I saw 5 different deer I think, maybe more. There was one shot near me...I assume a legal antlered deer. I also assumed the deer that had been shot was the one who had left markings of its territory not too far away. There was also another hunter's tree stand in the same area where it seemed the shot may have came from. The hunters eventually dragged the deer by me but not real close. I could not see the antlers well enough to get a point count but I was certain it was definitely a legal buck and likely the one I had hoped to get. In the later afternoon, a couple deer crossed by me but again, they had no visible antlers. As it began to get darker and later, I began moving downhill toward where we had parked. As I walked, I was looking to see if another spot I had prepared might be worth trying the next day but instead I happened upon a spot someone had once used in years past. My father likes to set up in what I would describe as a makeshift fort he built around a couple of trees using dead trees and logs laying around. It gives him something to rest on when he takes a shot or while waiting for something he can shoot to come along. It can also be something of a blind to hide behind when deer come through. When I saw the old remains of a similar fort set up as I walked, I decided to investigate to see if the sight lines could make it a good hunting spot. Sure enough, it seemed pretty good to me. I could see quite a bit all around. I took some logs and dead trees laying around and began to build it up. While doing so, my father came along. He helped me a little bit and we got it built up enough to be usable. Because a lot of the pieces were either rotting or smaller in size, I tested it by leaning on it. It held up and I figured it would be good enough to use. By this time, it was pretty dark. The moon had risen, it was a full moon and gave a bit of light to walk out. A deer walked by as we got ready to leave giving me a little more hope for the spot.

On Sunday November 29th - Apocalypse day 260, my father and I went out hunting again on a Sunday for the first time. Pennsylvania had opened the first Sunday of the season for hunting. The ground had developed frost overnight and walking in the area was quite loud. I decided to drag some more logs as I came to my spot. I figured the extra noise wasn't going to be a problem since walking in was already quite loud on the frost and leaf covered ground. I had a little trouble finding it at first, ha! I added the new logs and soon had the feeling I was going to need to poop while out hunting. I wasn't in my spot more than probably 5-10 minutes before a small deer walked toward me. I could hear it before seeing it, again due to the frost. It walked toward me, eventually it saw me and got a bit more cautious yet it seemed curious as well. This deer remained near me for quite a while...seemingly trying to figure out what I was and why I was there. When it eventually moved along out of sight, and as I continued to look around to see if there were any other deer, I began to search for my roll of toilet paper. I couldn't find it. I definitely had to poop so I left my spot and found a place to do my business a little ways away. I buried it and used some leaves to clean up. I dragged a few more logs over to help build up my spot a little more. It was a short time after this that I saw a group of deer run downhill from me just about out of my sightline and moving too fast to really get a good look to see if they might be legal antlered deer. The did eventually cross where I could see them better and perhaps could have taken a shot but I couldn't see any antlers. This seemed to open a floodgate for deer. I saw few more groups moving downhill from me headed the other direction but still nothing with antlers. As I watched one group, it seems one either caught wind of me, or saw me and got a bit spooked and ran. Others sort of ran too but didn't seem as spooked or concerned. A short time later, more deer came along and one definitely was a buck but did not appear to me to be considered a legal antlered deer. I gave it quite a long look and hoped to find what seemed to be missing but I never saw enough to be confident enough to shoot it and feel ok with taking the shot. A couple other hunters moved down a road near where I stood. It spooked at least one deer that was moving along downhill from me. I saw another deer move near where that spooked deer appeared to go and it stood facing me but at a fairly long distance. I looked at it and could tell it was a buck. I looked more and felt pretty confident I could see enough points on its antlers to be a legal antlered deer. It was going to be a long shot and I tried to adjust for that but it seems I did not adjust enough. I believe my shot went low. It scared the deer away, there were at least two there. I walked in the direction to try to see if there was any blood to indicate if I hit it. I hoped that I didn't wound it. I heard a shot not long after from where my father should be. Sure enough, he took a shot and killed a buck! He sent a picture to me and I feel pretty confident it was the same one I shot at as it had ran off in the direction that it should have come to him. I returned to my spot and didn't really see much for the rest of the day. I did a little more work on the fort set up as I returned to the spot to try to make it more sturdy and to give it more height to rest upon to take a shot as well. Just as it got dark, a few deer ran across uphill from me then a few more. I could not see any antlers on any of them and I'm not entirely sure I could have taken a clean shot but I felt good, in general about this spot for hunting. I returned to the car but my father was not there. I waited around then began to head up back into the woods and found him coming down the path. He was dragging his deer and had just finished cleaning it out. It seemed it took a lot longer than I anticipated it should given what time it was when he had shot and killed the deer. I helped him bring his deer to the car and load it. At the house, it was decided he wanted to take his deer to a butcher so we headed out to take his deer for processing. This deer seemed quite infested with ticks. After cleaning up, we had our Northern Family Christmas as has become the tradition. We gave my family their gifts and opened ours.

On Monday November 30th - Apocalypse day 261, I headed back out to hunt. My father decided to come as well to try to help move deer toward me. It was raining. It was a constant moderate rain. After about an hour and a half I felt it wasn't really worth it to be out there and we came back in. I went back to bed and we decided that we were going to drive back to Chicago the next day. There continued to be a steering issue and wanted to take it back where I had it worked on before in case there might be a warranty if what they had done was the problem. We got up and informed the family that we were leaving the next day and made some preparations. We watched some Monday Night Football (still having to wait on the Steelers game) and relaxed. Of course, with our luck, a winter storm was coming in so we were going to be dealing with that.

On Tuesday December 1st - Apocalypse day 262, we left for Chicago. Coming out of Warren, it wasn't too bad yet. Rain turning to light snow. As we crossed into New York the snow began to get heavier and as we crossed back into Pennsylvania on the Interstate, it was bad enough that the roads were somewhat covered and we needed to drive slow and carefully. We encountered a wreck, the first of many. As we went, the GPS warned of an 8 hour delay ahead on the highway in Ohio. I asked for an alternate route and we made it through on some country roads with some pretty significant snow. We continued to encounters vehicles off the road as we drove. Lake Erie was churning as we approached Cleveland. As we got close to the exit for Sheffield Village in Ohio where we usually get gas, traffic had stopped. Though I did not save the video from the car camera, we encountered several trucks that has slid off the Interstate. We got off the highway to get gas and some food then returned to the Interstate and navigated to the Turnpike portion slowly. Many more vehicles had slid off the highway in all directions! We were on the Turnpike only a few miles when the weather and the roads cleared for us. We made the rest of the trip with pleasant weather. We stopped for dinner and groceries in Highland, IN then safely made our way home to Chicago. On Wednesday December 2nd - Apocalypse day 263, I took the car back to the shop to have the steering looked at. Unfortunately, the issue was another part in the steering than they had worked on previously. I spent a bit more money and they fixed this issue. We finally got to watch the Steelers beat the Ravens. I got the car back the next day on Thursday December 3rd - Apocalypse day 264. Elphie made us a nice dinner that evening. I got up and drove back to Warren on Friday December 4th - Apocalypse day 265. It was a decent drive. The weather was fairly nice. East of Cleveland, as the sun set, I caught a rainbow. Most of the areas that were snow covered on the previous drive had mostly melted. The worst weather was a little rain as I entered into Pennsylvania.

Saturday December 5th - Apocalypse day 266, I returned to the woods to hunt. I was now permitted to shoot antlerless deer if I so chose. Less than an hour after getting settled into my spot, two deer came out of the thicker woods across a dirt road just north of me. It was also across a posted private property line. I watched as the deer approached slightly up hill from me and continued to approach. I set up to try to get a shot but could not get a real good angle as they walked by near me. I did however get what I thought was a good look at both deer to see if they had any antlers or not. I determined both did not have antlers. The trailing deer of the two seemed to get a little spooked and rushed forward once it got fairly close to me, it caused the other deer to move a bit more quickly as well. I crouched down and leaned on the wood pile I had built up, felt steady, and took aim. I took the shot and hit the deer but hit it lower than I felt I aimed but I definitely hit it. I got up and chased after the deer as it tried to run on broken front legs. I felt bad about the shot and wanted to end its misery as quick as I could. The other deer seemed confused and not exactly afraid of me rushing toward them. The deer I had shot laid down but got up again and tried to run a bit further as I approached. It laid down again and I was able to make a kill shot. I found at that point that this deer had a pair of small spikes on its head. They were not as long as its ears which I believe hid them from my sight. This was a deer I was technically suppose to turn in to a Game Warden. I instead field dressed it, gutted it and prepared it to take home. My father came from his post, made some critical statements regarding my shooting a deer that is considered "protected" and indicated I should have looked more closely at it. We dragged it to the car, and then went to the old house to find tools to hang the deer with which were homemade rigged up boards with nails. It worked well enough. We hung the deer in the shed in the back of the property and skinned it. I began to cut it apart. I removed the front legs at the shoulder. I cut off meat from the chest and rib areas then worked along the back taking meat from there as well. My father helped with sawing through the pelvic bone to cut lose the hind quarters. Once the deer was quartered, I began to work on the butchering process of the meat. This was a painstakingly long process. I spent the rest of that evening, all day on Sunday December 6th - Apocalypse day 267 and Monday December 7th - Apocalypse day 268 butchering the meat from the body and front quarters, working around that which had been bloodshot from my unfortunate wounding first shot through both legs. I watched football on my phone as I butchered including the Steelers game which this week had been delayed to Monday afternoon. On Tuesday December 8th - Apocalypse day 269, we went back out to hunt. I sought a buck and my father was eligible to get something antlerless. We did not see much on this day. I saw one toward the end of the day I believe. I began to butcher some more that evening, working on one of the hindquarters. I worked late into the night. I felt I was too tired to hunt again on Wednesday December 9th - Apocalypse day 270 so I slept in a bit then worked on butchering the remaining meat and finished it up on the 271st day of the Apocalypse, Thursday December 10th. That morning, I got up early as well to go to a COVID-19 testing site so that I could return to work when I headed back to Chicago the next week. I also worked on butchering the head of the deer. Even though it wasn't a "trophy" deer by any stretch, I wanted to keep the skull. I also wanted to try to butcher whatever meat might be salvageable from the head. My friend/co-worker Franck had asked for this meat. I was able to harvest some meat from the neck, cheeks, and the tongue for Franck. I tried to remove the eyes as well but punctured one of them. I got it pretty cleaned off overall but eventually I wore out on working on it and decided to quit for the time being and froze it to work on at a later time. I also wanted to research more on what I needed to do to remove the brain and perhaps other material I was having difficulty with. We hunted some more on Friday December 11th - Apocalypse day 272 and Saturday December 12th - Apocalypse 273 which were the final days of the season. I saw a couple deer on Friday and a few more on Saturday. Nothing that appeared to have legal antlers so I was unable to harvest another deer. On Saturday, I built up the fort I had been using to make it sturdier and add more angles to shoot easier in more directions next year or whenever I get to hunt again. I did this as it rained, figuring I wasn't seeing much anyway and the rain was noisy enough I figured I could make more noise too in moving pieces of wood or knocking down small trees. I hope to go back out in the summer possibly when I purchase my next hunting license and work on it a bit more.

I added some narration to the hunting portions of the video to try to explain a bit of what I was sharing for those interested.

On Sunday December 13th - Apocalypse day 274 I made my return journey to Chicago. It was a long time away from Elphie. I was glad to be getting back to her. I loaded the car with coolers full of meat and gathered the other gifts that had arrived in the mail as well as other things that needed to come back to Chicago. There was a little snow crossing into New York again but most of the rest of the trip the weather was nice. I passed a truck full of live fish a couple times. I arrived home, greeted Elphie, unloaded  the car and then loaded the freezer with all the meat, and then we relaxed watching the Steelers game. It was very good to be home. I returned to work but had not been told the result of my COVID-19 test.


https://youtu.be/lZ3jgVgUr7c

On Friday December 18th - Apocalypse day 279, there was a Christmas tree donation at Cornerstone Community Outreach. Maintenance was charged with assembling the trees and distributing them to the different programs. It was quite the sight to see so I captured some video of it. On Saturday December 19th - Apocalypse day 280, I covered an early shift at work. On my way in, I captured using the car camera, the city, some of the lights on buildings including a heart on a hotel, "Peace And Joy," on the Blue Cross/Blue Shield building, and a wreck that had occurred. After working the morning, Elphie and I went to the suburbs to visit a couple Japanese stores in the Mitsuwa Marketplace to purchase gifts for some of her family. We visited the Kinokuniya Bookstore then drove down the road to Hello Toyko then got dinner from Kickin' Burgers And Wings. We ended up getting some dinner to take home and captured some Christmas lights along the way as well. On Monday December 21st - Apocalypse day 282 I stuck a glowing star on the side of Cornerstone Community Outreach. It had come in a Christmas letter from my cousin Justin and his wife Laura. It was some sort of art related thing for Justin. I don't think it lasted the day. On Wednesday December 23rd - Apocalypse day 284, we had a Christmas party for the Naomi Men's Program at Cornerstone Community Outreach. In year's past, we had allowed outside folks to come and partake of the party but with COVID-19, we were not able to do so this year. This upset a few of those folks. On Thursday December 24th - Apocalypse day 285, I captured a bit of the Wilson Abbey Windows display and the Lincoln Park Zoo lights as I drove home from work. At home, Elphie made Egg Nog French Toast for our Christmas Eve meal and she was able to FaceTime with her family a little bit. We watched some Christmas movies and Scary Lady Sarah DJing a bit as well.

Starting on Christmas Day, Friday December 25th - Apocalypse day 286, I used the rest of my vacation time to stay home from work. We ordered Chinese food. We hoped to get it from Chop Suey City in the neighborhood but it seems that they were closed. We found a restaurant open in Chinatown and ordered from there. The food wasn't quite as good, the portions were smaller, and the cost was higher than we had anticipated. We watched some more Christmas movies and football. We drove into Downtown and to Uptown to see the Christmas lights. I added a couple clips in here to show gifts we got ourselves such as the Ms. PacMan arcade game and the Excalibur Bulldog 440 Crossbow. We watched the Christmas movies and some football using the Google Chromecast which I bought for Elphie with the idea of subscribing to Hulu for her to watch some shows she likes.

On Sunday December 27th - Apocalypse day 288, we decided to grill deer heart for dinner. It turned out pretty good though I could probably have let it cook a little bit longer.

On Wednesday December 30th - Apocalypse day 291, we drove around the neighborhood checking out the Christmas lights then to a few housing and spots that were highlighted in various publications as being worth seeing. We also got another Atlas Obscura site knocked off by visiting the Home Alone house. We checked out lights around the town of Winnetka after that. We drove around the area for quite a while then headed a bit further north to see a house that had been highlighted online for its decorations...I can't quite remember where it was now. As we returned to Chicago, I decided to take Sheridan Road and we passed the Baha'i' Temple then stopped at the Sonic in Uptown for a Blast.


https://youtu.be/naKGAkC4dUI or https://odysee.com/@TigerRAWk:2/a-shared-life-the-holidays-2020-2:b
On Thursday December 31st - Apocalypse day 292, we started New Years Eve by watching the video for "I Wanna Be Sedated" by The Ramones we reached the point in 2020 with 24 hours to go. We had the television coverage of New Year's celebrating on while also watching various things online including The Pirate Twins and others DJing. After celebrating both eastern and central time zones moving into 2021 and the kiss, I went outside to shoot fireworks that our friend and landlord Moses had given me when I paid rent. I shot a few bottle rockets as well. I felt that "Thank God The Year Is Finally Over" by Paper Route was quite fitting to end 2020...I didn't realize I used it to end 2019 as well until after I had already finished the project.. Perhaps I need to look back to my blog to see why, ha! I also used "Fire And Ice" by Pat Benatar since I was shooting off fireworks in the ice and snow. On Friday January 1st - Apocalypse day 293, we mostly relaxed. We received a box in the mail which gifts from some of Elphie's family so we opened it and thanked them for the gifts on FaceTime.

The additional soundtrack includes "Giving Tree" by The Uh Ohs, "The Little Christmas Tree" by Bon Voyage, "Christmas Time Is Here" by Starflyer 59, "It Snowed" by Meaghan Smith, "Baby, It's Cold Outside" by Nate Ford, "Asia Minor" by Fold Zandura, "Hosanna" by Josh Garrels, "The Light" by Von Strantz, "I Won't Be Home" by John The Silent, "In My Bleak Midwinter" by David Chapdelaine, "Holiday Seasonal Affective Disorder" by hushpad, "Do You Hear What I Hear" by House of Wires, "White Christmas" by Travelogue, "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" by I, Satellite, "Happy Holidays" by Norway, "Wonderful Christmas Time" by Earthsuit, "O Come O Come Emanuel" by Chasing Furies, "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" by Viva Voce, "The Holly And The Ivy" by Sound Of Ceres, "Visions of the Sugar Plum Fairy" by Danielson, "What Child Is This" by Poor Old Lu, "Christmas Is Here" by 6'10, "We'll Give Our Hearts" by The Uh Ohs, "Home Alone Theme" by August Burns Red, "Wet Bandits" by Counterfeit Money Machine, "Make It Home Alone" by The Bell And The Hammer, "I Won't Cancel Christmas" by Hello, Wonder, "I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day" by Branches, "Snow" by Sleeping At Last, "Silent Night" by Leper, "What Child Is This" by Wretched Graverobber, "Christmas Edition 2020" by Parousia, "I Wonder As I Wander" by Epic Church, "That Shining Night" by Atlantica Vox, "This Is War" by Dustin Kensrue, "This Is Christ" by Sandra McCracken and Derek Webb, "The Lights Went Out" by Sarah Story, "Noel" by Serengeti, "O Come Let Us Adore Him" by Insomniac Folklore, "O Come O Come Emmanuel" by Citizen Shade, "Greensleeves/What Child Is This" by Kevin Max, "Silent Night" by Timbre, "Thank God The Year Is Finally Over" by Paper Route, and "Fire And Ice" by Pat Benatar.

Footage filmed using a Canon Rebel T6CrossTour CR900, and iPhones 6 and 8 by Elphie and Joel A. Swanson. Titles and animations were created using Motion 4 on a Macbook by Joel A. Swanson. All other editing was done using Final Cut Pro on a Mac Mini by Joel A. Swanson.

Monday, February 15, 2021

A Shared Life: Fall In Chicago 2020 - Apocalypse Edition (September - November)

This footage captures life after returning to Chicago after our Apocalyptic trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan until we departed for Pennsylvania for the holidays. This is A Shared Life: Fall In Chicago - Apocalypse Edition 2020. Most of the music was chosen with purpose and meaning due to conditions and situations going on during this time. I also ended up working on and releasing some music video projects. It was probably the most productive in this regard...with having no shows or live events to attend.

I decided to open the soundtrack with "It's Only The End Of The World" by Harley Poe. After returning home to Chicago from our trip on Thursday September 10th - Apocalypse Day 179, I got up to go to work and found myself blocked in by City of Chicago work trucks. Apparently a tree was being removed across the street from our house. I watched for a few minutes before deciding to maneuver my vehicle to drive out the driveway frontwards instead of backing out and then drove down the sidewalk to the next driveway to get on the street and go the wrong way to leave. This would happen again, a week or so later. On Saturday September 12th - Apocalypse Day 181, Elphie and I decided to venture around some nearby Atlas Obscura sites between our house and a Japanese Restaurant that she wanted to try. We visited the Bubbly Creek - where waste from slaughter houses and meat packing plants could sometimes cause the waters to bubble in the heat, the old Union Stock Yard Gate where there is also a memorial to Chicago Firefighters, The Plant - a meatpacking plant turned vertical farm and sustainable business complex, the Historic Garfield Station Entrance for the Garfield Green Line of the CTA, and the Obamas Kissing Rock. We also had hoped to visit Concrete Traffic - an old car in a block of cement but we would have had to find parking or pay the parking fee to enter the parking garage...we didn't feel like doing that. We will check that out another time. We also drove by a house Elphie lived in for a time. We got our Japanese food from Kikuya. It was good but wasn't quite as into it. I think Elphie enjoyed her meal. On Sunday September 13th - Apocalypse Day 182, we went to Highland, Indiana to get groceries and happened on what seemed to be a pretty massive traffic accident. There were so many police cars! I decided that "Crash" by Starflyer 59 was an appropriate tune. I used a mash up of the two versions created by a fan (sorry, I don't recall who you are).  On our way back into Chicago, we passed a hearse. Elphie said the driver seemed quite happy. On Monday September 14th - Apocalypse Day 183, I captured the haze from the western wild fires with the car camera. I chose to use "Everything Will Burn" by Insomniac Folklore as what I felt to be a fitting soundtrack here. On Tuesday September 22nd - Apocalypse Day 191, I captured some footage of a spider on the front porch. I also captured footage of Chicago Police helicopters circling the area. On Friday September 25th - Apocalypse Day 194, there was a noise protest in Uptown. I had to work late that evening so I took a quick walk to check it out. On Saturday September 26th - Apocalypse Day 195, Elphie and I visited another Atlas Obscura site - Par-King Skills Golf Course. It is two mini golf courses. It was awesome! We played both courses. I added music into the soundtrack during the mini golf clips of a variety of songs, not necessarily with as much purpose. Those songs include "Keep On" by The Uh Ohs, "Under It" by Slick Shoes, "Autumn Comes But Once, Dear" by Dance House Children, "Belts" by Serpent Servant Slave, "Kick Yer Askin' For It" by Neon Horse, and "See The Flames Begin To Crawl" by Five Iron Frenzy.

In September, it was announced that October Bird of Death was coming to an end. There was to be a "funeral" on October 3rd. For quite some time, I had an idea of a music video for the song "Goons" for a few years but I never got around to actually doing it. It seemed that if ever there was a time to do it, it was now. I had shot performances of "Goons" on a couple of occasions which I never uploaded so I found those clips and watched through them, pulling what I thought would look good then synced it up to the studio track. I added some other clips from around Chicago and of "working class people" that I peppered in as well. Most of the footage with just one or two clips (I think) was filmed in 2016...I just had it sitting in a folder on my computer. I also added a farewell message to the clip. I had always enjoyed going to their shows and hanging with the guys. I was pretty pleased with the finished product and informed the band members after I had it uploaded but not yet public. I got a generally good response and I made it public the night before the scheduled "funeral" which was really just a release of a new song and merch sale. For more in depth information on the video check it out here: "Goons" by October Bird of Death - Music Video and A Farewell. This got my brain firing on a couple more music video ideas as well...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4rQZ8BOZXG8

On Wednesday October 7th - Apocalypse Day 206, I captured some shots of the homeless folks in Uptown who panhandle on an exit from Lake Shore Drive and others who waited for the Food Pantry at Cornerstone Community Outreach. I had an idea for a music video project for Leper (see below) and felt these clips could work. I was also able to capture the sunset as I went home down I-55 as well as another panhandler on the exit. I captured the sunset and same panhandler again on the 207th day of the Apocalypse - Thursday, October 8th. On Saturday October 10th - Apocalypse Day 209, we had a bonfire and a couple of friends came over. I spent the hours leading up to this filming clips I would use for a Leper video (see below) and our friends Anastasia and Josh Robieson ended up helping in this endeavor during the bonfire. I had added "See The Flames Begin To Crawl" by Five Iron Frenzy as a soundtrack in part due to the bonfire. On Monday October 12th - Apocalypse Day 211, I picked up some poutine from The Bad Apple to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving. It was a good meal as usual. On Sunday October 18th - Apocalypse Day 217, Elphie and I taste tested Mountain Dew Voodoo. I had trouble deciphering the taste at first. It was definitely sweet. I finally concluded it tasted like lemon Skittles. on Monday October 19th - Apocalypse Day 218, Elphie and I ventured to suburban Naperville to pick up an early Christmas gift to ourselves...a Ms. Pacman arcade console! I haven't played it as much as I probably should for the price, I have enjoyed it. It has taken some getting used to due to the joystick being 8 directional when classic PacMan games are 4 directions. I will occasionally get "stuck" by pushing the diagonally instead of up/down or left/right. I have gotten some decent high scores though! There are so many games! We hope to have fun with friends when friends are permitted to socialize again in some future time. The rain and fog of the morning of Friday October 23rd - Apocalypse Day 222 gave the city an eerie feel and I felt like including it in this project. On Saturday October 24th - Apocalypse Day 223, I captured a drive over to University of Chicago through the Southside. I met Skot Shaw over there to film for a future music video. Later, I captured our visit to Albanese Confectionary in Hobart, Indiana. On Monday October 26th - Apocalypse Day 225, the first snow began to fall in Chicago. The snow accumulated a bit more on the morning of Tuesday October 27th - Apocalypse Day 226. On Thursday October 29th - Apocalypse Day 228, I put out a teaser for a music video I made for "Spezza Spezza Spezza" by Leper. On Friday October 30th - Apocalypse Day 229, I captured the moon on my way home from work using the car camera. I also captured the city lights and what remained of the sunset. I added "Dead End Moon" by Kevin Max as a soundtrack due to the moon shots here and it felt fitting with Halloween.

I filmed a lot of the footage that I would use for "Spezza Spezza Spezza (Chop Chop Chop)" by Leper on Saturday October 12th, 2020. The day was warm. I got out an ax, a hatchet, and a couple of Bowie knives and set my camera up on the tripod to capture what I hoped would work out well. I used an old wooden cabin model my grandpa had made. I used the hearse that is parked in the driveway, some gargoyles, and other stuff from the yard to create the vibe I hoped for. I also used the fire we had that night. I was able to get Josh and Anastasia Robieson to say "chop" and filmed their mouths along with my own and Elphie's. The next weekend, Skot Shaw came over after we shot some footage for a future project. I had him sing the lyrics in various places in the yard to add to the footage. I also had a couple of old clips from 2016 that I used for this as well (sort of a theme...old footage from 2016 for video ideas that I never got around to doing. I guess a pandemic is good for something). My hope was to get the video finished and uploaded for a release on Halloween as it had a bit of a creepy and unsettling vibe to it. I was able to meet that deadline and I was very happy with how it turned out. You can read more in depth about it here: "Spezza Spezza Spezza (Chop Chop Chop)" by Leper (Music Video)

On Saturday October 31st - Apocalypse Day 230 I released the video posted above at midnight as Halloween began! It was the Halloweeniversary for Elphie and me! We drove around the neighborhood checking out the decorations then made our way to Bree Thai to get our dinner. We checked out some other decorations in the neighborhood around Bree Thai. There was some good decorations there and we saw some folks halloweening and others having parties to celebrate the holiday. It turned out to be a nice and warm day considering the snowfall and frigid temperatures earlier in the week. That night, in between watching various movies we had lined up, I tried to capture the full moon but some cloud cover made it difficult. On Sunday November 1st - Apocalypse Day 231, I captured a shot of the full moon...or nearly full, to make up for the night before. I added "Beneath The Sun" by Leper, "W.I.T.C.H.E.S." by Cast The Dragon, "Tombstones For Eyes" by White Collar Sideshow, and "Monsters" by SPACESHIPS as soundtracks due to Halloween.

Election Day occurred on Tuesday November 3rd. It was the 233rd day of the Apocalypse. Some concern and anxiety was in the air due to the tensions in the United States of  America being amplified and even encouraged by the ruling political parties. I captured some shots of businesses boarding up in preparation of potential rioting. After a summer of unrest, it was a legitimate concern. We never did get an answer as to who was elected that night though and while there were demonstrations, nothing like the unrest that occurred in the summer came to fruition in Chicago. I captured some footage of the Chicago skyline on my way  home as it was lit in patriotic coloring. On Wednesday November 4th - Apocalypse Day 234 I captured some footage of the "aftermath" (or lack there of) from Election Day. I also captured some footage of homeless folks panhandling at the end of the exit from Lake Shore Drive and others waiting for the food pantry at Cornerstone Community Outreach. This footage was primarily captured for use for a music video project for Leper (see below). I added "Future History Of The Broken Hearted" by Stavesacre and "The Trap" by Flatfoot 56 as soundtracks in this part of the project becuase of the political nature of the tunes and election day. As I drove home on Tuesday November 10th - Apocalypse Day 240, a huge rainstorm hit Chicago. I used the car camera to document the drive home. I don't recall ever driving in anything quite like it! I also was able to capture a couple shots of lightning bolts that I slowed down for better effect. The day I also received another early Christmas gift...this one to myself. An Excalibur Crossbow! I added "Ain't Gonna Rain No More" by Destroy Nate Allen as a soundtrack because I thought it funny and ironic to use with clips of a torrential downpour. I also used "Dear Apocalypse" by Kat Jones and the Prophets to finish out the project. On Sunday November 15th - Apocalypse Day 245, the wind was blowing hard. As we went about our usual grocery shopping routine, I noticed the lamp posts in the Meijer parking lot were swaying and decided to capture some video of it.

Even though Skot Shaw and I had discussed a few other music video project ideas...some of which are in the works, we had discussed the idea of creating a music video for the Leper song Il Modo Che Tutto Si Svela (The Way It All Unfolds) a couple years prior. Some elements of the original idea would have required getting a signed release from program participants at Cornerstone Community Outreach. This never occurred so I never started to actually work on this music video. I brought this back up to Skot and he indicated having essentially moved on from the idea. But I didn't...and I sort of couldn't. I thought a bit on what I could do for this song with what I had already, which were two live performances of the song: one was Skot solo and the other was Skot with Jennifer Mercy. I decided to take both clips and try to sync them to the music as best as I could. The live performance was different than the recorded version of the song. I think I synced it up fairly well. I then pulled some footage from my car camera as I drove into work showing the people panhandling at the end of the ramp from Lake Shore Drive, some of the tent city under the viaduct (also using footage from back in 2016 that I shot for the "Goons" video), and people standing outside Cornerstone Community Outreach waiting for the food pantry to open. I also captured a couple clips of a guy at the Damen exit off of I-55 who was panhandling. The video is somewhat repetitive but I did want to somewhat show the homeless, some of who were getting services from Cornerstone Community Outreach as well as the song being performed. I added text at the end about how to give to Cornerstone Community Outreach to help serve "the least of these" who are in need. I added one clip of art that Skot had painted on a door at Cornerstone Community Outreach as well. I wanted to have this done and uploaded prior to Thanksgiving in hopes it might help, in some way, boost donations to the shelter. Donations that were and still are much needed. You can read more in depth on this video here: "Il Modo Che Tutto Si Svela (The Way It All Unfolds)" by Leper (Music Video).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmjglIRD7Yw

Prior to travelling to Pennsylvania for the holidays, I wanted to have something checked out on the car. Steering was a bit stiffer than usual. I left work early on November 19th - Apocalypse Day 249 and took it in. I captured a shot of Skot Shaw's art on the outside door of Cornerstone Community Outreach for use in a music video project (linked above). I left the car at the shop and upon returning to the house, there was a small bonfire going with the upstairs neighbors who were preparing to move out. On Saturday November 21st - Apocalypse 251, I went to pick up the car. As I walked by Midway Airport, a Southwest jet was coming in for a landing just over my head. I captured the footage of it! That was fun!

Additional soundtrack includes "It's Only The End Of The World" by Harley Poe, "Crash (a mashup of both versions created by a fan)" by Starflyer 59, "Everything Will Burn" by Insomniac Folklore, "Keep On" by The Uh Ohs, "Under It" by Slick Shoes, "Autumn Comes But Once, Dear" by Dance House Children, "Belts" by Serpent Servant Slave, "Kick Yer Askin' For It" by Neon Horse, "See The Flames Begin To Crawl" by Five Iron Frenzy, "Dead End Moon" by Kevin Max, "Beneath The Sun" by Leper, "W.I.T.C.H.E.S." by Cast The Dragon, "Tombstones For Eyes" by White Collar Sideshow, "Monsters" by SPACESHIPS, "Future History Of The Broken Hearted" by Stavesacre, "The Trap" by Flatfoot 56, "Ain't Gonna Rain No More" by Destroy Nate Allen, and "Dear Apocalypse" by Kat Jones and the Prophets.

Footage filmed using a Canon Rebel T6, CrossTour CR900, and iPhones 6 and 8 by Elphie and Joel A. Swanson. Titles and animations were created using Motion 4 on a Macbook by Joel A. Swanson. All other editing was done using Final Cut Pro on a Mac Mini by Joel A. Swanson.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Shriven - A Promotional Clip

https://youtu.be/ptob6J880OA

Shriven is a new project of the goth / death rock variety featuring members of Leper (Skot Shaw and Colleen Davick) and Anti-World System (Michael Perlmutter.

While new music isn't quite available to the public, Skot messaged me about creating a short promotional clip. The idea presented was having a coffin open with the look of a horror movie.

I sought out some free domain or stock footage but all the coffins I came across seemed too nice and clean. As I thought about how to make this work, I looked at a small coffin we had sitting on the bookshelf and it seemed as though it had the design and the less polished appearance I felt would work with the horror movie concept.

I had acquired this coffin from a Kickstarter project by "Steve Taylor And The Danielson Foil" and inside the coffin were pictures of each band member as well as a bunch of super balls and some other odd things. At first, I completely emptied out the coffin. It felt too empty though. I decided to add a picture and decided to go with the one of Steve Taylor. The pose was pretty perfect I thought. I ended up putting the super balls back in to lift the picture a bit so it wasn't quite so flat looking.

While I intended to keep the focus somewhat soft, which I did achieve on what would be the primary clip I used, one of the clips had pretty clear focus. I hoped the soft focus also would obscure the image enough for anyone who might recognize the coffin or who is inside.

I would be adding, the bad film, bad tv, vignette, and old black and white effects and so I figured it would be enough to obscure who was in the coffin. The coffin perk from the Kickstarter was a DIY craft so I don't figure there should be any real issue with regards to copyrights should Steve Taylor or any of the other artists in the band happen to see this clip.

I didn't want to open the coffin with my hand...that would reveal that it was not a real coffin as well as how small it was. I decided to tie a thread around the latch and pull it open. I did three different takes of this. I wanted to have a shot of when it fully opened that showed the entirety of the open coffin. At the end I made it slam shut as well using the thread. The coffin sort of jumps at that point. I tried to make it look like something inside was struggling while pushing its way out. I think I did achieve that. The thread I used was fairly thin, black thread. While it is mostly hidden, I can see it in the end result though I had hoped the effects would make it essentially invisible. Oh well.

After capturing the three takes, I began to work on the editing. I created two title files of the band name, "Shriven" and an announcement of "coming soon..."

The audio clip I was given was 25 seconds long. The video clip I chose to be my primary clip was set in place and I played the audio to get a feel for where I might want to position it with the coffin opening. As I got that figured out, I decided to layer from the other clips over the primary then adjust the opacity to see through it. I cut a bit from each then faded them out to be the primary clip a few seconds before the coffin opening. After the initial jerking motion to simulate the struggle of opening it from the inside, I added the band name text with its "ghostly" effect to appear as the door is opened. I moved the closing of the coffin to coincide with the end of the audio clip and set the "coming soon..." text to also coincide with the end of the clip.

At the beginning and end, I added the film sprocket stock footage for additional old horror movies aesthetic and with everything seemingly set in place, I began to add the effects. I used gradient colorize for the black and white appearance. Next I added the "bad tv" spaced out randomly through the clips also randomly adjusting the settings to make a different appearance for each use of the effect. I layered the effect usage as well making different setting adjustments at different levels. I added the "vignette" effect to give additional "blur" around the edges. When I added the "bad film" effect, I decided adjust the setting of the effect and semi-randomly switch it up as the clip goes along. Overall, that effect ends up being fairly subtle comparatively, especially once the file is compressed for YouTube or other online streaming.

In the end, I captured what was asked for. I showed it to Skot first and while he is pleased with the result, he had a slightly different idea in mind. I also shared with Michael who also expressed he was pleased with it.

So there is now a small taste of what is to come from Shriven.

Special thanks to Steve Taylor and the Danielson Foil for their Kickstarter perk which came in handy as a prop!

Filmed at home in Southside Chicago using a Canon Rebel T6. Edited using Final Cut Pro on a Mac Mini. Filmed and edited by Joel A. Swanson.

Friday, November 20, 2020

"Il Modo Che Tutto Si Svela (The Way It All Unfolds)" by Leper (Music Video)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmjglIRD7Yw

This music video is for the song "Il Modo Che Tutto Si Svela (The Way It All Unfolds)" by Leper from the album "Beautiful Gray Day" released on September 11th, 2012 through Grrr Records.

The concept for this video came from a discussion a few years ago with Skot Shaw. We both work at Cornerstone Community Outreach and there was some sort of party going on this particular day. While eating and fellowshipping together, Skot brought up the idea of making a music video for "Il Modo Che Tutto Si Svela (The Way It All Unfolds)" using guests of the shelter and showing service to the least of these. I think that could have been a very good music video. At that time, I had one live clip of the song being performed by Leper and I figured that I could use that footage in the video. I realized though, we would need to have shelter guests sign releases if we were going to film them. I brought this up to Skot at the time. I also brought up an idea of having him perform the song with a group of shelter guests around him. I thought that might add to the concept.

Part of the purpose of creating this music video would be to bring awareness to the need for Cornerstone Community Outreach and the services it provides the least of these. It was also intended to bring awareness that Cornerstone Community Outreach also has needs. Needs for support to help cover the costs of the services provided. Needs for volunteer help (at least when there's not a COVID19 pandemic going on).

We did not discuss the idea all that much after this. Every now and then it would be brought up but nothing came of it. I was able to capture another performance the song some time after this during a fundraiser for Chicago Tiny Houses.

Like with "Spezza Spezza Spezza (Chop Chop Chop)," when we discussed making music videos again recently, I asked Skot about doing something with "Il Modo Che Tutto Si Svela (The Way It All Unfolds)." Skot had seemed to have somewhat moved on from this idea...not that he didn't care about it but was wanting to get some things out for the more recent music released by Leper.

After I finished  the music video for "Spezza Spezza Spezza (Chop Chop Chop)" I decided to take a break from the music video projects that are now on my plate so that I could finish editing the footage from a little trip we took over Labor Day. As I finished that project off, I decided to look at some footage I had sitting around so I could see what I could do to make something for "Il Modo Che Tutto Si Svela (The Way It All Unfolds)" before getting back into the other few projects Skot and I had discussed and started for other Leper videos.

I watched through the two live clips to see what, if anything, could be used. After cutting that which I definitely did not feel was usable, I worked on syncing up the live performance to the studio performance. This proved to be a bit more difficult than I had anticipated as the timing of the performances was different from the studio version. With Skot's veil, it's a bit more difficult to sync his lips to the lyrics but I think I was able to get fairly close. The clips with Jennifer Mercy singing were helpful in that regard. I also tried to sync the guitar playing to the music as best as I could as well. All of this required quite a bit of cutting. I did a little bit of re-arranging of pieces where either lyrics were not being sung or it wasn't so clear that it was obviously wrong. I had enough live footage to fill the entire studio track. Once I got this all set mostly in place, I began to try to balance the use of the clips so I wasn't relying too heavily on one over the other. While I initially had quite a few hard cuts, I smoothed most of them with transitions. I did even more of this later in the process after layering some of the other footage on top. While still working on the performance parts, I decided to some layering of clips making them somewhat transparent instead of cutting from one or the other. I watched through a few times and made a few more adjustments but when I was mostly satisfied, I added in more of the other footage. That other footage was intended to show "the least of these" and service to those in need.

I went through some previous clips I had used sparingly or didn't use at all. Most of these were filmed when I began thinking of making a music video for October Bird of Death for the song "Goons" but also had thoughts of using them for this song when it was originally discussed. I mostly used footage of the tent city under Wilson Viaduct that I had not used before other than maybe one or two short clips. I did re-use some footage of a Westboro protest but used less than I had in "Goons." It felt fitting to some of the lyrics of the songs. I used some recent footage from the CrossTour CR900 as I drove into work a few different times, capturing folks holding signs at the end of Wilson Avenue near the ramp coming off Lake Shore Drive. I also used some footage that captured folks waiting in line for the food pantry that Cornerstone Community Outreach also runs to serve the least of these in the neighborhood. Another clip captured a man on Damen Avenue on the ramp from I-55.

I took these clips and alternated them throughout the video, trying to fit them where it seemed most appropriate with the lyrics. I layered these clips over the performances of Leper playing the song live. The final clip I captured was an art piece Skot created on one of the doors of Cornerstone Community Outreach of a celtic knot with gaelic words written around the celtic knot. I think this is probably the most I have used the layering effect on one project ha!

I added a "gradient colorize" effect (without colorizing it) to get the black and white look Skot and I prefer (extreme black and white without much if any grayscale). I also added the "bad film" effect and randomly increased and decreased levels of distortion in this effect so none of the clips had exactly the same look in regards to this distortion.

I added just a little bit of "bad TV" effect at the very beginning and very end. I didn't want to add a lot of the chaotic appearance that I had done with "Spezza Spezza Spezza (Chop Chop Chop)" but I thought it looked good to fit at the beginning and very end along with the sprocket holes.

I created the title and other text screens on Motion 4. I decided to use the usual font style I do on most of my personal videos instead of the old classic looking font. I used black lettering, removing the outline, and tried to fit the words into a white area of the screen. I chose the Leper logo from the "Beautiful Gray Day" album cover which was black on a white background. While I'd prefer the background to be transparent, I do the best I can with what I got to work with. I found a Grrr Records logo on transparent background that I added to this project. The other text screens I used white lettering with black outline. I wrote a piece about Cornerstone Community Outreach with a link for those who may be interested in supporting the work of the shelter. I also added credit for my work at the end along with my usual credit clip I have used since 2011.

The video does sort of repeat similar looking clips a bit. I realize that and wish I had a few more different clips that I could have used instead. It was a pretty simple video to create. It really only took me a few hours over two evenings to create it. I think the general idea was presented. It shows "the least of these" and while there isn't any actual service shown, it does show folks in line to receive the services offered through Cornerstone Community Outreach's food pantry. I think this really was the best that I could do without having to get the releases of information from shelter guests...which we would have needed to attain the full concept that was originally discussed.

I am happy with this result. I also hoped to get it done before the holidays which is usually a "giving season." I don't know the impact of this video...I don't know for certain but I can assume this year is going to be more difficult for most than any before. Hopefully this video can bring about something good.

For more information on Cornerstone Community Outreach and the services this organization provides for folks experiencing homelessness and others who may need assistance, and/or if you would like to support the efforts to serve the least of these through this organization, please visit http://www.ccolife.org/.

Footage was filmed using an iPhone 6, Canon Rebel T6, and CrossTour CR900 in Chicago, Illinois between 2015 and 2020. Video arranged and edited using Final Cut Pro on a Mac Mini. Titles and other text created using Motion 4 on a Macbook in November 2020. Filmed and edited by Joel A. Swanson.
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLh9ZwEF2QQpMCrULqZ3e-5fqVxb_2UCHl

A Shared Life: An Apocalypse Trip to Michigan's Upper Peninsula (09.05.2020 - 09.09.2020)

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLh9ZwEF2QQpNTNL54vDIMkCn9Xe_JPv1t

The COVID-19 pandemic continued through the summer causing most things we would usually do to be canceled. Audiofeed was one of the casualties. It was originally rescheduled until Labor Day weekend then ultimately canceled as conditions failed to improve enough to safely allow gatherings of any substantial size. Without the music festival (or any other similar events taking place) and without our vacation to Russia that we had planned, there was a sense of restlessness. I had made a short weekend trip to Pennsylvania to take care of some documentation work but Elphie didn't come with me and hadn't had a chance to really leave the house other than appointments and groceries since the beginning of the pandemic. We did go out and about some in Chicago on our anniversary but it seemed she needed to just go somewhere. This apocalypse was taking its toll on her. We had other travel plans for the Labor Day weekend before the start of this year but we decided to shelve those as well. Those plans would have brought us back to the Northeast to hit a few states Elphie may have missed in her quest to go to all fifty states. So, with all else failed and/or shelved for an uncertain future, we decided to plan a short vacation. The border between the USA and Canada was closed to "nonessential" travel and there were also travel restrictions to certain states put in place by the city of Chicago which limited our options and we settled on essentially circling Lake Michigan by going into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. As has become tradition for our travels, we searched Atlas Obscura, making a list of things that would interest us and Elphie planned a route. I added a couple other ideas as well that either were directly on the route or wouldn't put us too far out of the way and I think we figured out a decent trip between us. It was not so busy that it wore us out but we weren't bored either. We decided that we would stay in Saint Ignace, Michigan so I booked a hotel through booking.com that fit our budget and had amenities that we would like. We chose America's Best Value Inn. We decided on staying in Saint Ignace so that we'd only pay the toll for crossing the Mackinac Bridge one time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0oowo_mAEE

Before I got started on much of any other editing, I used Motion 4 on my MacBook to once again create the title sequence as well as animated maps that I put throughout the project as we traveled from one spot to the next. I chose the Papyrus font because I thought it had a sort of "sandy" look to it along with something of a decayed appearance as well. It felt fitting to me as we were along the lakeside throughout the trip and the apocalyptic state of things during this year of a pandemic that shows no sign of relenting any time soon. Though in hindsight I think I would have rather done something different with the lead ups, I decided to go with still shots from the trip sitting on top of each other like photos tossed on a table. I used the zoom lead in sort of out of laziness and now I wish I had some something different to make it look like the photos were tossed into a pile instead. I would have liked to have the pictures synced up to their locations better but my attempts didn't seem to quite work. Instead of spending a lot of time to make adjustments, I just left it how you see it and moved on to work on the actual footage. I tried to have the state flags change with the crossing of state lines as well. Overall, I feel I could have done this entire introduction/title a whole lot better than this. But there are things I do like. I like how the lettering looks and the effect I used to transition the titles in give a bit of a 3D feel to it. I also like how the photos do look stacked. I think adding a border to each photo would help the aesthetic a bit and that might be something I will consider for future projects as I feel it might be the biggest thing lacking in accomplishing the idea I have had with these titles. Again, I do wish I had chosen a different method of leading this photos in but chalk it up to laziness on my part.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOitsqYL-KU

We left on Saturday September 5th, around noon and headed into Indiana. This was the 174th day of the apocalypse. We stopped to get groceries, gas, and had lunch before heading into Michigan. I had nearly run the car out of gas. We stopped at the first gas station off the exit to get a little bit of gas to hopefully get us to my preferred gas station (due to rewards), Speedway. And we did make it to Speedway, though it felt like a close call. I got some Mountain Dew for the trip as we filled the car then we stopped at Taco Bell for lunch before going to Meijer to get some groceries for the trip. All of this took a lot longer than we anticipated and probably put us a few hours behind our plan but ultimately, I don't think it adversely affected the trip too much.

Once we got going and crossed into Michigan, our first stop ended up being in Benton Harbor, Michigan. It was the site of a cult known as "House of David." The community had a baseball team, amusement park, zoo, and restaurants besides the mansion where leadership lived and the modest, small homes intended for the rest of the community. There was some scandal, of course, involved with this community but seems things certainly could have been worse. We were able to see the mansion, the home where Mary Purnell lived and ran the restructured community after a change in leadership occurred due to the scandal involving her husband and the original community. We also saw Mary's restaurant, the various small buildings that appeared to be for housing members, an empty field that was once the baseball field, and I think we saw the old auditorium that may now be a museum. We didn't explore too much, we stayed on the roads and we likely missed viewing more of what remained of this community by not walking around but we did see quite a bit.

We headed to South Haven, Michigan next to taste Blue Moon Ice Cream at Sherman's Dairy Bar. I found it to be pretty underwhelming. At first I didn't really taste anything at all. Then it began to taste a bit like the milk leftover in the bowl after eating Fruity Pebbles. There was a slight hint of a fruity type flavor but mostly just the flavor of milk. We ended up waiting in line for quite a bit for this ice cream. It stained our mouths blue as well.

We continued on our way to Saugatuck, Michigan so we could see a park restroom painted like a Seurat piece. While there, we also saw the Saugatuck Chain Ferry which is one of the last of its kind. It uses a chain to cross the river from one side to the other to ferry folks across. I think we had just missed its last run for the day by a few minutes. We also saw a black squirrel as we headed back to our car. It was a busy downtown area, probably due to the nice weather. A lot of people were in the park.

The next part of our trip was the longest stretch of driving for the day. We passed through Grand Rapids, Michigan. I pulled off the highway to attempt to go to an Arby's for Elphie to get some dinner but the directions we were given did not turn up an Arby's. Thankfully it wasn't far off from our destination, a small chapel called the Rimwood Chapel in Hersey, Michigan. We were able to arrive there before dark and see this little chapel. Unfortunately, the possibly new property owner may have decided to no longer keep it as a chapel. The cross that had been on top in pictures we had seen was now missing and there was a sign that read "Parker's Place" on the from of the tiny building...but otherwise, it was indeed the same building. I assume it was meant for kids to play in. We didn't hang around too much...we didn't want any trouble for snooping.

We drove another relatively long stretch to Indian River, Michigan. As the sun set, we stopped for Elphie to get some dinner at a McDonald's. As we drove along a lake, we were able to see some fireworks going off in the distance. Elphie was able to capture some of it with the camera. We passed a 45th Parallel sign along the highway. We stopped again for fuel and passed signs for Cheboygan, Michigan. I was reminded of John Candy, as Gus Polinski, in Home Alone speaking of how his band, the Kenosha Kickers, were "very big in Sheboygan." I thought it was in Wisconsin though. I'd realize later that Sheboygan is in Wisconsin and this was Cheboygan. I suppose the band could have been big in both cities. They were the polka kings of the midwest, afterall. We arrived in Indian River a short time later to see The Cross In The Woods Shrine. This was claimed to be the largest crucifix in the world. It seemed there was a bit more to see in the area but we were feeling a bit pressed for time. I walked up to the cross then down behind it. There were signs for the stations of the cross meaning it was likely a walk that goes with it stretched around us. I found a statue of Saint Francis then we decided to get driving again so we could get to the hotel before midnight. We did accomplish this by about a half hour!

We drove through Mackinaw City, Michigan then onto the Mackinac Bridge and paid a toll to enter the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. As we drove through Saint Ignace, Michigan to find our hotel, we noticed most of all the hotels were full with "no vacancy" signs. We arrived at our hotel and it was packed as well with a lot of motorcycles and old timey cars. We got checked in at America's Best Value Inn and found our room. I moved the car closer to the room. We picked a room with a hot tub because, why not? It was a different type of tub than we had previously encountered. It was an elongated heart shape with jets that shoot up from below. It was also quite noisy. We came to realize we had no microwave as well so we had to go to the lobby to heat our food. We didn't utilize it but there was an indoor pool as well. Once we got settled in, I decided to try to get a shot of the moon with my camera. I got out my longer, more powerful lens and I was able to get a couple decent shots!

On Sunday September 6th, apocalypse day 175, we drove to a park on the north edge of Lake Michigan. I came up with a fun little plan to try to drink out of each of the Great Lakes because we now had a Life Straw! Up until this trip, I had touched the water of all the Great Lakes except Huron so I thought it was be interesting to be able to say I have had a drink from the waters of each lake! I got down to the water's edge and put the straw in the water and tried to suck up some water. It didn't work out as well as I had hoped. I didn't really read the directions either. I eventually was able to get enough water to have a decent swallow from the straw. I learned it didn't quite work like a conventional straw. It was more that one had to tip the straw toward your mouth and drink it like more like a sippy cup. I captured a few shots of the Mackinac Bridge from here as well as some other lake shots.

We drove up to Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan. We figured that even though we would not be permitted to cross the border, we'd get as close to Canada as we could. We also found that there was a Tower of History in Sault Sainte Marie and headed to see that. It was next to a church and apparently at one time property of the church but now serves as a sort of history museum for the city. There was an admission cost so we did not go up into the tower. We drove alongside of the Soo Locks and through the touristy downtown area then went over to a bay of Lake Superior to use the Life Straw to get a drink of water from that lake. I got a shot of the Sault Sainte Marie International Bridge and Canada while we were there as well. After getting this drink, which proved more difficult that the first time in Lake Michigan, we headed to finally get Arby's for Elphie then we headed to Kitch-iti-kipi...a natural spring. As we drove we experienced some early leaves changing and then some stormy weather. I captured a couple lightning bolts really but only one really showed up well on the camera.

We arrived before dark at Kitch-iti-kipi. It is a natural spring that has been preserved in a state park. There is a chain ferry that crosses back and forth operated by a wheel. We did not end up riding the ferry due to a large group of people. One is not permitted in the waters either. It had an eerie appearance with calcification on the trees that have fallen into the water. It is also very clear so you can see pretty far down into this deep spring. I used the Life Straw to get some water from the spring and we were able to take a taste of the water! Even though it was kind of out of the way, it really is a pretty cool place to check out if you are in the area. I am glad we took the time to visit.

We drove back to Saint Ignace in the rain. I pulled off to get a shot of the Mackinac Bridge at night before continuing back to our hotel.

On Monday September 7th, we decided to go to Mackinac Island. This would be the 176th day of the apocalypse. We had originally figured on going there on Tuesday. We figured it would be less busy and less crowded since Monday was Labor Day and it turned out there were quite a few tourist. Unforunately, the forecast for Tuesday did not look so good so we went on Monday. We drove down to park and found out, despite signs indicating otherwise as well as the information we had found online, that there was a parking fee. Free parking, it turned out was across the road. We decided to pay. We then bought our boarding pass for the Starline Ferry to cross to Mackinac Island. It was a bit packed but we made it on board and were able to sit not too terribly close together. I got a shot of the Mackinac Bridge and a little bit of the island as we approached from my aisle seat.

Once on Mackinac Island, we got some shots of the downtown area and someone making fudge...because apparently that's a big deal on Mackinac Island. We ended up getting some poutine to-go from Great Turtle and ate it in a picnic area by Lake Huron. I also went about getting some water from Lake Huron with the Life Straw. I had trouble again really getting water into it and after reading the manual the day before, I tried just getting a cup of the lake water and it worked much better. We had water as we walked. With this, I have now touched the waters from all five of the Great Lakes and drank from three of them. I am pretty certain getting to Lake Ontario and Lake Erie shouldn't be too much of a problem in the relatively near future to drink from them as well.

After getting the water from Lake Huron and getting some scenic shots of the water and Mackinac Bridge, we began to explore Mackinac Island a bit more beyond the town. We decided to walk where fewer people were on the back roads. As we walked we passed a Bark Chapel such as that which was set up by early missionaries to visit the island. We walked up a steep road, passing Fort Mackinac as we made our way to Skull Cave. Skull Cave is a place where natives placed their dead long ago. The skeletal remains have since been removed. Apparently at one time, this cave was at sea level and was created by the waves crashing against it. Skull Cave was one of the Atlas Obscura sites we definitely wanted to make sure we could visit. We walked a bit further up the road and visited Saint Anne's Cemetery where we walked around for a bit. We saw some native related artifacts on the edge of the cemetery as well as some of the oldest headstones to exist on the island. We also happened upon a relatively fresh grave. We didn't go further but apparently there were a couple more cemeteries just up the road a short walk.

We made our way through the woods to the east side of the island. As we walked we had to be careful not to step in horse dung as horse drawn carriages carted tourists around the island. We headed to Arch Rock but as we arrived on foot, so did multiple horse drawn carriages. Instead, I walked up a set of stairs to the Nicholet lookout and got a panoramic view looking east at Lake Huron. We walked into the woods a little ways on a rocky path and remarked about how it would be quite the tumble if one fell down the side of the hill. We went down to the Arch Rock. There was a crow on the rock. This was another place where the ancient waters once reached in a time long ago creating this spectacle. I went out on the viewing platform and got some more panoramic shots of Lake Huron.

From here, we walked back toward downtown, passing residences and mansions along the way. One was tucked in the woods away from everything. As we walked, I saw the Pirate Ship coming in to the port. We heard music playing as we walked. It turned out to be a concert going on in the park in downtown but it could be heard all through the island it seemed. We took a staircase down to an alley and walked passed a church, more homes, and other buildings as we entered the town area again. We saw the Pirate Ship and a model of the Statue of Liberty. At this point, we decided to get fudge. We went to a shop advertising the best fudge called Ryba's. Elphie got actual Mackinac Island Fudge and I got Mackinac Island Fudge ice cream. After we ate that, we decided to board the Starline Ferry back to the mainland. We were about a half hour early. We got to see the Pirate Ship leave the port. As we rode the ferry, I got shots as we passed by the western side of the island as well as of the waters. We arrived at the port in Saint Ignace and went back for another night in the hotel.

On the 177th day of the apocalypse, Tuesday, September 8th, we decided to have a more relaxed day. We went to the Mystery Spot and took the tour of the illusions and oddity that it is known for. We also played some minigolf then solved the Fort Maze. I think we could have done it quicker but we made it through in about five minutes. While working on another project I learned that I could add a timestamp to video and decided to do that with the clip of us going through the maze. I got some footage of the tour which shows a bit of the illusions of the Mystery Spot. It was a fun little activity.

After this, we stopped a Lehto's Pasties to try this food. It was on Atlas Obscura. A Pasty is something like a hot pocket. a breaded pocket stuffed with meat and potatoes. It was meant to be a portable meal for workers and I can see how it would serve its purpose.

We returned to the hotel for our last night in Saint Ignace. I decided to document on video the strange heart-shaped hot tub in the room. We wanted to have a more relaxed day because the next we would be driving a long way with some long stretches.

On Wednesday September 9th, the final day of our little vacation and the 177th day of the apocalypse, we began by leaving our hotel in Saint Ignace at check out time to head toward Gladstone, Michigan. Along the way, I got some shots of Lake Michigan from the road. We passed the Top-Of-The-Lake Snowmobile Museum in Naubinway, Michigan but we didn't stop. It was one of the longer stretches of driving for the day for us. In Gladstone, Michigan, we made a short visit to Hoegh's Industries - a pet casket and crematorium company we found on Atlas Obscura. It was technically not open to the public but the owner allowed us a short time to look around and told us a bit about the company. He had recently taken over ownership it seemed.

As we left Gladstone, Michigan, we passed a train and I got some shots of Green Bay, the water, not the town. We crossed into Wisconsin through the towns of Menominee, Michigan and Marionette, Wisconsin. After passing Peshtigo, Wisconsin, we arrived at a pull off where a marker was placed for the 45th Parallel. On the plaque, it would seem that the actual 45th line is some distance to the north.

We continued on our way and made a stop in Green Bay, Wisconsin, the town, not the water because I wanted to see Lambeau Field, the home of the Green Bay Packers. We did not try to go in but I wanted to see the stadium anyway. It is interesting in that it's surrounded on three sides by what would appear to be a typical residential neighborhood once you get off the highway on Lombardi Drive.

After Green Bay, we continued to Manitowoc, Wisconsin where a piece of Sputnik IV crashed. We arrived at the intersection as it was listed on Atlas Obscura. I got a bit turned around directionally and we looked on the wrong side of the street. It turns out that the street the piece crashed on is quite busy now....especially during "rush hour" which is about when we arrived. We did find the plaque and the ring in the road and got our shots of both then headed back on our way. I also got a shot of a strange sculpture outside the nearby art museum which apparently has a replica of the piece of Sputnik IV on display. It was rainy and cold at this point so we didn't stick around long.

We got some food then made our way to Kenosha, Wisconsin. Along the way, we passed Sheboygan, Wisconsin. I began to realize this was likely the Sheboygan that John Candy, as Gus Polinski, is referencing as the place where his band, the Kenosha Kickers were "very big in Sheboygan" in Home Alone. We were able to pass two towns that are pronounced the same, nearly spelled the same, and at least one of them is a pop culture reference, ha! As we continued I also got a shot of a huge flag then we "found" Waldo, Wisconsin. We drove through Milwaukee and arrived in Kenosha at the Mars Cheese Castle before it closed. There had been civil unrest in Kenosha during the weeks before this trip and apparently there was concerns of possible looting so the Mars Cheese Castle was boarded up. I was informed that my face covering was not permissible in the Mars Cheese Castle and was offered a medical mask to switch to. I complied. We got some shots and looked around a bit then I purchased some cheese curds.

We began our trip home. As we approached Chicago, the fog obscured the view of the city a bit. We made pretty good time and upon our arrival, we were greeted by Stein. I added a credits screen and the soundtrack list over the footage of our return after we passed downtown Chicago.

The trip went well, overall. Not too busy but we kept it interesting. I may have pushed a little bit with the trip to Kitch-iti-kipi but I think it was worth it. We may have been able to add it into the last day instead of driving out of the way to see it. Oh well. I enjoyed myself and I think Elphie did as well. We saw a number of interesting things and ate a couple interesting foods thanks to Atlas Obscura (and Gastro Obscura). That's often the goal of our trips so mission accomplished. In the video project for fall, we took some time to drive around to a few Atlas Obscura sites that were relatively near to us on the Southside of Chicago. We also made a special trip to Par-King Minigolf as we did not have the time to fit it in during this trip. Even amidst a global pandemic apocalypse, we were able to relax and have a good time and get away from home for a bit!

The additional soundtrack includes "WestDownRightUpLeftEast" by The Soil And The Sun, "Water" by J. Navarro And The Traitors, "Black Roses" by The Trigger Code, "Walk Around The Lake" by Isaac Joel, "Season Of Rain" by Josh Garrels, "Passing Islands" by Enlou, "Thunder Island" by Pomegranates, "The Silence Of The Sea" by Cut The Red Wire, "My Island" by Starflyer 59, "Downpour" by Black Swift, "Bootstraps" by The Uh Ohs, "In Time" by Silent Tongues, "Outta Here" by Lo Tom, "The Golden Age" by Joy Electric, and "Spring And Fall" by Seth Martin.

On a couple of previous projects, the Soundtrack portion of Final Cut Pro seemed as though it was no longer avaiable on my Mac Mini. While working through what I wanted to use for this project, I tried to open the program and it opened so I was able to return to the much easier and quicker method of making the audio files compatible to Final Cut Pro on my Mac Mini.

It was a similar thing with the Compressor program as well. I am thankful both are back to working on my Mac Mini. It works much faster that way.

This project was filmed using iPhone 6 and 8, Canon Rebel T6, and CrossTour CR900 by Elphie and Joel A. Swanson. Animations, titles, and maps created using Motion 4 on a Macbook by Joel A. Swanson. Edited using Final Cut Pro on a Mac Mini by Joel A. Swanson.