a TigerRAWk Film

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

A Shared Life: Summer In Chicago 2020 - Apocalypse Edition (July - August)

The apocalypse continued into and through the summer of 2020. Restrictions on gatherings remained in place and wearing masks continued to be an expectation if one were to be in public places. Things continued to be canceled, postponed, or modified in ways that limited large crowds. It seemed the only way one could gather in a large crowd would be if one were to protest. This, of course brought its share of criticisms as life during a pandemic continues to be politicized so every little thing carries greater weight and significance based on one's chosen political affiliation. In Chicago, domestic travel restrictions were put in place to try to keep the infection rate in the city down as much as possible while infections rose in other areas of the country. Sports returned! Well, sort of...at least to be watched on television but with some (baseball) changing the way the game is played supposedly in the name of safety regarding COVID-19. Live music events remained as online broadcasts and Audiofeed was first postponed until Labor Day weekend then ultimately canceled for 2020. We were able to do a few fun things in spite of the restrictions. I made a weekend trip to Pennsylvania, and we planned an extended weekend get-a-way to end the summer because we had become a bit restless. We planned this with as much care taken against possible infection as we could.
On Wednesday July 1st, the 108th day of the Apocalypse, with more bars and restaurants opening to give more options of food, I decided to celebrate Canada Day with some poutine take out from The Bad Apple and it was very good. This is one of two places in Chicago I have found that produce poutine. The other is D-Men Tap. I enjoy both places and I'm not sure if there is exactly a favorite at this point. The Bad Apple seemed more easily accessible to me so that's why I got my poutine there. This day would have been the start of Audiofeed. Later in the evening, Stein got scared while playing and because it was funny, I captured it on video.

Since around Memorial Day there has been fairly constant fireworks going off in our neighborhood. If there is anything I have learned living here, is the folks really enjoy fireworks! I captured a little bit of it on Friday July 3rd, Apocalypse day 110. There seemed to be a lot more going off just prior to my going outside to capture what I did get which included a helicopter passing by. Since we were not at Audiofeed, we decided to invite some friends over on Saturday July 4th, the 111th day of the Apocalypse, to partake in the neighborhood fireworks spectacular, or war zone, depending on your point of view, that we have really only heard about but never fully experienced due to Audiofeed. I purchased some fireworks from Phantom Fireworks as well to join in the fun. We started with a bonfire out back to cook some food. I shot off a few bottle rockets while it was still daylight. All around you could see and hear explosions of fireworks while it was still daylight and into the twilight. It continued to increase. We moved to the front of the house to set off our fireworks, joining the neighbors a couple houses over. I set up my Canon Rebel T6 next to the gate on the sidewalk. My hope was to capture as much of the fireworks as I could using that camera and just let it record while I lit off various fireworks and captured more direct shots using my iPhone 8. The Canon Rebel T6 was not quite in focus. Though I do wish I had gotten it in focus, the effect that resulted wasn't too bad. The twelve minute limit of course kicked in and I had stopped it a couple of times as well as I tried to adjust where I had it aimed a couple different times. While I feel I could have done better in the filming of all this, I am satisfied with what I got and will just try to do better next time. We shot off all our fireworks...some were pretty cool, some were surprisingly better than they appeared that they would be, others didn't quite live up to expectations. All in all, it was a fun night. I captured footage of fireworks going off all around using both my iPhone 8 and my Canon Rebel T6 both during and after setting off our own fireworks. When I had shot off everything we bought, I went in the back and watched the much better fireworks being shot by a neighbor to the west of us. Later, we decided to walk to find out where exactly these fireworks were being shot from. I captured some footage once we figured it out after seeing a huge pile of the spent fireworks. On Sunday July 5th, the 112th day of the Apocalypse, as we went to Indiana to get groceries, we noticed the large number of billboards for firework sales and one that sort of mocked the other companies excessive billboard ads and captured that on video. Our landlord's kid shot off some fireworks that evening and once we realized it was him, we came outside to watch and captured a bit more footage to finish off the holiday weekend. While I would have loved to be at Audiofeed and not restricted by quarantine rules in a pandemic apocalypse, I think we made the best of the weekend and it was fun to experience the neighborhood and its fireworks. If the Audiofeed 2021 schedule holds as is planned, we may be around for it next year as well!

On Saturday, July 11th, Apocalypse day 118, we visited "Shit Fountain." It is a site on Atlas Obscura that we had intended on checking out for a while. The weather wasn't too hot and we had already gone out and about to get something at Costco so I figured why not take another little trip to check this thing out. It is pretty funny. It was created as a reminder to dog owners to clean up after their dogs, apparently. On Sunday July 12th, Apocalypse day 119, we decided to go to Haunted Trails to play mini-golf. We saw it was open and figured we could probably keep social distance while playing mini-golf. We checked to see how busy it was when we arrived. There were a lot of cars in the parking lot. The mini-golf part wasn't too busy so we played a game. Elphie and I both had multiple hole-in-ones, including on the final hole. We got some Andy's Frozen Custard afterwards. This was also quite busy. The cars were out on Harlem Avenue waiting to get in for the drive in service. We parked in the next lot and walked in to place our order and enjoyed our custard.

On Wednesday July 22nd, Apocalypse day 129, I drove to Warren, Pennsylvania so that I could try to renew my drivers license and purchase my hunting license. I had run into difficulties on the drivers license and had tried to apply for my renewal online but it could not process. The COVID-19 quarantine and societal shut down caused more delays and other problems so I had been driving on an expired license for a couple of months. My understanding of the expiration extension was that I would have until the end of July to renew my license. This weekend also happened to be a graduation party for my cousin Brynne's oldest son, Gerrit so it was as good of an excuse as any to travel to Pennsylvania. Chicago had just begun to set travel restrictions to certain states about a week before this trip but Pennsylvania, while it saw an uptick in COVID-19 cases, did not fall onto the restricted list. In Warren, the numbers have remained fairly low compared to other, more urban areas...but there was a bit of an uptick in cases there as well at that point in time. I left work after a half day in hopes to avoid some traffic and get the drive over with before it was too late. Traffic hasn't been terribly bad in Chicago during this time of quarantine and restrictions anyway but I hoped to avoid "rush hour" if possible. I did end up encountering some slow traffic headed south through the city on the highway but I did eventually get out of Chicago and made my first stop for gas in Indiana and got some food for the drive. The weather was pretty good but windy going through Indiana. As I entered Ohio, I saw a cloud shaped like a bunny that I sent to Elphie. As I continued through Ohio, I saw a rainbow then got caught in some storms the rest of the trip to Warren and arrived around midnight. On Thursday July 23rd, Apocalypse day 130, we visited with grandpa at the nursing home. He was wheeled out into a cell type structure and we had 20 minutes to visit with him. It somewhat felt like visiting someone in prison. Even though he was placed behind a barrier, we still had to keep a 6 foot social distance. It was hard to hear and the face coverings didn't help in that regard either...neither did the storm that came in during the visit. Earlier in the day, my mom and I visited the office of the local State Representative, Kathy Rapp to see if there was anything she could do to help expediate the drivers license situation. There was little she could do. On Friday July 24th, Apocalypse day 131, a letter arrived stating that the state of Pennsylvania could not process my request for renewal but to visit a Drivers License Center. I drove to the one in Warren and was told there that I needed to go to a regional office in either Erie or Bradford. That evening, we drove to Clymer, NY to attend Gerrit's graduation party and visit with extended family. I had some good talks with my uncles ranging from the difficulties of obtaining my drivers license to thoughts on government in general, COVID-19, and the civil unrest going on. I captured a toad on video as well at the sunset as we left besides a couple clips during the party. On Saturday July 25th, Apocalypse day 132, I drove to Bradford, PA to attempt to get my drivers license and...thank God! I got it! As I returned to Warren, I stopped by the Dairy Delite for a Hot Fudge and Cherry malt then drove to Wal*Mart to get my hunting license and I sent in for my anter-less deer license as well and then made a little visit to the woods I have often hunted in. On Sunday July 26th, Apocalypse day 133, I returned to Chicago and most of the footage from this day is from the drive including some large clouds building up as I neared Chicago with a little bit of lightning.

On Sunday August 2nd, Apocalypse day 140, we went to Meijer in Highland, Indiana. While dropping off Elphie so I could get gas, a man stopped in the middle of the parking lot to eat some M&Ms. He stopped where the parking lot traffic would have had to wait on him to consume those M&Ms. It was strange. On our way into Chicago, we captured footage of the storm clouds seemingly consuming the city. On Monday August 3rd, Apocalypse 141, I captured some low clouds as I drove into work and a strong rain storm as I drove home. On Friday August 7th, Apocalypse 145, the Pittsburgh Penguins were eliminated from the restarted NHL season playoffs before they really began. This was a sad day. On Sunday August 9th, Apocalypse day 147, Elphie bought an ice cream cake and decorated it herself with the provided materials. On Monday August 10th, Apocalypse day 148, the northside of Chicago was hit by tornado while the rest of the city had hurricane force winds from a derecho that pushed through during the early evening. I was still at work and parked a couple blocks away. As I watched the radar and received the alerts about the storm as it approached, I considered moving my car. I went outside and watched the clouds for a bit. I noticed how dark it had gotten and the eeriness of the storm. As the wind picked up and the rain started I went back inside having not moved my car and helped co-workers who were trying to get in and out the door as this storm hit. I went back to the office and watched the radar and storm coverage for a while. As I left, I captured some clips of the downed limbs, trees, and other debris I encountered walking to my car and driving out of Uptown. On Tuesday August 11th, Apocalypse day 149, Jeremy, my boss, and I went downtown to deliver some mail to some of our shelter clients who had been relocated from Cornerstone Community Outreach to Hotel 166 as a precaution regarding their health and COVID-19. While there, we decided to drive through the city and Magnificent Mile to see the damage done on Sunday night/Monday morning during an episode of civil unrest, rioting, and looting after police had shot a young man on the southside on Sunday afternoon. Once again the downtown and Loop areas of the city were under a curfew and closed off to the rest of the city with restricted access. We drove around a bit and I included what I captured on the CrossTour car camera during that drive. We also drove by a homeless tent city before heading back to Uptown and to work. As we entered back into Uptown, I captured some more of the storm damage from the previous evening. On Wednesday August 12th, Apocalypse day 150, I captured some police activity in McKinley Park as I drove home from work. That evening, Elphie visited with her friend Kathleen on the northside of the city. On my attempt to return to the southside, I was blocked by the police enforcing the curfew on Lake Shore Drive. I had to detour through the northside of the city over to the interstate so I captured footage of my getting around the blockade of the city.

I decided that this will be the end of the summer portion of A Shared Life: Summer in Chicago 2020 (Apocalypse Edition). The other footage I captured over this period was or will be used for a project where I mess with phone scammers, cold callers, etc. or some other phone related pranks. It's been a fun thing to do instead of just getting angry about such calls.

Over Labor Day Weekend, we took a trip into Michigan's Upper Peninsula and that will be used to divide from summer into fall for video purposes. While the fireworks section is a bit long, the rest of the season ends up not having a whole lot of substance. Probably the biggest reason would be due to lack of activities being available under the current circumstances.

I included songs into the soundtrack with perhaps a bit more of a focus and purpose on what I picked and why. I don't feel like getting into all those details but I will say that songs included were intentional...not just thrown in to fill space (which I have done at times). The additional soundtrack includes "Oh Canada" by Five Iron Frenzy, The Holiday Song (Some Christians are Nazis) (4th of July cut) by The Homeless Gospel Choir, "Breathe/Sleep" by Eugenius, "Vanity, Remember The Peacock" by Sophia, "American Sheets On The Deathbed" by ZAO, "American Psycho" by White Collar Sideshow, "I'm Afraid Of Americans" David Bowie with Nine Inch Nails, "Street Vs. State - Global Tribal - Reconstruction" by The Dingees, "Life Won't Wait" by Rancid, "Zen And The Art Of Xenophobia" by Five Iron Frenzy, "Battle Hymn" by FBS, "The Olde" by Flatfoot 56, "The Fighting 69th" by Dropkick Murphys, "General's Boombox" by Street Dogs, "Havana Affair" by Ramones, ""American War Machine" by Huntingtons, "Hey America" by Headnoise, "American Dream" by Crashdog, "Stars And Stripes" by Officer Negative, "Contemplating The Demise Of Western Civilization And Its Consequences" by Desiring Dead Flesh, "Bye American" by Squad Five-0, "Anarchist" by Destroy Nate Allen, "Anarchist Reprise" by Insomniac Folklore, "Moonshot" by Steve Taylor And The Perfect Foil, "Some People" by Low & Behold, "There Will Be Fire" by EVP, "Kill, My Darlings" by Stavesacre, "US Government" by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, "Eye Of The Storm" by Blindside, "Uproar" by October Bird Of Death, "Englewood" by Flatfoot 56, "Gentrified Ghetto" by 2Minute Minor, "Da Boss" by 6'10, and "Better" by Good Saint Nathanael.

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

Friday, August 14, 2020

A Shared Life: Spring In Chicago 2020 - Apocalypse Edition (April - June)


The "apocalypse" continued through Spring 2020 as we remained under stay at home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All concerts and other forms of in person live entertainment remained banned so I didn't get any footage from anything like that but I did experience some "live" events through social media broadcasts. These have been fun and helps a bit. Mostly, life is spent at home. I have continued to work, though for a few weeks part of that time was spent working from home. Some of the footage in this project was highlighting transit to/from work (I might have went a bit overboard with these clips, ha!) as I began to drive instead of riding public transit due in part to take less risk in regards to COVID-19 and also seeing some odd things going on during commutes or while waiting at stations. It just seemed a good idea to remove myself from public transit.

During this apocalyptic season, we had birthdays and our anniversary to celebrate as best that we could. Otherwise we continued to mostly just stay home, going out for necessities like groceries and work.

A new wrinkle that developed during this season was civil unrest due to racial tensions escalated by several incidents of police brutality or excessive force...unfortunately, these incidents increased with the protesting which turned to some rioting and looting. This happened as governing leaders began to loosen the restrictions on the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The project opens with the apocalyptic introduction clip I created...this time it is the one with added distortion that appears as "bad television/film" and other effects to give it the more apocalyptic feel than the previous "clean" version (more information on the creation of this intro clip here). Layered on that are some still pictures of our life during Spring 2020. I continued to count the days of the apocalypse and will until we are closer to living a normal life...there's no knowing when that will be at this time.

I took longer on this project than I have in a while trying to find just the right soundtrack. It's not perfectly the way I would like it but I did feel most every song had a purpose and meaning for this season.
Our landlord decided to install some Ring doorbell security cameras at the house. On Wednesday April 1st (Day #17), the motion detector was activated allowing me to see a squirrel take a tumble while attempting to get to the bird feeder. I saved the video clip and included it into the project. As I returned from work using public transit, at the CTA Roosevelt station I captured fog rolling into the city from the lake. On Thursday April 2nd, I captured the emptiness of downtown Chicago during my public transit commute to and from work. It was a bit eerie to see the city that is usually quite busy to be so empty during regular business hours. I continued to take public transit for another week or so, often riding in the car alone though on a couple occasions, it would be a bit more busy. I began to weigh the risk and started to consider driving to work figuring the driving commute wouldn't be as bad with less traffic. My decision to quit riding public transit came with a few instances of crazy people on the commute or those who seemed to feel that following the guidelines to mitigate against COVID-19 did not apply to them...but especially one case of a lady fighting against nothing and spitting at it while the nothing apparently fought back too!

I opened this video project with a song by the Pomegranates called "Surfing The Human Heart." It seems to be a song asking for help from God in a time of exhaustion. It seemed appropriate with the pandemic.

On Sunday, April 5th (Day #21), we took our first grocery shopping trip during the apocalypse. We figured out a plan so we would not be in Meijer too long and began using the "Shop and Scan" option so check out would hopefully be a bit easier, quicker, and allow for less people handling out items. I captured a shot of the aisle where one would usually find toilet paper and cleaning products which was now empty due to Americans causing a shortage, in part, by hoarding. On Tuesday, April 7th (Day #23), a decent storm rolled through. I went outside to see if I could capture any good lightning. I did get a couple decent strikes but hoped for better. I checked the Ring and took a some footage from that as well. I edited and posted the strikes using iMovie on my iPhone 8 to Instagram that evening.

We fog our apartment to prevent against bugs from time to time and decided to do so on Wednesday, April 15th (Day #31). I was working from home that day so we could get it done during daylight hours and not take away a weekend day. While the fogging process happens, we sit in the attic laundry room. I captured a clip of Stein looking out the window next to the creepy mannequin while we waited to return to the apartment. April 15th is our friend Tessa Allen's birthday. She does tax preparations (her company linked to her name) which makes it all the more fitting. Nate Allen asked me to compile a bunch of clips he had sent to him to make a birthday video for her. I don't think it was ever posted publicly...but I had fun creating it for her and it seems that she enjoyed it as well. On Friday, April 17th (Day #33), we had a spring snowstorm which seems pretty normal in Chicago. I think that did end up being the last real snow....there may have been some flurries after this and there were definitely some very cold days but I think this was the last real snowy day.

The next song I included for the soundtrack was "Doe of the Morning" by Psalters. It is a fairly long song with a message for justice. I wanted to use it due to the injustices that occurred during this season and felt it appropriate. The song ends just before any of the footage of the unrest is showing.

On Tuesday, April 28th (Day #44), I drove home from work during quite the storm. A lightning strike occurred as I crossed the Chicago River while driving on Lake Shore Drive. I did the best I could to capture it in slow motion from the car camera. It looked way more epic in real life. On Wednesday, April 29th (Day #45), the storms continued as I turned 40. I would be working from home the rest of the week as well as the next Monday. I decided to get pizza from Falco's and Elphie got a panzerotti as a collective birthday celebration. My gift from Elphie was to be able to watch whatever I wanted, movie-wise...so I took full advantage of that! It was strange, of course, celebrating a birthday during COVID-19 pandemic and its stay-at-home orders. Not just on this day but throughout this time and really for quite some time, people have taken to arguing about silly things. In particular, with the pandemic, I am seeing people who act as though the virus does not exist and that efforts to mitigate it are oppressive, tyranny, and evil...not to mention politically motivated. I had one person, who believes himself a prophet, try to "curse" me with the virus (so far in all the testing I have had the opportunity to take, I have not been positive for COVID-19 so I guess this "curse" didn't quite work out, ha!) for not declaring his glory for (among other things) his supposed saving of his state (Iowa) from the economic hardships due to the pandemic induced shutdowns. This "prophet" also seemly made a threat of violence against me should there be an Audiofeed in 2020 (I wonder if that will be still in effect in 2021?). To me, it seems we should just do what we can to mitigate this virus...not make it political and argue against ourselves, get so angry with one another, and/or put others at risk.

On Tuesday, May 12th (Day #58), there was a flyover by the Blue Angels to honor the "first responders" and other "front line workers" who were working throughout this pandemic so far. When it flew over near Cornerstone Community Outreach, I went outside and captured a clip of the flyover. On Wednesday May 13th (Day #59), Elphie celebrated her birthday. I decided to make her a quick video for her birthday which I posted to her facebook page (and if you are her friend on there, you could see it). I returned the favor of watching whatever movies she wanted to watch but we didn't do much else to celebrate in these pandemic times.

On Tuesday, May 19th (Day #65), I took footage from the car camera of the foggy commute. On Wednesday, May 20th (Day #66), Elphie and I decided to drive to get a look at and capture some footage of the Sears Tower which was dark due to a power outage from the weekend flooding. It was a strange and eerie sight to see. It appears there is a face on the west facing side of the Sears Tower. We captured shots from a shopping center near Roosevelt then drove on Halsted to get shots from the west side of the building. I'm glad that we did so when we did as power was restored the next day. I captured this footage mostly using my Canon Rebel T6 due to its capacity in lower light conditions.

On Thursday, May 21st (Day #67) I saw an interesting sticker stating that "fear is a liar" on a garbage can near where I work so I took a shot of it. The message seemed to ring true to the times we have been living in...and it rings even more true with what was to come. On Sunday, May 24th (Day #70), we had originally planned to be flying to Finland then onto Russia but the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything. We went grocery shopping instead and hung outside with our landlord and his family and the upstairs tenant when we returned to have a bonfire. On our way to get groceries, we passed a Zombie Outbreak Patrol vehicle. It was equipped with flashing lights, if not sirens, and appeared to use those flashing lights to get through stopped and slowed traffic. The driver appeared to be wearing some sort of official uniform as well. This was a bit strange and worthy to be captured and shared, ha!

On Monday, May 25th (Day #71) it was Memorial Day. I decided to go to work and on my commute home, I captured some boats on the lake where they apparently were not supposed to be according to orders by Mayor Lightfoot. This day, an event in Minneapolis would change a lot of things in this country going forward that probably no one expected. A man, George Floyd, was killed by police as a bystander was recording it and asking for mercy for the man. This would spark protesting that would spread around the world. In some cases, efforts to mitigate against COVID-19 seemed to be set aside, to some extent, as demonstrations occurred against the police brutality and excessive force against people and more specifically, people of color. This occurred when many of the restrictions we have been living under in Chicago were to be lifted. I watched the video either the next day or the day after that. As I worked through the week, I also watched video of the unrest in Minneapolis and figured it would eventually come to Chicago as well. I had a day off to use so I decided to use it on Friday, May 29th and that evening the protesting began in Chicago and would go on through the weekend and into the next week. Like in other places, some chose to riot and loot and some police officers chose to use excessive force against even those who were peacefully demonstrating. The civil unrest caused downtown Chicago to be restricted to public access. Bridges were lifted and traffic was blocked and there was a curfew which included the suspension of public transit. The rioting and looting then spread to other parts of the city but where we live remained fairly safe. We walked to the store on Sunday, May 31st (Day #77) while there was some rioting and looting going on in areas around us but we did not witness anything at the time. We could hear some sirens and such all around us. I decided to play around with this clip by layering the clip and modifying the speed of the footage to give it a more unsettling and ominous feel. When I returned back to work on Monday, June 1st (Day #78), I had to take an alternate route. I could not access my normal route due restricted access to downtown so I drove north up Western Avenue then drove east on Lawrence Avenue. As I drove north, I witnessed some of the damage from some of the rioting and looting. Where I work in Uptown there was not too much damage. Some businesses did sustain damage and had to be boarded up while others boarded up as a precaution. As I left that evening to go home, a protest approached Uptown. I captured a few shots of its arrival and the riot police setting up. I had to walk through them to get to my car. On my drive home, I took the same route and saw most of the businesses which sustained damage had been boarded up and others were doing so as a precaution. Some had written on the boards that they had already been looted. It was a bit of a sobering sight to see all this as I don't believe I had ever lived in a place where and while such unrest was occurring. I used some footage that Skot Shaw shot as the demonstration passed on Wilson Avenue. After the demonstration ended in Uptown, some folks did come through and cause some trouble including breaking windows in businesses and some police used more excessive force against protesters. I captured some footage of the aftermath walking around Uptown after depositing my work check on Tuesday, June 2nd (Day #79). On Wednesday, June 3rd (Day #80) I was able to drive using my normal route to work on Lake Shore Drive but I noticed downtown remained restricted due to the bridges being lifted. Some of the downtown exits off of Lake Shore remained blocked by police as well. On Friday, June 5th (Day #82), a protest and vigil in honor of Breonna Taylor was planned in Uptown during my work hours. I went out to watch as the march passed by. In my opinion, of the three recent police involved deaths of people of color that we have heard about (not that I wish to be ranking these in any way), her death at the hands of police is, by far, the worst instance in that the police entered her home on a "no knock" warrant. Her boyfriend, who was legal to carry a gun, took a warning shot and police returned fire, killing Breonna Taylor and peppering the apartment with bullets...also hitting other apartments. The only punishment so far has been due to the stray bullets hitting other apartments. I believe "no knock" warrants should not exist and I believe that those involved in this killing ought to be brought to justice. I included the entire march as it passed me. I chose to keep the natural audio and did not add any additional soundtrack to this clip.

The soundtrack to these clips of the aftermath of the civil unrest includes "Riot Gear" by Five Iron Frenzy and "I Wanna Riot" by Rancid. Again, I decided to not layer a soundtrack over the march for Breonna Taylor leaving the natural audio. I think both songs pretty much are self explanatory. 

On Saturday, June 6th (Day #83), Elphie and I headed to Indiana for our usual grocery trip. We also decided to get a car wash. We noticed major traffic backed up headed into the city and considered alternate routes home but we made it back without much difficulty. As we drove south on the expressway, I noticed graffiti of a nude Marge Simpson. I captured it with the car camera which wasn't the clearest resolution but I did the best that I could to show this spectacle. It was removed by the next time we drove through the area.

On Monday, June 8th (Day #85), the bridges were lowered opening downtown Chicago once again to public access. We, the citizens of Chicago, were no longer grounded by Mayor Lightfoot.

Elphie and I celebrated our fifth anniversary on Saturday, June 13th (Day #90). We got Andy's Frozen Custard to start the day then drove over to McCook, IL where a part of Route 66 has been abandoned due to mining by a nearby quarry causing the road to become unstable. Despite the "No Trespassing" signs, we were able to access the road and walked along the entire stretch that was abandoned. The roadway, while stable enough to walk on without much concern, was definitely uneven and broken up. Nature has begun to reclaim it. We had vultures flying overhead. I captured some shots of the quarry as well with its green water due to the minerals in the rocks. I captured the Sears Tower from the road as well. We found one hole where a cone had apparently been placed but mostly hidden by plant life. Elphie found a twisted metal tube that she took and now hangs in our house. It was a good walk and I did capture quite a bit of footage. We decided to get Bree Thai for dinner and played a game of Jenga while we ate. We invited a few friends over for a bonfire to end the night. I captured some interesting colors in the fire as well as some nearby fireworks during the night. After our friends left, we watched the Nocturna live stream where we got a "shout out" for our anniversary and Scary Lady Sarah played "Love Song" by The Cure for us. The next day, Sunday, June 14th (Day #91), we went to McKinley Park where we fed the squirrels and the ducks and geese.

A lot of what we did for our anniversary revolved a bit around wood due to that being the official theme of the fifth anniversary. It was a nice day spent together. We've spent a lot of time together under current conditions but that doesn't matter. It is good to celebrate five years together. I am glad to spend it with Elphie. I am glad we haven't gotten on each others nerves too much! Love is a good thing!

The soundtrack I used for the footage of our anniversary included "Love You Till The End" by Pogues, "Don't Look Back" by Squad Five-0, "Care For You" by Wolfsheim, "Love Song" by The Cure, and "Tin Cans" by The Castros. They all fit well with the theme of the day I thought as love songs with "Don't Look Back" also having some apocalyptic feel to it in my opinion.

For the day at the park clip, I used "White Riot" by The Clash. It really fits more with the civil unrest but I added it here.

On Thursday, June 18th (Day #95), Elphie received Garbage Pail Kids Monopoly in the mail and we played it that night. I won. This is a night we tend to watch game shows so it seemed appropriate to be playing a game! On Saturday, June 20th (Day #97) we drove passed the demolition of the Wrigley Factory on 35th Street and Ashland. On Monday, June 22nd (Day #99), the Lakefront was re-opened after three months of closure due to COVID-19 mitigation. The beaches remained closed as well as an area called "the playpen" where boats congregate but I saw boats in the "playpen" (captured in this video) and folks on the beaches and swimming. The trails were open and people were permitted to use them. They had been using them for a while now but it was officially ok. Vehicle traffic remains closed though, which for me means continuing to seek out free parking when I go to work each day. On Thursday, June 25th (Day #102), as I left work, a protest outside of the office of Alderman James Cappleman was beginning. The protest was meant to hold him accountable for equitable housing opportunities for minorities and people of color as well as for police reform to the extent in which he has power. As I drove home, I saw some Good Samaritans helping a disabled vehicle off the street. I felt like including that positive act in the midst of so much negative going on.

I included "We Say" by Stavesacre in this part because the political message of the song felt about right to me.

On Friday, June 26th (Day #103), there were storms rolling through Chicago. I captured one lightning strike on my way into work on the car camera and was able to slow it down enough to get a good look at it. When I got home from work, another storm was kicking up so I captured the clouds coming in. During the storm, while there was a lot of lightning, from my vantage points I really only saw the flashes. As the rain let up some, I started seeing more lightning bolts at the front of the house. A rainbow formed as well and I captured some lightning in the rainbow. The sky also turned a strange hue of pink while the rainbow remained and also turned pink...the rainbow remained as the sun set and I captured the sunset from the back of the house at the end of the storm. I originally posted some clips to Instagram from this storm where I did the editing to slow down the lightning using iMovie on my iPhone 8 but I redid the edits for this project using Final Cut Pro on my Mac Mini.

I included "(La Pioggia Triste Triste) The Sad, Sad Rain" by Leper due to the storm.

On Sunday, June 28th (Day #105), we went over to McKinley Park again and fed the squirrels. Some took the nuts right from Elphie's hand. On Tuesday, June 30th (Day #107), while we should have been preparing and packing to leave for Audiofeed, I was instead working on this video project. Audiofeed was delayed until September...if it were to happen at all in 2020.

The additional soundtrack is "Surfing The Human Heart" by Pomegranates, "Doe of the Morning" by Psalters, "Riot Gear" by Five Iron Frenzy, "I Wanna Riot" by Rancid, "Love You Till The End" by Pogues, "Don't Look Back" by Squad Five-0, "Care For You" by Wolfsheim, "Love Song" by The Cure, "Tin Cans" by The Castros, "White Riot" by The Clash, "We Say" by Stavesacre, and "(La Pioggia Triste Triste) The Sad, Sad Rain" by Leper.

This project was filmed using an iPhone 6 and 8, CrossTour CR900, and Canon Rebel T6 by Elphie and Joel A. Swanson. An additional clip filmed by Skot Shaw is also included as well as some footage from a Ring Doorbell. Titles created using Motion 4 on a Macbook by Joel A. Swanson. Edited using Final Cut Pro on a Mac Mini by Joel A. Swanson.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

A Shared Life: Winter In Chicago 2020 - Apocalypse Edition (January - March)

When it began, one probably didn't expect what 2020 has become: an apocalyptic type of year. Australia caught fire, a war seemingly nearly broke out, then a worldwide pandemic called COVID-19 more or less put a stop to life as we know it for most folks. I was among the fortunate ones to be able to continue my job and even was given a few days to "work from home" along with a "hazard" pay increase. As I write this, we continue to live in quarantine due to the pandemic induced "stay-at-home" orders and guidance. Of course you have some folks who are making it political, arguing over this or that, coming up with conspiracy theories, and upset over the rights they believe that they have lost due to government overreach. I am thankful to know a lot of folks who, during this time, are stepping up in loving kindness to those around them and even creating services to meet needs that are unique to this time.

A part of me wishes that I had done more activities in the time we had before the "stay-at-home" orders and guidance went into effect. Perhaps a few more shows. Maybe attend some local minor league hockey or maybe made a trip to Pittsburgh for a Penguins game. I dealt with some unusual illness during the early months of the year that had me miss a couple days of work and generally not feel up to going out to a show or anything else. Oh well...hindsight. We had been planning a trip to Russia and invested money toward that so I felt I should be somewhat mindful of spending and certainly did not have the foresight to know that some things I did pay for in advance would not be happening (and with that said, I hope to get refunded for things not rescheduled).

Some good that has come from this though has been seeing a lot of live performances on the internet of bands or artists that I likely would not have seen or in a way that no one has likely seen done. I think in hard times, the creative folks really step it up and that has certainly come through during this time.

The last few years, I waited until the year was over to post each of the seasonal "A Shared Life" clips. I tried to have the blog ready so that I could post each season's video about one week apart in January and be able to share the blog within that week at least as well. Part of the reasoning for that was that I wasn't getting the projects done in a very timely manner. I might have finished a project for one season in a reasonable time but not others. I also had work to finish on projects from the previous year to get done and I wanted to get them posted before getting these seasonal ones posted which was a self imposed deadline and restriction. An example, I think that by the time I finished the winter project last year, it was June or July (though it may have been much later). Now I know it is nearly June as I type this, but under the current circumstances, I think I will probably get a chance to finish up the seasonal projects at least within the following season (for example, I am finished with winter while it is still spring and not yet summer) so that I can post them within a reasonable time of the end of the season. I finished the last of the projects from 2019 and I don't have anything on the table that needs worked on nor any prospects of projects that are needing to be done. I may work around with some stuff here or there but nothing is pressing and nothing has deadlines currently to stop me from getting these seasonal projects done in a timely manner.

This project documents the winter of 2020...January through the end of March. Things began to change in March as far as the effect on our life and I began to document when the "stay-at-home" orders and guidance were placed on Illinois and Chicago as the beginning of the apocalypse somewhat tongue-in-cheek. I also decided to make an intro clip that will start these videos. This project happens to have an early edition of that clip before I added some effects to make the images appear old with static noise, anti-alias, and bad film and television effects. I made a new edition after I finalized this project and though I could probably make the change, I am just going to leave it alone and let the remaining apocalypse era videos have the new edition. I wrote a short blog regarding the apocalypse intro that you can read about here.
January 2020
On Wednesday January 1st, I decided to go into work on New Year's Day this year and so I captured some clips of the morning commute.

On Friday January 3rd, we gathered with our friends Josh, Anastasia, Kevin, Jasmine, and Cindy in Aurora, IL for a Murder Mystery Dinner party. It was a fun game.







On Saturday January 4th, Elphie and I attended a punk show put on by Quinn Anderson. It was in a cold building running off generators in a skatepark behind a Mexican restaurant called The Fallout. Quinn put on a RAD show! Her band, KillCult played and did a great job! She also did one song with What's Your Damage to make a music video you can watch here (some of my footage ended up being used). 2Minute Minor also played and a bunch of other bands I either am not familiar with or much less familiar with: The Big Cheese, Constant Buzz, Signals, Miracle Whip, and The Kreutzer Sonata. It was a lot of fun to see a punk show like this.

On Thursday January 9th, as I waited on the bus to go to work, I noticed stuffed animals attached to the side of a nearby garbage truck. I thought it was funny so I captured a shot of it and included it in the project. This is the second garbage truck I have seen decorated with things possibly from someone's trash. A couple years ago I documented a garbage truck with a painting or picture attached to its side. I also included a still shot of a headline from a Pittsburgh news station that read "These Aren't My Pants" which I of course shared to Five Iron Frenzy!

On Friday January 17th, as I walked to the bank after work in a blizzard, I noticed and captured filming trailers along broadway in Uptown indicating some sort of filming was taking place which turned out to be ChicagoPD.

On Saturday January 18th, we once again came out to Uptown for Mellie's birthday party at JPUSA. While it was done snowing for the most part, it was pretty cold. I tried to pay for parking but the machine would not accept my payment. I lucked out and did not receive a ticket. It was a fun time hanging with friends.

On Friday January 24th, it had become significantly warmer and between rain and the melting of the snow, there was a lot of fog in Uptown. I took a lunchtime walk to capture a shot of it.

On Tuesday January 28th, as I waited for the train at the CTA Roosevelt station, I captured some police activity as they searched another train. I think the culprit escaped, at least from the platform, though perhaps captured in the tunnels or on the roads below.

On Friday January 31st, I went to Concord Music Hall to see Thrice and mewithoutYOU. mewithoutYOU had stated that this would be their last year as an active band (COVID-19 has caused a change in those plans) and Thrice was celebrating 15 years since the release of Vheissu. I missed the first band of the night. I ended up capturing "Paper Hanger" by mewithoutYOU and "Music Box" from Thrice. Dustin Kensrue was having difficulty due to illness but he got through the set. I really do like Thrice, but I don't necessarily like the live experience and it mostly seems to be due to the type of people in the crowd...at least wherever I end up. I had hoped to capture "Weight Of Glory" but I didn't realize they started into it until it was too late but I do like "Music Box" and glad to add it to the collection of songs I've captured by Thrice which is mostly all songs from Vheissu at this point. It really is a good album front to back...probably my favorite.

February 2020
On Thursday February 6th, Leper played what was intended to be a fundraiser for Chicago Tiny Houses at the Safari Lounge. They played a bit of a stripped down set due to lack of equipment. I captured "Skeleton Hands."
On Saturday February 8th, the annual Ollie Mob Meetup to play WhirlyBall occurred in Vernon Hills, IL. I didn't get to play in every game as I did last year and I didn't score any goals this year but it was another fun time with the crew and afterwards we ate at Portillo's again. Additional soundtrack in this clip is "Ollie Ollie" by Flatfoot 56.

On Tuesday February 11th, I captured some rats on the tracks at the CTA Roosevelt Station. I had thoughts of a lyric from "Timothy Hay" by mewithoutYOU as I captured this, though I didn't chose to use that track in the soundtrack.

On Thursday February 13th, we had a hard day at the shelter. One individual took it out on a wall. You never know what some folks are dealing with and unfortunately in this case, whatever this individual was dealing with, it wasn't something that we could help him with in his present state.

On Friday February 14th, it was the coldest day of the year. I commuted to work on this Valentine's Day while it was zero degrees.

On Saturday February 15th, Guy Allen joined us to go to Nocturna at Metro. There was one person who had all sorts of glowing apparatuses with her that I captured on video.

On Wednesday February 19th, I documented the start of McDonald's Shamrock Shake Season!

On Saturday February 22nd, I microwaved the remaining Peeps from Christmas and filmed the spectacle of it.

On Wednesday February 26th, I had some some bubbles on my finger for some reason and Stein seemed particularly interested in it so I captured his reaction to the soap bubbles.












On Saturday February 29th, on Leap Day, Josh and Anastasia decided to host an open mic and songwriting workshop at their home. In the video footage I labeled it as The Uh-Oh House but they have decided to call it The Burrow. There were performances by The Uh-Ohs, Butterfield Creek members (Steven and Skittles), 6'10, Burn The Barn, The Psalmist, John Ludwig, Buzz, Panda, Bill Kingsbury, and Justin Wheeler of Modern Daybreak. We also took the time to celebrate Josh's birthday. Once again, it was good hangs with friends.

March 2020
On Monday March 2nd, I caught He Is Legend at Bottom Lounge. I captured "Dixie Wolf (The Seduction Of...)." It was good to see them again after a few years and I was able to get their new record.
On Wednesday March 4th, the Free And Equal Open Presidential Debate was held in the Hilton in Chicago. Elphie had taken an interest in the candidate Vermin Supreme and decided that she really wanted to go to this and I decided it sounded like an interesting experience so I decided to go as well. And it was indeed an interesting experience! I felt like I was able to learn some things about the world of politics as well as about the values and platforms of some alternative parties to "duopoly" as the  Republican and Democrat parties were often referred as. There were a few Libertarians (including Vermin Supreme) and various Socialists, Greens, Independents, and even some lower level Democrats and Republicans. Vermin Supreme, of course, was quite entertaining. There was one guy who stated that he'd essentially dismantle the federal government on his first day in office then promptly resign. The Independent candidate, Mark Charles, who is Native American, made points that really make me think about things from a different perspective. One point being the inherent racism and classism of the Constitution as it was originally written and still remains so despite some amendments. It was an interesting event and I am glad to have gone. I hung around for a while afterwards and Elphie stayed even longer for the after party. Additional soundtrack in this clip is "Hey America" by Headnoise.

On Friday March 6th, Elphie and I attended a pole dance charity event. I did not get any shots from this. I was fighting off a cold during this event and didn't really feel the best. I also wasn't sure that it was appropriate so I chose not to capture any footage.



On Saturday March 7th, before the Flatfoot 56 show at Chop Shop, there was an Ollie Mob Meetup at Palermo's of 63rd to enjoy some great pizza. It was a good time as usual. Afterwards, the Bawinkel's told us that the Indian statue from Wayne's World was just down the street so we drove by it and got a shot of it. That night, at Chop Shop, I got to hang with Sid Duffour and rode home with him afterwards. Bryan McPherson opened the show followed by The Crombies and AM Taxi. I captured a new and yet to be released song from Flatfoot 56. I also captured Kyle and Tobin talking about the Ollie Mob meetup from earlier in the day as well as the demise of the Dan Blysma bobblehead I gave Kyle prior to the show. It didn't hold up to Kyle bouncing the stage and he lost his head.

On Sunday March 8th, Elphie and I went to Vic Theatre to see Drew Lynch perform his Speech Therapy comedy stand-up show. It was enjoyable. We ended up in the balcony because there were no seats available on the floor. We tried to sit in an area that was apparently reserved for folks with physical disabilities, and were reprimanded. The balcony wasn't too bad. We didn't want to wait to go through the meet and greet line but I captured a shot from outside the door.

Because of the connection Elphie made with Vermin Supreme and his campaign manager online, it worked out that Vermin Supreme would stay the night at our house and we would possibly drive him to Peoria for the state Libertarian convention. I left work a bit early and we picked up President Vermin Supreme at Midway on Thursday March 12th and brought him to our house. Some folks came by to hang out who were local members of the Libertarian party and our friend Flex Luther. It was on this day that professional sports (which included a Pittsburgh Penguins game I hoped to watch) ground to a halt due to COVID-19 concerns and it was suggested that people should not congregate in groups. The term social distancing was being used and recommendations to "elbow bump" instead of handshake, hug, or other greetings. To some extent, there was some lighthearted joking about the situation at this point. That evening, with his consent, we took President Vermin Supreme to Cobra Lounge and he went into campaign mode and character. Friends met up with us there included Dubil, Betty, and Kathleen. We went from there to Exit which was having a "Fetish Night" and Betty and Kathleen rode with us there. We hung there for a while. Vermin got a few drinks and continued to campaign until about 1am or so. We headed back to the house and Elphie played him in a table top basketball game before we all got some sleep for the drive in the morning.

On Friday March 13th, we drove President Vermin Supreme to DeKalb, IL where he was able to ride with a delegate to the convention. Upon returning home, I considered going to a punk show that evening. The lineup originally included a good friend but he had to drop out due to health concerns regarding COVID-19. The strong suggestions against gatherings led me to decide to not go, though part of me wishes that I would have.

On Monday March 16th, we began to live life under the new "stay-at-home" orders and guidance. I (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) began to label clips as "Apocalypse" with this being day one. The clip shows me headed to work then drinking a Shamrock Shake. I wanted to make sure I got one as I wasn't sure if they would be available on Saint Patrick's Day with the uncertainly of the new restrictions on what we could and could not do.

On Tuesday March 17th, Apocalypse day 2, it was a strange Saint Patrick's Day. It was also primary election day in Illinois and it was said that "democracy must go on" so folks still went to cast their vote while being ordered to "stay-at-home." I was able to obtain one last Shamrock Shake to end the season successfully. We also got to watch the live stream of the Dropkick Murphys which was one of the first of many to watch in the new normal of live music.

On Sunday March 22nd, on the first day of spring the Apocalypse (day 7) took a turn for the worst as we were hit with another snowstorm.

On Monday March 23rd, Apocalypse day 8, I enjoyed a socially distant commute home on the CTA being the only person in the train car for most of the ride. It was a strange feeling to ride alone on public transit in Chicago during evening rush hour.

On Wednesday March 25, Apocalypse day 10, the Penguins game against the Blackhawks was to be played that night but it became a casualty of COVID-19. It appears at this point that it will not be made up. I think at this point, this was the greatest personal impact so far.

On Saturday March 28th, Apocalypse day 13, another turn for the worst as we cooked the last of our venison on the grill.

On Monday March 30th, I captured some graffiti during the morning commute of Apocalypse day 15 of a Simpsons character. I had wanted to capture it for a while but this was the best chance I got and with the social distancing, it allowed me the room to sit on the CTA where I could capture it easily.

On Tuesday March 31st, Apocalypse day 16, I captured the emptiness of downtown Chicago during my commute.

Additional soundtrack includes "Tornado In The Winter" by The Trigger Code and "Nothing" by Ballydowse.

Footage filmed using an iPhone 6 and 8 by Elphie and Joel A. Swanson. Titles created using Motion 4 on a Macbook by Joel A. Swanson. Edited using Final Cut Pro on a Mac Mini by Joel A. Swanson

Monday, May 25, 2020

An Apocalyptic Noise Collage For 2020 Video Intros (Perhaps)


https://youtu.be/2dG3eSwy9vQ
With the various events that one could deem apocalyptic that have occurred with the onset of 2020, I had an idea to create an intro video that I could use for the "A Shared Life" videos I create from whatever we are allowed to do in 2020 or as long as these events continue to occur.

The idea started with wanting to take some audio clips from some tunes I knew had apocalyptic lyrics (or even simply said "apocalypse") and add to it some distorted radio noise as though one were trying to tune in to a station on an old radio with a dial. One song, "Apocalypse" by F.B.S. already had a lot of that in the song with news clips mixed into the final (digital) mix of the song toward the end. I layered the last part of that track with the beginning of "And Then, Came Then" by The Chariot for the noisy undertones. I found a few other radio effects in Soundtrack Pro on Final Cut Pro that I added in as well for a little more noise. I took the apocalyptic lyrical clips from "Kick Your Askin' For It" by Neon Horse, "Apocalypse Now" by Squad Five-0, and "Armageddon" by The Homeless Gospel Choir as well as "Apocalypse" by F.B.S. and "And Then, Came Then" by The Chariot and dropped those on top of the noise from the clips and the radio tuning sound effects.

With the audio done, I took some apocalyptic imagery such as a virus image that seems to be used on news broadcasts as COVID-19, folks in hazmat suits spraying disinfectant, empty Chicago streets, a fallout shelter sign, and a nuclear explosion along with a skull and cross bones that I did a couple added effects on to make it zoom in on one take and layer on top of itself in another. I created a 10 second mix of these images then sped it up double time and caused it to repeat over and over while the noise audio track runs its course. I finished it then went back and added some more effects such as static noise, anti-alias, and effects to resemble bad film and television. The bad television effect, since it takes the digital video and sort of split screens it, top half moved to the bottom of the video, I randomly added it into different sections of the entirety of the video. I feel the effects add to the apocalyptic mood. The original cut I did without those effects felt too "clean" to me.

I think I am happy with this final result though from what I can tell, I don't think the compressed YouTube file translated the effects that well and it may not look quite as I intended it to.

I could probably make something bigger and longer. Perhaps I will as this time we live in drags on. But for now, I am happy with this final result.

The project was created using Motion 4 on a Macbook and Final Cut Pro on a Mac Mini by Joel A. Swanson.

Monday, May 18, 2020

A Shared Life: Alaska! (Elphie's 50th State...or so we thought)


https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLh9ZwEF2QQpNuihNdURIotOhSppDjXJkb

Elphie and I took a trip to Anchorage, Alaska around Labor Day in early fall 2019. We were essentially gone for a week - August 30th through September 5th, 2019. We flew on Alaska Airlines and stayed in the Arctic Adventure Hostel that we booked through booking.com. My cousin, Mike Phelps, provided a huge assist to us by allowing us to use his truck while we were in Alaska. I have had family connections in and around Anchorage over the past 30-ish years but never seemed to have the opportunity to visit previously. I wish I had. My uncle Andy lived there and died there in 2010. He had a fairly big impact on the community there and this trip allowed the opportunity to see some of the impact. I reached out to my aunt Rebecca for some tips of things to see and do while we were in Anchorage and she gave us some ideas. It was good to get to see things and walk in the places where Andy lived his life. Debbie, who joined us for part of our spring 2019 West by Southwest trip also joined part of this trip.

A large part of the reason for this trip was it would be Elphie's 50th and last state visited! We celebrated this feat and of course documented it. Later, after returning home, as Elphie was listing when she visited each state for the first time, she could not recall if she ever visited Rhode Island. It's also possible that New Jersey had been missed. We hope to remedy this with a 50th state re-do trip into the Northeast as soon as we can make it happen (current travel restrictions due to Covid-19 affect this and other travel plans we had coming in 2020).

The trip was documented using iPhone 6 and 8 and a Canon Rebel T6 camera. I created the titles and animated the maps (taken from screenshots of Google Maps) using Motion 4 on a Macbook and I edited the rest of the project using Final Cut Pro on a Mac Mini.

This is the Fall 2019 trip to Alaska as filmed (and photographed) by Elphie and Joel A. Swanson.
I worked on the first and last day of this project first as I did with the Spring 2019 trip project so I could work out what I hoped could be a decent teaser trailer. I think I am happy with what I was able to come up with. It is similar to what I created for the Spring 2019 trip in style of the appearance of photographs taken from each day being dropped in. The teaser trailer consists of the intro piece that I put in among the first day footage. From the last day I took a piece of the credits which highlight the people who helped make the trip possible - Mike and Debbie - as well as businesses - Alaska Airlines and booking.com - and of course what trip would be complete without consulting Atlas Obscura? I took screenshots from Google Maps to show the places that we went during the trip. These were used throughout the project. I decided that instead of making another single map that I would instead compile all the maps I used for this project together. I combined the maps that showed the travel of each day together with photographs that highlight what we had done each day so it basically alternates between the maps and photos. I had the soundtrack for this part in mind for this since making the trip - "48 States" by Smalltown Poets. There is mention of Alaska in the lyrics and somewhat makes sense overall in the theme (though had it been titled "50 States" it would have made even more sense).

https://youtu.be/e2dcenV3sbo
08.30.2019
We flew out of Chicago on Friday August 30th, 2019 around midnight. On my way to work in the morning, I saw an old guy who walks or slowly jogs around the neighborhood so I decided to capture video of him on this morning. He had been the subject of conversation in our home and integrating him into a video seemed like it should happen. I also filmed a little bit of the CTA train ride into the city for work. I didn't feel there was a lot of reason to map out the transit to and from work on this project as the commute for our trip actually began after I returned home from work.

I put the intro project in after these two short clips from the morning. I actually finished working on the footage from the first day prior to getting any work done on the intro project or any of the maps done. The intro consists of the title (of course) which I again consulted with Elphie on font styles that felt "Alaskan" for this trip. We came to an agreement on what we liked and used two different fonts to build the title and will use them again with the credits. I also used a smoke effect with the text. Not intending to be insensitive, I chose to do that effect due to wildfires happening in Alaska. In the title, I acknowledged that we mistakenly believed this to be the trip for Elphie to have visited all 50 states. I tried to organize the text around the Google Maps image of Alaska the best that I could but I did overwrite it a bit in the northwestern parts. When I made the title screen, I wasn't sure exactly how I wanted the intro project to look or how I would document the travel in the intro as I have on the last several trip projects since I learned how to create and animate maps so I made two different title screens to choose from. In previous projects, I have made one large map that showed the overall travel of the trip. If I did that, it would be hard to show the travel in and around Anchorage so it may as well have just shown the flights between Chicago and Anchorage. I decided to compile all the maps together in the intro along with photographs I selected that highlighted what we saw and did during the trip. Once I decided on this, I decided to go with the title screen which had the Google Maps image of Alaska included instead of the just text. I think it worked out a lot better and a lot easier. I sped up the maps of our travelling around Anchorage and compiled them together. The travel of each day is documented at high speed then the photographs highlighting what we saw or did each day are dropped in next. I once again decided to try to create the appearance that the photos were being sort of dealt in like cards onto a table. I like the feel it gives. I feel using the photos to highlight the trip is easier than trying to compile the best footage as I go to be used in this part of the project (and the teaser trailer too).

After this intro project, the footage returns to that which was captured on August 30th, 2019 as we packed up to go and Stein snooped around in curiosity. We left the house and boarded the CTA Western bus. I captured the approach of the bus then overlayed that with the maps documenting the bus ride. We decided to get off at the first blue line option then rode the CTA Blue Line through the city to O'Hare. We thought it might be less crowded before the train went through the city and make it easier to get on board with our luggage. I documented the train approaching the station then used the animated map to show the transit to the airport. I captured a little bit of footage of our arrival at O'Hare including a restroom specific to service animals. We got through the security check relatively smoothly as I recall. We had time to spare once we found the terminal we would be departing from so we went in search of some food. We had to go into an international terminal and found the only thing open was McDonald's. We then boarded our Alaska Airlines flight where I got some footage of the take off and our departure from Chicago. I was able to capture the city at night as well as the Baha'i' Temple (at least I recall seeing it even if I didn't capture it on video). I watched some Marvel movie before trying to sleep a little bit on the flight.

We arrived in Anchorage while it was still dark. I captured our descent and landing at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. The airport has a lot of things on display in it that we checked out as we made our way out, getting photographs to highlight Elphie's 50th state. I also documented Elphie stepping out of the airport onto Alaskan soil! This airport definitely had a different feel to it than most. There were people gathering their guns and other outdoors related gear from a special section of the checked luggage area. We tried to see if there was an option to ride public transit but it appeared that we would be waiting several hours so we took a taxi instead to the Arctic Adventure Hostel.

08.31.2019
We woke up in the early afternoon. My cousin, Mike Phillips had reached out to see if we'd be free to meet with him. I had connected with him a few months back to let him know we'd be coming to Alaska. In our conversations, he offered the possibility of using his truck. Once we got ourselves up, awake, ate some breakfast, and got moving, we met with him and took a ride with him over to REI. He was leading a group on a hunting trip and needed up pick up some tape for one of the hunters and some other supplies. He took us to where he was living and set us up with his truck as well as some bear mace...just in case. He informed us if a moose were to charge to get behind a tree. Apparently the female moose are the aggressors. Mike also gave us some salmon he had caught and we thought we might eat it that night for dinner. We went inside with Mike for a bit and saw the house he is living in with some friends. We left as it got to be early evening. Mike needed to rest up for his hunting trip and we needed to meet up with Debbie somewhere.

We drove Mike's truck back into Anchorage. We learned that Anchorage technically covers a very large area beyond the city. One could live in Anchorage but be over an hour away from downtown. Elphie wanted to celebrate that she had arrived at her 50th state so we found a Party World and went into get supplies to celebrate with. The workers were setting the place up for Halloween and let us preview their haunted house. There were different decorations up around the store including some zombies that crawled on the ground toward us. Elphie got some black and gold 50th balloons, a party hat, noise makers, party poppers, and a confetti cannon (some of this was purchased at Wal*Mart but I can't remember which came from where). We headed over to the Wal*Mart to buy some food for the week as well as some other supplies (some of which we'd be returning) and other celebratory items. We waited in the parking lot for Debbie to arrive to properly celebrate the 50th state of Elphie! We celebrated and captured it all on film then cleaned up the mess afterwards as much as possible.

We headed back to the hostel to unload the food and supplies we got at Wal*Mart as well as the salmon so we could eat it another night. Debbie wanted to get something from a restaurant. We asked some folks at the hostel for suggestions and ended up settling on a place called Humpy's. They were going to have live music it turned out. I got a crab cake burger. It was pretty good food and drinks. Elphie captured a shot of the band playing as we left. I captured a shot of the  Anchorage police in action as we headed toward the hostel. We drove out of the city trying to see if we could catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights but there was too much cloud cover. We saw an interesting lit up building though that I assume was meant to appear like the Northern Lights. By this time, it was nearing midnight so we headed back to our hostel and Debbie to her BnB for the night.

https://youtu.be/Ep9GbasvuAQ
09.01.2019
We woke early on Sunday. We planned to go to the Alaska State Fair and also a glacier and so we needed to get an early start. Debbie drove with her rented car and we headed out of the city to the northeast on Highway One. We actually headed this direction the previous night in our attempt to see the Northern Lights as well. I got some footage as we drove to the glacier of the mountains, river, and other glaciers. As we drove and approached the fairgrounds, which we would pass then attend on our way back, we encountered a traffic jam. Apparently there was roadwork being done in the area of the fair, where there was of course extra traffic anyway. We pulled off while in the traffic jam at a port-o-potty so Elphie and Debbie could use it. I got footage of this because I thought it was funny. You can see Elphie's reaction in the video. We continued on the drive and I continued to get footage of the scenery. We would pull off a few times as we went. While we didn't go to the official viewing area, we arrived near Glacier View and got a very good view of the Matanuska Glacier. It really was quite the sight! We hung around here for a while and I got a couple different shots of the glacier. I also captured some Ghostbusters who also happened to be checking out the glacier!

We headed back toward Anchorage to go to the Alaska State Fair near the town of Palmer. I didn't shoot as much footage on the return trip. Once we got to the fair and got ourselves parked, we headed in. I captured some shots as we walked through the parking lot and the midway as we entered. Debbie had to run back to the car I think then did something else on her own while Elphie and I went another way. We ended up stopping at a stage where a bluegrass band was playing. It began to lightly rain so we went into a nearby exhibition building. We marked the map to show that we had traveled from Chicago and a lady told us some things about the area and why the fair happens there. We heard that there was a very large pumpkin on display so we figured that we should see that. We checked out a few other things in the building then started on our way through the rest of the fair. We went into another exhibition building that was a children's zone where there was a lot of fun activities that were science and engineering based. Next to that building was a garden that we walked through. After that, we went into and exhibition building was aquariums and a bunch of reptiles and amphibians. As seems to happen when we come around, some tortoises had sex in front of us and once again we captured footage of that. After this, we headed to an arena to see a lumberjack show but we were quite early so we headed into the exhibition barn where the prize winning farm animals were being housed. We checked them out for a while before headed back to see the lumberjack show. This also was where the prize winning produce was on display including the huge pumpkin as well as a cabbage named "Cabbage Jack." Back at the lumberjack show, while we waited for it to start, I went to get Dippin' Dots. The show runner assigned a lumberjack to each section of the crowd. It was a funny show and somewhat staged more than an authentic competition but it was a good time. After this was over, we went to find some food and decided on a quesadilla with reindeer and salmon meat in it. This was very good! From here, we went back in the exhibition barn to see more of the animals on display. We had also gone into a building that had a food cooking and baking contests. Elphie and Debbie enjoyed some pieces of cake at this. As we made our way to another part of the fair, we found a lot of different food options there as well as rides and activities. I captured a shot of the sun as it was nearing the sunset. As we left, I captured a silent dance party going on and some footage of the lit up midway. We got a picture at the Alaska State Fair sign and then we tried to hurry over to the car to try to get on the road before a train blocked out way. That didn't work out so I took a shot of the train as it left. I also captured the building lit up like northern lights again as we approached Anchorage on our return to our lodging.

https://youtu.be/05MXaq7E6G4
09.02.2019
We slept in, probably a bit later than we intended. We woke to sun and fairly clear skies and decided to go to Flat Top, a nearby mountain and check out the view. When we got up there, it was very windy and felt cold. Elphie wore her sandals and doing much hiking wasn't going to be in the cards for us. We did hike a small trail to an overlook of the bay and Anchorage. There was information on nearby mountains and peaks as well as some a long way out that could be viewed from the overlook. Unfortunately it wasn't clear enough to see most of those mountains. The wildfires, clouds, and some rain made it hard to see much beyond the bay and city. Even so, the view from this trail at Flat Top was pretty cool and we hung around there for a while.

We decided to go check out the World's Largest Chocolatefall, which we learned about on Atlas Obscura, at Alaska Wild Berry Products after visiting Flat Top. When we arrived, there was a bus full of tourists who were getting ready to leave. Another bus arrived while we were there so apparently it is a tourist hot spot. We purchased chocolates, meats, and other items to give our families for Christmas. We also got some for ourselves as well as some ice cream and it was some really good ice cream!

We didn't really do too much on this day. We headed back to the hostel after this and cooked the salmon that Mike gave us in the kitchen and relaxed for the evening. The thought to try to see Northern Lights was thwarted by the continued cloud cover. Funny thing. We watched a lot of Alaska shows on the Discovery channel when we had downtime in the hostel.

09.03.2019
We woke up to a cooler and damp day. We checked what the forecast showed and decided to go ahead to the Alaska Zoo and hope for the best. The rain had stopped but it remained fairly cool. On our way to the zoo, we checked out a neighborhood built with its own runway called Sky Harbor. Most if not all the houses had large garages that were actually hangars for airplanes there were some airplanes out in front of some houses. We hoped to see a plane land but it didn't happen while we were there. We then headed over to the zoo.

The Alaska Zoo was one of the favorite zoos Elphie and I have had a chance to visit. It was much like a nature trail with the animals being of the type that could be natural to the environment around Anchorage, Alaska though perhaps native to other northern regions. Many of the animals were active while we were there. It was at the zoo that we actually got to see some moose. We also saw reindeer or caribou as well. Both were animals I had hoped to see. We also saw some wolves, tigers, coyotes, mountain goats, Kodiak Bears, Polar Bears, porcupines, birds, and musk oxen. One of the musk oxen seemed to be a bit agitated and charged the fence on several occasions. One of the porcupines had a snaggle tooth and seemed to have bit around the fencing. The wolves were interesting and one seemed to be stalking something. When we got to the coyote pen, the coyotes came running up to us like they expected us to be feeding them. They almost seemed like tamed dogs. There was an "off exhibit" which had cans of Off in it which was pretty funny. We got to see the feeding of the mountain goats, a fox, a porcupine, and the Kodiak Bears. The zoo worker called it "giving enrichment."

We decided as the zoo closed it was time to get ourselves some enrichment. I looked up restaurants in the area and found a couple options and decided on a burger restaurant called Wee B's. Elphie and I both got Elk burgers, fries, and a milkshake.

Since the weather cleared somewhat, we decided to drive to the Byron and Portage Glacier and check it out before it got dark. We still had a few hours of daylight left since we were so far north and the sun set was much later in the evening. We drove along the Turnagain Arm and passed a spot near Beluga Point where there once was a pipe with fresh water flowing from a spring. The pipe has been removed. I suppose one could still retrieve water from it if they wanted to. We didn't stop but we did drive by and I found the spot in the footage when we did pass it and included it in the project. Elphie shot a lot of footage as we drove along the Turnagain Arm. Perhaps she captured the Turnagain Arm Bore Tide but I could't tell for certain if it was in the footage. We also passed by the ghost town of Portage. I don't think that any footage was captured and it might not be easy to tell but we did pass it and I recall seeing what appeared to be a toppled building that would have been in Portage.

As we drove, we were able to begin to get some footage of the glaciers. I had set the Byron Glacier as our destination and we turned off the main road to a parking lot at the trail head leading to the Byron Glacier. We got out and looked at the glacier but we did not walk the trail. I walked further down the road to the waterfront where I could see more glaciers including the Portage Glacier and some ice bergs that have come off that. I returned to the truck then we drove to another parking lot next to the water where we could view all the glaciers in the area. These glaciers were pretty amazing to see.

We drove back to Anchorage, again along the Turnagain Arm. We could see the sunset through some breaks in the cloud cover as well as some other glaciers and we passed a train that I assume gives scenic tours. We decided to drive into downtown. We actually went down to Ship Creek but there wasn't much to be seen at night so we figured we'd try to go back the next day. We did check out the Statehood Memorial before heading back to the hostel.

https://youtu.be/zEZsB2n1SRA
09.04.2019
We got up earlier on this day and headed to the Eagle River Nature Center so I could see where my uncle, Andy Sorensen, spent some of his time and see if there was any memorial set up for him. He designed the logo for the nature center so I figured I'd at least get to see that but I understood that there was some sort of memorial to him. There was a tree on the back patio which had a leaf dedicated to his memory from the family as well as another dedication and acknowledgement of his design for the logo. We met aperson named Asta who was the last remaining person still working at the nature center from the time it was founded when my uncle worked there with a couple who had also since passed. She said some nice things about Andy and we looked at the items for sale with his logo on it. I checked out all the displays of wildlife and other natural things. We were urged to walk the short trail which we were told included some scenery that Andy most likely painted in some of his art endeavors. It was a nice walk. One of the trails was closed due to bear activity so that was somewhat in the back of our mind but we had no bear trouble on our walk. We got to a viewing deck over the river and I noticed a dead salmon. We would learn later that most likely any salmon in the rivers would be dead or dying at this time of the season. We got some footage of the scenery and then we made our way back. We bought some stickers and other items that had Andy's design on it then we headed to the hostel to eat lunch.

After lunch, we headed back downtown to Ship Creek so I could see if there was anything there that paid tribute to Andy. I would find out later, had I walked a short distance a different way than I walked, I might have seen a picture of Andy and his kids, Erik and Jacob but I suppose I'll have to see it another time. We did see the sign for the Slam'n Salm'n Derby and the Bait Shack which we learned took over the Derby. I walked down to the dam to see if I could find any live salmon. I did find one but it wouldn't be living much longer. I saw lots of decayed remains and one full bodied remain of salmon. I returned to where we started on Ship Creek and bought a Reindeer Dog from vendor, The Stand Hot Dogs - Anchorage, and it was great! The guy running the stand (along with his daughter but she wasn't on site at this time) was fun. He heckled Elphie for not buying her own Reindeer Dog to try. He had a special sauce that I tried on my dog and added some other condiments. We talked to him for a while about our trip and why we came down to Ship Creek and he told us some about the derby as well as about the new person running it. He wasn't sure if he knew Andy but I think he indicated the possibility of the Andy Sorensen Sportsmanship Award might still be at the local soup kitchen.

After getting the reindeer dog, we began to walk to downtown. We headed to the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, thinking it would bring us to Resolution Park. It turned out that Resolution Park was off another road. I wanted to get there to try to get a glimpse of Denali but it remained too cloudy in that direction to see Denali. We walked around for a while. We came off the trail at Elderberry Park then walked along Fifth Avenue where we found the Light Speed Planetary Walk somewhat inadvertently. We walked Mars to Earth to Venus to Mercury to the Sun. We then went to Town Square Park where we sat a bit and then into the Fifth Avenue Mall which is five stories tall. Elphie ended up getting her dinner from the food court. We left the mall and headed back to where the truck was parked near Ship Creek. We saw a rainbow and helicopter and watched some guys skateboarding for a bit before heading back to the hostel. On the way back, I did find Resolution Park and got some scenic footage from there as well as a shot of the Captain Cook statue. I also got a shot across the street at Hostetler Park. It seemed there might be some sort of memorial there but I wasn't sure what it was so I looked it up and found it was a memorial to the Victims of Justice.

Back at the Arctic Adventure Hostel, we researched a bit more on the possible whereabouts of Andy's Sportsmanship Award. All that we found indicated it would likely be at the Downtown Hope Center so we figured when we checked out of the hostel in the morning, that is where were would go to see if I could see it.

https://youtu.be/-c6fX5l7vZE
09.05.2019
We woke up on Thursday, September 5th, 2019 and got our things together so we could check out on time. We had some breakfast in the hostel kitchen then checked out and headed over to the Downtown Hope Center to see if the Andy Sorensen Sportsmanship Award was still there. We arrived as they were about to begin serving lunch so I figured we could circle back around after.

Elphie wanted to go back to Alaska Wild Berry Products to get a couple more things and we got some more ice cream. She also wanted to send out some postcards so we stopped at a post office for her to do that.

We returned to the Downtown Hope Center and I was able to go in and after talking with a couple of staff, I was taken to an office where the award was sitting. I was able to talk to a director of the center and learned a bit about the homeless situation in Anchorage. It was a bit unexpected to see folks on the street considering it isn't a big city really and the climate but homelessness affects anyone anywhere. I also learned that it seems that the new person who had taken over the Slam'n Salm'n Derby did not donate proceeds to the Downtown Hope Center as they were supposed to. This also meant that the Andy Sorensen Sportsmanship Award had not been given out for the past two years. Between what was said by the guy at The Stand, some online research, and what I learned here at the Downtown Hope Center, the last person awarded the Andy Sorensen Sportsmanship Award (but not named on the award) now runs the Slam'n Salm'n Derby and also runs the Bait Shack and isn't doing things in the right spirit of the Derby itself but especially not in the right spirit of one who earns the Andy Sorensen Sportsmanship Award. This is a shame. According to the website, it looks like the 2020 Slam'n Salm'n Derby has the Downtown Hope Center a a recipient of proceeds so hopefully that is the case and things have been rectified in that regard.

We headed over to Wal*Mart next to return items that we had purchased that we couldn't bring back to Chicago with us. After doing this return, we released Elphie's "50" balloons which had lost most of their helium by this point. The black balloon flew a bit better than the gold one. In fact, it made it quite high into the sky while the gold one didn't appear that it would even make it out of the parking lot. Eventually, the gold balloon got some air under it and flew away at least over the nearby apartments and out of our sight.

We decided to get lunch at Wee B's again on our way to drop off Mike's truck after we fueled it back up. We learned the downside to driving a large pickup truck when we saw the amount the gas would cost. We got Buffalo Burgers this time. I also got a chocolate cherry milkshake! While waiting on our food to be prepared, I played Ms. Pacman and set the high score. It wasn't the best...but it was fun to set another high score on another game in another state. I left the challenge to fellow Ms. Pacman enthusiast Nate Allen! We drove the truck back to Mike's, made sure we unloaded everything of ours from the truck, and then realized we also took his bear mace out. I left it by his storage unit and hoped it would be ok.

At this point, I ordered an Uber ride for the first time ever...and we survived! The driver arrived and everything checked out as it should. We got our things into his vehicle and got in and rode to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. From things I had heard, I decided to tip him in cash instead of in the app. We unloaded and went inside the airport. We had plenty of time to spare. I finished off a bottle of Mt. Dew so I wouldn't have to throw it away at the security check. I also got some video and photographs of the various taxidermy bears, moose, and other animals throughout the airport as well as some artifacts of the native people and airplanes on display. We went into a lounge area for a bit after finding our gate. As we walked, I noticed that the first football game of the season was on television being broadcast from Chicago. It was a bit odd seeing a night game going on where we live and it being dark while it was still bright sunlight where we were. We boarded the plane and lucky us...we were in front of a baby. I got some footage as we took off from Anchorage and as we went over mountains and glaciers. As we flew southeast, we saw the sun set as well. Elphie captured her reaction to the baby screaming behind us. I watched more comic book movies as we flew...I wasn't really able to sleep. As we arrived near Chicago, I got some shots of the city lights  I thought but it may have been somewhere else. We began our descent so I began to film...and filmed for about 15 minutes so I sped up the footage. I captured the Chicago lights as we came over the city and descended to our landing at O'Hare.

09.06.2019
We landed at O'Hare and gathered our things then took public transit home. It was still dark. We took the CTA Blue Line to the Western stop. We decided to get off at the north stop and catch the CTA Western bus from there and walked from the stop to the house. As I checked the mail, it was now daylight, the old man was out doing his walk again so I captured some footage of him...again. I decided to take the day off from work since I didn't get any sleep. I did originally plan to come back in that day but that changed due to my exhaustion. Also that evening we were going to see Bush, Live and Our Lady Peace in Tinley Park at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre so I'd have had to leave work early to get there in time to find a decent spot to sit. I laid down to sleep with Stein laying on top of me and that is where the documentation of this trip comes to an end.

Little did we know that Elphie would have a gallbladder attack...let alone that some of the issues she's had for several years likely were due to this gallstone. Less than a day after our return we ended up in the hospital.

I put the credits over the sped up clip of our descent into Chicago and landing. I think with the effects I used on the text coupled with the lit up wing cutting through the clouds, it all worked together quite nicely. I added in a special thanks to Mike and Debbie and acknowledge the businesses that helped make the trip possible then gave information on the filming, editing and creation of titles and animations as well as the soundtrack.

Additional soundtrack is "48 States" by Smalltown Poets, "Black Mountain" by The Trigger Code, "Scarborough Fair" by Simon and Garfunkel, "Tortoises All The Way Down" by mewithoutYou, "On This Mountain" by The Soil And The Sun, "I've Been To The Mountain Top, But It Wasn't There" by Samuel Lockridge, "Come To The Mountain" by Destroy Nate Allen, "I Hate Everything (Odio Tutto)" by Leper, "Bear's Vision Of Saint Agnes" by mewithoutYou, "Cure In The Mountains" by The La De Les, "Falling In Love With Glaciers" by Listener, "From The Mountains" by Flashlight Party, "I Am Mountain" by Gungor, "Run To The River" by Live, "Two Mountains" by Aaron Lee Martin (apologies I missed this in the video acknowledgement), "Sugar Mountain" by Black Swift, "Mountain Dew" by Pogues with The Dubliners, "Swing Low, Sweetheart" by The Scurvies, and "This World" by The Castros.

This project was filmed using an iPhone 6 and 8 and Canon Rebel T6 by Elphie and Joel A. Swanson. Titles and animations were created using Motion 4 on a Macbook by Joel A. Swanson. Editing was done using Final Cut Pro on a Mac Mini by Joel A. Swanson