Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Why bother?

Kate Breakey's book is out. It's called Small Deaths and it's available now at a bookstore near you, I suppose.

One of the earliest memories I have of Kate is working in her darkroom. (She used to live and work in Austin, long before she went "NY" and garnered a book deal.) I'm certain the book does not do her prints justice. They are approximately 4 feet by 4 feet in size and quite striking if you see them in person. I can remember standing in her darkroom "helping" although, at the time, I didn't think I could possibly be much help. At the time, I wasn't very good in the darkroom and I was quite unsure of myself as a photographer. She prints her work on canvas, later stretches it out, guessos it, and then spends many days (even months) painting on top of her photographs. The word "painting" doesn't even suffice. She spreads layers upon layers of paint on them, much like plastering or applying putty. The end result is indeed quite striking.

I can remember standing in that darkroom with four other photographers, pulling one of her canvases out of the chemistry. Her prints are so large, she uses kiddie pools to develop and produce them. I remember thinking her entire process was quite labor intensive. Once we (all four of us) produced the print, she was happy. She proudly announced that, "now she can spend countless hours painting on it." I asked her at the time, "why bother? I mean, if you are going to call yourself a photographer and paint so much on your end prints, why not just call yourself a painter and do like the rest of them. Get a projector, zap your artwork on a canvas, trace it out in pencil, and then paint. Why not call yourself a painter and just go for the paint instead of calling yourself a photographer and going through this big ordeal?" She never did give me a straight answer. But, a few years later, I had an opportunity to see her work in a gallery in Austin and I knew why. Sure her process is labor intensive, difficult, seemingly impossible at times. Sure it's a lot of work to produce something that may or may not sell. Sure she's photographing dead things which sometimes relegate themselves to the obligatory "eeewww" response. But, I will never again ask "why bother?" after having stood in a room full of them. Her work is beyond compare and her artistry is entirely unique. She ownes her process and she's mastered her vision.

If you ever get a chance to see an original Kate Breakey print, do yourself a favor and grab that opportunity. You won't be disappointed. You may ask many questions, but you will not come away asking, "why bother?"

Until next time, this is Carol, the Carol in "Carol's Little World" signing off.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

My Entirely Non-Boring Blog about a Grilled Cheese Sandwich or How Not to Blog for Beginners

So I was reading this article written by some lady who critiques web logs for a living (yes, I actually just typed that) and, in the article, she declares something along the lines of, "One should never blog about food. I mean who wants to hear that you ate a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch today?" This made me stop and think (which, in itself is rather hard to do, but that's a blogger entry for another day.) When I was but a youngin in a drunken stupor, ahem, I mean "college," I was told by my creative writing teacher something along the lines of, "a good writer can write about anything and make it sound interesting. A bad writer will write about something interesting and make it sound boring." All of this leads me to today's bloger entry devoted to grilled cheese sandwiches everywhere.

She was too small to actually reach the stove, but she could tug on the kitchen towel, hanging from the refridgerator door, just hard enough to swing open the icy vault and peer inside. Standing on her toes, she peeked into the meat compartment to glare at the yellow cheese. Today was a special day. She aced her math test and Mom was going to make her a fancy treat to celebrate. The butter slid around the worn frying pan, carefully coating the edges as it glided around, melting slowly from the heat. The toaster popped out several slices of bread, which were slightly darker on one side, but still not dark enough to be burnt. The cheese was placed between the toast and a pancake flipper pressed the bread down into the butter. After a few minutes, she watched as Mom flipped the sandwich over and she turned towards the table to wait for her snack. The bread pulled apart easily even though the innards of the sandwich were all warm and gooey. The butter thinly coated the outside of the bread evenly and the cheese was cooked just enough to bubble out as she bit into it. She ate her grilled cheese sandwich with a smile, enjoying every last morsel. No need to pressure her to join the "clean plate club" today, she gobbled her lunch down and ran outside to play in the snow.

I love grilled cheese sandwiches. Always have. Ever since I was a kid. I can remember eating them in the kitchen of our family home in NY. Especially on a cold winter's day, there was something about the heat coming off the hot buttered frying pan, something about "helping" Mom in the kitchen with the "cooking" that made me feel all grown-up, yet still delighted as a child to enjoy the finished product. Sure grilled cheese is familiar and that may make it boring to some. And I guess some would relegate me unto the world of the "boring" but, in Carol's Little World, grilled cheese is the official sandwich treat. Always has been always will be.

Makes me wonder how long the "web critique" lady will be gainfully employed. And really makes me wonder whatever happened to that creative writing teacher. Hmmm. Come to think of it, I think his name was like John Grisham or something. (Just kidding, just kidding.)

Until next time, this is Carol, the Carol in "Carol's Little World" signing off and grilling cheese.

Monday, November 24, 2003

It's a HOT Topic

So, I got this new coffee pot/coffee maker thing over the weekend for the office. It's turned into a hot topic as of late. We're on this quest, you see, to brew the perfect brew of coffee. I don't know how it started, but we're off, and we're not about to stop anytime soon. At least not until the caffeine drip has perked me into the next millenium.

We started talking about how the existing coffee pots were too far away. How we had to walk down a loooong hallway to get way "over there" where the coffee lives. About how the coffee at work just tastes so....well....BLAH. Then one day we turn around, and nothing but the finest arabica will do. Yup. Welcome to the land of the coffee snob. Where only the finest Colombian will suffice. Say Hello to Mr. Juan Valdez himself as you stroll past the printer and into my cluttered office. You would think that, if I actually had access to Mr. Valdez, that I would not need post it's everwhere and I might be able to actually find my car keys, but that's a blogger entry for another day.

So, I got one of these coffee pots that take little bags called (don't laugh) Java Pods and turns them into coffee (I can hear you laughing. Stop that.) The one concern that we all seem to have is that availability of these (don't laugh) Java Pods (stop it, damn you.) But, I've googled it and it turns out that the sell the pods (Stop It!) at Amazon, Wal Mart, and Starbucks. Which kind of makes them "ordinary pods" I suppose (Enough already!)

And, speaking of google and Amazon, did you know that Amazon has turned into a googlewhack! Yes, it's true. Do a search for amazon.com in google and note that only one result comes back. That is, if you don't count this blogger entry. Which could sway your actual results, so the usual disclaimer about "actual mileage may vary" applies to google as well as it does to the automotive industry. Ah yes, the automotive industry. The place where they sometimes build "real" pods. (HA! HA! Fooled you.)

To add to the list of things you are not supposed to do: bad coffee. Sorry but life's entirely too short for motor oil disguised as java. And don't try to search google for Java Pod. You'll end up with all kinds of programming results. Stuff like "How Java and C++ interact with SMTP" kind of stuff. Definately no googlewhacks there. I guess Java, in whatever format, really is a HOT topic.

Until next time, this is Carol, the Carol in "Carol's Little World" signing off and not doing it.


Thursday, November 20, 2003

What not to do and How not to do it

Am I the only person on this good green earth who believes that Paris Hilton deliberately planted those tapes because she has a new TV program coming out and she doesn't want you to miss it? I'm really starting to think so. But, just in case it really was an "accident," I'm dedicating this blog to all those things you are not supposed to do.

You are not supposed to drink cheap tequila. Nope. Can't do it. Sorry.

You are not supposed to tape yourself having sex. You may want to run for a senate seat someday. Not only that, if you should happen to become rich and famous, somebody will someday use that sex tape against you. Not to mention the fact that you were once a senator. Audio tapes are permitted, provided you disguise your voice well enough.

You are not, under any circumstances, to wear white after labor day. Some of my friends are not allowed to wear white at all. Although, I do have to wonder. Now that Johnny Cash has died are we all supposed to wear WHITE all the time? Hmmm.

You are not allowed to make suggestions for a road trip locale if you are not intoxicated. Sorry but, it's just no fun that way.

You are not to program your computer, subsequently call me, and ask for advice regarding your printer. I will kill you. And, since you're not smart enough to fix your own printer, let me explain this to you. The act of me killing you probably will hurt.

You are never to craft an apology containing the word "but..." You either apologize or you don't. There just are not buts.

And, speaking of butts, you are not to mention the size of any posterior. Ever. Don't care if it's big or small, fat or skinny. I just don't want to hear about it. Unless you are Nelly. Then you are too cute, and you're allowed. (I can issue "hall passes" in Carol's Little World because, well after all, I am Carol.)

You are not to provide fodder to the tabloids. Ever. Let them dig through my garbage if they really want it. Make them work for their money.

And finally, whatever you don't do, you should be sure to enjoy it or, in the very least, don't do it well. Hey, don't blame me if it goes wrong either, I'm just the blogger.

Until next time, this is Carol, the Carol in "Carol's Little World" signing off and not doing it.




Wednesday, November 12, 2003

I'm not as boring as I think I am

OK, I admit it. I'm boring. Not just boring, but really, really, king kah-ma-a-ma-ah, living in suburbia driving a mini-van boring. Nevermind the fact that I don't actually have a mini-van, stick with me on this. My three favorite topics are Trading Spaces, high technology, and my dog Charlie. If you should happen across me at a coctail party and start to socialize, I would mention one of these three topics and you would cut a bee line for the patte or the open bar faster than Grant took Richmond. I know it's true, but I'm relegated to the fact that I'm boring and I can be a happy boring person. Here I sit, all happy and content in my boring suburbia driving my boring non-mini van, drinking my cheap tequila, and playing an occassional game of snooker, which is incredibly boring unless you are the eight ball.

Is it even possible for somebody like me to be so totally socially unacceptable yet still quite so spectacularly boring? I think so. I think being creative and having a really great creative outlet does not negate ones "boringness" if such a thing existed. Yes, it's true. You can be creative and spontaneous and fun-loving, while still cultivating an ever so boring side. But, at least I'm not crazy. OK, maybe not THAT crazy. Sound better?

But then I look around and I see folks who are way more boring than I am. I mean, I do get out and I have all the pictures to prove it. So how do you explain this boring factor? How do you rate somebody on the boring scale? What exactly makes boring, well, so boring? Is it a lack of interest? Don't interesting people lose interest in some things? If so, how can you say they are boring? Is it because I'm not on the Atkins diet? Is being a vegetarian innately more boring than being Atkins? Is it a lack of knowledge on all topics current? How does knowing current evenings make one "non boring?" Is it the type of music you listen to? The type of car you drive? The dwelling in which you choose to live? Your wardrobe?

All of this boring talk has me wondering. Kind of like that old "if a tree fell in the forest..." dealio, it has me asking...if a really, really boring person bored a bunch of other boring people, would anybody really be bored at all?

Until next time, this is Carol, the Carol in "Carol's Little World" signing off.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

BOO! It's the Northern Lights/Where are my Dreams?

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. You get to eat too much, you get to party too much and you sleep too little. This year, it was made extra-special by some weird kind of sonic solar storm, which drummed up all kinds of mad cosmic happenings. I got to see the Northern Lights.

Now, I'm not traditionally a big fan of the northern lights. I mean, when I lived in Postdam, they were around all the time and I just sort of took them for granted. But, there's something about seeing them in Texas, where the sky is big and the sun is warm. Something about getting to enjoy the great northern lights without having to wear a coat, without having to put up with the cold, that really gets me. I mean, I love them when they are just decorations in the sky, but I guess it's safe to say I didn't like them so much when they came with a wind chill factor of 20 below.

One of my favorite TV shows, Northern Exposure, once had a great episode prominately featuring the Northern Lights. In this episode, the natives believed that the Northern Lights would steal your dreams and that you and your neighbors would all swap dreams when the lights appeared. Needless to say, the folks in that Alaskan town had some pretty strange dreams. I do wonder if there's some truth to it. Is it possible that the Northern Lights spurs on dreams? Maybe it makes them easier to remember? Or perhaps it instills some added creativity into all of us, which manifests itself in our dreams. I suppose we'll never really know. But we can still enjoy the lights, especially without the winter coat.

They were out a bit again last night, although not as spectacular as Halloween. Still, I could see them peeking out from behind the clouds, casting an eerie glow on my boring suburbia. It was kind of cool, if only for a brief moment of autumn. Hey Mr. BigSky, is that an aurora in your pocket or are you just all that happy to see little old me?

Until next time, this is Carol, the Carol in "Carol's Little World" signing off.