As you know, I used the internet while I was away in Italy. The little bar in my hotel had one lone computer, which, although completely in Italian, I could use pretty much freely during my stay there. Every time I tried to type a quotation mark(') it would fill in the words 'itsa' for me, since it naturally assumed that I was Italian. How fun.
I am watching the TV news, which is now covering a story about how they are attempting to erase Christmas from the holiday season. Banana Republic is now hanging signs that read "Merry Winter." I'll go shop at "Winter Republic" it's probably cheaper and better although, at least, Banana Republic admits to being "bananas" right in their name.
Assumptions are dangereous things to make. You start out safely, assuming one thing or another and then, before you know it, you've passed the point of no return. You've "gone there" and can't find your way back-you've assumed something that isn't true-and it's increasingly difficult to convince you otherwise.
In the times of Galileo, people just naturally assumed that the world was flat. When somebody came along to question it, everybody thought that HE was nuts. In hindsight, I'm sure they'd all feel really stupid jumping to such conclusions but, just as they claim that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, you could say that the path to stupidity is paved with incorrect assumptions.
Never assume anything, always question. It's a motto to live by really.
Until next time...
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
As you know, I used the internet while I was away in Italy. The little bar in my hotel had one lone computer, which, although completely in Italian, I could use pretty much freely during my stay there. Every time I tried to type a quotation mark(') it would fill in the words 'itsa' for me, since it naturally assumed that I was Italian. How fun.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Ok, get used to it. Those damned gondolas are just so photogenic. I shot gondolas in the rain, in the snow, at night, in the daytime, in the morning, in bright light, in low light. Geesh, you would think that I've never seen a boat before. But, they are just so cute, aren't they?
The gondolas are not just cute, they are quite expensive. I believe that a half hour ride runs about 80 Euros which, in the US, amounts to about $100 or something. That's quite a lot of dough for not much row, if you ask me. You can, however, photograph them for free.
I tried out this "heavy breathing" technique in conjunction with the lensbaby-where you breath into (onto?) the lensbaby just before you take the picture. It makes it look like you are shooting in the fog, or that it's some kind of misty morning. Somebody in my workshop, Dawn, I belive, said at one point, "the fog doesn't go with the blue sky." She's so right about that but, there are times you can make the misty morning blurry lensbaby work for you, and it was worth a try. I had fun with it anyway. Even if I did feel like I was panting.
Well, I'm about 1G through my images from Italy. Still about 17G's or so to go. I had better not go out shooting again until I really put a dent into it this time. I don't want to be lazing about while I've got 18G of CF to get through.
You never know, there just might be a really good picture hidden in all those silly boats.
Until next row...
Monday, November 28, 2005
These are the top 10 things I've learned about Venice, Italy:
- They have gondolas there. Lots of gondolas there. They "quay" (or park) the gondolas at night and so you can waylay them to take their pictures if you really want to, once they are parked and resting. They cover them at night with blue tarps too. Everybody and their brother takes pictures of gondolas, even though they will vehemently deny this ("nope, not me. I didn't take any pictures of THOSE...")
- Italian church bells don't just "ring" they "go off" and quite loudly. This event usually corresponds with the evening mass (I'd guess, not really sure on that one-they seem to have masses and bells going off at all kinds of odd hours of the day and night) and caused me to coin the phrase "rambunctious cathedral." In Italy, you do not get a little "ding dong" as your church bell, no, rather you get an entire Italian serenade complete with major, minor keys and complete canonical forms ringing in your ears for hours.
- Italian customs officials in Venice greet you by stamping your passport on the way into the country. They have one bomb sniffing dog but he's really too lazy to get up and give your suitcase a sniff. (Note to terrorists and malcontents the world over: if you want to invade Europe, do it through Venice. For best results, bring lots of dog biscuits.)
- Italian coffee is good. It's not just good, it's FREAKING the BEST FREAKING coffee I've ever FREAKING had. I want more. I want to bottle the entire country and take it home to savor it in my kitchen. American coffee tastes like crap to me now. Starbucks is like hot vinegar in a bottle. Bleck. Cafe Latte is Venetian for "nectar of the Gods" really. (Well, maybe "nectar of the Gods, with hot, creamy foam on top.")
- Do not go to Venice if you do not like pasta. They have pasta everywhere, in every meal, made all different kinds of ways, with all different types of sauces and ingredients. It's really amazing what they do with pasta. It's almost like somebody said once, a long time ago, "you can have any culinary dish-so long as it's pasta" and Italy stepped up to the challenge. I never had the same pasta twice but I ate really nothing but pasta.
- Many Venetian restaurants have so many wines available that you will strain your brain trying to pick one from the 30+ page winelist. Opt for "red" or "white" in a carafe and you will, undoubtedly, get something memorable. They'd call Italy the "wine capital of the world" if they weren't tops in the pasta and coffee departments first, methinks.
- You will get lost in Venice. You will see signs that say things like "Per Rialto" and feature multiple arrows pointing in multiple directions. "Per" in Italian, as best I can tell, means "towards" (sort of like "per insanity" would be Italian for "trying to read map of Venice.") Just keep walking and follow the packs-eventually, you might end up at a bridge that goes over a canal that leads somewhere, not where you intended to go, but someplace interesting none the less.
- They have a lot of Japanese tourists in Venice, and they travel in big packs, often times only stopping to take pictures of their dinners at mealtime and the Bridge of Sighs. These photographers are, more frequently than not, "tripod hole" photographers (they look to see where your tripod left holes and try to take the same shot, not really stopping to even evaluate the view. They just look for the holes and copy whatever shot you just took-probably because you look "professional" on account of having a tripod to begin with.) If you are overly concerned with somebody copying your images, bring a small broom and sweep away your tripod holes or, better yet, learn to shout, "BANZAI!" after each image to make the Japanese tourists think that you are about to crash land something onto their gondola (the Japanese tourists, as it turns out, are, in fact, the only group of people who can afford regular gondola rides down the Grand Canal, due probably to the current currency exchange rates.)
- You can get the best coffee in the Piazza at a place called "Cafe American" where it runs 2 and a half Euro, as opposed to Cafe Florian, where, at 15 Euro, it clocks in as the world's most expensive cup of cafe. 15 Euro is about 18 dollars and, to an American, even having really good coffee at that price is really quite steep. That's a whole lotta latte for you.
- Those street performers who "perform" by freezing themselves in one position for hours? Yup, they've invaded Venice too (must have brought along some dog biscuits.) In Italy, however, they blow a kiss at you if you put a Euro in their till. Oh, and they tend to paint themselves more interesting colors, like gold, copper, silver, and the like (as opposed to New Orleans, where they dressed up more like construction works and "froze" on ladders for hours on end.)
- Venetian glass is really expensive but you can photograph it for free.
- At night, the streets of Venice are almost empty and the shop windows are mostly lit up. This makes for wonderful photos if you carry your tripod and a broom (see no 5.) You can photograph Venetian glass for free in the evenings (see no 4) and not usually have to worry about being run over by a truck (there are, in fact, no cars, trucks, mopeds, etc. on the island.)
- The opera house gets quite crowded but has a brilliant display of costumes, which you can photograph for free. It's wonderful because you don't have to put up with that loud, screaming in Italian the locals like to call "musica."
- Water Taxi drivers are, in fact, Italian drivers. Watch out. They try to eskimo roll those things, like big Italian kayacks, to scare away the tourists, whenever they can get away with it.
Until next gondola...
Friday, November 25, 2005
I went to La Bottega dei Mascareri today and met one of the owners (it's owned by 2 brothers.) He was a wonderful chap who showed me some of his new masks, gave me a catalog from a recent exhibition he was in (he's also a painter) and noticed that I had particularly good taste in masks. After I picked out the one I wanted, he told me that the exact same masks I liked had been used in the movie "Eyes Wide Shut." I'm going to give up on Nick Cage (TiVo won't let me!) and instead try to rent this movie when I get back to the 'States (sorry, Nick, but TiVo just won't let me. Honest.) If the movie is as good as the masks, it should be impressive. I can only imagine what the Carnivale must be like in the snow.
Well, I'll keep this short since there are no pictures (yet!) I'll be back in Austin soon enough to be able to post some shots (hopefully! The vaporetto people are going on strike tomorrow. I hope that I can get out of town before the public transport shuts down.)
Until next Gondola...
Sunday, November 20, 2005
It's about 6:30 pm here and I just got back from a day of shooting. I got attacked by a pidgeon in the Piazza San Marco and there's this odd giant statue of a face in front of my hotel. It was cold today and I did not dress warmly enough, but we managed to find cheap (and really good) coffee in the Piazza for only 2 and a half Euro (it's usually 12 euro in the Piazza.) Damn, when it comes to beverages, I'm good.
Also had hot cocoa which here is more like pudding (that is not a type-o) Been eating a lot of pasta and, so far, have shot about 4-5G of Compact Flash. Not as much as NOLA but still quite a bit.
I've been shooting Madonnas in a box whenever I see them as well as some cool buildings and today gondolas. They were fun for only one day.
The hotel bar serves Irish coffee with Jameson so I feel right at home, although 5000 miles away.
Until next Ciao!
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Just a quick note to let you know that I will be in Italy and points afar for the next few days (weeks.)
I hope that you all have a great Thanksgiving holiday (well, those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving, that is) everybody stays safe, and everybody is happy while I'm gone.
Also, please don't expect daily updates or photo friday entries for a spell. I'll be busy generating some "raw material" from which to work and probably won't have time to post, update, or do whatever it is that I usually do with this website for a while (I hope you like this shot. It's going to be here for longer than a day!)
That doesn't mean that I'm not thinking about you. It just means I'm out jaunting.
Who knows? I might find some haunted Trent Reznor Italian Villas with TiVo's that actually record "real" programs while I'm away (hey, it could happen.)
Until next Ciao...
Ok, I admit it. If I had to choose a genre for the type of photography I do, I would have to go with "experimental." I'm always doing Polaroids, cross processing, blurry stuff, that sort of thing and, I guess, I tend to approach photography as "an experimental" rather than "a traditional."
But, in some small way, one small part of me has always had a foot on the banana peel of "the nocturnes." I guess you could say that I've always been a sort of "closeted" nocturne. I don't really want to come out all nocturne on you but, truth be told, I'm partially there and can't really help myself. What can I say, I'm sort of a poster child for Lunesta.
It all started when I was younger. I've always been a bit of a night owl, having a hard time "doing mornings" without large dosages of caffeine and squinting eyelids half closed until noontime.
When I started taking pictures, and really took to photography, I was always enamored with the idea of shooting at night. I guess I just like the nighttime view and, since my work is a little "dark" to begin with, it just sort of fit and I never really questioned it.
When I worked at Tivoli, I used to go to work late in the morning. Really late in the morning, like almost noon. I'd work until midnight or two a.m. but I never got in early in the morning unless, of course, I had been there all night (being leftover from the previous night was never any fun, believe me. Things stop working around 6 am, just in time for the "day shift" to get in.)
Once, I griped about TV to some of my friends, saying, "there's nothing on late at night. Try watching TV at like 3 am. There's not even that stupid guy who tells you how to swindle the government out of money while dressed only in question marks."
Nobody believed me. Years later, when one of my friends was laid off, she said to me, "you were so right about TV. It really sucks after 1 am." So now you know. (BTW, if you too are a "closeted" nocturne, get yourself a TiVo but be careful with it. You know all about mine going berserk, "unbooping" random Nick Cage movies, and going off on a murderous rampage on me. Watch your back with that TiVo, man.)
What else do you miss by not being a nocturne? Well, let's see. Water at night looks really creepy (not the bottled kind, think lakes, rivers, streams, here.) There's never any traffic but you can't get any decent meals. Supermarkets are tons of fun, if you find a 24 hour one, you can get all of your shopping for the week done in 10 minutes and do popper wheelies in the produce section without generating as much as a raised eyebrow from the butcher.
You can't get your car fixed or go to the library, but you can return videos and get stamps at the Post Office from the vending machines. You can sometimes even shop although, not at any "normal" places. You'll find yourself ending up at places frequented only by other "nocturnes" and odd lost souls who just lost track of the time.
The weather's different at night too, it's almost always chilly, so wear a jacket.
The pharmacy is always open so if your inclined to practice your "better living through chemistry" you can do that too. You probably already know about the bars closing 'round 2 am or so (they tend to do that.)
And, the best part of being a "nocturne?" You get to blog at all hours of the day and night.
Until next time...
Monday, November 14, 2005
Something that you may not (or may) know about me is that I am, in fact, part American Indian. Only a little bit, on my Mother's side but, in fact, it's true. I'm part Mohawk (and, yes, in case you're wondering, those are the folks with the "hairdos," speaking of which, I also finally got my hair cut today. Woot! Woot! Don't you just love it when all my blogger tangents come back together and meet up all over again? It's like weird, converging parallel lines only with words. And, no, I didn't get scalped, like my ancestors, just the usual "do" only a lot less shaggy, I hope.)
I took this at the Indian Pow Wow that I had attended a few weeks ago in Austin. Ahem, note that I just said, "IN AUSTIN," as opposed to the French Quarter, the Garden District, or points in New Orleans. In case you are wondering the significance of this-I am finally finished posting the first of my New Orleans trip images up on my website.
In hindsight, it seems really hard to believe that I took all the pictures you have been perusing for the past few months over a five day trip but, that's how it is. (I shoot fast and ask questions later, I suppose.) Yes, it's true, I was in New Orleans for five days and have the pictures to prove it.
Speaking of things you'd never suspect, here are, by request, a few things you might (or might not) know about me:
- I am left handed. I write with my left hand. I use my right eye to focus and read (am told, by Doctor's in the know, that you actually have a preferred "eye" despite the fact that you don't always know which one it is.) I kick with whatever foot gets to the ball in time (no really, I do.)
- I occasionally listen to disco music and have a fondness for all things camp in small parcels. When I was younger, I attended the very first (now annual) "disco ball" in my PJs. It's true. I had flannel ones with little duckies on them and I "rocked down" to the sounds of the Village People and Donna Summer. ("Y-M-C-A" anyone?)
- I have seen the Rocky Horror Picture Show several times. My favorite part is when we all get to throw bread ("Toast!")
- Despite being detained by New York and Boston's finest, the Travis County Sheriff's Department, the Cedar Park Police (keystone cops, anyone?) and customs officials across several continents carrying large caliber automatic weapons, I have never been arrested, convicted, or tried for a serious crime. I did get a speeding ticket and a parking ticket once (not at the same time, mind you) but I would not, in fact, call those serious. (My TiVo, it would appear, has other plans for me.)
- I did get shot at one time, although not by the police. I was shot at while visiting the Cochiti Pueblo in New Mexico. Don't ask my why, I can't really give you a good reason and I didn't really want to sick around to find one. No, it wasn't because I was taking pictures, I had the camera ducked away by request but, for some unknown reason, I was shot off the reservation. (Bang! Bang!)
- I have visited about 25 States in the US, not all 50 by a long shot (excuse the pun.) Most notably missing from my itineraries are the Pacific Northwest (I've never been there.)
- My favorite color is, in fact, black. This doesn't make me depressed or demented, I just like it above the rest. I know that some of my artist friends will say, "but black is not really a color." Ok, fine, if I can't have black, I'll take brown. Really, really, dark brown. Happy now?
- I am not afraid of frogs, horses, alligators, or snakes (with the exception of vipers. I don't really want to get bitten.) I really HATE bugs of almost all kinds though. And spitting cobras. I'm really afraid of those, thank goodness they are not native to Texas.
- My iPod now contains over 1000 songs. It's a strange mix of music that probably nobody else in western civilization or the free world as we know it would like. A "random" shuffle gives you: Robbie Robertson, The Sundays, The Thorns, Jimi Hendrix, Robin Crow, music from Rent, David Koz, and Heather Nova.
- Favorite flavor of ice cream: mint chocolate chip. Favorite food: pasta. Favorite drink: margaritas and toasted almonds (but not together.)
- I've never smoked a cigarette (of any kind) in my entire life. Never felt the urge to, never saw the reason to, so just never did. (Never tried it, probably never will.)
- I have a strong preference for "fru fru" coffee, but don't drink it all the time. I like it with mocha, mint, or hazelnut and, of course, whipped cream on top.
- One of the "unexpected" keywords (if you search in google) that will take you to this website, which is my online "journal" if you will: Britney's Boobs
- I am a horrible dancer. Really. I'd say "two left feet" except that I'm left handed and, even given that, it doesn't appear to help very much. I can, however, do a somewhat passable marcarana (although, who would really want to?)
- Favorite form of transportation: the tricycle. It's also the least efficient.
Pow wow wow, now you know.
Until next time...
Sunday, November 13, 2005
I don't know why but I love this door. It's silly really, I mean, in the grand scheme of things, it's just a door, really. And, at the end of the day, there's really nothing special about a door-they are just passageways we walk through each and every day, usually just to get from one spot to another (well, setting all symbolism aside, that is.)
But, for me anyway, there's something special about this door (and, I guess, doors in particular.) I like the reflection of the greenery in the windows (a door with windows, there's a thought for you.) I also really like how the shadow detail maintained up into the ceiling of the foyer.
It occurred to me the other day that, if you like to look at music videos, they are always filled with symbolic icons-clocks, candles, keys, and the like. They do this deliberately, in an attempt at adding meaning to an otherwise empty, snarky, quipy, little "3 minute movie."
I always thought that, while making a real movie would probably kill me (if not, it'd certainly completely bankrupt me. I mean, I can't even begin to fathom how much Compact Flash, or the equivalent, a video camera would go through.) I'd love to make a music video. Not because I love music so much (well, I do, but) simply because you can have so much fun, one would imagine, as a videographer (or director, if you want to be polite, although, come to think of it, all the ones I know tend to call themselves "vidiots") making a "3 minute" art fest, rather than trying to conform to some studio's idea of "what's popular this week" or what your "target demographic wants to spot at the local cineplex."
I've never been a big fan of movies-I actually prefer live theater and reading over movies-simply because movies just aren't interactive enough for me. They just seem so flat and nonrepresentational. Photography leaves just a little to the imagination-it makes you think. It gives you the real and the abstract right along side each other, in the same place, unlike a painting, but it leaves out just enough narrative to keep some degree of abstraction. Still photos, really, are sort of arm's length away-even if they use some kind of "visual tomfoolery" to trick you into thinking it's all there. Video and, in turn, movies, fill in too much for my tastes. (I guess you could safely say that I have a leaning towards the more abstract but then, you probably could have guessed that from looking at the images on this site.)
Now, maybe if somebody could come along and make a movie full of symbolism and quirkiness, while leaving out some narrative, maybe, just maybe, I'd like that one. (Maybe they already have, and I just don't know about it?)
It'd have to be either that or the video equivalent of Michael Kenna, a visual poet producing a virtual feast for the eyes. Anything else and I'd be checking the new watch waiting for the credits to roll and hoping that the flick'd grind to a complete halt sooner rather than later. (But, as Steve and others are well aware, I'd still be kind of impressed with those "moo cows" who happen along before the trailers run.)
Until next time...
Saturday, November 12, 2005
I guess it was Veterans Day on Friday. Unfortunately, you'd only know it by the sales in the Sunday newspaper in most parts. Lucky for me, Texas is still a patriotic state, and we still honor and respect our veterans. My Dad was helping hand out the Buddy Poppies today at Wal-Mart. I picked one up for my car.
In other news, I was checking out online reviews of my hotel and noticed that somebody posted a really funny comment. "We had a canal view," writes the critic, "at first it was great, we were serenaded by passing Gondoliers singing their way towards the Grand Canal. We thought to ourselves, 'how romantic!' By the second day we were yelling out the window 'SHAT UP ALREADY!' and, by the third day, we were ready to kill ourselves. If I have to hear that song one more time..." (Where, oh where, is that low flying POLENTA when you need it most?)
Sounds like a glowing review to you, doesn't it? Well, at least they liked the free breakfast (it had eggs which, I'm told, you cannot get by asking for "Huevos Rancheros" like you can in these parts.) Looks like it'll be Italian migas for me. I wonder if they have jalapenos in Venice. Probably not and, even if they did, I wouldn't know what to ask for really.
As you probably know, I've been busy prepping for the trip. What you might not know is that it's all this "hurry up and wait" routine. It seems that, lately anyway, I'm ripping, burning, archiving, everything in my house before I leave.
I put a CD into my computer (PC) which is connected to the podling (AKA "Pod Pod Piddle, Click me in the Middle.") I then wait for iTunes to show me the contents, check the appropriate little green boxes for the tunes that I want to rip, and then wait for the computer to burn the CD. I do the same with my TiVo (still no Nicolas Cage movies, *sigh* but I am backing up "Hitler's Family" because I thought it kind of sounded intriguing. Well, ok, maybe not but, what other choice do I have?)
I go through the same routine burning gold CD's in the little DiscSteno and making contact sheets in Photoshop on the iMac.
Every damn device is "put something in, push a button, wait, repeat." All that and I've still got tons of laundry to do.
At least the washing machine hasn't quite figured out yet how to beep at me.
Until next time...
Friday, November 11, 2005
Ok, so it's getting really close to my trip and I'm WAAAAY behind on all the things that I need to do. That's ok though because, well, that's how it always seems to be when I travel. I always seem to be running around at the very last minute, stocking up on Compact Flash, trying to squeeze in a haircut, doing laundry, dropping off crap at the Post Office, and the like. If it weren't for the last minute crazies, methinks, nothing would ever get done.
This was taken in the Garden District in New Orleans, not in the rain, but on a sunny day. You can almost see a hint of blue sky blue if you squint and look really hard. I don't know why this cupola wasn't full of swallows, doesn't it look like just the perfect nesting spot to you? Crazed little birds always seem to attack my house and leave the likes of these alone. Well, I suppose that, in the grand scheme of things, they too are just getting ready to go fly away. (Steeple full of swallows, anyone?)
So, right now, as I type this, I am dog sitting for Austin, burning Compact Flash (archiving to CD,) making contact sheets, prepping an IPhoto Book, thinking about dinner, ripping more music for the long day's flight into tomorrow, and doing laundry. It's so crazy around here that, if Nicolas Cage himself walked in, I'd probably just pass him a laundry basket, scream at Austin to stop chewing on his leg, and casually ask him why he doesn't look more like John Goodman (not that I know what he looks like either, mind you.) Oh, and I'd ask him to go eject some Trent Reznor Nine Inch Nail CDs from my crazy pod burning PC all the time chewing on a power bar, since I've hardly any time to make dinner. (Gosh, I sooo need a beer.)
Mr. Cage, whatever you look like, I sure hope that, in your next movie, you've got like six hands. They can do that with special effects now, can't they?
Until next Photoshop...
This shot was taken inside of Austin's Palmer Auditorium the day before they began demolition. I loved the peeling paint in this little room which had been part of a concession stand at one point. I guess they tried to paint over some tile, it didn't quick take, and now we're left with this.
Until next time...
Thursday, November 10, 2005
It's back to the Garden District for me. Please forgive the Photo Friday intrusion but I just had to enter my "flamingly warm" headdress from the Native American PowWow (I say that like there's another kind) I attended in Austin last weekend.
As far as I know, neither John Goodman nor Nicolas Cage live in this peachy-pinkish colored house. It is, however, almost the same exact color as my new watch. *Sigh* if only my timepiece had cool green wrought iron balconies attached and, as you could probably guess, it doesn't go as high as 25:20 (sorry but the watch only gets to 23:59 before it rolls over on me.) Well, ok, at least the house isn't beige, it's got that going for it anyway.
Some quick hits for today. These just in from the "smart ass" awards, two of my favorite smart ass remarks:
* A stewardess, standing at the end of a skyway, asking boarding passengers for tickets says to an approaching man wearing only a trench coat, "ticket please." Upon the man "flashing" her, she adds, "sorry, Sir, I'm going to need to see your ticket, not your stub."
* Next up we have a teacher, prepping college students for an upcoming exam. "I don't care what happens, tomorrow," she told the class, "there could be a fire, flood, natural disaster, nuclear explosion, whatever, but, you are all, and I mean ALL going to write your exams tomorrow. There will be no make-up exams given this time around." One of her pseudo smartass wannabe students retorted, "but, what if I come in suffering from EXTREME SEXUAL EXHAUSTION. Will you let me write a make-up exam then?" To which she responded, "I'd just tell you to write the exam using your other hand."
Gosh, I wish I were smart like these wonderfully funny folks. Instead, I got stuck with a peachy-pink watch sans shutters and balconies. Rats!
Until next time...
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
There's been a running joke among family and friends the past few days, brought on by my unknowingly planning and booking a trip to the land of LA POLENTA (Venice.)
A long time ago, when my Grandmother (on my father's side) was alive, she used to always talk about how she was raised on a farm in the south of Italy (near Bari. Yes, it's true, I'm *Barisian* despite the fact that they've only recently made up this word.) She loved Italian food, well most of it, with the notable exception of one dish found primarily in the north of Italy: LA POLENTA.
For those of you who do not know, POLENTA is, I believe, sort of like cornbread. It's mushy and it doesn't taste the same to me but, I've been told, it can best be described as sort of like it anyway. ("Ishy, mushy, icky tasting cornbread like CRAP that they should feed to pigs really," is how best I would describe it actually.)
My Grandmother HATED it. Despised it. Couldn't stand it. Used to say it "wasn't suitable to be fed to the cows." (Hey, can I help it if she had good taste in food, despite being raised on a farm far from nouveau chic Umbrian restaurants?)
When I was a baby somebody tried to feed it to me with a spoon and I spat it out in their face. I would have probably slapped them, except that, at the time, I couldn't really work my arms (ah! So that's why somebody was feeding me with a spoon. I get it now!)
My Grandmother, upon seeing me spit it up, proclaimed, "Oh! The Baby! Que bella!" and immediately picked me as her favorite grandchild (Hey, some of the others ate that POLENTA crap they tried to pawn off on me too but, alas, I was smarter than all those other grandkids, right?)
I've always sort of avoided it as best I could and, living in the central regions of Texas (land of two types of food: Tex and Mex) never really had to worry about any random odd encounters with LA POLENTA. (You can hide in the woods or the tall grass and it'll just mush on past you when you hear it coming in these parts.)
Fast forward to my Venice trip. Yes, it's an unfortunate reality that I, hater of all things tasting like LA POLENTA, will be flying to none other than the land itself, the home base, the City where LA POLENTA reigns supreme, the POLENTA capital of the word: Venice, Italy. (Oh the humanity. I can't even begin to figure out how to say "mushy crap: Please feed only to pigs" in Italian. Where is that damned babelfish when you need it most?)
What can I say? It's genetic. My entire family HATES the stuff. LA POLENTA is like the plague only some people, methinks, have actually survived the plague. I'm quite certain that, burning in Hell for all eternity, there's a big family-style table with folks sitting around stuffing their faces full of LA POLENTA (as their toes go up in flames, they shovel that hot food down) meanwhile the devil laughs and twiddles his happy little red fingers.
Tonight, I was talking about the lottery, which is up to 260 million dollars.
My father said, "You couldn't even spend all that money? What would you buy?"
I said, "houses. Lots of houses."
He said, "But, if you spent millions on houses, had a Rolls Royce in each one, and a private jet to fly you between them, you probably wouldn't come close to spending 200 million."
I replied, "well then, I would buy all the POLENTA making restaurants in Venice and shut them down. I'd hunt out every back alley old lady who makes homemade LA POLENTA and BRIBE her (whatever it took.) I'd put "CLOSED" signs up in every POLENTA cooking kitchen. I'd throw what's left of LA POLENTA (before the great POLENTA shutdown) at unsuspecting passing singing gondoliers who looked at me funny. Oh, and then I'd use the rest of the money to payoff all the fines for taking out all the gondoliers in Venice with evil crusty LA POLENTA."
Now, truth be told, I will probably try some POLENTA while in Venice. I'm not saying I will HATE it, I'm going to go with an open mind and just give it a try. I'm a mature adult and I can actually do that now (well, ok, that's a stretch, but I am going to force myself to try some of LA POLENTA, even if it kills me.)
But, if you happen to be a singing gondolier, frequenting the back alleys around Santa Maria de Giglio in the Veneto, well, if I were you, I just might be on the lookout for some low flying cornbread.
Until next muffin...
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Since I have my upcoming trip to Italy, and I can't use my cell phone in points afar, I decided that it would be a wise move to get a wristwatch.
I'm not a big fan of watches, rather, I'm one of those folks who prefers to be more "free" with my time and my wrist but, since I'll be attending workshops at The Venice School of Photography, and since these nice folks are probably going to want to do things like meet at expected times and locations, I thought it best, for this trip anyway, to go out and get a watch. ( I mean, you just know I'm going to get lost, least I could do is be on time about it, right?)
I spoke with Kathy about this a few weeks ago (before she left for her trip) and she said to me, "you know that you're going to have to get a timepiece, right?"
I guess I knew all along, but didn't really want to face that fact until today. On my previous trips (to New Orleans and points in Texas) I always just used my cell phone and asked other folks what time it was. Always seemed to work, and I didn't get those odd marks on my arm, from the leather of the band chafing up against my skin. Not to mention the intellectual freedom it granted me, even if only in spirit.
Now, alas, I've grudgingly gotten a timepiece. It's a brown leather banded Relic watch that's got kind of a squarish dial and an almost pink face. At least, it looked pretty pink in the store, since I've exited and started wearing the timepiece outdoors, I've noticed that it's less so (it's more like boring beige but, hey, it's a watch, right? Who cares really? I mean, if I have to be boring, I might as well be beige too, right?)
It's a watch none the less, and I'm wearing it now. I can sit here and type to you knowing in full glory that it is, in fact, 3:15 (or so, I have it set 5 minutes fast, since I'm always late) Central Standard Time.
And, speaking of time, I will "suffer" from an 8 hour layover in New York's JFK airport on November 17th. I started thinking about things I could do while I'm there and came up with a list:
- Wait for funny lines to develop on my wrist from the new timepiece and count them as the watch ticks on. Count the number of times the face turns pink.
- Rock out to the podling until the battery dies a most horrible death and I'm left with only the sounds of silence and weird looking earbud headphones sticking out from my unkempt hair (that would be near the place where my ears should crop up, which, you would be able to see had my hair not been so unkempt.)
- Repeatedly check and claim my baggage, citing "mars" as my final destination point.
- Karaoke, anyone?
- Pretend I'm Bono from U2 and drive around on the luggage claim carts through the baggage area, stopping only to eat an Asian pear while riding a baggage carousel in circles, all the time waving my hands in a manner making me look God-like (well, ok, maybe "Bono-like" would be more appropriate.)
- Count how many people speak foreign languages. Approach random foreigners and ask, "HEY! Are YOU ZAPHOD BEEBLEBROCKS?!?!?! I'm like supposed to meet you here." Later, pretend I do not know who that is.
- Shop for duty free items and then demand duty, but only in a separate bag and "on the side" like they do with salad dressings.
- Change my seat from window to aisle to window to aisle and then finally ask for "middle" just to be different.
- Clear customs 47 times. Validate how long it takes the Department of Homeland Security to blow up my luggage. (I'm guessing "3" but that's really just a hunch. I suppose I could use the "golden" opportunity to validate this guess.)
- Seek out any hiding TiVo's attached to any airport TV's and attempt to "unboop" CNN or the Weather Channel. See if they have any Nick Cage movies hiding in their bowels and, just for fun, if they do (HA!) "unboop" those too. Follow this by "thumbing up" Court TV 400 times. Monitor the TV guide channel carefully, eagerly awaiting any "Manson Family" reunion re-runs and thumb-up any of those for good measure. "Thumb up" an additional Nathan Lane movie just for fun.
- Approach the gift/magazine stand and ask to by a pack of chewing gum one stick at a time. Pay only in pennies and make the clerk count my change twice.
- Keel over in one of those "window benches" taking up an entire aisle and refusing to move for the entire eight hour stretch.
Until next layover...
Monday, November 07, 2005
This picture has lots of wires in it. My first photography teacher, Barbara, used to LOVE wires. She would always say, "people who think they can eliminate wires from photos are kidding themselves. Everybody knows they invented the camera AFTER electricity." I guess she's right. I guess electrical wires have always been there, but we collectively don't like to call attention to the them, for one reason or another. (Maybe we do like to collectively kid ourselves into thinking that the world is a "pretty" place-that would be one without electricity, I suppose, but also one lacking in the unsightly wire department.) Perhaps, we should wise up and collectively celebrate our ugly wires. They do, afterall, provide so much to so many with so little, don't they?
In Austin this past weekend, they had a KKK rally. Now, I'm not a big fan of the Klan, and I definitely don't support their viewpoint on the proposed marriage ammendment, but I'm a super proponent of free speech. Yes, it's ugly but true and it's a slippery slope we regress. What's free speech for you and I amounts to granting the Klan a permit to assemble and yap out their pieholes about whatever racially strewn hatred they are pushing this week.
It's an unfortunate truth, but one that we must cherish. If we don't enjoy our free speech, if we allow our governments, be it local, state, federal, democratic, republican, green, or whatever, to start telling us who can talk when about what, we've reached an end to civilization as we know it and can no longer call ourselves true "Americans." Lack of free speech is reserved, in case we've collectively forgotten, for places like Cuba and we've already proven that we can win the "big one" to oust folks like Hitler, who would have "free speech" so long as you see things their way.
We don't, however, have to agree with what people say. To bell the voice of dissidence is just as American as fighting to give others the right to speak.
As far as the Klan is concerned, we don't have to listen, and we don't have to fight. We can choose to just ignore them in a collective (but intelligent) "turn it off, man, I've seen too much" gesture that shouts out volumns by not saying a word.
Or, we could (as some in Austin chose to do this past weekend) elect to protest.
Several years ago, I participated in a "moon the Klan" rally. It was actually quite fun. For those curious, we were told to avoid the actual display of public indenceny but, instead, elect to metaphorically "moon" the Klan by lashing out in our own little ways. It was a fun day, with people bringing families, neighbors coming together to stand up for values they believe in, and Klan members outnumbered by a factor of about a hundred fold.
This past weekend, in Austin, there was another "moon the Klan" type of rally, only this time, things got out of hand. It was marred by violence and Austin PD had to arrest several protestors. The Klan showed their "strength" by parading 15 people on the steps of the capitol building downtown, while the protestors were held back by APD wearing riot gear.
I was saddened to hear that folks got all riled up over the Klan and that things turned ugly. Do I listen to the KKK? Nope. Never have, never will. Do I support their right to free speech? Yes. I would stake my life on it. It's what makes our country so great and it's what generations of my family have fought (and died) for.
The world would, in fact, be a wonderful place if we all collectively lived in "little pink houses" but, despite our best attempts, we'd still have to live with our wires showing. Those wires are make us who we are so, Barbara's right, we should celebrate, rather than try to hide, them.
Until next time...
Friday, November 04, 2005
Here's an update on some stories making news in Austin today:
1. This morning, along I35 (one of the main north-south interstates running through Austin-actually, the ONLY north-south interstate running through Austin) a desparate man (known only as "Bob" to local reporters) put up a billboard advertising for a wife. (I guess he didn't know about those Russian mail order web sites. Poor dude, don't you just feel so sorry for him? Hasn't he heard of a cheap internet cafes and Viagra through the mail yet?) No report on how many calls his voicemail has received (or can hold.)
2. This just in: the traffic report shows that it's slow and go from I35 south, through the upper decks, up to the 183 interchange. Local traffic helicopters sight no apparent reason for the delays. Do I have access to traffic helicopters? Nope. I'm just smart enough to figure out that everybody's slowing down to read the billboard.
3. In Bartlett, TX, north Williamson County, local citizens have started a petition to impeach the mayor. Gosh, I wonder why? In related news, the Bartlett Gazette (local paper) reports that there are currently a disproportionate number of billy goats reported for sale in their livestock section.
4. In Houston today, a convicted mass murderer type escaped from a maximum security prison by posing as a lawyer. He donned a cheap suit, took an ID badge, and made his getaway. Local residents are gripped with fear knowing that there's now an extra attorney running through their community. (Quick! Hide the children!) But not me, nope, I refuse to live in fear of 900 pound runaway legal briefs. (Mass murderer, attorney, Nick Cage, ah, they all look the same to me.)
Besides, he'd have to wade through tons of free roaming billy goats, mayors on the lamb, and whirl past billboads in heavy traffic, without stopping the read them, before getting to my house.
What? You were expecting a weather report?
Until next time...
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Today, I went off to Fry's to meet with Brian and, well, what else but shop for more Compact Flash. (My Compact Flash eating camera, it seems, just cannot get enough.) While we were there, we happened upon an entire display of TiVo's. Yes, it's true, for a mere $349 plus activation fees, you can have your very own murderous TiVo (I'm going to go out on a limb here to say, "Nick Cage movie not included.")
Speaking of the "unbooped" actor himself, I did also get dangerously close to the dreaded DVD aisles. I found out that, in fact, Fry's now carries some slightly pornographic movies and an entire aisle of horror flicks. But, alas, our friend and foe to TiVo units everywhere, Nick himself, was nowhere to be found (yes, it's true, I still have no earthly clue as to what he looks like so, maybe he really was there, hiding behind one of those slasher R+-rated flicks but, like, I wouldn't know him if I sprained my ankle and he jumped out at me wearing a hockey mask and some really bad Lee press on nails a la Freddy Krueger. Sorry but, that's just the way the TiVo unboops.)
Speaking of booping votes, in typical Chicago-style fashion ("vote early and vote often!") you may (or may not) have noticed that there are now several new web tools along the right edge of my blogger site (no, other right, over there -> silly!)
Scroll down and you will see for yourself how to get the coolest in XML Atom feed readers (get Pluck Now!) as well as a few web tools that allow you to "vote for my site!" (I feel like oh so PEDRO on you today.) Blog Rankers, Blog Patrol, and Hot or Not are all there for your mouse-clicking pleasure (as opposed to the pleasure you just might find in aisle 15D at Fry's, if you can watch out for the low flying X-rated Nick Cage Vampire movies and duck out before the TiVo display unboops your sorry ass.)
And, probably thanks in part to all the new uber-cool web tools, you may have also noticed that I've been getting a lot of freak-a-zoid, (it's a new shape. Kind of like a rhombus only more squarish) weird, spam-o (mystery meat for a new generation!) comments being posted to my site. I plan on turning on the comment validation at some point but like, for now, it just feels good to be loved.
So long as you don't do it with the help of any movies originating in aisle 15D of Fry's, that is.
Until next Freddy...
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
I thought it fitting that today, on Day of the Dead, I would put up a picture of a gothic-style house. I'd say Boo! but that's really more appropriate for Halloween. Today is the day hordes of Mexicans chow down, get drunk, and party down in cemeteries across colonial cities like Oaxaca so, like, have a little drink, eat a little chow, and shake them bones tonight, ok?
In gothic news, I googled (yes, it's now a verb too!) and found out that Trent Reznor actually sold this house to John Goodman (AKA "another actor I've never heard of") rather than Nick Cage (who's just not TiVo-licious enough for this house, I guess.)
I'm fully convinced that TiVo will one day actually record a Nick Cage movie (maybe even with a soundtrack by Trent Reznor) at which point, I will keel over from the ensuing conniption, but that's a blog for another day. It would make for a great marketing motto on Halloween, though, don't you think, "TiVo, it'll kill ya." Well, at least, it's better than the alternative "Boop you!"
And, to complete this slightly scary gothic circular reference, I also found out (courtsey of the Great Gods of the Googly Moogly) that Trent Reznor is, in fact, renting the Hollywood home once barraged by none other than Charles Manson and the Manson Family Clan (for those who don't remember, they are sort of like the Osmonds, only they didn't have quite the dental work.)
Ah, the horror of horrors. Mr. BlackOne rented the home of Mr. Murder and TiVo isn't even there to record all the fun that's sure to ensue. Makes you wish Mr. Reznor had some kind of a web-cam, doesn't it? (Well, if he did, my TiVo would be all over it. Waaaay before Steve's still cursed one. So there.)
The online article I read did say that Mr. Reznor was kind enough (or maybe weird enough?) to keep "the door."
(For those clueless ones out there, and I know there are some of you, that would be "the door" as in the "the door" that was hanging on the front of "the house." That would be "the door" that was hanging on the front of "the house" where Sharon Tate and the scion to the Folger's Coffee fortune were murdered in cold blood by the Osmond-like-only-with-bad-teeth Manson clan. Yes, that would be the blood stained door to the house in Hollywood where the Osmond-like family struck again. And me without my hatchet.)
Mr. Reznor, it seems, recorded an album in the aforementioned "house" (but, alas, not this house, which has gone on to bigger and better fame. Ah, to be owned by the likes of some actor who's never heard of me either. At least my TiVo doesn't have to unboop him too.)
Almost makes me get my TiVo thumb-up out of my TiVo ass, get off my duff, and go out to take some more gothic pictures.
(I said ALMOST!)
Until next Dia...
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
This is not a house in Bartlett, Texas and, as far as I know, Nick Cage doesn't live here either.
Speaking of our favorite little hidden hamlet of Williamson County, for those who have not been following the news, the Mayor of Bartlett, Texas has been arrested recently on DUI and money laundering charges.
An interesting thing about small Texas towns, as is the case in Bartlett, often times the mayor is also the fire chief, the school board president, the police capitan, and the head of the PTA (and that's, typically, just for starters.) He probably also ownes the local Texaco along with more than his fair share of billy goats ("Texas, it's like a whole 'nother country.")
For those who have been following the case, it's turned into something almost amusing (well, it would be amusing if it weren't so darn TRUE.)
The mayor, you see, took a jaunt down to Travis County (land where he does NOT reign supreme and, I'd guess, more people than not have seen Nick Cage movies as opposed to owning multiple billy goats.) Anyway, while he was, ahem, "jaunting," he got pulled over on a DUI and wasn't able to channel my Nick Cage-eating TiVo long enough to act all sober on us ("Damn it, those peons in Travis County keep moving that dotted white line. You honestly expect me to heel-to-toe this!") After further investigation into his, ahem, esteemed business dealings (schnanagins) it was discovered that he's also been laundering money (and I don't mean at the local washateria, which he probably owns as well, ok?) The Texas Rangers (no, they aren't just a baseball team anymore) had to step in and take him down-seeing as he's also police chief and, since this is Texas, probably owns more than his fair share of large caliber side arms (he's got to have something to protect himself from all those free roaming billy goat's, right?)
Recent humerous headlines on the topic read, "Mayor of Bartlett Denied Ankle Braclet" (the Travis County Judge, in his infinite wisdom, denied the mayor's request for "roaming" bail, choosing to not grant him an electronic monitoring ankle braclet the likes of which, I take it, are reserved for more "hardened" criminals-you know, the ones like Martha Stewart.) And, my favorite from today, "Mayor of Bartlett Asked to Leave Town." That's right. They're actually running him out of town, probably after meeting at midnight in front of the old saloon. (I couldn't make up stuff this good, believe me.)
Ah, democracy, justice, and the great American (Texan) way. Isn't it grand?
I don't really feel for the mayor at all, despite the fact that I've spent more than my fair share of time in Bartlett, Texas.
For those who don't know, my photography group (hey, photography "hoodlums" just doesn't have the same ring to it, ok?) used to frequent Bartlett shortly after they filmed a movie there. "The Stars Fell on Henrietta" was supposed to be Oscar worthy, never really made it out of the shoot, but left plenty of "way cool" (to use a Hollywood term) props behind for us to shoot, including, what looks like an authentic Wrigley's Chewing Gum mural circa 1950 (remember the Wrigley's girls? Well, they were cool, even if you don't.) Presumably, the movie did not star Nick Cage, although I can't be quite certain, seeing as it's another in a long chain of movies I'll probably never waste my time viewing (but, damn, I could kiss the prop master.) Why couldn't my TiVo be more productive and eat movies like this instead? I mean, wouldn't it go a long way to keeping them out of the general population? Nevermind the fact that they don't feature Jeffrey Dahmer in a starring role, they were set in a location that's now got a mayor/police chief/goat master on the lamb, doesn't that count for something?
I just wonder who's going to get custody of all those billy goats when all is said and done and the mayor has to turn in his 1400 shotguns and his little gold sherif's star.
Until next felony...