Tuesday, January 31, 2006

It's Got a (Possessed) Mind of It's Own


DevilishMask, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

In the, "I wish it were square so I could stop coming back around to it" department, it would appear that my TiVo has changed it's possessed mind yet again. (I'm not even going to speculate as to what might have come over it. Really, I'm not. Bean dip, anyone?)

Now, it would appear, it's not satisfied recording Nicolas Cage movies all day, every day, no, it actually wants more out of life, so, it seems, it's started recording EVERYTHING. Not just Law and Order re-runs, not just the crafting programs I sometimes watch, not just depressing movies featuring hookers who don't wash, not just Cher's nine foot long curly black mop of hair and her fake-New York accent, but EVERYTHING. Sometime about two days ago, it started recording really odd things-shows like Lassie Come Home and The Price is Right. Now it's just gone completely berserk and it's just green lighting every freaking program on television. (I didn't even know they still play Wheel of Fortune. Really, I didn't. Sure you don't want some bean dip?)

So, I figured that, it's time once again for me to harass you with another vote and, since my TiVo's been a little...let's just say...odd (completely FREAKING WHACKED IN THE HEAD really) as of late, I thought, being the enterprising wench I am, that I would combine these two events.

Today, my little snowflakes (hey, it beats calling you "wenchettes" right?) I bring you my latest poll:

VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE TIVO

Here are you choices (in an order that's somewhat chronologically inept since tomorrow):

  • The "Everything all the Time" TiVo-Vote for this if you think I should just let it run amok and record anything it wants. "Come on Down" and watch, Lassie wasn't such a bad show.
  • All Nick all the Time-Drapes be damned, tune into that stockpiled Cage-fest. Like Nickelodeon TV only with "bitch slappin'" Cher and hookers who don't wash their hands.
  • The Murderous One-Sure, it spawned Jeffrey Dahmer biopics but, hey, at least I had Law and Order re-runs, right? (Sorry, "Get Out of Jail Free" card not included.)
  • The Pre-possessed not yet demonic ordinary one-Ok, so it wasn't very "blog worthy" but, hey, it would get me to shut up, right? And, besides, I think it did record Law and Order once or twice. (Although, I can't remember, really. It was so many murders ago.)
  • Steve's-Even a cursed one, that cannot easily change channels, and appears to bear a strange preference for Pauley Shore, would be better than that contraption I've got setup in my living room. (Yeah, yeah, rock breaks scissors. Hey, at least I can flip channels on mine. That is, if Time Warner ever stops unplugging toasters long enough to give me any.)
  • And, finally, None-Go read a book. Or, better yet, take more pictures. (Not much fun but, then again, it's your choice now, right?)
So, there are your choices. Remember, my website is always true, "Chicago-style" voting (early and often, if you please.)

I'll post the results if I don't get my head trapped in the VCR.

Until next time...

Monday, January 30, 2006

Here's Looking at You/Homage


MaskWatchesManWalking, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

This weekend's Utata project was "Homage." As part of the project, we were to pick a famous photographer (or photograph) and re-create it.

This project presented interesting challenges for me. For one thing, I seldom "copy" the photographers I love. Most people, upon hearing my "favorited" photographers, say things like, "really? I would have never guessed that you like..." I'm just odd that way-I don't really "copy" the famous photographers I like and, sometimes, I even copy photographers (or photographs) I don't really like.

Some of the photographers who were copied for this project include:

Ansel Adams, William Eggleston, John Blakemore, Mathew Brady, Jann Arthus-Bertrand, Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Martin Parr, Jock Sturgis, Sally Mann, Victor Skrebneski, Imogen Cunningham, Harry Callahan, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Martin Fuchs, David Hockney, Man Ray, Edward Weston, Jerry Uelsmann, Alfred Stieglitz, Diane Arbus, Joyce Tenneson, Robert Mapplethorpe, Julia Margaret Cameron, Eddie Soloway, Irving Penn, Todd Hido, Karl Blossfeldt, Lee Friedlander, Eliot Porter, Richard Avedon, Gertrude Kasebier, Cindy Sherman, Paul Outerbridge, Anne Geddes, Simon Marsden, Minor White, Uta Barth, Julius Shulman, Werner Bischof, Robert Frank, Hiroshi Watanabe, Margaret Bourke-White, Richard Prince, Ed Ruscha, Eugene Atget, Candida Hofer, Robert Doisneau, Joel Meyerowitz, Edward S. Curtis, William Wegman, Patrick Tosani, Craig Blacklock, Michael Kenna, Karl Blossfeldt, Simon Marsden, Paul Strand, James Turrel, Courtney Milne, Ruth Bernhard, Clarence Laughlin, Rudy Burckhardt, Aaron Siskind, John Sexton, Andre Kertesz, Emmet Gowin, Elliot Erwitt, Eve Arnold, and Michael Kahn.

A couple of take away thoughts are that, well, there's a lot more to photography than one or two great photographers. Most folks, when pressed, would answer "Ansel Adams" if asked to name a famous photographer but seldom, if any at all, could name more than 5 or 10. (We copied quite a few, as you can see from the list.)

Also, some photographers (Cindy Sherman comes to mind) are really more like "photographer's photographers." They shoot things that other photographers want to copy but that aren't necessarily, popular in and of themselves. Her film still series really inspired a lot of photographers and, I'd guess, most folks have never seen nor heard of it. Kind of like the same way, I guess, every singer-songwriter tries to be Bob Dylan but a lot of "civilians" really can't stand the sound of his voice.

It was a fun project and I'm glad I got to partake. I'll post a link here once it's published.

Until next snap...

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Get Shorty


Jester4LeafClover, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Finger food be damned, yesterday I caught myself eating some of those chocolate filled Elf shaped cookies (I'm sure you know by now that those magical "dude-itos" over at Keebler satisfy my quest for sugary, saturated fat laden, cocoa by-product. Well, that and those cookies are just kinda cute, and they were on sale this week so, what's a girl to do?)

I stopped dunking one of the Elfen kind long enough to notice that, in fact, there were four sides to each Elf-four possible ways you could dunk said Elfie into your milk:

  • head first (some are even inscribed with the motto: "Dunk Head First." Ha! Like we stop to read cookies before devouring them. Well, you don't.)
  • left hand (side) first
  • right hand (side) first
  • and crotch first. (In case you didn't know, elves are, in fact, short and appear to have their feet embedded into their crotch area. Hey, don't look at me, I couldn't make up stuff this good.)
This got me to thinking (since I can no longer enjoy Oreos, it's the next best thing, really.) Throughout history, over the course of time, through the time space continuum, how would historical figures and famous people dunk their Elves? (Yeah, yeah, I know, I have too much time on my hands.)

George Washington strikes me as a head first kind of guy. Ben Franklin? Probably head first too, although I'm envisioning him inventing some sort of industrial strength slide-one that would dunk the cookies head first, leaving them in the milk the precise amount of time required to avoid sogginess, and then pop the cookie somehow into your mouth for you, all the time not knocking the bifocals (which he invented too!) off your nose.

Abe Lincoln? Why, of course, he'd split the cookie in half and lick out the cream filing first, thereby "emancipating" the chocolate, freeing it so it could run off to the north and own cocoa plantations all it's own.

Rembrandt would create elaborate Elfen still life paintings while Andy Warhol would make posterized Elves, hang them on the wall in multiples of four, crush all the cookies and use the crumbs to garnish his soup (He'd need the empty cans for his next arts and craft project, right?)

Iggy Pop, instead of eating "Swiss cheese" would punch holes into his cookies (mad melon baller, anyone?) and end up eating some kind of demented "Swiss Elves" which would leave behind lots of crumbs but look totally wild with the holes and all.

Then there's people I know. I see Steve taking the engineering route, a la Ben Franklin, while I definitely have some friends I could see being "closeted crotch biters," you know, they would fake a head munch and then, at the last minute, in an attempt at fooling us all, would turn the Elves around, and go in feet first.

I see people like Cher being not so "closeted" crotch biters while her co-star Mr. Ubiquitous (AKA Nicolas Cage, here's your lame 14 year old imdb photo) I see as being more of a head biter. (Although, after being "bitch slapped" by Cher and chasing hookers in Las Vegas for so long, he just might be a "crotch biter" but only if he could first master a way to win a small gold Elfen-shaped statuette and thank "...the Academy and all the little people...in trees everywhere...that make cookies possible.")

Paula Abdul would demand Elves sing on key and avoid cookies unless they do, while Simon Cowell could definitely bite some serious crotch, but only after making fun of Elf outfits and pissing off Elves in far away trees the world over.

Mariah Carey would demand "caviar not cookies" but nearly drown the Elves when she insisted they be suspended just underwater and used to prop up her half-naked body in her next video, all the time she sings about "Loving Short Men."

Kiefer Sutherland would save the Elf tree in 24 hours all the while his TV viewing audience were secretly wishing he could morph into some kind of Elfen vampire.

50 Cent would rap about "Elves in the 'Hood," a poignant saga detailing how the police gun down innocent, chocolate-colored, multiple felony convicted, gold toothed, heavily tattooed, Elves carrying large caliber sidearms, who live in small impoverished trees in Compton, Los Angeles.

Summer time would bring lots of fun with the little ones. Rocker Dave Navarro would stage the summer's biggest rock festival, "Elf-A-Palooza," while Pam Anderson would appear in the July issue of Playboy sporting double "D" Elf-shaped implants but would swear off eating cookies because she was "vegetarian not cannibal."

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go bite the head off some fresh riboflavin. (Dunk THAT head first.)

Until next cookie...

Friday, January 27, 2006

Photo Thursday Challenge: Door


RedDoor440, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

This one was a hard one for me, difficult because my first "real" photography project was "windows and doors" and I've been doing a lot of that ever since (I have amassed more than 15 years of "doors" believe me.)

I picked this one because it was recent, colorful, and it was the first one I thought of when I heard the topic announced. I was going to do some kind of blurry, reflection, lensbaby, or a Polaroid but, for this challenge, opted instead for something "straight," easy, head-on.

(Ok, so it's still a pink house with an oddly colored red door. Try as I may, I'll never be completely "normal" right?)

This is Red Door number 440.

Until next portal...

Thursday, January 26, 2006

How To Score


RainbowMaskNo1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

So, I've been addicted to Utata and flickr the past few weeks, and it's been kind of fun, working on some photography-related projects while getting together my Polaroids for exhibition.

But, more recently, I happened upon a few flickr groups that are, well, let's just say, "less than friendly." (Groups like: Delete Me, Delete Me Uncensored, and Score Me!) Most of these groups are groups that require the users to participate-groups requiring members to leave comments. Many of these groups are filled with snarky people who have nothing better to do than to leave snarky comments on other people's mediocre sunset photos. (They make Simon Cowell look like a pussycat, but, much like Simon himself, can be quite funny, really.)

As you can imagine, not everybody likes to leave positive comments, and some comments get, not only quite negative, but more than a bit funny. (I'd call them, "knee slapping, elbow banging, spleen busting funny" if I were pressed, really.)

Some of the comments are so funny, they've actually inspired me to want to create some bad photography (really, really bad photography.) Photography that's so bad, that, after leaving it in the group pool, it would inspire these jesters to break out the hysterics and "let 'em rip" (so to speak.) Let's just say that, for now anyway, I'm on a mission to get some (of my own) outlandish comments. And, of course, the lowest score ever recorded in the history of flickr (which isn't as easy as it sounds. Believe me, there are some bad photographers out there.)

Here's a sampling:

  • "Not even lack of focus and branches in the foreground make this sunset interesting. Try nudity." And, it's follow up, "Boobs make everything interesting."
  • "A woman smokes, a little girl has mice ears, a passerby an awful cap, and we have a snapshot."
  • "Clean your lens (well, at least it was constructive.)"
  • "If you puked in a bag, took a picture of that bag, puked on that picture, and then took a picture of it, it would still look better than this one."
  • Left as a comment on a picture of a guy making a funny face/starting to yawn, "Looks like he's mid-yawn. Either that or he just saw the neighbor guy nude."
  • "A digital camera has a certain amount of shots before it breaks down. You wasted one of those here."
  • Left on a picture of a shoe in a puddle, "Did this shoe just fart in the bathtub?"
  • "Had the Sphinx posed this enigma, the Tombs of the Pharoahs would never had been looted."
  • Posted to a picture of an odd Star Wars figurine with legs crossed, "Seriously, Luke, could you please just give me the key to the restroom?"
  • "He gets out sometimes...he gets out and needs a good slapping."

Kathy and I were talking about some, ahem, "techniques" I could follow to produce some "inspirational" artwork and we came up with the following:
  • Bad sunset pictures-anything hand-held with a very crooked horizon (Kathy suggested that I could actually "fix" this in Photoshop, while I claimed that, no, it would actually be more like using Photoshop to "break" something. Either way, that rotate, level, and trim stuff could come in handy here.)
  • Pictures of my car. Pictures of my neighbor's car. Pictures of my father's car. Really bad pictures of cars with half of the headlights chopped out (I take really bad car photos anyway. This one would not be too much of a stretch for me.)
  • Any photos of food-especially at TGI Friday's or the Olive Garden. Handheld, with flash, and like half a broccoli (and, maybe, like a third of a salad or a breadstick.) I would get extra "points" in my score if I included any waiter's legs (but not heads. Deduct points for any heads at all. In any of the pictures.)
  • Pictures of my dog-but not good ones. Pictures of my neighbors cats (3 houses away) taken from my front door (yes, from 3 houses away. Without a zoom. "See the dot? That's ma neighbor's cat!")
If you've got any additional suggestions, please do email them my way. (And, I'll be sure to post some of the resulting funny comments as they roll in.)

Believe me when I say this, and I don't say it often but, like, this little "pet" project now bears the motto: "oh now, this could get fun."

Until next time...

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Listening for Catahoula Hounds on TV


JesterOnAPillow, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Time Warner has fixed my television. Yippie! (And, as far as I know, the toaster still works. Phew!)

[Keeping it short today because I have some printing to do, and want to finish off some Polaroids.]

So, we've been going out walking a lot recently...weather's been nice...and we keep walking past this house in my subdivision (ugh! I hate that word) where a real "baritone" doggie lives. Most other houses, it's "woof woof woof" in a high-pitched, downright "yappie" way. Not this guy, he's more like an "Aaaaaarffffff." Very deep pitched bark. (Makes you almost think Cujo lives behind that gate.)

There's a line in one of Troy Campbell's songs that goes, "I can still get around/Your Catahoula houds/And the changing of the meds/From black back to red." Love that song. Made be think how much I absolute love the phrase "Catahoula hound." Kind of just rolls off the tongue when you say it, almost like "sycamore," or "willow" (favorited words all.)

As we're walking, my neighbor asks me, "I wonder what kind of dog that is. Do you know?"

"Yup," I say, "it's a Catahoula hound. I'm certain of it," just as she peeks through the gates, turns, and affirms, "you're right. It is."

I could tell from just the sound of the bark and the alignment of the cosmos. Strange, isn't it? I mean, I was pretty damn sure it wasn't something "common," like a Rhodesian Ridgeback. Somehow, I just knew.

Until next hound...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Leaving Clean Hang Ups in Las Vegas


JesterWBlueRibbon, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

An electrical storm hit Austin the other day. It didn't last for long but it appears to have taken out my cable box-you know, the cable box connected to my previously murderous (and now apparently Nicholas Cage obsessed) TiVo? Yeah, one and the same.

The experience has been kind of fun-there's a bit of an upside to it-seeing as now TiVo can't appear to record anything at all (not just Law and Order re-runs but everything, it would appear, has vaporized-been "unbooped" to that happy little TiVo place in the sky, stored forever alongside Jeffrey Dahmer biopics and Lassie re-runs.)

Hopefully, the crappy repair technicians at Time Warner, who just seem to wait 29 days to appear "between 8 am and midnight," disconnect everything-even odd devices like my toaster-in an attempt at fixing the problem, and leave before answering important questions-questions like, "but that's not even electrical. Why are you cutting a string away from a tin can in an attempt at fixing my TV?" will be able to fix the problem but, like, if past performance is any indication...(I don't hold out much hope for them-they can't even fix a toaster really. Despite their best attempts at unplugging it, it still burns bread on a fairly regular basis.)

So, in my futile attempt at "unbooping" some space on my TiVo, I thought it would be a good idea to watch one of the (about 700) Nicholas Cage movies that have piled up (because, well, I have to do something with them right? I mean, they can't all match the drapes.)

Leaving Las Vegas is a story about a fellow who goes to Vegas (ah, yes, Las Vegas, my favorite city. A city rivaling Potsdam for the motto, "Hell on Earth" really, except that Potsdam once rose up and froze over. Las Vegas remains, however, a sweat bucket of bad taste, a bastion of over-boozed businessman, and the hooker capital of the world) to drink himself to death but runs into (literally, with his car) a prostitute he subsequently falls in love with.

It seemed like a good enough movie until "the scene."

Something you probably don't know about me-one of my "hang ups" if you will is that, apart from the EXIF dilemma (it would appear that this is, in fact, "hang up" week at blogger,) I absolutely must wash my hands (with soap AND water) after I use the bathroom. As a child, I used to have these strange dreams involving flushing myself down the john (nightmares, really) and, much like Martha Stewart, really don't like it when people watch. Call it a "hang up," call it a quirk, call it what you will but I always close the door and I always wash up afterwards. (Sorry, you can't peek and like, please pass the soap ok?)

Fast forward to my Nicolas Cage "boopfest." I'm watching merrily along when suddenly, and I do mean suddenly, there's a scene where the hooker chick uses the john, leaves the door open, and doesn't wash.

EEEEW. Ick. Oh the horror of it. I'm so disgusted. I can't even think about it. I've washed my hands no less than six times since dropping the TiVo remote into that crevice in my couch. I'm like so totally grossed out you wouldn't believe it. It's disgusting. It's yuck-a-roo. I'm grossed. I'm slimed. It's grosser than Vegas itself and that's pretty wretched.

One minute, I was happily sitting there with a half-"booped" movie, a glass of milk, and some Oreo cookies that were totally "dunk-a-licious." The next? I'm running around the house screaming at Charlie, "EEEEW. She didn't wash," I'm soaping my hands six times, and I can't really handle any more finger food.

And now, it goes without saying really, I've no idea how the movie ends or when, for that matter, my cable will come back.

(Best guess? They both die and rot in Hell and, um, "mid June" perhaps.)

Damn. IMDB shoulda warned me it was a horror flick. (Now I'll never be able to enjoy Oreos again.)

Until next time...

Monday, January 23, 2006

Monthly Challenge: Textures


TextureVert, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Here's my entry for the Venice School of Photography's monthly challenge: Textures.

This isn't my most favorite of favorite shots, but, when I took it, I had texture in mind. I wanted to get in at least one kind of "snap-shoty" picture of those tiles used for the roof because I think that they are pretty and really scream out Italy to me (even if that's not what I would usually shoot.)

I like this one better than the horizontal version because I think that it accentuates the lines more.

For technical details, this was shot with my cheap-o "comes with the camera for free" 18-55 mm set at 55mm. I shoot in RAW and use Photoshop CS2 for RAW processing and I appear to have eliminated (clone stamped) out an annoying window at the top of this image which I did not yet Gaussian blur or smooth (will do that before an exhibition print, if one is ever made.)

I love buildings with wires and "junk" on the outside of them and I love how everything's just so crooked, dented, and "crumbly."

Until next time...

Friday, January 20, 2006

Photo Friday Challenge: Pink


SoftPinkDress, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

I was going to put up a rose, but I thought that this one was better. It's more pink in the true sense of the word, feminine, frilly, and girly.

Until next time...

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Thursday's Challenge: High


AngelTrumpetsOnHigh, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Ok, so he's not exactly smoking a joint or anything but, you just have to admit he's not exacly lying low either, right? I mean, that is the sky up there behind him and all so, I suppose, that makes him kind of high if you ask me.

This was taken outside of my hotel in Italy, land where the cathedrals all have gothic style do-dahs, even on the outside, to make them look pretty (not to be confused with non-gothic "do dah" wearing cathedrals which are, I suppose, just a tad boring, right?)

Until next time...

Pardon Me, My EXIF is Showing


GoldAndWhiteJester, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

As you may know, the Utata project is getting along fabulously, gaining 20,000 unique hits in it's first few hours of launch, with over 4000 of those being first time visitors to the site (Utata.) What you may not know is that, part of this project involved including EXIF data into our submissions.

For those of you who are not photographers (all 3 of you...*wave*) EXIF stands for EXchangeable Image File data. In more, ahem, "human" terms, this is the type of data that the newer, digital, cameras record when they capture an image-things like shutter speed, data and time, focal length, metering pattern, aperture, and the like. (In a statistic I find totally frightening, some newer cameras even record GPS data-that would be where, exactly, you were standing upon planet earth when said image was taken or captured as the newer photographers like to call it.)

Ok, I'm going to just come out and say it bluntly: I hate this. I hate the fact that my EXIF data is now available to any Tom, Dick, or Harry who happens along and "clicks" (to use a technical term) on one of my images.

I don't just HATE it, no, it's even worse than that. I feel like I'm standing naked in the square, like the door flew open on the airplane john, like a manly man walked into the wrong bathroom at a disco and caught me with my ball gown around my knees, you know, that sort of thing. (Oh the horror! Oh the humanity! Anybody can just happen along and FIND my EXIF data and VIEW IT by clicking on my image. GASP!)

It's horrible. It's worse than horrible. I just cringe anytime I think about anybody at all coming along and just viewing all sorts of information, like what kind of camera I have, what lens I was using, what aperture, shutter speed, and the like. It obsoletes searching for tripod holes and raises this (shoddy) technique to an entire new level. All that and, well, it's just WRONG on so many levels.

Sure, when I first started in photography, I had a teacher. (I talk about her here as Barbara, although, in reality, she was a senior curator at UT's Harry Ransom Center which, in case you don't know, is quite a prestigious post.) When I first met Barbara, I was blown away (amazed really) at how she could tell, just by looking at a picture, when it was taken, where it was taken, what kind of camera took it, etc. She, basically, was a "human EXIF calculator" back in the days before EXIF data even really existed.

But, this, to me anyway, was different. She wasn't "cheating." No, instead, she was relying on her knowledge (she had a vast knowledge base, believe me) of photography to, sort of, take an educated guess at just what information she wanted to gleam. (This modern day "I'll show you my EXIF data if you show me yours" is just all wrong on so many levels.)

As luck would have it, not only did I have to, was forced, compelled, dragged into, ahem, showing off my EXIF data as part of the Utata project...as if this weren't bad enough..no, people have actually started MAKING COMMENTS about my EXIF data ("ah, a 30 second exposure, that's why it's so pretty...")

I don't know why, really, I have this hang up. I mean, it's not anything that Barbara couldn't figure out, right? But, somehow, I'm just horrified at the notion that now the entire world (well, ok, maybe only 20,000 of you. Per day) has seen my EXIF data and it's just like out there SHOWING to whomever wants to peek.

I guess, on some level, it's probably actually helpful for those new to photography (they can see what it is that we do-they can peek at the magic behind the ball, the wizard behind the curtain, that sort of thing) but, on so many levels, photography is really more about creativity and, at least for now, you can't really quantify that or spew it out within the confines of a JPEG file format (well, not YET anyway.)

What's next? Am I going to have to tell you what brand of tripod I prefer?

Until next JPEG...

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

That Just Stinks


GiantRedBottles, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

The other day, Steve says to me, "So, when are you going to tell us what you did during your 8 hour marathon layover in NYC? You blogged about all the possibilities, but you never told us what you ended up actually doing."

Short answer? I went to the "stink-a-teria." I don't know what it is about duty free stores but they all seem to sell perfume, lots and lots of perfume. Sure, there's an occasional smoke or handbag thrown in for good measure but, if you ask me, "duty free" roughly translates to "stinky" in 17 languages or so.

There's tall perfumes, short perfume bottles, fancy perfume bottles, plain perfume bottles, perfumes that smell like roses, perfumes that smell like other flowers, perfumes that don't smell floral at all (musk, anyone?) guys cologne and trendy new fragrances-I got to smell that new Calvin Klein scent, Euphoria, the day it came out (was nice, actually. I liked it, in as much as I could actually like a "stinky" new perfume that I would never actually buy or wear.) Celebrity perfumes (one has to wonder, really, when JLO stinks up the joint, if she really smells like what's in that bottle) and perfumes from people you've never heard of (ever hear of Shizuoka, Japan? No? Well, now you know that they have an entire museum devoted to perfume there, not just a signature scent.)

Now, typically, when I go to a department store, I try to avoid the perfume and cosmetic areas, even if it means I have to walk 22 miles through the shoe department and the baby sections. (Men's shoes, at this point in time, look all that much more appealing to me, believe me.) I just can't take those ladies who assault you with bottles and atomizers of the expensive stinky stuff. But, there's something about being in an airport, something about having way too much time on your hands doing nothing, that makes me ok with venturing into the land of a million smells. It beats watching those arrival/departure flickering TV's or sitting in one of those $1 for a massage chairs without forking over any change any day, right?

Upon being approached by a well-dressed woman, wrinkling up her nose at him and saying, "you smell," I believe it was that great philosopher, Yogi Berra who famously replied, "no, lady, I stink, you smell."

So, now you know.

Until next stench...

Monday, January 16, 2006

That Bowl Ain't Rosey Anymore


GoldenMasksNo1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Ok, so I admit it, I'm not really a big fan of football, all things UT, or any real organized sports for that matter. Call it a factor of my upbringing, call it luck, chalk it up to my geekiness, whatever but, I just can't really stand sports of any kind. (I have, however, been known to jog on occassion and I'm fascinated with all things martial-arts related but, please, don't ask me anything football-realated. Ever.)

I just don't get all these people paying hard erned money, sitting around, half naked, painting team logos on their faces, making odd hand gestures in frigid weather conditions at the highest point of a stadium. Frankly, I could think of about 10 million other things I'd rather be doing, ok? (Even odd things, and other sports, like say "ice fishing" come to mind.)

So, this year, the UT football team played against some team from California in the Rose Bowl. I don't know who played, and I wasn't really paying attention to who won until I heard the news (second or third hand, mind you) that UT had actually won. Big woop de doo on that from me, right? (*Yawn*)

Now, what's driving me nuts, what's gotten under my skin and has been driving me absolutely batty is the fact that all of these people, these half-naked half orange faced stadium going people, have done nothing but talk about this stupid football game since it happened. (Get over it people. Yeah, so they won. Good for you, now, get a life already.)

They keep reliving it at the grocery store. They put fliers up at the shopping mall. Last night, the had some sort of celebration at the college. They are even selling some crystal cut glass sculptures made (I swear I'm not making this up) in the shape of footballs at Foley's in honor of this "big game."

Geesh, people, get a life. It's only a football game. It's not like somebody fed all the poor, housed all the homeless or cured cancer. UT just happened to win a stupid football game.

I have to wonder, if they posted the grades of all the players in the paper (which, by the way, is still running UT-related stories on the front page, and has been for what appears to be weeks now) would people pay so much attention? I mean, come on, you know, you just know, that half the football team probably can't even read at an 8th grade level, let alone score passing marks in college.

I wish there were some way that, in the next big bowl game, both sides could loose, don't you?

Until next time...

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Trail of the Dead


MaskWithFaceAndBody, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

This past Friday, the good folks at the SXSW music, movie, and interactive convention announced this year's entries for the SXSW music festival. Much to nobody's surprise, the Trail of the Dead were not on the list. (Hey, I still just had to check their website, right? Just to be certain.)

For those of you who don't know Trail of the Dead, they are a local Austin act (actually named, I swear I'm not making this up, "...And You Will Know us by the Trail of Dead") who are famous for, well, let's just say, not just their hard-rocking music but, in the spirit of early Led Zepplin, Keith Moon, Kurt Cobain, and other really hard rockers-trashing the crap out of the place, anyplace, that would be, where they happen to play.

It all started out innocently enough. They were booked at SXSW a few years ago (actually, probably like 8 years ago or so.) They trashed a hotel room, got booted out ("for life!") of said hotel room, and moved onto the next. Trouble is, after eight years, multiple hotel rooms, trashings too numerous to count, general mayhem inducing pseudo riots, a multitude of fires and broken TV's later, they now seem to find themselves in a tight spot-they can't find a venue willing to hold them.

A few years ago, they thought they would be "clever" and try to rent a boat upon which to perform their typical riot-inducing act. Needless to say, if you even want to house hordes of drunk, bottle throwing, bar room brawling, fire lighting (!) hoodlums, a boat is not your best choice (well, in hindsight, maybe they weren't the first party boat to sink upon Town Lake, I suppose. I mean, there was that great Hippie Hollow incident a few years ago that even made CNN, right?)

Another SXSW brought us Trail of the Dead trying to get creative yet again and found them applying for a street permit...you know, a permit so that they could be street performers. This, alas, failed them too, seeing as they ripped down a banner from a beer sponsor at a prior SXSW and were kicked out yet again. (The City of Austin, in it's, ahem, infinite wisdom denied them a street permit because, well, they didn't want them "free roaming..." you know, kind of like a herd of African Wildebeest. They didn't want to have to pay extra security and ADP overtime to fend them off with a stick and, unlike wildebeest, the Trail of the Dead do tend to leave a much broader swath of destruction in their wake.)

They've been kicked out of the Raddison, the Hyatt, and the Embassy Suites. Even that bastion of bad taste-that rich, half-naked, bad TV starring, heiress generating Hilton clan refused them. They were never even let into the Driscoll or the Four Seasons and, well, I strongly suspect that, at this point, even the people at the Motel 6 refuse to leave a light on for the likes of them.

So now we know they are planning on playing at SXSW. We know they are up to something, big question is, what exactly? And just how many beer sponsors will it take out?

In other, more, ahem, "lively" news, my Utata project, Nocturnal, has gone live. I'll post a link here so you can check it out.

Just goes to show you how much trouble you can get into in just one night, doesn't it? I mean, who would have thought that, in the hours before dawn one could reek so much havoc that even a Motel 6 wouldn't let you see the light of day?

Until next time...

Friday, January 13, 2006

Photo Thursday Challenge: New


Accademia, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Old buildings reflected in a new one. This was taken at the Accademia vaporetto stop in Venice, Italy in November of 2005.

Until next time...

Photo Friday Entry: Success


DressFormswithFace, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Dressed for success-here you go.

Taken mid-day, this is a shop window featuring some funky ladies clothing.

Until next time...

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Links in the Mirror


MaskInTheMirror, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Sometime yesterday, Kathy and I found out that we are to be included on the latest Utata project: NOCTURNAL. We don't know which images they have selected, but we've been busy getting our sets, bios, testimonials, and all the "background" information ready-you know, the kind of stuff you have to put on a website that's not really pictures (the pictures, it would appear, we have a handle on-well, so long as we don't get harassed by the police or hit some other kind of a shooting slump.) Anyway, for the curious, I thought that I would post a link here to my Utata member page.

All this Utata-ta-tat-ing has lead me to think about my own website a little bit. A lot of websites are now going with the "tribal" or "community" theme and this has got me to thinking that, despite the fact I've maintained this site solo all along, it might be kind of cool to have a guest "speaker" as it were. Please let me know (leave comments/email) if you think that this would be a good idea and I'll resort to the appropriate arm-twisting to make it happen (if I even decide to do it, that is.)

In other news, Luminous Landscape has released a list of "10 Movies Every Photographer Should See." I've posted a link here for the curious (I love Luminous Landscape, although, this time around, not too sure if I even agree with their choices. Honestly, they are landscape focused so, it follows that this list would be too, and I don't actually really do that type of photography, so I'm not really the best to pass judgment, I'll just post the link and let you follow.)

And, in more movie news, a certain previous "unbooped" actor, who shall now remain nameless (hey, if you call him, he might come, and he's already attacked my TiVo. Sorry but get your own link to some lame-ass 14 year old random imdb photo, my fingers are tired.) has a movie playing in Austin's own spectacular Paramount Theater. The theater's worth seeing, can't say for certain (one way or another) about the movie (if you really have some strong opinions about "Raising Arizona" please leave some droppings in the comment section of my website and I'll try to "unboop" it and stop Utata-ing long enough, to actually maybe like watch.)

Maybe tomorrow, I'll have some content all my own and leave the links to the breakfast sausages (hey, it could happen, right?)

Until next time...

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Director’s Cut from the Nocturnes


NightJesterNo1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

I might have told you that my latest addiction is a flickr group called Utata. This past weekend, we “Utata-tarians” (as I call us) had a project called NOCTURNAL about, you guessed it, night photography. Photographers from around the world participated by taking pictures over the course of three nights (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.) The images were then divided into several categories: over the water, my street/my space, buildings/city, director’s cut, lights/signs, and celestial/astral/nebula. (This was my entry for director’s cut which, according to the description, involved putting something outside, into the night, to photograph it.)

Kathy and I met on Saturday night to participate-we met in Georgetown, Texas, which is a small city, very near my current home town of Cedar Park, that has many Victorian style homes, a watering hole, an art deco styled theater on the square, a university, and a few other landmarks. It’s separated and built along the San Gabriel River in central Texas. Sometimes, I swear the “unofficial” motto of the city is, “sure we forgive those who trespass against us. Please pay your $500 fine at the county clerk’s office before leaving town.”

[But, then I remember that Georgetown is near, very near, in fact, that “hotbed” of corruption and misdemeanor convictions (land where even the mayor does time in the “big house”) Bartlett, Texas.]

So, I packed a bunch of shirts and coats into the back of the car, grabbed the tripod (AKA “weirdo magnet”) loaded up the oh-so-heavy compact flash (which I always seem to need more of) and headed for the square.

It’s been unseasonably warm-a balmy 68 degrees in the “shade” of night, and clear. Since it’s also been very dry-we’re under severe drought restrictions with the threat of wildfires-we decided it best to start with what we thought would be the most difficult category, “over the water.”

We drove all around Georgetown, or “Jorge-ville” as I sometimes call it, starting at the “blue hole” type of a place that had it’s own cemetery (!) but wasn’t quite lit up enough for us, then driving through the campus in search of a fountain (found one-but it was lame) and ending up in San Gabriel Park at dusk. We found a causeway type of structure, setup, and got some car trails as folks drove over the San Gabriel River. (I know it ain’t the Mississippi but it was a body of water and we were off to a good start.)

We wanted to shoot a gas station at night but gave up when we noticed that the Diamond Shamrock had only 2 pumps. (Two pumps? What’s up with that? Even the lame Cedar Park gas stations average 4 pumps per capita-I still find it hard to believe that the “thriving metropolis” of Cedar Park out trumps the Williamson county seat, Georgetown, by a factor of two gas pumps per station but, hey, you read it here first.)

A frat house on campus gave us high hopes-hopes that the kiddies would be outside getting high (“light up/drop out” makes for great pictures, although, as you could guess, not so great grades) but, alas, school was not in session and so the kiddies were out actually learning something, as opposed to their usual beer drinking studies (Rats!)

Next, we “broke and entered” (without really “breaking” or, um, “entering” for that matter, as one of the “rules” of the project was that all photographs had to be taken outside) into the San Gabriel Motor Court which was, let’s just say, not exactly a five start joint. I kept imagining an old western movie being shot there-I was getting this mental image of a big tall chap standing in a black cowboy hat, belt buckle bigger than his IQ, sucking on a small piece of straw in the corner of his mouth, talking about his “Pa,” all the while the fake adobe kind of glowed in the moonlight. (Maybe Mr. Ubiquitous could cook up his next movie here. At least it would help get him out of my TiVo, right?)

They had this weird Coke machine that stopped us in our tracks-it just sort of sat there glowing in the moonlight and looked rather alien against the fake western d├ęcor of the motor lodge. (I could imagine some little green thirsty men getting some 7-up out of that thing anyway.)

We didn’t get kicked out, took lots of pictures, and I even managed to trespass myself into a neighboring RV campsite to shoot a double wide (Check back here in a few days or see the image in my flickr stream called “Where, oh where is my tornado?” for details.)

All in all, we had a lot of fun though I’m really afraid of the big, dark cosmos now. Since I didn’t get arrested, kicked out of any, ahem, “fine” establishments, asked to leave anyplace that shouldn’t have let me in anyway, approached by any weirdo’s, or asked what I was doing even one time, I’m scared that the universe will now harangue me all that much more the next time I decide to pickup a camera. (In the “gosh, I hope Steve has enough bail money” department, watch this space for, what appears to be certain and forthcoming details of my subsequent arrest for trespassing.) The laws of the universe, as we know them, dictate that I must be harassed while photographing and, since I didn’t get my fair share this time out, I’m now overdue for a whopper of a run-in and am anticipating my share of harassment from the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office (or the equivalent thereof.)

Hey, it’s either that or I’m about to be attacked by wolves, right?

Until next time...

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Happy Booping Birthday/Elvis Has Left The Building


FaceNo2, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

In the "by the time you read this, three more have come" department, it would appear that my TiVo's new favorite ubiquitous actor as of late, Mr. Nicolas Cage, is in fact the poster child for the Encore Movie Network. Hey, how was I supposed to know that he does nothing all day except stand around on HBO with his face hanging out?

(Just how many movies has this chap made and, more importantly, how many more can my TiVo hold without imploding upon itself? Makes you wonder, but not too long, which, ahem, "fine flick" TiVo is "unbooping" as we "speak.")

And, speaking of faces, my reflection series has now, officially, been put to bed and today brings us the beginning of Faces from Venice. (Enjoy!)

But, I shouldn't be too hard on that poor old chap, Cage, because, well, today is, in fact, his birthday. I know this because his picture was in my newspaper this morning (And there's no telling, really, what he's done with my Law and Order re-runs.)

Funny thing about the paper today too-the ubiquitous Mr. Cage's photo appeared next to an article about a certain English woman who (I swear I'm not making this up) pled guilty to embezzling nearly 1 billion dollars from her employer and then sued because, in fact, she had spent considerable (said) funds on Elvis Presley records and memorabilia and wanted to keep the loot.

[Ahem, that's Billion with a B, B as in "Boy, that's a crapload of money" not Million with an M, M as in "didn't you notice it missing, Morons?"]

I'm just getting this mental image of some little old blue-haired woman sitting in a thatched roofed English cottage, surrounded, in a room full of boxes and bubble wrap, bidding on sequined jumpsuits, blue suede shoes, and very, very stale peanut butter and banana sandwiches over Ebay. (Meanwhile, every day, the parcel post brings more.)

I mean, come on, if you were to successfully embezzle 1 billion dollars, would you really buy anything Elvis related at all? New house, new car, diamond rings, sable coat, start your own space program ("send a monkey up to mars!") I could understand any of those, really I could but, come on, Elvis memorabilia? (Makes my head shake like Shakira just thinking about it.)

Elvis may be dead, he may have left the building and now, according to a British court ruling, money from Julie Wall's Elvis trove must be auctioned off and used to repay her billion dollar mishap.

(And, to think, she could have been in Biminini with a cabana boy all her own.)

Until next time...

Friday, January 06, 2006

Photo Entry: Signs


ServizioGondoleNo2, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

I don't speak Italian but, if you want to catch a gondola anywhere in Venice, I'm told you look for "Servizio Gondole" and you can hope on board.

(Or, maybe if you're like me, and afraid that you'll sink the thing, you won't "hop" but rather climb in slowly-very, very slowly.)

Until next time...

Photo Friday Entry: Panorama


RoofTopsAndChurch, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

This is a panoramic-ish shot, taken from atop the bell tower in Plaza San Marco, Venice. The church is Santa Maria De La Salute.

Until next time...

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Here's to Hope


WhiteBldgWColumnsNo2R, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Like most people, on Tuesday night I went to sleep thinking that the miners from West VA had been saved. I remember photoshopping (is that even a verb?) in my studio...with my TV going...the news was on...the reporters were all talking about how there was little hope on account of the gas. I remember thinking, "ah man, there's got to be hope. There's always hope." Then, as I was going to sleep that evening, they came on and announced that a "mircale" had happened...that 12 of the miners (the "lucky 12" they were calling them) had been found alive.

One of the things that separates humans from other critters, one of the qualities that makes us human, is that we have this strange notion of HOPE. A human being could be faced with his or her darkest hour, we could feel that the world itself were coming to a crashing end all around us, yet, somehow, magically, deep within our little black heart of hearts lies a glimmer of HOPE. It's what keeps us going. It's what keeps us focused. It's what separates us from the beasts of burden that work the fields and the roosters who crow in the pens (well, that and "thumbs," I suppose.) HOPE is always all around us, in one form or another.

It's incredibly sad that the miners didn't make it. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families and friends, especially seeing that they had to go through what must have been a roller coaster of emotion.

The only thing that came out of the mine, besides the one lone survivor, is that notion that, maybe, just maybe, the next time we'll get there in time. Maybe those "unlucky 12" are in a better place. Maybe they didn't suffer and found peace and salvation.

Maybe, in some small way, hope lies out there waiting.

Until next time...

Monday, January 02, 2006

Twisting By the Pool


ArchReflectionsNo1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

So, I believe in the past I might have mentioned that one of my all time favorite books is The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula LeGuin. It's about this guy, George, who has dreams that actually come true-dreams that alter reality. (There's more on the amazon link for the curious.)

My first "impossible. but I did it anyway" celestial twist-a-roo came last week sometime, after I promised some folks that I would gather a collection of links to my favorite photographers' websites. I included all the usual suspects but, in my quest for quickly delivering the cache (which will, some day, I promise, be posted here as well) I neglected to mention my favorite photographer as of late, Mr. Michael Kenna. Later, when I went to his website, in an attempt at backpedaling and including the link, I happened to notice that his latest body of work is called (I swear, I'm not making this up,) ahem, "Impossible to forget." (Guess not, huh? Ooops.) The heavens writhe yet again as I lay shaking my head in my hands.

In my next bizarre turn of events, a certain possessed TiVo has now taken to recording ONLY Nicolas Cage movies. It's not merely recording all of them, every Nicolas Cage movie, it would appear, that's ever been made, no, it's stopped recording Law and Order re-runs, crafting programs, occassional CSI episodes, Charles Manson biopics (well, that's good news, I suppose) anything else that it had once "booped" into it's happy little, heretofore "Nicolas Cage-less" memory banks is now history.

In the "I bet the frogs feel safer already" department, I've decided that, since I was never very athletic, and can't even appear to beat my TiVo unit at thumb wrestling, I'm going to get all "couch potatoey" on you and just let TiVo accumulate a grand pile of crap (said with apologies to the previously perpetually unbooped and now, apparently ubiquitous, Mr. Cage.) At some point, I'll post of list of what it's "booped up," and I'll seek guidance from my, ahem, "loyal" readers (all 3 of you. *Wave*) as to which "booping" movie I should watch next (sorry, Steve, but, yes, this means that you'll have to vote. *Again.*) It's true, my friends, I've admitted defeat and am giving in to the evils of the possessed TiVo unit. It's time to retire my broomstick, stash the cauldron until Halloween, and just go with TiVo's silly little suggestions (because, well, I don't really have a choice now, do I?)

[Hey, maybe TiVo's actually recorded a TV program in which somebody *doesn't* get killed? There's hope, right? (Nevermind, don't answer that.)]

If I were poor old George, I'd dream about hillsides and flying over snow capped mountains. I'd dream of sailing deep waters, of swimming with dolphins, of catching waves and hanging 10 on a gnarly surfboard off the coast of South Africa. I'd dream of many things, my friends, and I'd especially dream up a TiVo unit that recorded every damned episode of Law and Order, without commericals, and nothing else. I'd have many happy dreams and run off to make "unforgettable" memories with a dreamy cabana boy on my own memorable beach. I'd "boop" you all out of my dreams (well, unless you happened to look a lot like a cabana boy) and "boop" myself onto some deserted island where nothing but Law and Order played all day, every day, on giant, dreamy plasma TV's suspended poolside for my viewing pleasure. (That and I'd dream up some of those tropical drinks, with those pretty little umbrellas in them, for me to slurp down because, well, even in my dreams, I get thirsty every once in a while.)

If I could remember my dreams, I'm sure I could tell you that I dream of many things, and that some of them involve make making some fond, unforgettable memories with a cabana boy on a deserted beach somewhere (and a TiVo that actually listens to me.) Heck, I'd even dream up a nice, memorable URL (with photos!) to prove it. (Now, if only I can get the heavens to spin my way.)

And, yes, if you insist, I'd even take my tropical drink "with a twist," in homage to that poor sap, George, who, like the rest of us, lives under churning heavens that seem to spin on a dime.

Until next twist...

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Everybody's Doing It


YellowThenWhiteBldgR, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

This just in from the "everybody's doing it, so why shouldn't I?" department, I have recently joined a bunch of online flickr groups, including one called (I swear, I'm not making this up) Utata. (Funny name, great group.) You might notice the link in my button list off to the right.

What does Utata mean?

It comes from a story about a race of long lived people, each of whom tells their life story by way of intricate tattoos (called utatas) all along the sides of their bodies. They cannot die until their stories have reached the soles of their feet. Kind of reminds me of the movie Memento, only a bit different, I suppose.

The story makes for interesting visuals and the group has become quite addictive. In the past few days, I've gone from having almost no comments left on my photographic images (uploaded in flickr for your viewing pleasure) to having 2, 3, sometimes 4 comments a picture. Lots of people, it seems, are using flickr groups and flickr has become the hotbed for experimental photography. I feel so right at home yet helplessly addicted. (Help! Please make it stop now.)

And, speaking of stories, memories, tattoos, photographs, and the like, one of my more, ahem, astute readers has written to me, in response to my "Seven" posting to ask, "you said, 'write a great novel. Again.' Doesn't that imply that you wrote one once before?"

Nice catch, my friend, nice catch (geesh, does nothing slip by you people? Nevermind, don't answer that.)

Yes, if you must know, I once penned a novel called (I swear I'm not making this up) Looking for Cheryl. It was about a female computer programmer who once hacked into a government database as a college prank, than later took a job chasing hackers for the feds. She thought she was in paradise, since they sent her looking for herself (her name was on the list of hackers she was to chase) but then trouble ensued when the feds told her a body was discovered and that it was, in fact, the Cheryl she was "looking" for.

To answer the most obvious pressing questions, yes, it was "finished" at one point, no it was never published (never tried really,) no it wasn't really any good. It was a good story but way too ambitious of a plot for me to actually pull off. (My writing skills just weren't all that good and inking a full blown plot twisting tome was just too much for them to bear.)

The only thing I can really say about the entire novel/story writing experience is this...remember how, when you attended school, they told you to do outlines, character sketches, plot details, and the like? Remember how, you always just ignored all that, jumped in with both feet, and started "just writing" anyway? Well, that's a really bad idea if you are ever planning on inking (and finishing!) a novel. Really it is. (You'll just have to trust me on that one.) Tattoo it across your forehead if you have to but, damn it, get your sorry ass an outline (or it'll kill ya!)

So, now you know.

Until next time...

PS There's still time to vote. Current favorites are the photo book, but the Compact Flash and Nicholas Cage DVD are not too far behind. Also, my year end round up is available here for the curious.