It's almost time. In just a few days it will be 2009. With the new year comes some hopefully high resolutions! No, this isn't about upgrading my camera and getting the most mega pixels money can buy. No, it's about what I plan to do over the course of the next year. Time to talk about what I think 2009 might bring.
In 2008 I did a few international juried shows, mostly in the United States and mostly outside of Texas. I expect that to continue into 2009, probably setting my sights on California a bit or maybe New York (again.) Hard to say though, because I tend to evaluate the opportunity more than the location. 2008 also saw me get published a bit, both in terms of the book and in terms of the newspaper and magazine route. I expect that to continue into 2009 as well, especially since there seems to be an increasing demand for use of my images in publications.
In 2008, I started my first "real" gallery style website and, I have to say, it's been a blessing. It's really helped me get organized and stay on top of things, so I expect to do more (a lot more) on the web in 2009. Expect House of Carol to continue in a big way in 2009 and I might even launch several (other) things on the web. Series wise, my Eden series remained strong and my Surface series was a bit popular. I would love the opportunity to continue doing sepia-toned garden prints as well as expand upon the surface series, but I expect that 2009 will take my work in a very different direction.
As far as traveling, I can't say what the plans are right now. With the downturn in the economy and the increase in studio work, I'd just as soon stay home and work out of the studio a bit more. I would expect 2009 to bring a much-needed upgrade to my studio lighting setup as well as a lot more "at home still life" type of work. I naturally go through phases as a photographer and, especially lately anyway, it seems as if I'm turning inwards and moving more towards the studio work. At least for now, that seems to be the case though, as you might be aware, I change my "photographic" mind quite frequently and anything can happen (and often does around these parts.) I guess we'll just have to wait and see with regards to this one, right?
2008 saw my participation in the Picture the Cure exhibit in downtown Toronto and I expect to continue with the "PTC Folks" (as I like to call them) as best I can in 2009. I would also like to increase my charity presence by doing another show, possibly the Heart Gallery, but maybe something else, something completely new, in 2009. In 2009, we'll also start to exhibit the Texas wine making project, so I expect to be a bit busy with that.
I know I've been talking about it for years, but *sigh* I have yet to achieve that pinnacle of success, the "one person show." Didn't do it in 2008 though, as you might expect, I'm going to, once again say now, "but I'm closer now then I've ever been before." Yes, and Santa will come back for another visit any day now. No matter the outcome, I shall try and continue to try for that reclusive one person show as best I can. I expect to complete my portfolio in the early part of 2009 and start sending out "real" packages of my work to that end, but, like so many times before, I don't expect to actually get anything. Well, you know, not for a while anyway.
2008 saw me making the large version of my first "real" book, Drive, and I expect many books in 2009 to follow. Some big, some small, some this, some that. Expect the book production to really start hopping in 2009.
Now, for the fun stuff. What kind of projects do I expect to be working on in 2009? Well, for starters, there's the projection stuff. The "projected pixels" and "pieces of me" series were quite fun for me to start, so I anticipate kicking off 2009 by throwing myself full force into those. Look for a lot of projected images to come in the early part of 2009. I can't really explain the need for me to do these sort of "self portraits" but they are fun (oh, are they fun) so I expect you'll be seeing a lot of them in the new year. Right now, anyway, they are the work I'm most excited to do.
I also plan to purchase a new lensbaby that will allow me to do different lensbaby work. I might finally invest in a fish-eye or some sort of more wide angle lens as well as probably purchasing a "nifty fifty" or a beginner lens that's a flat (fixed) 50mm capable of shooting "wide open" at F1.2 or F1.4. These are quite suitable for bokeh, and I've been toying around with that for a while, so it logically follows I would invest some into it. I will probably continue some of the running themes I have going already (religious "iconography", dress forms, reflections, masks/personae, architectural details, botanical leaf studies, and so on.)
From where I sit, 2009 is already shaping up to be a huge year photographically and I can hardly wait. I really feel there's a lot coming up and a lot going on, so I'm looking forward to jumping in. I'm finally getting my house cleared a bit and, once that's behind me, I expect to be able to devote a lot more time to all things photographic in 2009.
If I had to guess, I'd say that my prediction for 2009 will be that it will become "the year of the studio" for me, as it's been a long time (maybe too long) since I've turned to the inside world. I've always enjoyed studio work before and I'm looking forward to getting back into it in a big way in 2009.
That's how the resolution looks from where I sit. I hope 2009 finds you making and exceeding your own photographic resolutions as well.
Until next time...
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
It's almost time. In just a few days it will be 2009. With the new year comes some hopefully high resolutions! No, this isn't about upgrading my camera and getting the most mega pixels money can buy. No, it's about what I plan to do over the course of the next year. Time to talk about what I think 2009 might bring.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
This was not taken with the latest in Canon's L series glass. This image was not taken using a camera with a full-frame sensor. The latest in hardcore strobist equipment? Nope, not that either. Expensive fashion models? Do you seen any? (There's not even another person around.) Exotic locations? Nope, didn't go there. Taken using only the finest in carbon fiber tripods? Sorry, don't think so. Fancy GPS locating systems? Wireless flash units or storage devices? No and no again. Not any of those. (It's not any of that.)
How about...ah, don't bother asking, because, whatever you might say, the answer is still probably going to be a resounding "No." This image was not taken using the most expensive camera, the best available lens or, heck, even the most expensive lensbaby.
Is this a good image? Was it worth all of that "non trouble" I went to in making it? I don't know.
What I do know is that it's a bit sloppy on the right edge (should have been more careful in composing it) but that I kind of like it a bit. I think it (somewhat) conveys the mood I was going for-solitude with a sense of mystery-a bit of a puzzle maybe. Maybe it makes you wonder where it was taken, what you're looking at, how it got there, or what's with that little house out in the middle of nowhere. Maybe it asks more questions than it answers and that, that alone, makes it a good (or a bad?) image. Maybe it's all of that and more (or, you know, less?) Does it "embrace the blur?" Meh, a bit, yes, but, frankly, it could even be blurrier. (Would that make it better? Or worse?)
I do know that, to make this image better, I could have done a few things differently. I could have watched my composition a bit more (ah, that pesky right edge) and I could have clarified that emotional impact I wanted it to make a bit better. Was I going for solitude and solitude alone? If so, why all of the questions? I could have made the sky a bit darker and given the image a bit more expanse, to really highlight, "drive home" that bit about the solitude. Could I have emphasized the space to highlight the emotion a bit better? Maybe so. (And maybe, just maybe, these are the "real" questions we should be asking when evaluating if an image is "good" or not.)
There's one other really interesting thing about this image. I would like to meet one photographer (just one) out there in the big expanse of the "camera club" world, who can look me in the eye and honestly (honestly!) tell me that I could have taken this image without the sloppy right edge and with the concept a bit clearer, if only I had one of the following objects: L series glass, a full-frame sensor, some better strobist equipment, an expensive fashion model, a more exotic location, a carbon fiber tripod, a GPS, a wireless flash a wireless storage device, or, in fact, any piece of camera equipment known to mankind.
Without the idea, without the creativity, without the spark, without the vision, all of the gear in the entire known universe boils down to nothing but a useless pile of expensive crap. You need to see to be a photographer but, unfortunately (as we sometimes forget) you need to think before you can see. Photography is thinking. And thinking? Sorry to say, but there's not one item in the B&H catalog that can make you do that any better.
Want to improve your photography? Don't buy L series glass or a full frame sensor. Skip the exotic locations and the fancy GPS devices. Do whatever it is you have to do to make yourself think more clearly and spark the vision. Solidify the concept. Make the image in your head and make it clear, so you know what it's about and it's everything you want it to be, before you even pick up the camera. Once you have the idea, the vision, that old creative spark, you can probably use any camera you want to take the picture anyway. But, lack the thought? Don't have a clue as to what your viewer is going to think or feel when looking at your next frame or capture? Oh man, you're really lost now. No camera in the world is going to help you take a better picture.
Cameras and gear don't matter. People do. Expensive gear is nice but it's just that, nice. It's not inspiring. We have to work for inspiration. We have to think.
Photography is really thinking aloud. Anything else is just a pile of crap B&H will gladly sell you given sufficient markup. And, if you don't believe that, in your heart of hearts, you need to think again.
Until next time...
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Merry Christmas everybody! It's Christmas eve where I sit and I'm really enjoying it. It's about 70 degrees and sunny, a beautiful day here in Cedar Park, Texas. I spent part of the day raking the leaves over at my family's house and then ate too much and have been relaxing a bit.
I got a surprise today too, which is why you are seeing this photo, one I've used before, pop up again on the website. My blurb book arrived today. This image is featured on the cover, so I'm posting it again to the blog.
I hardly know what to say about the book. Such a Christmas present (to myself!) that is. It's 170 pages called Drive and it's all shots taken while driving, riding, or otherwise moving along in a car. It's a "real" book and it's impressive. I'm happy to have finished it. I feel as if I've given birth or some such thing. It was a large undertaking but, now that I can see it in print, I'm amazed. It's lovely and I'm very proud of it.
The copy that I ordered was a "draft" copy, I intend to tweak it just a little bit and upload then the final version of the book. But, it's quite amazing that book is. It's really an honor to have, in my hands, a copy of my very own work, hardbound and packaged to enjoy.
I know that 2009 will bring more books, and this is actually not technically my first book, but it just feels so good. It's really great sometimes to be able to hold your work, step back, and enjoy it. Sometimes I feel as if I'm always sending stuff off to galleries, always printing for this or that, that I never get the opportunity to enjoy my own work. I only get to catch a glimpse of it as it's being crated and carted off to some show somewhere, that I cannot attend or, you know, somebody wants it for something so I must send it off in a hurry, to meet the next big deadline. It's nice to step back, relax, and actually look at my own work for a change.
I'll post a link here once the final version is available, but, for now, I just wanted to share with you how it feels. It's a happy feeling, a happy end to an otherwise pleasant day, and I hope you are having the same, on this, Christmas eve, where ever you are.
Until next time...
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Today, I'm going to ask you two questions.
What's your favorite breakfast cereal? In the grand scheme of things, in the great expanding universe that is our ever-changing day-to-day lives, with all the war and peace, famine and hunger around the blue ball of a globe we call home, does it actually matter what anybody's favorite breakfast cereal is?
Yesterday, I was avoiding doing my "real" work and decided to play on my computer. I blogged, I flickred, I went to all of those websites I always go to...yada yada. Then, I got bored, so I decided to "venture out" into the great unknown of the universe that is the intertubes. Now, I know, I know (probably better than most) that it's a big, bad world out there and you have to be careful, least you google your eye out, or some such thing, but I took my chances with the great all knowing search engine. Venture out I did. I went to this "celebrity" website. It was one of those forum type websites and also several "fan sites" that had merged into one.
Wow. What can I say? Who knew that there were so many obsessed people in the world? All this time I thought that my obsession with Top Gear and Doctor Who was bad. Geesh. There are some people out there that really need to get a life. (Or, you know, maybe they have a life and they need to trade it in on a better one somehow.)
I'm not making this up. I found myself in some kind of a forum "devoted" to the celebrity in question (who shall remain nameless-hey, I don't want to attract that kind of a crowd here-those people scare me!) They were discussing everything about the celebrity-what shoes he wore, what brand of eyeglasses he preferred, what he ate for breakfast.
"Oh, I think he likes Corn Flakes," one woman posted.
"YOU IDIOT! He eats only the finest in Honey-flavored Shredded Wheat," another replied.
And then the fight broke out. It was amazing. It was astounding. It was nothing like I had ever seen before. Wow. Who knew there were throngs of people out there quarreling and bickering about what a particular celebrity had for breakfast? That's so shallow I find it literally amazing. I cannot believe I actually read that-on the Internet of all places. I mean, I know the Internet is filled with useless facts and fictions but, by God, that raises "useless information" to new heights. That's just more "information I could stand to live without" than I can even fathom.
Since I've been home a lot, and I'll be home now through, pretty much, the end of the year, I decided to stock up on groceries. Sometime yesterday, early in the morning, I ventured out into the "real" world, into the great cosmic universe that is my "super-sized" supermarket to go and get some groceries. I got bread and milk and butter and eggs and, yes, even cereal. In case you're wondering, which you really shouldn't (I'd be the first to tell you) I got some cinnamon flavored Total flakes. And I had some. Just now, in fact. Yes, you read that right. Just now, a few minutes before I sat down to write my daily posting, in my little white otherwise empty "Type Your Post Here:" blog box, I ate some cinnamon flavored Total type of cereal. And it was good too. I'd have to say that, I'd buy it again, should I have the opportunity-and I'm optimistic about it-I look forward to having it again someday, maybe tomorrow, in fact. It's a good cereal, that Total is, and I do like cinnamon, I have to admit. Not going to bring about world peace, not going to make me rich and famous, not going to land me that oh-so-plum gallery gig I want next, but, you know, tasty nonetheless.
So, now you know, should I ever happen to get famous, and you, my dearest snowflakes, find yourselves fighting over me in some obscure on-line forum, you know what to say about that.
But, you know, just in case, here are my answers to those particular two questions:
What's your favorite breakfast cereal?
Don't have one, though, right now, I just ate some cinnamon flavored Total and it was pretty good.
In the grand scheme of things, in the great expanding universe that is our ever-changing day-to-day lives, with all the war and peace, famine and hunger around the blue ball of a globe we call home, does it actually matter what anybody's favorite breakfast cereal is?
Not one frigging iota.
Until next time...
Monday, December 22, 2008
So a communist bush and a tree bandit walk into a bar...Kidding, kidding. This is a photo of the communist bush at the end of the street where I live. What makes it a "communist" bush and not a regular, old, run-of-the-mill bush? Well, that's easy-it's started a revolution and has half overtaken the sidewalk. (It's all Chase's fault. He likes to, ahem, "water" it by....well...nevermind that.)
Oh, and, in case you're wondering-what's all this about a tree bandit? That ones easy too. The Christmas Tree Bandit is back! The Christmas Tree Bandit is back!
"Who or what is a Christmas Tree Bandit?" you might ask. And I'd tell you.
Every year in Austin, some "mystery" person goes out and decorates the trees along Highway 360 as Christmas trees. Garland is strung, tinsel is placed, Christmas balls are hung, the works! On probably more than 100 trees, Christmas decor is adorned.
The people of Austin don't seem to mind the Christmas trees. In fact, I'd go so far as to say, we actually LIKE the Christmas trees. So, where does the "bandit" part come in? That's a good question. You see, the City of Austin has decided they want to "crack down" on the Christmas tree decorator. So, they organized a task force (did nothing) and eventually called for the police to step in to catch this wild free-roaming outlaw. So, rather than catch actual murderers, rapists, or even holiday muggers, the Austin Police now have to try to catch this Christmas Tree decorator, or the person I like to call the "Christmas Tree Bandit."
So, how do they set out to catch the bandit, hot in his tracks? Easy enough, they start stopping people and asking (ok, maybe actually "demanding" would be a better word seeing as they have this penchant for using tasers and large caliber sidearms as they wish) for a description. So now we have the APD, stopping random holiday shoppers, demanding to see a driver's license (or some form of ID) and demanding to know (least ye be tased, oh merry shopper thee!) "Have you seen the person defacing these trees?"
As you can imagine, the descriptions of the Christmas Tree Bandit aren't very accurate. Most people make up odd, random things such as, "he was a tall fellow with orange hair" or he was "short, fat, and bald yet somehow looked a bit like a basketball player I once knew." He's been a black main with hair dyed yellow, a woman, a man dressed as Santa, a tall thin redhead. Heck, never mind the decorating, he's a master of disguise, that bandit is.
I actually did see the Christmas Tree Bandit once. I caught him in the act of full contact decorating down in South Austin, really I did. Of course, this was before I knew all about the "bandit" part. Unfortunately, the police in Austin did not stop me (at the time) and ask (ahem, "require") I give a description. I would have enjoyed adding to the random craziness that is the Christmas Tree Bandit. And you know, you just know, I would have come up with some kind of doozie to add to their growing list of useless descriptions. (I would have probably come up with something like "he looked like a cross-dressing Lee Harvey Oswald only with better teeth.")
But, I did see him long enough to give you, my loyal snowflakes, a fair and accurate description. (Yes, I did.) And so now, drum roll please, I present to you my very fair and accurate description of the Christmas Tree Bandit! He looked just like The Stig when you take his helmet off and put a pair of eyeglasses on him. Really, he did. The Stig is the Christmas Tree Bandit! Who knew?
Ah, but, if you think about it, it makes so much sense now. I mean, APD can't catch him (he's too fast!) and I'm sure, among the descriptions, the many, many descriptions they have is "a man in a crash helmet waving a string of garland at passing traffic." Not to mention The Stig does have a long record of criminal activity (he's a bad boy, that Stiggy is.) Remember, he did get arrested in Scotland once and, for the police car chase show, he had his windshield painted pink. He's a real outlaw, that Stiggy is. Does it really surprise anybody he's been spotted running around, dashing about, in the wilds of South Austin with garland, tinsel, and Christmas balls? He's probably got a Zonda hidden under one of those trees and takes off to Mexico before they even know what Christmas balls him them.
So now, since we know his "real" identity, I must declare: Go, Stiggy, Go! Stuff that in your stocking-The Stig is the Christmas Tree Bandit! and you can't catch either one of them this Christmas, at least, not yet. Something tells me though, they'll be hanging out Thursday night, sipping eggnog with some fat man in a red suit, drinking to "political correctness" all the while laughing their Larsen's Biscuits off.
Go, Bandits, go! (Gotta love the Bandits...just gotta love the bandits.)
Until next time...
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Today is DILO Day.
"What's DILO Day?" you might ask, and I'd tell you.
Today is "A Day in the Life Of..." It's a day on flickr, one day, where we take photos and document some aspect of our lives. It's a one day only event. It's sort of like a major art project, taken all around the world, one frame, one picture at a time. It's really fun to be a part, though a small part, of DILO every time it happens. All over the world, somebody somewhere is taking a picture, and another, and another, documenting the world as we know it, today, on this day, December 21st, 2008. And now, I guess, you're a part of it too because you get to see one small piece of the results.
It was a cold and cloudy day in Cedar Park, Texas today. About 5 pm when I took this picture, the sun was about to set on this, the shortest day of the year, here. It's the winter solstice and it's unseasonably cold, though dry, and quite windy. Chase enjoyed playing in the leaves and barking, as he always does, at the dogs in the back. I spent only a few frames from my camera in the yard, because of the winter chill that's in the air and, because, well, I guess because the Red Leaf Diaries are behind me and I'm more inclined now to work on the house, rather than take pictures right now. (I'll probably get to do that some tonight.) I never stray too far from taking pictures, and I have a lot of projects in the works for 2009 but, as you know, the mundane things sometimes get in the way. The blue ball turns, life goes on, laundry must be done and I must sometimes eat, sleep, and do all of that other stuff you don't get to hear about so much anymore.
But, the frames of fantasy are never too far from my mind. They rest comfortably in the cold, knowing that, upon the first sign of winter thaw, maybe even before that in some small corner of my personal studio, they will come again. On this, DILO Day, we must celebrate them, even a little bit, even for only one shot, because, well, they help make life so special.
Today is December 21st, 2008. It's the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere. It's Frank Zappa and Paco de Lucia's birthday. It's cloudy and cold in Texas today, with blue skies and a strong winter wind.
What is it like where you are today? Is it still December 21st? Does today mark the winter solstice? Is it cold? Cloudy? Did you play with your dog today too?
Happy DILO Day!
Until next time...
Friday, December 19, 2008
It's almost time...it's almost time for us to kick back, enjoy the holidays, and reflect on 2008, the year that was.
This year has been pretty good photographically. I did the shows in Baltimore, New Orleans, Chicago, and around Austin. (I still have work up at the Studio2Gallery in Austin as we close out the year.) My work was selected for an album cover, a couple of publications, and I did a big portfolio review in the fall. I completed a workshop in Santa Fe and a location shoot in White Sands. I published two books. I did NaBloPoMo with help from The Stig.
All-in-all not a bad 2008. And the best part? The best part is that it's almost time to look ahead, make some photographic resolutions (of sorts) and start planning for 2009.
Now, 2009, for that I can hardly wait.
Until next Photo Friday/Best of/End of Year Rambling...
Yesterday, all foggy and cloudy, today, when we're hoping for the fog, what do we get? You guessed it, sunshine and warmth. Well, at least it's not bitter cold out like it was on Wednesday.
This year, it's been rather odd too that I have completely abandoned the Red Leaf Diaries. No hunting for a red leaf, no chasing foliage, watching "peak times." I gave myself one day and did it all only because I felt like it for a short time. It was warm out today, I had wanted to go and shoot the fog, but it burnt off, lifted, and left me with nothing but the red leaf trail in its wake. So, instead, I shot that. It was fun, even if the work never gets shown.
It felt really good to be home from work today too. It's nice to take a rest, even if the only rest I get these days is by going out to shoot red leaf sightings.
It's almost the end of the year wrap-up time again. You know how that goes. It's that time of year when I pick out my best work (or, ok, maybe what you think is best) and showcase it a little bit. It's also that time when we look to next year to see what's stacking up and, don't forget, those top 10 lists that always seem to abound. (Oh, how we love those top 10 lists.)
This year has been especially busy. I did the shows in Johnson City, Baltimore, New Orleans, Chicago, Georgetown, and Austin. (I still have work up at the Studio2Gallery in Austin for those curious.) My work was selected for an album cover, a couple of publications, and I did a big portfolio review in the fall. I completed a workshop in Santa Fe and a location shoot in White Sands. I published two books. I did NaBloPoMo with help from The Stig. It's been a busy year and it doesn't appear to be slowing down any, though, you know, it will. It always does. It comes and goes-we take it when it comes and miss it when it goes.
Yes, it's almost that time of year again. Time for autumn's splendid blanket of color to give way to the typical end-of-year madness and self-analysis that seems to come with the winter season.
What trips will next year bring? What subjects? What shots? What new toys? What old toys re-discovered? Where we will go tomorrow and, is it where we headed out for today?
Sometimes, we have to just pay the future no mind and enjoy the day for what it is-a nice autumn day, clear and sunny, with a hint of things to come. Sometimes, autumn is just autumn and a red leaf is just, well, about to fall, blow off into the wind, to help make way for the fresh buds of spring.
Until next time...
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Something very rare in Austin today-red trees and fog all at the same time. I woke up and managed to get a bit of shooting in, since it was also a bit warmer than it has been lately. It was actually kind of nice outside, after the bitter cold we've had these past few days. I really feel for all of the folks up north who are suffering on account of the ice and cold. It's no picnic this time of year, that's for certain. I just hope they can dig out from the snow long enough to have a happy holiday season.
In case you were wondering, yes, the movie was as bad as it sounded. Sharks in Venice has some very pretty scenery (come on now, that's easy. I mean, when is Venice not pretty?) but, glory be, what a blooper of a film. I think my favorite part was when a drunk guy, fighting with his girlfriend, got eaten by a shark right off the sidewalk. They showed the shark actually jump up, out of the water, and snarf him down. Wow. That was really beyond compare. Who knew they could even make movies that bad? It's a wonder those "I Use Film!" people don't hunt them down, demand their money back, rip the free T-shirts right off their backs, and proclaim, "you are a waste of once completely good, though now alarmingly disappearing, celluloid. No more film for you!"
Speaking of "celluloid," I'm in a nice mood today, so rather than call him a weasel as always, I'll send out my well-wishes to acclaimed British actor David Tennant who recently had back surgery. Get well soon please, our dear (current) Doctor, we need you weaseling back into proper credible roles. I mean, as appealing as it might sound, I can't watch re-runs of things like Sharks in Venice forever now, can I?
Yeah, yeah, I know just what he'd say too ("Oh, but you deserve them so...")
Until next time...
Sunday, December 14, 2008
This is my Photo Friday entry for "weathered." I'd have to say it's seen a few hard times (and none too many buckets of paint from the looks of things.) I really don't know why they sell such weathered architectural accessories in Santa Fe, I mean, who knew there was such a market for front doors that look so "rode hard and put away wet" yet welcoming all in the same plank of wood? I sure didn't.
Speaking of "rode hard and put away wet" (well, maybe with emphasis on the last "wet" part) tonight marks a very special premiere in television history. No, no it's not Top Gear or Doctor Who-related, and there is no David Tennant involved (at least not as far as I know.) It's something that can only rival Attack of the Killer Tomatoes as the worst movie possibly made. Yes, snowflakes, tonight marks the world television premiere of Sharks in Venice. Oh the humanity! Oh the horror! I can hardly wait to witness firsthand this cinematic masterpiece in all its splendor and glory. It promises to be possibly the absolute worst movie ever made, and I can hardly wait. I'm going to get myself some popcorn, pop back a tall cool one, and enjoy the feast of bad taste, this bastion of bad cinema, this theatrical nightmare that once dreamed of making it to first run, yes, yes, I'm going to sit back, relax, and enjoy this horror of a horror feast for my eyes.
It even stars Stephen Baldwin, a very bad actor in his own right, and member of the notoriously bad Baldwin brothers (a family where bad taste abounds!) Oh, this is going to be so good, it promises to make Planet of the Apes look like the cinematic masterpiece it really is. It rivals Cheech and Chong for plot development. It promises to...well, by now, you get the idea.
What I want to know, what I really want to know now is just where have those Mystery Science Theater 3000 "talking head" androids run off to now that we really need them? Will somebody please explain to me how they left us out in the cold like this? What, with the possibly worst B-movie ever made about to queue up, they've gone and left us high and dry without any commentary. Cosmo Kramer is sure to hear about this and hatch some wild conspiracy theory, let me tell you, snowflakes. Oh, we have not heard the last of this little omission, let me tell you.
As far as "Sharks in Venice," well, let's up it's as, um, er, "good" as it sounds now, right?
Until next time...
Thursday, December 11, 2008
What is it about staged photography? It's such a polarizing thing, really it is.
Some people love it. They love it, they adore it, and they do it, oh, do they do it oh so well. And others? Others think that you are the anti-Christ for doing anything, even something simple, like moving a chair. I like to move chairs, especially when they are in the way. What's wrong with moving chairs? Would somebody please tell me?
Another interesting thing about staged photography is that some people take to it right away. Like, they see somebody stage something, stage one single little thing, and it's like a little light bulb goes off in their head, as they suddenly realize that they too can "stage" a shot. And, stage it they do. They go off and they move chairs, build sets, make models, sew things, get props, tear apart their homes, even throw down berries when they go out walking in the woods. "All the world's a stage" and it's like a fire's been lit or a light has gone on inside of them and they've suddenly awoke to realize that they too can do this-that it's not reserved for some "elite" class of "uber-photographer" but that they can do it too. "All the world's a stage and they are merely players," but play they do, and play they will, even if it's with props they have to beg, borrow, or steal.
All this while other photographers, what do they do? Curse them. Yes, you read that right, some photographers think that "staged" equals "bad" and they just won't do it. They are these sort of "purists" out there who don't think it's right. Even though almost every single frame that's ever been shot has some sort of "staged" element to it (either the photographer waited for the right light, moved to the right vantage point, got the right angle, etc.) they still see "staged" as being outlawed. Maybe they just don't get it? Maybe they are just jealous because they didn't think of it first? Maybe they just don't think in terms of "staged" because they are too preoccupied with being "reactionary" like hunters waiting for a kill or some such thing?
I don't know about that, but I do know that I like staged photography. I think there's nothing wrong with it. I do it all the time, and I'm proud of it. I think it's great to build sets, to tear down curtains, to move chairs. Heck, I'd go so far as to say, if you don't move chairs, you aren't a "real" photographer. Get out a move a chair every once in a while, you purists. You're not "purists" you're lazy ass people who are so lazy you don't even want to move a chair. Geesh. Get over yourselves.
I was very impressed when Scriber's Web did her Utata project, how she quickly took to staging shots and working with staged compositions. She's very good at it, even for somebody who got a new camera and isn't quite comfortable yet with all of the buttons and knobs. Photography really isn't about all of the buttons and knobs, but it's easy for me to say that because, well, because I know what all of them do. To somebody just starting out, it can be daunting.
But, at the heart of it, once you get past all of the buttons and knobs, it's not even about moving chairs that counts. It's all about making an impact, about an emotional response, about lining things up, setting things up visually so somebody will respond. That can be done staged or not, depending on our vision. The staging parts of it don't matter, it's the results, the emotion, and the impact that count here.
I work sometimes with another photographer (one who shall remain nameless) who really hates staged photography. He's one of those purists that thinks "[he] is the landscape." Yeah, whatever. His work would be a whole lot better if he stopped yapping on, stroking his ego, took more time to line up his shots, and really "cleaned up" some of his compositions-to stage things a bit. He's not sophisticated enough really to be a photographer, he's just a mime with expensive equipment. Sure he has a great camera (if I had to say it, his camera is probably better than Scriber's camera and most of my cameras and, Lord knows, he paid a lot more for it) but having a great camera doesn't make one a great photographer. Being a "purist" and refusing to "stage" shots doesn't help him either. He needs to go out, look at more art to really get a sense of who he is as an artist and then go off and do more creative stuff.
Creativity is the key here, folks. You can stage it, you can see it, you can snap it, you can wait for any kind of "decisive moment" crap shot, shoot from the hip, whatever you want but, if it's not creative, if it's not unique, it's not you, and that, at the end of the day, that is what makes it bad.
In case you're wondering, part of the title of this post comes from one of my favorite books on staged photography. Called The Architect's Brother it's a great book to have if you can still round up a copy.
Until next time...
PS Don't forget to enter to win a free calendar. Scroll down for details.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
There's still time to get some FREE STUFF. Come on now, who out there doesn't like free stuff? To get your very own free stuff, please visit my contest link and see how you can win a cool new limited edition 2009 calendar.
Hurry! Time's running out. I plan to end the free stuff contest on December 15th, so hurry now and get your entries in while there's still time. Well, what are you waiting for? Go, go, go.
And now back to our regularly scheduled blog post.
I was going to write this great post tonight-great it that it was going to tell you all about my latest ramblings on The Architect's Brother-or actually, my thoughts on staged photography. I was all set to do it, even started to type into the little white box and all but then, you know what? I decided that I wouldn't. I decided that I'm tired and cold and still not feeling quite 100% (though my voice is slowly coming back) and I'm just not up to doing a long detailed post right now. I hope you'll forgive me and I'm sorry to disappoint you, my loyal readers, but I'm just not up to it quite yet.
It's been cold in River City lately. So cold, in fact, that this morning we woke to snow. Yes, snow. Can you believe it? It was cold and snowy and it's just all blustery wintery like. Sure, it's great for Christmas and normally I would just enjoy it but I've been dogging this horrible cold and I just don't like it right now. I want it to go away. I'd be perfectly happy with a 100 degree day just about now, in fact. I know I'm probably the only one but, man, I just can't seem to get my tea hot enough to warm my soul as of late.
Maybe the reason I don't like the cold is because I'm actually suffering a bit from burn out. I've actually had my fill of current events, the crappy economy, all the shit that's going on, and I just don't really want to take anymore. Yeah, that could be it.
Then again, maybe I just got a really bad cold and I still feel like crap. Either way, I'm not liking what's being served up, and I'm really hoping I can make it to the holiday without going completely bonkers.
Until next time...
Sunday, December 07, 2008
Yes, my eyes are still red and puffy from all the sneezing I've been doing. All I can do is hope that the nasty cold goes away and that I get my voice back sometime soon. Ah Choo! I hope that you are having a better weekend than I am, all coiled up in bed, hoping the cold goes away.
Not much going on except that everybody's sick. All in my family have the cold, except for my dear old Dad, who appears immune (though now stuck doing all of our mundane chores, you know, things like walking the dogs and all.) Neighbors are sick, Scriber's is sick. Everybody I know? Yup, you guessed it, sick. Sick sick sick sick. It's like Ebola of the Nose, I swear.
Ah yes, there's nothing quite like swimming in the shallow end of the germ pool. And to think, I'm almost out of tomato soup.
Sick, sick, sick, sick, sick, sick, sick.
Until next time, when maybe I'm not so, well, sick....
Saturday, December 06, 2008
Looking back through my stream, this is the first dusk that jumped out at me. Happy Photo Friday all!
We're all sick here in River City today-David came down with a bad cold and it appears to be spreading. I've been in bed all day, mostly sneezing, aching, and wishing I were someplace warm. The voice is shot but, luckily, I can still type. I had plans to work on and possibly finish the book this weekend-don't know how that's going to pan out, what with the cold and all. The last thing I want to be doing right now is editing hundreds of photos, believe me. (I do believe, however, this is one that's already in the book. If not this one, then one quite like it.)
Lucky for me, I did somehow manage to stock up on tomato soup. I have this great authentic tomato cream soup from Tuscany (by way of H-E-B) that's just to die for. I imagine it would be quite good if I could taste it, but it's been quite nice and warming in this, my cold and flu hour of the winter.
My contest is still running, don't forget to enter if you have not already. All I can say is that the calendar came out fantastic. It's a real treat for the eyes and a piece of work, that thing is. I am such a fan of Apple's iPhoto calendars it's not even funny but this one? This really tops all that I have done in so many ways. The cars just look fantastic.
Time to crawl back into bed and try to catch some Doctor Who or maybe a stray episode of Top Gear on TV tonight. Here's hoping something decent is on, so I've some visuals to accompany my sneezing fits. I feel as if I've come full circle-the first time I saw Top Gear, I was stuck in bed with the flu and now, here I am again. Hmm. Almost makes one wonder if one could possibly be allergic to such shenanigans?
Until next time...
Thursday, December 04, 2008
The other day, I read an interview with the good weasel (David Tennant for those not in the know) who talked about how he did not want to "grow old" playing Doctor Who. "I don't want to do it when I'm old and 42," he said. (Grumble, grumble, since when, Doctor Weasel, is 42 old?!? Who you calling old, you weasel boy?!? Grumble, grumble. Just wait 'till you start to fall apart, you punky time traveling goon. Ah yes, kids these days, ah to be young and 902 again.)
In other "but when he was good he was very, very good" David Tennant news, the other day I "unbooped" a showing of "Masterpiece Theater" from the throngs of soon-to-be-deleted TiVo crap heap. I was so excited, expecting to witness some highfalutin thespian masterpiece, you know, something along the lines of Jane Eyre or Sense and Sensibility. But, no, I didn't actually get that. No, no, no, no, no no. What did I get instead of the chi-chi high-end of drama I was so expecting? Casanova featuring none other than the good weasel himself. Ah yes, there he was, traipsing around Venice in puffy-sleeved silk shirts and elaborate brocade dinner jackets, tromping over Venetian bridges while wooing women of various persuasions (and states of matrimony mind you.)
The movie did make me miss Venice (oh how I miss Venice, especially now, what with the floods and all) but, even more impressive, yeowza, did he prove that weasels can be spectacular. Even I, queen of all things snark, must bow and admit defeat to the great happy-go-lucky frisky yungin of a Casanova. Yes, snowflakes, I, "she who does not typically notice such things" must now admit, he was really freaking HOT in that movie. So, here I am, proclaiming in this, a public forum, that, for a man who's such a weasel, he's really hot stuff.
Oh, be still my heart. Is it hot in here, or is it just me?
All that and I'm so jealous too. I bet he had a load of fun filming that flick in Venice, what with all of those elaborate costumes, running around the city of canals like that, thumping like a bunny amidst all that cool architecture.
Until next time...
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
It's time, snowflakes! It's time for me to giveaway cool prizes and time for you to enter and win. This year, up for grabs, is a cool, limited edition signed calendar. In sticking with our "Driving Towards December" theme, it's a collection of images taken at the Texas All British Car Day.
To enter, select your favorite post from November and email me the link or the title. To help you out, here is a link to all of my postings from November (yes, it's true-there you have it, all in one spot, all of my NaBloPoMo musings. Hard to believe it was so hard to do looking back at it now.)
Please email me:
- Your name
- Email address
- Along with your favorite post from November to enter.
You can email me by clicking here, replacing the word "at" with the proper symbol.
I'll pick two lucky winners at random to receive the prize.
Some notes, AKA "the fine print"
- The winner must, upon notification of winning, provide me with a valid name, postal address (snail mail), and contact information in order to receive the calendar.
- The contest is open to international entrants. As long as I can get mail to you, you are eligible to win the calendar.
- The winners will be selected at random. The decision of the judges will be final.
Thanks and good luck.
Until next time...
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Like all good things, this too must grind to a complete halt. Welcome to the end of NaBloPoMo. All I can really say is, "I DID IT! I DID IT! I DID IT!"
This year, it's actually been quite fun for me. Sure, there was pressure to finish (what with a lot of money for charity riding on this and all) but, even with all of that going on, I still managed to sneak in some fun. I hope you enjoyed it as well.
Some highlights for me...let's see...to recap....
- The month started with me finally introducing myself and surviving my portfolio review. Phew!
- Doesn't "Lady Stig" have a nice ring to it? The "Stig-isms that weren't" were a fun treat. I still want to marry you, Lord Stig, call me, ok? (Love the Stiggy, gotta love the Stiggy.)
- I got to tell you about the flying tortilla and got a flat tire at about the same time. Oh, Holy Rolling Food, Batman.
- Oh yes, then there was my "middle of the month" nervous breakdown. Remember that one? (I still can't quite explain it. Maybe you can ask Darran what it means, if you can find him, that is.)
- Getting to ask some fun questions, like: "Are You God, or Just a Puddle?" and "Have you ever looked at sheet music?"
- The explosion of Pixel Fiction with "You Just Had to See Her" and, in keeping with the "this is a story of a girl" theme, my ending to "The Blond Girl" followed by the start of "The Race." Look for Pixel Fiction to continue long after we slow down participating in NaBloPoMo (it's just too fun.)
- There were voices from my backseat, a recall of my childhood trauma factory, and my invasion of Canada for you to enjoy.
- Top Gear helped me out too, not only by providing enough "blogger fodder" to last a month full of Stig introductions (and marriage proposals!) but by providing a musical rant I really enjoyed.(Thanks, Top Gear Guys! Wherever you are. We love you and please keep driving!)
And the best part? The best part of it all is that now I get to shard some of it with you, my readers. Yes, now that it's over, it's time to announce my contest.
This year, I'm giving away a signed, limited edition calendar featuring images from the Texas All British Car Day. In keeping with my "Driving Towards December" theme, the best British cars I can offer up can be yours too, if you enter and win. Check back here soon for more details on how to enter in the next few days.
"Driving towards December?" Not anymore! Beep! Beep! We're here. We made it.
Until next time...
The last of my series on invading Canada. Hey, don't blame me, it was that pesky clutch.
Part VI - A Border Valet with a Lot of Paperwork
As you can imagine, the license part of that equation was pretty simple. After a bit of digging in the dark (recall I had rolled past the customary border entry point and was stranded in the darkness of the Canadian night) I pulled my license out of my purse. My only hope was that Bob had left his registration in his glove box. I reached over and opened the glove box, only to find lots of surprises. I had never been to Michigan, nor had I driven a car there, so I had no clue as to what a Michigan registration actually looked like, not to mention it was dark and I didn't know what he had in the glove box. I spotted a small "stash" of pot, luckily this stuff (in small quantities) is legal in Canada (just don't try to smuggle any of those hazardous "record albums" but, got pot? Yes, come along, you can bring that across.) I started pulling out random odd slips of paper and tried to make light of the situation.
"Oh look, Bob's got an overdue library book. I'll be sure to tell him that next time I (thinks: bail him out of jail) speak with him again. He should know better than to keep War and Peace for more than two weeks."
I had admitted to the guard that I was driving my friend Bob's car and that he was, in fact, from Michigan, but I was running the risk of looking like I was up to no good, so I tried to be as upfront as I possibly could, without revealing I was headed straight for the Canadian jailhouse. I pulled out a few more papers, most of which were useless, until I finally found his registration, buried at the bottom of the glove box.
Me: "Here you go. Here's the registration for the truck."
Mountie (Looks at the registration): "Bob...isn't he one of the chaps who got stopped here earlier with all those record albums?" (Stopping to point to the seat next to me): "What's that on the seat next to you again?"
Me: "Oh, that's um...that's some money from the bank." (Hoping he wasn't referring to the pot. Wanting to kill Bob at this point.)
Mountie: "You have how much money in that envelope? You're going to have to declare that. I'm going to need you to come in and fill out some paperwork. Can you drive up to the..." He started to point to the main customs house, then realized that, in fact, I couldn't really drive "up to" anything-I didn't know how to use the stick shift. "Ah, would you like me to drive Bob's truck up to the parking lot for you so you can go in and fill out the paperwork?"
Me (thinking: Thank God!): "Yes. Yes, I'd like that very much, thank you."
The Mountie ended up being very nice about the whole thing. He drove the truck up to the customs house, parked it, and even gave me a few pointers on how to get to the jail with the bail money, the customs forms, and the stick shift. Before I left to head up to the big house, he said to me, "the next time your friends get arrested on the other side of the border, be sure to tell them you need to borrow a car with an automatic transmission."
"I'll do that," I told him as I plodded off into the Canadian night, "I'll do that."
I still don't really know how to drive a stick shift but, I'm guessing, the next time I do it, it'll somehow be easier than that.
Until next time...
Some say, "Thank you, Lord Stig!"
All we know is...it's been 30 days, by now you should know his name
Saturday, November 29, 2008
The next in my series on "the invasion of Canada." I hope you like it.
Part IV - The Allied Forces Stand Their Ground but Don't Step on the Right Pedals
You can probably imagine what happened to me at this point. I tried to start the car, and it started. Yay! Then, it stalled. With nobody there to show me what to do, I had a hard time trying to get it to even move. It was jerky and kept bouncing around, doing odd dance routines and making unhappy noises. I was so busy trying to work the stick shift, I wasn't paying attention to where I was going and almost took out poor Bob's mailbox. The truck kept jerking, bumping, grinding, making odd noises, and the like, but I finally got it going a bit. My guess is, in hindsight, I probably found something, there in the snowy dark shadow of the Canadian border, that somewhat resembled something you might call "second gear." Somehow, through luck, magic, or just me being a happy idiot, I started actually moving.
Luckily, I knew the roads and the route to the Canadian jail quite well (No, not for that reason. I had driven past it a few times, on my way to get Chinese food, silly.) In those parts, there are wide open roads, almost highways, with few traffic lights. There were mostly stop signs between Bob's house and the border, which was a welcome relief. At such an odd time of night, nobody was on the road, so I could just sort of roll through the stop signs without actually slowing down. I was too afraid to hit the brakes, for fear I would stall again, and then have to figure out, there, in the middle of the cold, snowy empty road, how to start it (again.) I had to turn a few times, but I somehow managed that with surprisingly few issues. I think I did stall it a bit, but somehow managed to get it rolling again, with nobody the wiser.
The border itself is actually a large bridge that takes you over the river and onto the Canadian side. You don't actually stop at the Canadian customs point until you're on the other side of the bridge, actually in the city of Cornwall. Like most border crossings, it's guarded. The Mounties man small stations, they look almost like little toll booths (you know the ones, they have a little gate that comes down? Yes, those.) They ask you questions or welcome your entry into Canada. There's a larger, border "house" like structure, with a separate parking lot, off to the side, in case you need to go in and get inspected, fill out more complicated forms, or the like. The idea behind the whole setup is that you're supposed to pull your car up to the little gate, stop, say, "Hello" to the nice Mountie police officer, he (or she) welcomes you into Canada, then you continue driving and be on your way.
Part V - The Invasion Begins
The trouble with all of that "theory" is that, well, I didn't know how to drive the truck. Luckily for me, the nice Mountie was wearing a red jacket so I could spot him easily and he figured out pretty quickly that I really didn't know what I was doing. Pulling up to the little gatehouse, I tried to slow the truck down a bit but, alas, as soon as I tried to step on the break, it stalled. I think he knew what was happening. He tilted his Mountie helmet and head in my general direction, noticed the truck had stalled, and raised the gate, probably so I wouldn't hit it. He motioned for me to roll up to the normal stopping point. I tried to start the truck again, but it was dark, I was anxious about crossing the border, and I really had no clue how to drive a stick shift. The car made some odd sort of noises, didn't move, and I started to look around to see what to do. I was trying to figure out if I should step on a pedal, change a gear lever, or do something else, when the truck suddenly jerked forward, lunging me clear across the border into Canada. I tried to stop it again, but it had lurched past the international border check point. Ah, yes, Canada, that sovereign nation to the north, our friendly neighbors, the last great white snowy hope between us and the north pole, I'm sorry to say, had just been invaded. The Mountie even sort of waved at me as I looked back at him and made a face that I'd hoped was the Canadian equivalent of, "Sorry, chap. I really didn't know what I was doing. I didn't mean to invade your great land. I just pushed the wrong lever, stepped on the wrong pedal, or, you know, something like that, and now here I am."
Being a smart Mountie, he grabbed a clipboard from the gatehouse and walked up to my truck, leaving me stalled, on the Canadian side of the border, in the snow, but not forced to try and throw the truck in reverse to repeat the fiasco of my earlier border crossing. He asked me a few questions.
Mountie: "Welcome to Canada. Most people stop at our border and let us wave them in. Are you having a bit of car trouble today?"
Me: "Sorry 'bout that. I would have stopped, you see, but this car is a stick shift and I don't know how to drive..."
Mountie: "I noticed you popped the clutch back there..."
Me (trying to sound like I knew what I was doing): "Oh, yes, yes, the clutch."
Mountie (laughing): "It's the pedal down there on the left." (Points to the floor.)
Me: "Oh that extra one. Right. I guess I'm supposed to step on that, before I try to do other things, huh?"
Mountie (laughing now): "Don't worry. You'll get the hang of it eventually." (Pauses and looks down at clipboard.) "What is the purpose of your trip today?"
Now, this is normally an easy question, and one I had fielded many times before. I had routinely crossed the Canadian border while at school, and knew all of the ins and outs of going north. There was a popular restaurant that served as a wonderful cover for such a question, usually you could respond by saying something like, "I'm going to Jack Lee's for dinner" and that would get you through. Not this time. This time, I was there at 3:30 in the morning, in a truck I could not really drive, with a hide-a-key, attempting to cross the border to bail some friends out of jail. I didn't want to lie, but I couldn't tell him the truth and expect to be let in, so I had to come up with something.
Part VI - Twenty Questions Continues
Me (thinking, "ok bailing my friends out of jail is not a good answer"): "I'm going to pick-up some friends."
Mountie: "Pick them up? In your truck?"
Me (thinking, "oh great, I just told him I'm picking people up when it's clear I don't know how to drive this thing."): "Yes, they are a bit...um...tied up at the moment and I thought I'd go pick them up."
Mountie: "They are tied up? What are they doing?"
Me (thinking, "rotting in prison"): "Um....ah...well, you see they had a bit too much to drink and..."
Mountie: "Oh, so you're going to drive up and get them, I see...What's that on the seat next to you. Is that a package? Do you have anything to declare?"
Me (thinking, "Oh, that's just bail money"): "That's, um, just some money. I had just stopped at the cash machine when I got the call to come and get them." (Yes, yes, I know. Most people routinely stop at the ATM at 3 o'clock in the morning but, hey, considering the circumstances, I was actually doing pretty good until this point.)
Mountie: "So you're visiting from Michigan then?"
Me (thinking, "what? Huh? Who said anything about Michigan?"): "What? Michigan? I've never even been to Michigan before. What makes you think I'm visiting from Michigan? No, I'm from New York, not Michigan, and..."
Mountie: "Your license plate." (Pauses) "It says Michigan."
Me (thinking, "Oh, that's right. Bob is from Michigan. I forgot. And this would be his truck. Oh great I'm busted now."): "Um, yes, Michigan. It's lovely this time of year." (rolls eyes up towards freezing snow falling from the winter sky and thinks, "oh that just blew it.")
Mountie: "I'm going to need to see your license and registration please."
(to be continued.)
Next, I tell you what happens when I open up the glove box in the dark.
Until next time...
Some say he's such a ladies man that, afterwards, he always has a dozen roses waiting, carefully arranged in a V shape in the vase, to maximize break horsepower.
All we know is...he's called The Stig
Friday, November 28, 2008
This is Part II in a series on my Invasion of Canada. You can read the first part here.
Part II The Phone Call
Picture this, it's now about 3 am. I'm asleep in my loft in the college dorm, snoozing after a long night of studying. The phone rings. It's my friend, Bob.
Bob: "Carol? Is that you? Are you there?"
Carol "What time is it? Am I awake? Do I even know anybody named 'Bob'?"
Bob: "Carol, I need your help. I'm in jail. We're in jail...we're all in..."
Carol: "Jail? Isn't that the place they put criminals? Do I know you? Are you sure you don't have the wrong number?"
Bob: "Carol, WAKE UP. We need your help. Me and all of the guys from WNTC got busted up at the border. We tried to buy some music for the station and they nabbed us at the crossing back into Messina."
Carol: "Um...." (Rubs eyes and makes groggy noises like she's starting to wake up.)
Bob: "Carol, listen carefully. I only get one phone call. I need you to go break into my house..."
Carol: "You want me to break into your house? What? Is this some kind of a bad dream? Do I need to roll over or something? How can I break into your house?"
Bob: "Carol, listen carefully. That's why I called you. I figured you'd know how to do it. You of all people would know how to break into my house. You're from New York City..."
Carol: (thinking, "gee, thanks for that vote of confidence") "Um, well, yeah, but..."
Bob: "Break into my house, and get my ATM card. It's on the dresser in my bedroom. Then find my truck. It's a green truck, parked outside, in the driveway. It has a hide-a-key in the front, under the front license plate. Take the key, take the truck, go to the ATM machine, get $500 from my account, and drive up to Cornwall, Ontario. We're in the jail near the center of town."
Carol: "You want me to break into your house, steal your ATM card, steal your truck, get money from your bank account, drive up to Canada and bail you out of jail? It's 3 o'clock in the freaking morning? Are you people nuts? I'm going to end up in jail right next to you."
Bob: "Carol, do it! Please, we're all counting on you. We'll be stuck here if we can't make bail."
Part III The Hide-a-Key Reveals More Than I Bargained For
Ok, so now that I've set the stage a bit, you can probably imagine what happens next. I woke up (Oh the horror!) dragged my cold, sleepy butt over to Bob's house, broke in though an "open" back window (I hate to admit it, but he was right. Being from NYC does have its advantages. Sometimes.) Got his ATM card, walked to the bank (there was an ATM machine not far from the house he was renting) and then went hunting for the key. I found the big green truck in his driveway and popped my head down under the front license plate. The magnet for the hide-a-key was there and I had to fight with it a bit to get it out (it was cold and I could not quite grab it easily.) I finally liberated the key, and then climbed into the old, big green truck.
The truck itself was some kind of a 4x4 like truck, what we would now call an "SUV." It was bigger than any vehicle I had driven before, old, rusted in spots, and clunky looking, but these were the least of my worries. After I climbed into the truck, and fumbled for the ignition, that's when I noticed it. The big stick shift on the floor, staring back up at me. "Damn!" I thought, "I don't know how to drive a stick shift. What am I going to do now?" My mind started racing, trying to think of what to do. I was in engineering school, I thought, a car's a car, I should be able to drive this one too. I know how to drive, I kept telling myself that. I should know how to do this. Everybody has to learn somehow. Besides, how much harm could I possibly cause? It's just an extra pedal, right? And a silly little gear lever. I'm not going to wake anybody else up. I can do this. I'm going to do this.
I can do this. I can do this. I kept telling myself. And I couldn't.
(to be continued.)
Next, I'll tell you what happened to me at the border.
Until next time...
Some say, he'd actually rather stay home and participate in full contact knitting.
All we know is...he's called The Shopper
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Happy Thanksgiving to all of my readers from the 'States today. Yes, it's Thanksgiving in the US today, that day we sit down, eat too much, watch odd things on TV, and get ready to shop.
This year, I am thankful for my friends, my family, my curly sweet Chase, my on-line buddies, the good men and women overseas in our armed forces fighting for my freedom, and really so much more. I do appreciate all of it and it's a great holiday that we have. I hope you all have enjoyed it as well. Today's image is from Chimayo, New Mexico, a place where there's obviously faith and hope to spare.
I had opportunity to watch some TV this afternoon and have a few news related items to share with you, on this Thanksgiving evening:
- Regarding the terrorist attack in India-our thoughts and prayers are with you. Know that we all share an international sense of grief at the recent events and, while it may look like we're superficial, out busy shopping and all, we're also keeping you in our thoughts and prayers. Our hearts go out to all who have lost someone this holiday season.
- It was reported recently that they found a giant truffle that could fetch upwards of $250,000 on the open market. That's a whole lotta 'shroom if you ask me. Giant fungus, anybody? Thank goodness it didn't manifest itself as a really really bad case of athlete's foot, that's all I have to say.
- From the police blotter, it seems a granny was stopped stealing a car. A 69 year old Texas woman (why, oh why, do these things always seem to happen in Texas?) was stopped by police after darting away in a car police had setup to lure car thieves. The in-dash hidden camera revealed her saying things like, "No, no, Sweet Jesus, no" as she was pulled over by the authorities.
Now, isn't that just what you wanted to hear on this, Thanksgiving Day? "Sweet Jesus" in a stolen car? I know it's not what I was expecting on this Thanksgiving day but, hey, it's not like I haven't heard stranger things either.
Happy Turkey Day!
Until next time...
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Part I Introduction
Do you know how to drive a stick shift? If so, do you remember how you learned to drive a stick shift? Maybe your Dad dragged you out into some forgotten parking lot and carefully demonstrated the intricacies of a clutch? Maybe it was a grumpy old driving instructor in your driver's education class? Not me. Me? I learned to drive a stick shift the day I invaded Canada. It's a bit of a long story but, since this is "driving towards December" and NaBloPoMo and I've got nothing but big empty blog posts ahead of me, I think it's about time I told it.
It happened back when I was in college. I had these friends, some of whom worked for the local college radio station, all of whom were male (I went to an engineering school, what did you expect? A bevvy of Playboy bunnies? So sorry to disappoint you on that one.) Each year the local college radio station was given a certain amount of money (due to the current financial crisis, I should probably explain that, back then, this was something called "a budget") to go and buy records (Yes, yes, I know. I'm old. This was back before we all had ipods. Bear with me. There is a point to all of this. Though, at this point in NaBloPoMo, even I don't quite know what it is.) One day, the, ahem, "uber-bright" engineering students figured out that, due to the (then) current exchange rate, they could actually go up to Canada and buy twice as many records as they could if they stayed in the United States. (Clarkson University is about 13 miles from the Canadian border, as the crow flies, for those not in the know.) So, they loaded themselves into a van and drove north, into the great white snowy yonder to buy records. And, buy records they did. They bought about $900 worth of records (or so) which ended up being an "almost van full" of music. Thinking they were oh-so-smart, they then decided to go out and celebrate their new found musical acquisition by going to a local Canadian strip club (hey, don't ask me to explain it. I'm just an innocent bystander in this one. Ok, maybe not so "innocent" but, I swear, I had no influence on their taste in strip clubs.) So, go out they did. And they enjoyed themselves, at the strip club, until it closed at about 2 o'clock in the Canadian morning.
One thing you may not know about crossing international borders is that there are certain restrictions. You cannot, for example, take a "van load" of guns across the border. Depending on which way you're headed, either the Canadians or the Americans will stop you. They don't like that sort of thing. It annoys them. It makes them stop watching soap operas, reading their books, or glancing at magazines long enough to fill out something called "paperwork" and they don't like paperwork. It's not sexy (well, at least, not to a Canadian border guards it isn't.) While driving a "van load" of music might not sound as dangerous as driving a "van load" of guns, each is contraband in its own right. Music, in the form of albums, you see, is copyrighted material and, according to pesky international laws and such, you're not allowed to drive mass quantities of copyrighted material across international borders (don't try it, trust me, it's not a good thing.) The, ahem, "uber-smart" engineering students, now drunk and "strip club tired" did not know this. They tried to cross the border, back into the United States and did something nobody ever expected them to do: They got arrested. Much to my dismay, this is where I come in.
(to be continued.)
Next, I'll tell you about the phone call that started it all.
Until next time...
Some say, it's baggage claim that holds him up-they always want to peek inside his helmet.
All we know is...he's called the "...Tickets Please"
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Since we are on a bit of a musical theme, at this point in NaBloPoMo, I thought it might be a good idea to post my top 10 driving songs about Top Gear. Now, these are *not* songs about driving (no, the good folks at Top Gear have already done a big contest to pick out those) rather these are songs about Top Gear, the show itself. If it moves too fast, catches on fire, smoke a lot, eats a lot of tires, breaks down at an inopportune time, or generally looks like an odd middle-aged man in a convertible, hey, it's ripe for this list. You know, songs like, "Sink Like a Stone" as a tribute to their amphibious vehicles, that sort of a thing-that's what we're all about this time.
So, here they are, my Top 10 Songs About Top Gear:
Number 10 - "Broke-down Palace" by Robert Hunter. "Goin' to leave this Broke-down Palace On my hands and my knees I will roll roll roll..." Oh, that's very fitting for Top Gear. According to the notes and several web references, the lyrics to this song were written in London in 1970, composed in one afternoon, over a half-bottle of retsina. Now, somehow, I find that particularly fitting for Top Gear as well, so it earns my number 10 spot.
Number 9 - "Just Who's Drivin'" by Troy Campbell, originally performed by Austin's own Loose Diamonds, this tribute to The Stig begs the question "Just who's drivin' and just who's ridin'?" Hey, wouldn't we all like to know? (Ok, ok, if you're reading this, your British, and you prefer something a bit more local, try The Who's "Who Are You?" for the number 9 spot. Either way, it's a tribute to the great white helmeted hope of the show, Lord Stig. Marry me, Stiggy, I'm Yours. Just please don't take that helmet off, ok? Safety first and all.)
Number 8 - "If I Had a Rocket Launcher" by Bruce Cockburn. Have you ever seen a G-Wiz? If so, then this lyric is for you, "Situation desperate, echoes of the victims cry/If I had a rocket launcher...Some son of a bitch would die"
Number 7 - "Life on Mars" by David Bowie. Once again we go to the song for inspiration, "Look at those cavemen go/It's the freakiest show/Is there Life on Mars?" For all those times we've had to hear Clarkson rant about "when I come to power..." this song, at number 7, is just for you. Beam us all up, Scotty. If it's that or drive a Prius, I'd rather take my chances on another planet, thank you very much.
Number 6 - "I'm on Fire" by Bruce Springsteen. Another tribute to Clarkson's sardonic wit, this is actually a reference to a battle royale he fought and lost against a Toyota Hilux. Usually Bruce makes top 10 "songs about driving" lists with ditties like "Thunderroad" or "Born to Run." Not this time. "I'm on Fire" is way more suitable for Top Gear, especially as theme music for driving through the car wash. Rinse, lather, burst into flames, repeat, anybody?
Number 5 - "Crash into Me" by Dave Matthews. Maybe this one is a half-hearted tribute to Richard Hammond's noggin, but "Crash into Me" is actually quite apropos for a bunch of guys who routinely roll high speed cars. Besides, I promise not to tell James May that, "Hike up your skirt a little more/And show your world to me/In a boys dream.." is not actually about a carburetor.
Number 4 - "Beautiful Wreck" by Shawn Mullins. "You put your keys in the car but it wouldn’t drive/With your hands on the wheel lookin’ barely alive /I’m still sitting here waiting on the passenger side/For you to make up your mind/At the dark end of this bar/What a beautiful wreck you are" Now, if that's not quintessential Top Gear in a nutshell, I don't know what is.
Number 3 - "Another One Rides the Bus" by Weird Al Yankovic. Those who actually watch the show know that, after they get done modifying cars for their challenges, you'd best have a bus ticket handy if you want to actually get home again. Weird Al's tribute to mass transit ranks in at number 3 on my list because, well, we can't all walk that far and look what they've done to the cars.
Number 2 - "Shattered (Turn the Car Around)" by O.A.R. For those who think that doughnuts are not just for breakfast anymore, O.A.R.'s "Shattered" is a fitting tribute to tire squeal. "How many times can I break till I shatter?/Over the line can't define what I'm after/I always turn the car around" Um, left is that way, no? Yes, yes, and "spin cycles" are not just for washing machines anymore, right?
Number 1 - "These Boots Were Made for Walkin'" by Nancy Sinatra. To paraphrase the lyrics, "These boots are made for walking, and that's just what they'll do/When the Top Gear mechanics/Have their way with you"
Hey, I'm lucky, I live in the great American southwest. I can always drive a burro to work. I don't know what you poor British folks are going to do now...
Until next time...