Sunday, November 30, 2008

Grinding to a Complete Halt

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....

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 Invasion of Canada is Now Complete


RedBlueBoltedDoorNo1, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

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...

Stig-ism Number 30

Some say that, with his assistance, a significant number of women and children at the Austin woman's shelter will get the help they need.

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

When You Stand Your Ground, Be Sure to Step on the Right Pedal


NiceVesselsNo1, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

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...

Stig-ism Number 369

Some say he's so fast between the sheets that he takes ladies from naught to orgasm in precisely 6.27 minutes.

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

The Invasion of Canada Continues


OldGarage, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

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...

Stig-ism Number 103

Some say he's so fast in after Thanksgiving day sales he stands in line at 4 different "early bird" specials all at the same 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

Sweet Jesus in a Stolen Car


Whole Lotta Faith , originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

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...

Stig-ism Number 48

Some say he once ate a stuffed turkey so fast he felt like he had to burp for a month.

Some say, "pass the gravy, there's still leftovers."


All we know is...he gives thanks.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Let the Invasion of Canada Begin


AdobeRain, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

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...

Stig-ism Number 175

Some say he speeds through airport security so fast, nobody know what his shoes really look like.

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

Top Ten Driving Songs about Top Gear


SkyAboveCloudsNo1, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

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...

Stig-ism Number 225

Some say he's a confirmed bachelor because he rotates his girlfriends every 35,000 miles.

Some say they all wear black and white checkered lingerie just for him.

All we know is...he's called The Ladies Man

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pixel Fiction No. 3 - The Race

The Race

Daniel Albertson drove the same stretch of highway every Tuesday for the past twelve years. As a pharmaceutical salesman, he traveled the long stretch of lonely road, from the border town to the city, one a week, covering his sales territory. It was a boring drive, offering up few highlights from south Texas. The sun was hot, the land was dry, and the road seemed to go on forever. He often found himself drifting, humming old pop standards to himself, or just pounding on the dash, hoping a song he recognized would come over the radio. He hated the drive, but he knew it well. He knew all the bumps and bridges, all of the speed traps, the long lonely stretches, even the places where the truckers would duck off the main highway to avoid being weighed, and the old truck stops that offered up the best pies. He'd been there before, it was a road he frequented many times, a road his trusty blue family sedan knew all too well.

Albert Lee twitched nervously in the front seat of his stolen Toyota Camry. He banged on the buttons of the radio as he looked over his shoulders, first right, then left, to see if anybody was tailing him. It had been about an hour since the border crossing, but he was not yet comfortable. In the backseat, under an old blanket and some towels, he was carrying two large bundles of dope. A drugrunner for only a few months, his habit forced him into dealing and muling. He tried to alter his route back from Mexico, taking a different route every time, to avoid getting caught. Sometimes, he would travel by night, sometimes in the day, often stopping only to steal a new ride or swap a license plate or two. On this particular day, he got lucky-the Camry was relatively clean, had a full tank of gas, and probably would not be missed for another few hours. The back road he was driving was central enough-two lanes in parts but four lanes in others, that he could probably travel unnoticed all the way into the city. Still anxious from the border crossing and the lines he'd been blowing up his nose, he drove upon a blue sedan, going near the speed limit up ahead.

Albert twitched again and wondered what to do. Could it be the cops? They had been known to use unmarked cars in these parts and blue was just their color. He decided to make a run for it, take a chance, and just blow past the family sedan. Giving in to full throttle, he floored it down the two lane road until he came right up behind the blue family sedan. He swung out to pass and didn't see the oncoming truck until the last minute. The family sedan swerved just in time to avoid a major wreck but the driver was not happy. Daniel jolted his blue family sedan towards the shoulder, waving his arms in anger at a speeding Toyota Camry that had just cut him off, making him narrowly miss hitting a truck head-on, on the otherwise empty road. Albert twitched and waved back not knowing what to do. Jolted out of his comfort zone, and angered by the chance encounter, Daniel's rage started to build. "Oh you want a piece of me?" he asked aloud at the Toyota. "Yeah, well let's see about this." He sped up to catch the Toyota, which had still been speeding full throttle on the empty back road.

Daniel throttled the trusty family sedan and swung out into the oncoming lane. The Toyota and the family sedan were each keeping pace with one another, traveling side by side, as Albert leaned on the throttle to keep up. Albert twitched and jumped in his seat as the two cars swallowed the Texas landscape in record pace, each gunning full speed ahead at the open road. Occasionally glancing at each other, the two men drove side by side for a few miles, tension building between the two, with neither about to back down. The race, it seemed, was on, with each man carving out a pieces of the old back road to call their own.

Mary Doerr had just picked her infant son up from his grandmothers as she turned her old white Ford truck onto the back country road. It was a sunny day, good for doing laundry she thought, as she drove the typically lonely stretch of highway towards her ranch. Living out in the country and so close to the border was a bit desolate, but provided her a nice, safe place to raise a family. She glanced at her reflection in her rear view mirror, stopping long enough to sweep her bangs off her forehead. As she dusted her hair out of her eyes, she spotted it oncoming over the horizon-an unusual occurrence-two cars, speeding full throttle, coming right at her on the back country road.

Stig-ism Number 389

Some say the producers of Top Gear had to stop him from moon walking like Michael Jackson because it was making James May appear to drive even slower than he actually does.

Some say he trips when he tries to walk backwards, but that its just him getting stuck in James May's hair.

All we know is...he's called The Stig

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pixel Fiction No 2

Here's my ending to Pixel Fiction No. 2. You can read the first part from Scriber's Web here.

The Blond Girl...

(continued from previous post)

I heard a strange noise, a loud popping noise. It was the sound of a gun. I turned around to see what was happening. A man I had never met grabbed me. He had just walked out of the bank and was holding the gun. He held the gun to my head and shouted out, "Freeze. Don't anybody move or the lady with the baby gets it." I was so afraid, I did not know what to do. I stood quietly. The man with the gun looked at me and said, "Lady, you're coming with me." He held me tightly and jabbed me with the gun as we walked towards a car that was nearby. He told me to get in and I did not know what to do. I had my baby and was afraid. "My baby, my baby," I cried out. "That's a nice little insurance policy you got there lady," he replied, "give me the kid and here, you drive." He handed me the car keys and grabbed my baby from my arms. I did not know what to do. There was a lot of noise and commotion. I got into the car and started to drive. Russian drivers are much faster than American drivers and a lot crazier too, so I didn't notice so much when the bullets started to fly. I sped away.

I drove to where he told me to go. It was an old motel outside of town. The man demanded I go into the room with him. "We can sort things out inside," he said to me. "Don't make a fuss or the baby will get it." He had my baby so I followed him.

That was our first bank robbery together. We did maybe 10 or 15 more since then, always the same. I pose as a lost tourist with a baby, he robs the bank, and I drive the getaway car. It worked out fine until one day he had to shoot a security guard in Bakersfield. The cops went to the TV station and we were labeled "cop killers" by the local news. It didn't take long for them to find us.

Since I've been in prison, I now share a bunk with a weight lifter named Bertha. She's mean but I wash her dishes and clean up after her. But she's never happy. I never make her happy. She keeps talking about trying to escape. She just wants a better life. And somehow help her family.

Stig-ism Number 358

Some say he more than slightly resembles a Monopoly card.

Some say he takes too many pictures and spends too much time on flickr...oh wait, that's me!

All we know is...he's called The Stig

Saturday, November 22, 2008

That's Music to My Ears


RedTailLights, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

The other day I was watching some videos on TV, I happened upon O.A.R.'s video for the song "Shattered." I kept looking, thinking it looked like it was shot with a lensbaby. The video that so looked like a lensbaby really got my attention. I just kept staring and wondering. I kept thinking, "how'd they do that," until I remembered that the good folks at lensbaby actually do make a video lens. "Ah, but I'll never know for sure if it were really done with a lensbaby," I thought, "they'd probably never admit to it. Well, at least, not in public anyway." A short click to the site (lensbabies.com) revealed that they actually had shot O.A.R.'s video with the 'baby. Way to go 'baby (and thanks for admitting in public you bend it like us.)

"Shattered" is not the only thing I've been listening to these days. Somebody was kind enough to write in recently and ask what's been spinning 'round my playlist as of late, so I thought that I would share some of my more recent musical hankerings.

For driving, it always feels like a treat to me when I punch the radio button and happen upon Coldplay's "Viva La Vida." It's a great driving song and I can't seem to get enough of it, even if it's from a band that's becoming a bit too popular and running the risk of being labeled "mainstream." Kings of Leon's "Sex on Fire" is also great in the car, though they are much less famous than the Coldplay folks. I've already mentioned O.A.R.'s "Shattered," they are a great band to check out if you've somehow managed to miss "Love and Memories."

Airborne Toxic Event is a must listen these days, so much so that "Sometime Around Midnight" influenced heavily on my first inking of Pixel Fiction. Chances are good that, if I nick something and write about it, I probably liked it in the first place, so you probably could have guessed that song showing up here, but, just in case, it's now official. I also find myself craving a lot of OneRepublic, still really like "Apologize" and now it's follow-on "Stop and Stare" has me stopping to listen whenever I possibly can. Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours" is also a treat for the ears, if not a bit unconventional. Gee, it's not like we would actually like anything off-beat and a bit avant-garde here at Carol's Little World now, would we? (Wink, wink.) The Killers have a new album out and "Human" also gets a lot of listen these days-always love, love, love the Killers.

Rodney Crowell's "Sex and Gasoline" is another recent find. Now, I know what you're thinking, "oh crap, she's gone country!" but I just have to say, give it a chance, it just isn't so. Really. Rodney has quite the way with words and the new CD is a stand-out, so this one gets a listen in my book. Even if you can't stand the country all a twanging, he presents an interesting perspective and the songwriting is tight, which I always love. Show me a man who has a way with words and I'll show you a sexy, talented beast anyday, regardless of genre, so, way to go, Rodney, you're new work has earned a spot on my "must listen to" list (like, you know, you were so waiting for *that* to make your life complete. Ok, I can take a hint and I'll shut-up now.)

Rodrigo y Gabriela's "Diablo Rojo" is a "Red Devil" of a Spanish guitar infused treat for the soul. Talk about passion and technique mating. Phew! And, while they may not be known as the Trail of the Dead, Spoon's "The Underdog" also gets a listen from my ears. Rumor has it too that they will have a new release, set to drop in early '09, so be on the lookout for that to come next.

Songs by Vampire Weekend, Calexico, and Gomez round out my recent favorites list as well.

So, there you have it, from my ears to yours, it's music, baby.

Until next time...

Stig-ism Number 305

Some say he's too busy filming a movie on location to drive 'round the track this week.

Some say, he'll only film a movie if they promise to get his helmet's "good side."

All we know is...he's called The Stig

Friday, November 21, 2008

This is the Story of a Girl - Pixel Fiction


Alexs Parking Spot, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

It's back! Pixel Fiction that is.

You can see my take on Story #1, "You Just Had to See Her," here and Scriber's Web's ending here. What a great Pixel Fiction it was. In fact, it was so much fun, we decided to do it again.

So Scriber's Web has started us off here with "The Blond Girl," and I'm going to finish it off, but not before I blog once more. Hey, what can I say? The clock is ticking and I've got to post something before midnight, you know?

"This is the story of a girl, who cried a river and drowned the whole world...And while she looked so sad in photographs, I absolutely love her when she smiles..."

Until next tale of feminine wiles...

Stig-ism Number 298

Some say he's faster than an RSS feed.

Some say, "yeah, so, everything's faster than an RSS feed. My grannies faster than an RSS feed. What's your point?"

All we know is...he's called The Stig

Thursday, November 20, 2008

You Go, You Go, and then You Don't

In the "but what will we make fun of now?" department, the good people of Serbia announced this week that it's an end of an era. Yes, it's true, snowflakes, we must bow our heads in a moment of silence out of respect for that ultimate tribute to inferior craftsmanship, that bastion of bad taste, that beastly bucket of bolts known the world over as "the Yugo." From this article the last of the, ahem, "great" Yugos has rolled off the line. Oh, be still my heart.

I think the funniest Yugo movie scene has to be Dan Ackroyd in Dragnet, when he gets a police issue Yugo to replace a series of totaled vehicles. Just as he refers to the car as, "the best that Serbo-Croatian technology has to offer" the door handle falls off in his hands. Ah, yes, the Yugo, how can we forget the Yugo? It's even sort of aptly named: The Yugo. You go, You go, and then you don't.

Even with all the hoopla surrounding its departure, I'm going to miss that little beast. I mean, it really was the worst of the lot, and that earns a certain respect in my book. I know I've driven some craptastic buckets of bolts in my days but, man, there was always the notion that, somewhere out there, in the great highway of life, there was an even shittier Yugo darting about or, even worse, not even turning over and, hey, mine was at least (usually) running (or, you know, hobbling along on a little doughnut, as the case may be.) I mean, what are we going to say now, instead of, "it could be worse, we could be stuck in a Yugo?" I'm sorry but, "hey, this could be a...Ford Escort or Dodge Neon" doesn't have the same aura of complete junk about it. I mean, those are almost good cars as compared to the complete piece of crap once known the world over as the Yugo.

We need a new high in lows, to replace the poor little cars that couldn't.

Until next time...

Stig-ism Number 517

Some say he considers a weeks worth of groceries to be a carton of motor oil and a carrot.

Some say his beer tastes like diesel.

All we know is...he's called The Stig

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Welcome to the Childhood Trauma Factory

Everybody has some kind of childhood trauma. You know the kind I'm talking about-you're afraid of monsters in your closet or your older brother once tried to bake your head in the oven and now you suffer from some irrational fear of stoves. I have several childhood fears; those of you who know me know that I am more than slightly afraid of dress forms (yes, those things that seamstresses use to hem dresses and the like) as well as a fear of open spaces, which may or may not stem from my childhood. One fear in particular though can be directly attributed to driving the "overseas highway," US 1, out of Miami, to visit the Florida Keys.

When I was young, my family used to take an annual summer vacation which usually consisted of driving south, from New York to some warmer climate, typically Florida. I can vaguely remember the big old yellow Buick, though I know I had a comfortable spot in the back. As a child, I used to enjoy riding back there. My Dad was always a careful driver and, even though the trips were long (my Mother hates to fly) it was comfortable. In those days, we didn't worry about any kind of "child safety seats," instead I used to just grab a pillow, put my head against the side of the car, and sleep until Georgia. Sometimes, I would play small games, read comic books, or do other things to entertain myself. Arriving in Florida, we always visited some interesting spots. I can remember seeing the site of the future Disney World as it was just being built when I first visited Orlando, for example. I have also witnessed several space shuttle launches thanks to our summertime trips to Florida, but I'll never forget my excursion down the causeway out to the Keys. It was memorable and not in a good way.

If you've never been to the Florida Keys, it might be kind of hard to picture. The Keys sort of jut out south and west from Miami; they are actually a series of islands, connected, for the most part, by the highway. The highway itself used to be a small, rickety, two lane causeway-very low to the water and seemingly not very sturdy. If you've ever walked across one of those swinging wooden bridges that they use in the jungle, it sort of reminds you of that-probably very sturdy but psychologically very unsettling, only imagine doing it with a car.

Another interesting tidbit about my youth is that I came from a different era. When I was young, we didn't wear "safety helmets" when riding our bikes (we just bumped our heads) we didn't have "flu shots" (we just got sick) we didn't have car safety seats (we just stuffed ourselves into the backseat) and the like. One of the modern inventions of that era was what we now called the "child safety cap" on medicine bottles. You know the thing-it's the cap that children can open usually quite easily, but keeps adults struggling to get at their blood pressure medication. I guess, in hindsight, nobody every told the pharmaceutical companies that children don't really like to swallow pills, in fact, usually you have a hard time getting kids to take their medication, but history has proven they are more than adept at getting those annoying caps off. I'm aware of these caps being introduced about that time in my life, since I can remember my parents growing very frustrated and having to ask many times, "would you like me to open that for you?" while gesturing at a bottle of aspirin.

On one particular trip, my family decided that we would visit the Keys, so we headed the Buick down highway 1, towards Key Largo. I can remember being quite comfortable at first, paying no mind to the bridge, the causeway, the open sea, or any of it. At one point in the trip, however, I made the horrible mistake of looking out the window. Out the window, to my right, I saw the ocean. Now, I know that doesn't sound very horrifying in and of itself, I mean, we're in Florida, right? You'd expect to see the ocean, no? This wasn't just the "ocean" it was like the water was splashing up against the rickety old wooden guardrail and coming into the windows of the car. The water was right up against the side of the causeway-it was close-too close for my liking. I swallowed and thought to myself, "ok, so maybe we're up against the water on this side of the car, but I....I...I'm sure there's land over there," before I turned my head to look out the left-hand side of the car. You guessed it-nothing but water there either. Next I poked my head between the front seats of the car, expecting to see a big city rising up in front of me, but all I saw was water, water, and more water. It was like we were driving into the ocean itself. The horizon was blue, the side view was blue, there was nothing to see but water everywhere you looked.

"Um," I asked my parents, "are you sure you know where we're going?"

"Don't be silly," my mother responded, "there's only one road out here. It goes for something like 80 miles. We couldn't possibly get lost..."

80 miles? These were people who could not pop the top off of an aspirin bottle without my (then) four year old hands helping. I was certain we were destined to drive into the ocean itself or that they were navigating our trusty old Buick right into the mouth of a whale. What, was there like just a big X marked on the map and they just had to drag me out there just because? Were they too stupid to spot all the blue on the map and thought there was actually land out that way? Oh the Horror! Unfortunately, Mom was right. It was an 80 mile stretch of rickety old road, barely above water causeway, that I'd just as soon like to forget. I was certain the whale was going to eat us, the ocean was going to swallow us whole, there wasn't any treasure out that way, and I'd never have an aspirin again. I still have nightmares about that causeway. It's a scary, scary place, let me tell you. As Miami faded into the rear view, the wind picked up, the waves splashed against the side more and more, the ocean seemed to grow bigger and hungrier, and the causeway kept getting lower and lower-it even felt like it was swaying from side to side and, at one point, like we were going to blow off the edge. It was like we were barely floating above the water, adrift on the sea but, somehow, still struggling to keep it between the dotted lines of the road markings. It was a two lane nightmare disguised as a "summer vacation." When we finally did make it out to the Keys, I don't remember a thing about visiting-the only thing I could think of was that we were going to have to, sooner or later, go back, and that meant going back the same way we came in-over that road, that rickety old causeway, facing off against those big waves and that vast, giant ocean that looked like it wanted to swallow me.

The causeway has been expanded since then-it's got four lanes now and I think they rebuilt it, making it a bit higher now. If you've seen the movie True Lies, with (now Governor) Arnold Schwartzenegger, it's the place where Jamie Lee Curtis got rescued in a helicopter stunt. One of my favorite TV shows, Burn Notice, also did a scene on the causeway-it's the spot where he drove his father's Dodge Charger into the back of a semi. I recognize that causeway every time I see it, and it's been in a lot of TV shows, commercials, and films. I've often thought about visiting the Keys as a photographer-I would probably like it once I got out there-it has interesting architecture and the weather's nice, but I doubt I could stand the drive. Somehow, some small part of me just could never take that road again. I'm sure it's rated one of the most scenic highways in America, and I'm sure there are people out there who just love every minute of every mile out that way, but I just can't take it. I was traumatized there as a child and I just don't want to go back.

Now if you'll excuse me, I think I need an aspirin and, it goes without saying really, but I probably also need to find a four year old to help me get the lid off.

Until next time...

Stig-ism Number 246

Some say he lives in a place where the loons and the do do birds haven't yet quite taken over the birdcage.

Some say, "have you actually seen an episode of Top Gear or are you just bluffing?"

All we know is...he's called The Tweet

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Voices from the Backseat


Squiggling Neon, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

The other day I was driving with two friends in my car-one in the front seat, next to me, and one in the back. As we pulled onto the highway, two cars in front of us each tried to change lanes into the same lane at the same time, narrowly avoid each other. As we saw what was unfolding in front of us, my front seat passenger and I each braced for the worst-I gripped the steering wheel and let out a gasp, certain that we were about to collide with the wreck that was unfolding before our eyes.

He looked at me and asked, "Are you ok?" to which I responded, "I'm good" and then, motioning at the red sports car in front of us that just almost crashed, added, "I am The Stig."

My passenger in front, a fellow Top Gear fan laughed, saying, "he's going to need a crash helmet just like the real Stig if he keeps driving like that."

In the backseat, my other passenger, who had been reading and obviously missed all of the shenanigans on the highway unfolding in front of us, looked up in curiosity and asked, "What is going on? Did we just almost crash or something? And would somebody please tell me what the hell is a Stig?"

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A friend of mine has one of those newfangled satellite navigation systems for her car. You know the kind, it's one of those systems that talks to you, instructing you which way to turn and such. The trouble with her system is that, since she had purchased it early (it's one of the older ones) and she was cheap about it, she's got a very inexpensive navigational system. It doesn't always work. Sometimes, it directs us to unusual places, but most of the time, it just sort of ignores us and we wind up missing turns and the like. Another interesting "feature" about it is that, while typically programmed in a "sexy deep male" voice, every now and again it will reprogram itself. When it does this, it turns into the voice of a British woman, saying things like "ease into the roundabout" in proper British accent.

When last down in Houston, to visit a gallery and photo exhibit, we had the navigational system in full swing. The construction around Houston made it difficult to get around, so we were all sort of paying attention to the roads, and hoping to get out of town at a reasonable hour. Dan, a friend of mine, had been kind enough to let me ride in front on the long journey back to Austin.

With three of us in the car, we didn't bother with the radio. On the way back from the show, we opted to chat instead. The navigational system steered us onto the interstate and we started to settle down. Just as it had gotten quiet in the car, the sat nav kicked in and starting speaking British at us.

"Ease onto the motorway," a female voice told us, in proper British accent.

Dan was first to respond. From the backseat, in a rather respectable yet completely feigned British accent, we heard, "Bloody Hell, we're in Houston."

It's a dark place back there. Be sure to pack your teddy bear for the trip.

Until next time...

Stig-ism Number 749

Some say he's inorganic by birth.

Some say he doesn't actually drive fast, it's just that he's been chronologically inept since the year 2049.

All we know is...he's called The Stig

Monday, November 17, 2008

Linky Love


Inside the Clloverleaf, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

It's time for me to spread some goodness and happy cheer around the Internet. In order to do that, I though I'd tell you about some of the websites I've been visiting.

For starts, there's Nancy's wonderful website. Nancy spends part of her time in Minnesota and part in Maui and you can see some of her work here.

Then, there's Alan Pogue, who is an absolutely wonderful photographer, and has a new book out called Witness for Justice.

Finally, there's Hannah Neal, who had some absolutely wonderful Day of the Dead images up at Studio2Gallery as part of the show I attended (and participated in actually) on Saturday.

Great works, one and all!

Until next time...

Stig-ism Number 411

Some say that whistling sound you hear isn't his tea kettle. Run! Now!

Some say, just like the Hindenburg, if he had a blimp, he'd blow it up.

All we know is...he's called The Stig

Sunday, November 16, 2008

It's Sunday, I'm Tired, and WHAT WAS THAT?!?


Goddess of Sky, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Yes, I know, you might be thinking, "Ok, she had a exhibit, she's probably going to yada yada on about Doctor Who again or maybe that silly Stig from Top Gear finally came out of hiding long enough and sent her a restraining order..." when you clicked Carol's Little World only to find...well....*that*

"What was that?" You might be asking. And, I'm here to tell you. Don't panic. It's nothing crazy. It's just...well....

Welcome to PIXEL FICTION!

"What's Pixel Fiction?" You might ask, and, I'd be happy to tell you. It's a new thing that Scriber's Web and I have come up with. It's sort of like "pulp fiction" (the writing, not the movie-not that there's anything wrong with the movie, mind you) only on the web. The way it works is simple: one of us starts a story, any story, any work of fiction...We start it, post it, and send a link, basically like a "tag-you're it!" kind of a link, only, instead of forcing the other to do some sort of a meme or yada yada about some useless tidbits of trivia about themselves, we write a story-an honest to goodness actual work of fiction. Make sense? Gosh, I hope so.

In a nutshell, Scriber's Web is going to finish that story-the story that I just started. Or try to. Or, gosh, well I hope now that she's not going to kill me. It's an odd story, I know. But, hey, it's Pixel Fiction-the web where anything can happen and everything does (or, you know, will, as time goes by.) I hope you like it (and I really, really hope Scriber's Web doesn't kill me.)

Oh and, for the curious....my show? Let's just say I'm really glad I framed the pieces myself...the show was so crowded (packed actually!) that I wouldn't have gotten to see them otherwise. Phew! "'Scuse me, coming through, gosh we're tight in here tonight...never mind the booze, I can't get my elbow out of your...."

Well, hey, at least it got your attention, right?

Until next time...

You Just Had to See Her


Dashboard Lights No 1 , originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

A flake of snow wisps across your windshield, you flick the wipers on and watch the blades kick it aside. It's cold. You're alone, driving, faster than you should, wondering, waiting, watching, wanting her now; wanting to share in every moment of herself. You can almost smell her perfume. Her body waiting for you, you're sure, you know, she's waiting, wanting you badly. You imagine the sweep of the hemline on her dress and she walks down the stairs to greet you. Faster now, you drive, drive, like there's no time to see her. The snow spreads faster, dusting the road, you lose all thoughts of the yourself. You're lost in your thoughts, drifting away, drifting in silence towards her. You switch on the radio-you just have to hear the sound of her voice. You want her, you love her, you need her, she haunts you. The radio plays a sad song-it reminds you of her. You picture her smile, the smell of her breath on the back of your neck. It's late-sometime around midnight. You don't care, you just have to see her. You punch the radio until it throbs out some long forgotten music. Lost in the memories of her, you still want to see her. In a haze of emotion, you picture her eyes, her bright smile, waiting to see you. The snow swells faster. Snowing like mad now, you drive like there's no time to waste. You just want to see her. You smell her perfume, the radio pounds louder, the snow is falling, falling heavy. You drive faster and faster wanting to see her, wanting to see the sweep of the hemline on her dress, her eyes twinkle as you walk through that door.

It starts when you lose yourself for only a second or two. Blinded by headlights, the curve comes upon you, your car spinning on the slippery blacktop. The world goes by, rushing like memories of her. You know that she's waiting, watching, wanting to see you. You're trapped-out there in the snowstorm. The car broken and shattered, your stomach all tied up in knots. How will you see her? You just have to see her. You know she's waiting, you can still smell her perfume. Under a streetlamp, you stand, the snow is falling around you, the world spinning with just a vision of herself. You just have to see her. You take out your car keys, you fumble with things on the dash. You find it and hold it and know that it just had to be. The note-a slip of paper with her number, you clench it in your grip like a vice. You shuffle the back of your trunk, finding old things, useless that don't matter much to you. An old magazine, a dirty towel, a poorly folded map, a box of chocolates, your old tennis shoes, a 9 mil with shells. You just have to see her. You reach for it knowing that it's alright.

(to be continued...)

Stig-ism Number 929

Some say he's seen more half-naked women than Merkley himself.

Some say he drives rather slowly once he takes off his 42 nicotine patches.

All we know is...he's called The Stig

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Miles to Go Before We Sleep


FarAwayCar, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Welcome to the half-way point. Yes, it's the middle of NaBloPoMo and aren't you loving it? Heck, I know I am. It's always a challenge but it's for a good cause so I'm going to try to make it down the home stretch and go to the finish line this year. Only 15 more posts to go, but I'm enjoying it, I must admit.

It's always a challenge doing these sorts of things. We sit down, we think about what we want to say, each and every day, day in and day out, we have all these grand ideas and thoughts left uncollected. Then it seems we bang out something, anything, just to pass the time and meet the challenge. It's always the case-if it weren't for the last minute, nothing would ever get done, right?

Weekends are the worst of it. They sort of lull you into this false sense of security. One minute, you're dashing off to go do this or that, thinking, "meh, I've got all day-I can blog later" and the next? The next minute you find yourself staring down midnight wondering where all your time went and wondering just what, if anything, you can muster up to post.

The best thing about doing these is that there's always hope. There's always the notion that, out there in the great big grand scheme of thinking and image making that tomorrow's going to be *the day.* You know, that day-the day you finally take that great picture or write that great masterpiece, post it, and really nail it. Sometimes it seems like we're putting a band-aid on today, just trying to muddle through but, tomorrow? Tomorrow, man, that's where it's at. All hope lies in tomorrow and that, my friends, that's the best thing about doing the challenge.

Of course, now that I said that, tomorrow's probably going to be some kind of lame "boiled egg" cooking tip or some mindless rant about Top Gear but, hey, there's always hope, right? We have to have hope. I mean, where would we be without that, right?

Speaking of Top Gear, I'm really enjoying the Stig-isms. I don't know about you but, seeing which one is going to "pop up" each and every day has been sort of fun for me. I entered them all at the beginning and so, even for me (even though I made them all up) they always seem new, always a surprise. I think it's kind of fun, actually, I wish there were some way I could continue doing that into December, but, alas, I'd probably go mad or run out at some point, Even so, they've been a treat and I do sincerely hope the folks at Top Gear (whoever they are) don't mind me abusing dear Stiggy like that. (Lord Stig, oh great white helmet wearing/almost tame one, live long, prosper, and drive fast, whoever you are and where ever you might be.)

Ok, so now it's that part of the journey-that part where we sort of settle down and start to enjoy the miles just rolling on by-nothing but open road in front of us, a full tank of hope in the back, and the engine just humming along.

Until next time...

Stig-ism Number 87

Some say he once hit a muskrat doing over 150 mph

Some say, "...and your point is?"

All we know is...he's called The Pancake Maker

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Theory of Negativity


LoneTree, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

I'm not going to post today. I'm not going to tell you another funny story about my TiVo (how it's been eating Doctor Who episodes again and how I really hate that.) I'm not going to tell you about the latest in silly Top Gear stunts, my car, the places I drive, or even what I had for breakfast this morning. I'm not going to talk about my upcoming exhibit, about Photo Friday, about the exhibitions I've got coming up, about the new project I'm starting, about the latest thing Chase has started to chew when I'm not looking. There will be no silly jokes posted here for your amusement. Nope, nothing at all special about this box. I'm not going to post today. I'm not going to sit down, at my computer, with my coffee drink under my nose and speculate about the price of tea in China, the political election results, or even how I've been attacked recently by a smattering of Christmas catalogs in the mail.

Nope, nothing to see here...just keep clicking...nothing to see here...

Until next time...

Stig-isn Number 169

Some say he understands fully the mating habits of the duck billed platypus.

Some say, it's the prairie dogs that have him driving around, dogging holes.

All we know is...he's called The Stig

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Oh Sheet - Music that is


FaceTheMusicNo1, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

It's an interesting thing, sheet music is. On the one hand, it's just stray marks on paper, odd scratches on the page, that wind up looking a bit like chicken scratch. Puzzling really if you don't know what you're looking at.

If you look at sheet music the right way though, it sort of comes to life. The trills and the triplets, the key signatures and the quarter notes all sort of have their own visual rhythm. It's almost like sound itself jumping off the page at you.

I love the visual repetition of sheet music. I love how faster music sort of looks "darker," like it has more notes, while slow music looks more legato, and has more ties and smooth runs. I love the jumbled patterns, the odd shapes, the punch of the notes breaking up the white space on the paper. It's probably an odd thing to stare at sheet music-it's meant to be played really, not looked at, yet I find something about it so visually appealing...like you could take the most bland picture, put some sheet music behind it and it would suddenly come to life.

It's an odd thing to look at sheet music, really it is, but I do it anyway.

Until next time...

Stig-ism Number 480

Some say he beats everyone at Scrabble because he knows that Zymurgy is really a word.

Some say he'd be just as good at Monopoly except that he insists on being the little race car and he keeps getting stuck in "Free Parking."

All we know is...he's called Mr. 9 points to you (T[1]H[2]E[1] S[1]T[1]I[1]G[2] )

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Are You God, or Just a Puddle?


Puddle, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

It's been raining in river city a bit lately. Yesterday, we had some heavy rain, mixed with some light soaking rain. For a good part of the day we had one of those soaking rains that's wonderful to walk around in, makes for glorious moody pictures, but generates a whole bunch of skid marks and really confuses Austin drivers. Austin drivers just simple cannot drive in anything other than fresh sunshine and nice weather. It's almost like southern California here-anything other than pure sunshine confuses us. It's like we collectively walk outside and go, "huh? What's this?" (Befuddled by rain, that's us here in Austin. And, it goes without saying really but, you should see it 'round these parts should it happen to snow.)

But, yes, yesterday was one of those soaking rains that generates a whole bunch of skid marks. You know the kind of skid marks I'm talking about-not the Top Gear controlled skid kind, where they sort of go out of line in a deliberate fog of smoke and an impressive display of brute horsepower. No, these are more the kind where you suddenly wind up somewhere you weren't supposed to be, you get all confused, then you stop and think, "Wow. How did I get here? How did I end up in this spot? What is the meaning of life? Are you God, or just a puddle?"

Yeah, it's that kind of skid.

Until next time...

Stig-ism Number 568

Some say he doesn't drive fast at all-it's just a Jedi mind trick.

Some say, "say that again and he'll stuff a light saber up your Larsen's Biscuits."

All we know is...he's called Jedi Stig

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Tuesday


HouseByMileMarker, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Well, the review is finished, and it's on to the next big thing (or things, as the case may be.)

This week, I have an upcoming show, at the Studio2Gallery in Austin, called "Phoenix: Rising from the Ashes." The gallery is on South Lamar, over by Holland Photo for those in town. The reception is Saturday from 6:30-9:30 pm. I hope you can make it! This will be my second Austin-area appearance is just about as many months-surprising since, lately it seems as if I've been sending my work afar more than keeping it home.

I was also blessed and lucky enough this year to participate in Picture the Cure again this year. That show opened in downtown Toronto earlier this month and runs on the web for a long time, so you can follow the link to checkout my stuff (I'm in the gallery.)

As for the review itself, it went quite well. I think we all had wonderful work and really had a great time with the reviewers. It's so nice of them to be so kind to do this sort of thing. As you know, or can probably guess, it's a lot of work to do this from the photographer's point of view, but it's always worth it in the end. It's a great "checkpoint" to make sure that our work is on point and on course to go someplace interesting, not to mention a great exercise in presenting our work, learning to talk about it, sharing ideas and all of that. I absolutely love the notion of people getting together for an evening to discuss photography-it's the very cerebral side of an otherwise "hands on" and slightly solitary art form. Sure, we have the web and beasts like flickr, but that's still quite lonely and can be hard to navigate. The review grants us a more personal experience and an opportunity to really stop and slow down-to really take in a handful of selected images instead of being blasted with a "stream" like the web.

In other news, it's raining in River City today. Not that sort of drenching thunderous rain we typically get, more like a soft soaking kind of a rain. I actually kind of like it. I'll probably post more "it's raining today" posts this week too, as the weatherman is calling for more rain throughout the week.

I hope you enjoy your Tuesday too.

Until next time...

Stig-ism Number 109

Some say he never moves faster than when he clicks the "Take Me to the Kittens" button.

Some say he's faster than the magic donkey-that's why he doesn't have any photos in Flickr's Explore.

All we know is...his Flickr ID is The_Stig

Monday, November 10, 2008

Test Shot


StigSelfPortrait, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.


It's not quite ready for prime time, but I thought I should show you the first of the test shots "off the role" so to speak (great, now those "I Use Film!" people are going to come and get me in my sleep. Er, um, thanks for the T-shirt, whoever you are!) For this shot (and upcoming tribute to the man I love, whoever he might be) I think I'm going to have to get a turtleneck and some gloves. The helmet's looking pretty good though (I must admit-thanks, Peter!) and the jacket's ok. (I could do worse.) I'm using a slight Orton technique to darken the face, which will probably be replaced with either a plastic visor (the "real deal" as it were) or some dark paper, strategically placed (it's either one of those solutions or lots of clone stamping in good old Photoshop.)

Speaking of (oh, how I almost hate to) those dreaded "I Use Film!" people, it's also 'Roid Week so that would make it, in fact, that time of year when it's hip to be square. Get your 'Roids in while they last, I say, for the good folks at Ilford have not quite yet announced they are taking over the asylum. (Come on...come on....lately, it seems like we're always waiting on the Brits.) Current 'Roid gossip is circulating that the good folks at Ilford are looking to purchase what's left of the Polaroid film group which implies that, as you can imagine, we're all sitting 'round with bated breath hoping, preying, and sacrificing small farm animals in the hopes that somebody, somewhere will once again make some SX-70 film. Imagine being able to do manipulations again? Oh, now that would be a treat.

Maybe not as nice a treat as getting to marry dear Stiggy but, you know, pretty nice anyway. And, for the record, I think Stiggy would make a *great* 'Roid manipulation-he's helmet is nice and round, which would fit itself nicely into the 'Roid square format, and it's white, which would make him a multi-colored manipulation. I think he would look just ducky as a 'Roid, don't you? Great, now I'm going to dream about going back to Ilford and getting to do a Stiggy 'Roid manipulation while making pilgrimage to the people who brought us the pink lady.

In other news, this weekend marked Los Lonely Boys and Blues Traveler playing at Stubb's BBQ (if you went do tell me how it was.) I missed the God-forsaken ones ("How Far is Heaven...") and also the premier of the new season of Doctor Who, since I was up to my eyeballs in portfolio prints, stitching together the last of the book, and getting stuff ready for my upcoming show. I'm still caught up in that mess but I had to, I mean I just had to, stop and post the test shot of the great helmeted one, just for you.

Until next time...