Thursday, February 26, 2009

News, News, and more News


BricksAndFanBalconies, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Apart from shooting season, which is about to start, I'd have to say that it's also show season.

I found out earlier this week that I've been accepted into an annual charity show to be held later this year in Austin. More details on that to follow, but I can tell you now that it involves me doing some "special" kind of work, and I'm really looking forward to participating.

My next opening in Austin will be over at the wonderful Studio2Gallery this Saturday evening, from 6:30-9:30 pm. I'm really looking forward to this show, as other featured artists include Jim McKinnis, author of the famous Handcoloring Photographs series of books, and also William Tolan another favorite local artist. Not to mention the Cupcake lady and SpiffyTumbleweed might be there as well. Oh, and one last tidbit, I get to drink some wine at the opening. Yay! (How could I not like that?) The show marks a celebration of the relationship of models with artists and promises to be a wonderful one, so please come out and join me if you are in the Austin area and do check out the gallery website (even if you are not.)

Finally, as related to the picture I've posted today, no, I cannot get enough of New Orleans. It's just such a wonderful place to photograph and show work as well. I'm happy to announce that a wonderful gallery on Magazine Street has just announced they are going to carry up to 10 images from my Identity series. The doll heads are going to the French Quarter. What's not to like about that? Really, it's a wonderful gallery and I promise to post more details as they emerge.

All of this promises to make my printer squeal now more than ever. Wish me luck fighting the demons of the paper jams and praying to the great gods of cyan and magenta that my ink doesn't run out before the night is through.

And, one last final bit of news, not show-related but very interesting nonetheless, the other day I (once again) saw the Christmas tree bandit. Now, as far as I know, he wasn't putting up (or taking down-he does that too) any actual Christmas trees, it's not Christmas, and he's not really (morally) a bandit, but I did actually see him. Sadly, there was no Stig (from Top Gear) in sight, but I did manage to catch him talking to guy who sells Pinon wood down on Highway 360. So, if you've got a spare chiminea and are looking for the last of the Pinon wood pile to burn up, be warned-you just might find yourself unknowingly talking to the Christmas tree bandit.

Put that in your fire pit and smoke it.

Until next time...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Welcome to Not-So-Fat-Wednesday

Yesterday was Fat Tuesday in the French Quarter. As you know, I find it hard to let a perfectly good "Fat Tuesday" slip by, without so much as a comment. This year it's especially sad, since the parade celebrations were marred by tragedy. I heard on the news that six people were shot along the parade route, after the Rex parade went by, along St. Charles Avenue, on the edge of the French Quarter.

The French Quarter is one of those places that is uniquely American. My overseas readers might not understand this, but the French Quarter is, in many ways, a physical manifestation of the American Dream, at least as the dream was, in the post-war era of the 1900's. Immigrants coming to America, starting a new life, working hard, building something for their families and their future generations, all living together in a sort of cultural "melting pot." Today, that "melting pot" is a little tarnished, the great "American Dream" has faded a bit, and we've all become, in many ways, a culture of entitlement. The young folks in America, even in this current climate of recession, don't really understand what it is to face that kind of a struggle. In many ways, that's a good thing-our fathers and their fathers before them wanted us to enjoy this, a "so called" better life. But, in some ways, we take things for granted. We bring guns to schools and parades, we use too many drugs, watch too much TV, and never read a book or see a play anymore. The once great "American Dream" is a bit relegated to the pages of our history books. We've taken a back seat to our own consumerism. Just like the French Quarter itself, it's a bit sad to see those once great hopes and dreams, not even fit to "shatter," instead just sort of "decaying" from the inside. It's a rotting sort of "funk" we've left ourselves in and, I hate to say it, the only way out is to pay better attention and shake ourselves up out of it.

In many ways, what happens in the French Quarter and New Orleans is a sort of microcosm for what's going on all around the country and maybe even the world (in places like Iraq.) Too much violence and bloodshed, not enough responsibility and consciousness. Fat Tuesday will roll on, the time of Lent will now come to be, but there is no easy fix for any of these issues on our horizon. All we can do now is hope to learn from our past mistakes and all try to work hard to make a better tomorrow.

This image is not a "new" image. Nothing about it is "fresh." It's actually a left-over image, one I had not processed from my first trip to the French Quarter. Today, for the first time, I'm able to see something new in it, and that's why I posted it, to mark this year's celebration of mardi gras. I wanted to be able to see something new in the old, and I hope, for this "Not-So-Fat-Wednesday" you can see that too.

Until next time...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Shooting Season


Words, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

It's almost shooting season again. What's shooting season, you ask?

It's that time of year when we can go outside and take a lot of pictures. It's that time of year when everything is blooming, the flowers are up, the birds are chirping, it's nice outside and everybody wants to just go out and enjoy it. Shooting season, where I live in Texas, runs from about March/April through May/June if we are lucky. If we are lucky, and the seasons do not change directly from winter to summer, we can enjoy a brief bit of spring to go outside and go shooting. Then, we rest in the hotness of summer, with no end to the heat, until the autumn when, once again, if we are lucky, we get a break from the heat and are afforded the opportunity to go outside to shoot once again.

This year, with my focus on studio work, you'd think I would not care about shooting season. You might think I would not notice, you might think I would pay it no mind. But, sorry to say, you'd be wrong. This year, I'm gearing up for shooting season. I'm trying to get my house done for shooting season-so that I can spend each and every weekend out shooting, in the glorious springtime air, not stuffed up at home, cleaning out old drawers and filing tons of old crap. I'm trying to frantically finish up my new websites, so that I don't spend the pleasant days of spring trapped behind my computer, banging away at all of the code it takes to run a "real" website. I want to break free from all of this madness and, this year anyway, I can't wait to get out there and go do something.

An interesting thing too about shooting season is that it's difficult to balance the words with the images. It's that time of year when we shoot a lot, yes, but that also sort of implies that it's a time of year when I do not get to write as much as I might be able to in winter. For some reason, writing season always falls around November/December. That's the time I'm more than likely to "bang out" something on the keyboard, rather than pick-up the camera and say it with film. In an almost sad kind of way, the start of shooting season marks the end of writing season. And, this year in particular, I don't feel I've gotten enough writing in to satisfy the itch.

So, while I'm very optimistic about the start of shooting season, and I can hardly wait to get out there and shoot, I'm also kind of sad about not writing as much as I should be. The "daily blog," while fun to do, isn't really enough of a "word work-out" for me. I should really take on something a bit more, maybe something a bit more challenging. But not right now because, now you see, marks the start of shooting season.

I wonder what I'm going to shoot this shooting season. I wonder where the spring will take me. At this point in time, anything is possible. It's all just the glory of spring dancing around inside of my head.

It's almost shooting season. What are you going to shoot this year?

Until next time...

Monday, February 23, 2009

In Defense of the Different


MouseAndKeyboard, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

I tried to warn you, the doll heads are back.

An interesting thing about the doll heads, some people really hate them. They don't "get them," they think they aren't "pretty" and that I would better spend my time off shooting flowers or some such thing.

Here's the rub. I've shot flowers before, and, yes, I'll probably shoot them again. But, for the most part, I find flowers "boring." Anybody can shoot flowers. Let's see you try to do solarized psycho doll heads in a glass chamber-I can almost guarantee you won't. Sure, you might be able to, but you just wouldn't. That's what I like so much about the doll heads-they're unique. They're me. They are mine. Yes, maybe a bit spooky, maybe a bit "off" maybe not everybody "gets them" but, where does it say I have to be so "safe" all of the time?

I don't actually like "safe" art. Scenic pictures bore me a bit. I look at those and think, "well, that's a very pretty shot, and you've demonstrated you know how to work a camera. That's good, but why don't you take some risks?"

Sometimes, art is as much about taking risks as it is about doing something "pretty" (maybe even more so) and that, in a nutshell, that is why I love my doll heads. I would not change them for the world.

Well, maybe a little bit. I'd make a slightly larger "chamber of glass" if I could. (But, you know, just a little bit larger.) But, that's just a little bit and it's not really changing them all that much. I'd make them look the same, just make them a bit easier to make (if that makes sense.)

I'll shut up and show you a doll head now. Creeped out? Good, Now go make some "unsafe art" all your own.

Until next time...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Proof That I've Been Playing with Photoshop for too Long


FaceFrontBW, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

In today's post, we present proof that I have been playing with Photoshop for too long and need to get out more. Ha! Got ya! Actually, you can sort of take this as a warning: the doll heads are back! The doll heads are back. Everybody run, the doll heads are back!

In other news, I went down to south Austin today to drop off some work at Studio2Gallery. It was great to ride around in my old 'hood, really it was, even if I hardly recognize the place anymore. Hard to believe it but, yes, little old me used to live off of Banister Lane, just off of Ben White Boulevard, in the now famous 78704 zip code. The dollar movie's gone but I bet you can still get good, cheap tacos there.

In other "playing around" news, I started my next web project this weekend. It's off to a slow start but it's alive and starting to come together. You can follow my progress if you like by visiting TheShotTheStory.com. I won't post a link because I don't (yet) have a hit counter.

I wonder if the taco places in south Austin have "taco counters." They probably do, but there's not the same kind of "counter" actually. Though the idea does give a whole 'nother meaning to the words "bean counter." Guacamole, anyone?

Until next time...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Becoming Those Who Don't


Storefront In Blue, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

There's an old saying, "those who can, do; those who can't, teach."

I've recently been asked if I am going to teach again. It's an interesting thing, teaching is, especially in the arts. On the one hand, it's great to teach, because, when I teach, I get to share my love of photography and image-making with somebody who's just starting out. It's very rewarding to see an artistic vision develop-in fact, I would say it's one of the most rewarding things you can do, next to, of course, crafting your own artistic vision.

On the flip side, teaching does have its drawbacks. It can be very draining to teach and the amount of effort, time, and energy that goes into it really can weigh you down. Perhaps the worst part is that, sometimes, teaching can pull us away from what it is that we do best-we end up spending a lot of time teaching and maybe not so much doing. It cuts into our personal productivity time.

Maybe the secret "unknown" thing about teaching is that, when we teach, when we open up a world of possibilities to a select handful of fresh-faced eager students, only then can we really learn. Every time I teach, I learn more myself than any of my students. So, even though it's an overlooked underpaid slot in life to be a teacher, it carries with it its own rewards. Like creativity itself, teaching is intrinsically rewarding.

I've been mentoring students for a while now and, actually, I find that to be quite beneficial. I've enjoyed more the one on one sort of aspect that the mentoring role can provide you, plus the mentoring does not have to cut into one's own productivity cycles. It's very possible to both be a mentor and a working professional, something that's not always possible as a teacher. But then there are some drawbacks to mentoring too. It doesn't scale. You can only really mentor one or two people at a time (at most) and, once the person is sort of "on their way" you can (and rightfully should) get pushed aside. So you find yourself always seeking out that next student. Maybe teaching in small doses would be a better solution than mentoring, at least in terms of scalability, though it feels entirely more daunting of a task.

An interesting thing about teaching too, I see some folks who do it regularly and I think to myself "but they aren't really qualified to teach." I know of a photographic instructor who is really quite a beginner, and that's a shame. I think how students in that situation will essentially get "robbed." They aren't going to learn to love photography if their instructor doesn't really have it down all that well for starters.

I was very fortunate when starting out. I had probably one of the best teachers in the world. Really, I did. And, I can honestly tell you, it made all of the difference in the world. Sure, I might still be a photographer, and sure I might still have talent within me-at the core of it, art is passion, heart, and soul, and these are things we really cannot collect in a classroom setting-but I know all too well, firsthand, what a difference a good teacher makes and what an impact a good teacher can have on our artistic development. I feel sorry for students who do not share that with me and I want to avoid teaching sort of "before my time." I really do not want to teach if I do not feel I am "good enough" myself-that's a situation that helps neither the instructor nor the student and, in fact, can do more harm than good. So, I will think about teaching before I take on that role. It's a tall order, but I think one I might be able to juggle should the right opportunity present and should I be able to focus my efforts for the benefit of the students.

Having said all of that, I've started to think it might be sort of fun. I'm starting to get all sorts of ideas on all of the things I could do if let loose in the classroom once again.

Until next time...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Burning Down the House


Two Blue Windows, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

I happened upon some strange news the other day. Turns out the house that my grandmother once lived in almost burnt down last week.

It's an odd thing, how families move, and sort of migrate. Maybe I think sometimes because I'm from the United States, that we're a transient lot. We move about-we're a migrant bunch. My family lived in Queens for a long time, in fact I was born there, but then moved away to go to points north, then later places west. But, the house in Queens? It's still there, occupied now by some other family. Other children play in the yard, their family cars parked in the drive. And, I guess, last week, they experienced the fire.

My grandmother used to live on 96th Street in Woodhaven, Queens, back before I was born. I was born on 90th Street, just a few blocks down, from where this is. Last Thursday, there was a 5 alarm fire on 96th Street, probably a few houses down from where my grandmother used to live. She had a big house on the corner, with a front porch that had a great view of the sidewalk. The sidewalks were not a happy place last week. From what I could tell nobody was hurt, but the damage was considerable. Quite a few homes were destroyed.

I told my mother that there had been a fire in Woodhaven last week. I told her I didn't know where it was, I could not remember. I don't remember much about Queens-what little I do remember comes mostly from family snapshots and (believe it or not) some of my earliest photographic work, as a child, playing on those sidewalks, taking pictures with my small instamatic camera, in between bouts of jumping through hopscotch-shaped colored chalk outlines drawn on the ground.

I always thought I would go back to New York someday. I'd go back as a photographer and take all of those pictures I had taken in my head, as a child, walking those streets, playing those sidewalks. Those images are still there just waiting to be discovered. Maybe there would even be some chalk left on those sidewalks and I could visit my old hang-outs again.

Sometimes, now I wonder if there will be a New York left to look at when I finally do make it back that way. Someday, though, I'll make it back to New York and I'll take pictures. Lots and lots and lots of pictures, for all of us to enjoy.

Until next time...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Top 10 Things You Can Do If You're So Bored You've Come Here for Entertainment


SkyOverRoadNo1, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

In the "I should know better but how else would we all be entertained" department, I read the news today. Oh boy!

Here are my top 10 things you can do if you're so bored you've come here seeking entertainment:

Number 10-Claim you are Mugabe's nearest living relative and stage a coup in Zimbabwe. If anybody catches you, site the Ambassador of Nigeria had personally selected you to stage this coup. Not only that, he's also wiring your internet bank 10 million dollars. Extra points if you can add, with a straight face, "Just you wait and see!"

Number 9-Launch your own Gaza air strike using rubber bands and paperclips. Do not leave your chair.

Number 8-Smoke Michael Phelp's Bong. Afterwards, curse all of the endorsement money you have lost.

Number 7-Pass your own stimulus bill. Extra points if you do this without caffeine. Even more points if you do this a la Tom Cruise-jumping up and down on a couch screaming, "I'm rich! I'm rich!"

Number 6-Slap Chris Brown.

Number 5-Sell steroids to unsuspecting A-Rod's everywhere. When captured claim, "I was under the pressure of a daily blog. I had to do it."

Number 4-Unveil your own smart phone. Extra points if it's not extra slim and you used massive quantities of duct tape to make it.

Number 3-Re-invent the electric car. If anyone asks, claim, "yeah, well, I still get better mileage than Al Gore's limo!"

Number 2-Crash land a Boeing jet into the nearest body of water, get out, and say, "Hey! Where's *my* damn key to the City?!?!?!"

and, the Number 1 thing you can do if you're so bored you've come here looking for entertainment:

Number 1-Recall massive amounts of jelly to go with the peanut butter you've secretly been hoarding. If anyone asks, claim, "yeah, well, the bread's looking a bit funny too these days, isn't it?"

Until next time...

Monday, February 09, 2009

Pixel Fiction - The Letter


Austin House, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

The next in a series of pixel fiction. A post where you write the ending.....

Good luck!

The Letter

Beatrice Martin dips her garden trowel into a bag of potting soil as she sits on her knees in her front garden. She maneuvers the garden trowel skillfully with her right arm, almost as it's an extension of her own hand, as she sifts the soil in front of her with her left arm. A gardener for most of her 72 years, her curly white hair frames her face as she shifts her weight forward and works the earth. She pauses only to occasionally wipe her brow, without stopping to remove her thick cloth gloves, or resting her garden tools. The small garden that she tends has been in her family for generations-it was her mother's garden before she took it over and her grandfather's before that. Every year, come the first thaw of spring, she rides her bicycle into the center of town to pick-up seeds, fresh bulbs, and a new bag of potting soil. Her small cottage style house too has been in her family for generations-it holds fond memories of her younger days, sipping lemonade on the front porch and hanging the sheets out to dry on the clothesline in the back, watching them blow softly in the cool breeze of summer or fend off the approaching snap of an autumn chill. As a child she darted in and out between those sheets, running with the vibrancy of her younger days, now her arthritic hands sometimes struggle with the small wooden clothespins that keep the sheets aloft in the slight breeze. Much has changed in her 72 years in the house. She left to attend university, her brother passed in the war, she married and bore children, all of whom grew up and left the city and the small cottage as well. Perhaps the most noticeable change marks the landscape surrounding Beatrice. As a child, she lived out in the country, far from the bustling downtown of city traffic, the congestion, and the neighbors, in a small farm cottage with a well-tended flower garden out front. But, times change, towns grew, cities rose up, and shopping malls were built almost overnight. The town moved in, almost beside her, rising up and swallowing the old farm community she once knew. Condos dot the landscape where corn used to grow and, much to her dismay, new highways stripe the once open prairie.

"'Mornin', Bea," her gardening work interrupted by a voice from down the sidewalk.

"Why, good morning, Jerry!" It was her postman, Jerry, coming up the path, past the picket fence, entering the garden to deliver her mail.

"How's the old hip doing today, Bea?" Jerry asks with a smile, "I hope it's holding up ok, what with this crazy weather we've been having and all."

"Oh, I'm doing fine, Jerry, fine, thanks for asking," she responds, reaching for the mail. "What's this?" she says as she spots a letter in the pile, "I see I might have an answer from the city."

"Is that the letter you've been waiting for?" asks Jerry.

In fact it was. For the past months, going on a year now, Beatrice had been engaged in a battle with the city over her land. With all the recent growth and development, the town wanted to take over most of her family acres and build an exit ramp for an upcoming freeway. Beatrice liked the land as it was and did not want to relinquish it to the developers and land grabbers who had taken over the City Council. Of course, the land grabbing City Council did not want to pay a fair price for the land, and thought they could easily swindle an old woman out of her acres, but the land had been in Beatrice's family for generations. She was not willing to give it up so easily, not without a fight.

"Let's see what they have to say now," she spoke to Jerry as she opened and unfolded the letter.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

The Team

This is the spot where The Team usually plays. They gather their bats, their balls, their gloves, and they meet on this field, in front of this metal fence, for the love of the game. They don't make any money doing this, rather they pay a bit of money over to the city for the "privilege" of using the facilities. They don't get any fame or recognition for this, nobody pays them much mind-most people ignore them and just let them go about their way. They play for the love of the game. They meet here, each and every week, once the fog lifts-they suit up for their matches and follow their runs around the bases, striking out sometimes, other times getting hits, which fly off into the trees in the distance.

They say baseball is the great American pass-time. For over 100 years now, people have gathered in stadiums around the country, shared ballpark franks, cold beer, and endured a hard seat in the bleachers, just to catch a glimpse of the latest hot young rookie or the seasoned favorite professional, who make millions of dollars entertaining us with their athletic ability. You can easily sit at home, in the comfort of your living room, and enjoy a baseball game on TV.

The team who plays here will never become any of the famous people you'd see on your TV. Instead, they quietly partake in the game, the game that's been celebrated now for centuries, as only they know how. They gather their bats, their balls, their gloves, and they meet on this field, in front of this metal fence. They gather in a small field, in an obscure park, and they play, not for money, not for fame, just for the love of the game.

This is The Team and this is where they play. I hope that you have a team where you live.

Until next time...

Thursday, February 05, 2009

One More Chase - He's Not a Chicken but He's FUNKY


ChaseBellyUpNo1, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Here's another shot of Chase playing in the grass. He really is such a goofball. Too bad he really needs to be cut and you can't even see his little eyes.

Have you ever felt you were in a rut? I've been feeling that way. Like I have all of this stuff I want to do, but I can't seem to get it together. I have all of this stuff I want to blog about yet, when I sit down to actually write something, zap! It's gone from my head. I haven't even been doing a lot of photography lately anymore-it seems like ages since I've picked up my camera gear (even though, as you know, it was, technically speaking, this weekend.) I don't know what's wrong with me, I'm just in this odd sort of funk.

An odd funk....hmmm...come to think of it, that would describe American Idol too, wouldn't it? Yeah, I so could see Simon saying something like that. "Well, that was a very odd sort of funk...."

[Does funky chicken dance before hitting the [Post Entry] button one more time.]

Until next time...

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

On Perspective


ChaseWindyNo1, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

This is a snapshot of Chase in the grass. He loves to sit outside, on a windy day, and let his fur blow in the breeze. He's such a goofball. He has such an unusual perspective on life, squeaky toys, and playing in the yard.

Speaking of "perspective" I think it's time to speak of a photographer's perspective. Many photographers, myself included, think of perspective when shooting-but we think in terms of "the big picture." That is to say, we look at perspective on a grand scale-are we looking up? Looking down? Straight on? That sort of a thing.

An interesting thing about perspective, and perhaps one I would have learned a bit earlier, had I been a better student, is that sometimes, even a slight adjustment in perspective gives us a whole new picture. It's not always the "look up" instead of "look down" vantage point that gives us the better image, it's doing the "tripod dance" (as Barbara used to call it) that can turn an ordinary image into something great. As photographers, we need to pay attention to the slight adjustments we can make. Are we shooting at a slight angle? Or straight on? How is the plane of our viewpoint related to the focal plane? These sorts of things, while annoying and time consuming out in the field (or, for that matter, the studio) really do make for better work.

A photographer's perspective can alter and change the way we see things like scale, lines, shapes, and movement within an image. It's very popular to see groups on Flickr nowadays that routinely focus on things like "the straight horizon" for example. That's good-it's good to have a straight horizon, but fixing a horizon doesn't always have to be a matter of rotating and cropping. Sometimes, adjusting perspective is a better way of doing it. This can be done in camera (maybe as part of a re-shoot) or, if you are lucky enough to have Photoshop CS2 or higher, using a tool like Photoshop to make slight adjustments to your perspective in post processing. So, while it's common now to see a lot of folks online complaining about "straight horizons" it's still not commonplace to hear these same on-line photographers speak of "perspective" which is unfortunate. Perspective, even on a small scale, can really alter the impact a photo has. It has become a neglected element in our photographer's toolbox.

If you are interested in testing out this theory, next time you are out shooting (or, you know, in the studio) try this exercise-compose your image as you normally would, and take the picture. Then, do the tripod dance-move slightly within a small circle around your current spot. Try altering your viewpoint with relation to your focal plane. Move slightly to the left, to the right, maybe try a diagonal or a few slight tilts, and see what you get. Take a few different images, upload them all, and compare your perspective (slight perspective) to see which works best. I'm not advocating changing the "big stuff" you know, like look up vs. look down, just try out changing your perspective on a slight scale to see what you get.

You just might find a new perspective fits your work oh so well.

Until next time...

Monday, February 02, 2009

Reaching out for Spring


Branch and Tree Trunk, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

While it may seem to be the dead of winter to many folks, it's actually the earliest of early springs in some ways. The trees are just starting to bud and it's the time of year when we have cooler nights but the sun warms our afternoons. I like that. I like a good crisp nightfall coupled with a warm, sunny day.

Didn't do much this weekend-still recovering from the cold, but I did manage a few nature shots as well as some pictures of Chase playing in the grass. He's getting a bit more mellow and a bit more used to my camera hounding him, which is good. I hope that one day I can take pictures of Chase without him getting all paranoid on me or, even worse, running off into the garden, giving me a "woof!" I don't want to scare away the little guy, just take his picture, but he doesn't seem to understand that. He's just not all that into the whole "camera/I'm a model" thing, even though it's great fun to watch his fur blow in the breeze.

Since the calendar year has turned once again, it's also time for a new crop of TV shows and, of course, some of our favorites to come back, out of hiatus, and bring on new episodes. Tonight, BBC America promises to run (finally) the winter olympic special from Top Gear and we've got a new season of American Idol, Burn Notice, plus a whole crop of new episodes on cable TV to look forward to each night this week. While I'm not much one for the couch potato business, this is a wonderful time to take it easy, relax, and just wait for spring to roll around, don't you think?

Until next time...