Saturday, January 30, 2010

The 50% Stud

It’s no surprise to you, Reader, that people can’t help but thinking of me as a stud. I demonstrated this to you last October when I listed search engine entries by which folks around the globe were brought to this blog. One person (I’m guessing a smashingly beautiful woman) located my blog through the term “stud dude.” The World Wide Web couldn’t help but direct that gorgeous woman to my blog.

People, the WWW understands. Boolean logic and hyperlinks all point to the same conclusion: People think I’m a stud.

As do you. And as do my colleagues. Or at least some of them.

The other day I was in my office when my phone rang. I picked it up and was greeted, not surprisingly, with a “Hey, Stud” on the other end. At first I didn’t know who it was because frankly this is a perfectly common salutation directed my way all the time. Then I recognized who it was and, I must tell you, the man who greeted me in this manner is actually quite the stud himself. I won’t give you his name (no, it’s not Harvey) but he owns a smile as winning as Jon Bon Jovi’s. (As seen here.)

He’s a rebounding monster on the basketball court. Plus he wears nice shoes, though that’s nothing I’d dare to admit to noticing. (Or complimenting him on every time I see him). Because that would just be extremely weird. And also right now I’m becoming uncomfortable. In other words, if anyone should know who a stud is, it’d be him. (Well him and me, both.)

So yesterday I was talking to a friend, a female colleague, and somehow I let it slip how my studly male friend greeted me. This is the response she game me. I will try to be as faithful to the effectual truth as possible. She said:

"Wuhh?? S..S...Stud?? He said what? 'Hey, Stud?' Stud?! "


On and on she laughed. Big wet sloppy tear-soaked chortles. Breath-gasping peels of hysteria. And then she just turned red in the face.

Because she couldn’t breathe.


Silence punctuated by the rhythm of tears plopping onto her desk.

And then a huge gasp for air.

What the hell? My male studly friend surely greeted me without irony! And the web is on my side, too. The computer evidence that I’m a stud is overwhelming!

Here’s more evidence.

A week or so ago, my wife and I went out to dinner with one of our favorite couples friends. The husband is very manly and, yes, quite studly (no, not Harvey), and the wife is lovely and just eminently likeable. Our conversation was far-ranging and warm and full of laughter, but at one point I sought out their opinions on a matter that had been bothering me for a bit. Years ago (yet another) colleague once told me that when it comes to our three daughters, it’s widely acknowledged that my wife, Juli, gets all the credit for their reputations as bright and well-behaved kids. But what about me, I wanted to know. What about my contributions to the parenting? I have parenting theories and thoughts and strategies coming out the wazoo! Don’t I get any credit?

“No. Not really. I mean, people don’t think you’re bad dad or anything. It’s just that you’re seen as kind of....a neutral influence.”


So at dinner I asked our friends how they would allocate responsibility (either praise or blame) to Juli and I for our roles in shaping the characters of our children. The husband somehow sensed a verbal trap and hesitated, but the wife immediately responded with an answer of:


Really? Wow. I was thrilled. I didn't expect 90%. I mean, I don't think I even deserve 90%. I was modest so I asked, "but surely you’d give Juli more than 10%, right?"

“Oh no, I mean 90% Juli, 10% you.”

Clink. My fork drops to my plate.


But then she said, "but Mike, your daughters are beautiful. Just beautiful. And you’re their genetic father. I give you fifty percent of the credit for that.'

So take that, cruel female colleague of mine!

Now the wife’s words can be interpreted in one of two ways. One way, the reasonable way, is this. “Your children are beautiful, and how could they not be because you, my friend, are studly. Given your own undeniable studliness, it’s a given that they’d be lovely.” The other interpretation, the wrong-headed way, would go something like this: “For reasons that are unfathomable to all but her, Julianne allowed you to mingle your genetic code with hers, and, well, the product of that mingling turned out much better than any of us had hope to expect--given their father. Apparently you’ve got some terrific recessive traits lurking in there. Boy, your girls hit the jackpot three times. Lucky you. Lucky them.”

No, that’s silly.

I’m going with the reasonable interpretation. I’m going with Boolean logic.


You can't believe the newspaper

Poor Timekeeper. So abused by me.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Time for spring to arrive.

A happy summer memory.

I'm tired of the gray.

Self-portrait in Whitey's sunglasses

Steven Taylor owns some cool sunglasses. Cool, at least, for a white boy. Which he is.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

I got your hint right here!!!

Just in case this video collection isn't explanation enough. There is a fountain in downtown Rome that shoots water in the air so it looks like a tube. (The water, not the fountain itself.) I held my camera directly above the highest point that the water reaches. Lights surround the base where the water shoots out. I did this at night.'ve got your darkness, your bright lights, and water shooting directly toward the camera. As the water of the "tube" reaches its apogee and then begins to descend it falls on to the still ascending water so it collides in on itself. Kinda cool, I think.

I'm happy with these short shots edited together. It could definitely be smoothed over, but probably not by me. I don't know what I'm doing.

The photo below was a still picture I took above the water at its height, as it is collapsing in on itself.

Yes, I got very wet.

(And, yes, the camera.....well, you don't need to know everything.)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Ten points for guessing this correctly (HINT BELOW)

Ain't this grand?

Ten points if you know what this is.

HInt: I haven't doctored the photo. Shoot, that's not true, now that I think of. But very very little. If it weren't for my stupid conscience, I could have left that statement alone. Nothing major like negatives or draining the color. I very slightly clarified it, and that's all. It looks just as I took it. it's all clear, isn't it?

Okay, here's the original:

I put this up because Steven Taylor criticised my hint for being less hinty than it should be, but rather than responding directly to that little nugget of nonsense, I'm going instead to willfully misinterpret his comment as an accusation that I did, in fact, manipulate the photo far more than what I claimed. To which I say, "How dare you accuse me of that, Taylor!! That takes some Gaul, Frenchy!!!"

"Now that takes some Gaul, Frenchy!!!" It's just too damn bad--a crying shame--that something so funny and so creative and original to me as this joke will never strike anyone anywhere, in this time or in any other, or on this planet or on any other, as funny.

Because, whew boy, it's funny. Way funny. Because see, I made a France-inspired pun, and also got to accuse Steven Taylor of being French. That's rich stuff right there.

Steven Taylor: He may not be French, but he is quite white. Oh so very white. (There ain't no falseness in that accusation, believe me.)

Command to my readers: The person who made the hilarious "this blog is like WalMart" comment a few posts back must step forward and take credit. Receive the recognition you deserve.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

On earth as it is in heaven

On Wednesday evenings I take my daughter to Communicant's class, which is the Presbyterian equivalent of catechism. The teacher is walking her and her classmates through the articles of the Westminster Confession. At least that's what I suppose they must be doing. After the first few sessions, I'd quite "religiously" grill my daughter about what they were teaching her. Then I'd thoroughly explain to her (in what turned out to be exruciating detail) all the alternative ways of thinking about what they taught her. For example, I noted that not all people reject the existence of dinosaurs. (That was low. It's a beautiful program, and the teacher is a gem.) Still, after a few sessions I think she began to wonder, with all my alternative explanations to what she was learning in the class, why I permitted her to attend the program at all.

After I drop her off I have an hour to kill. I could attend an adult church function at the same time, but why would I want to spoil a perfectly good hour with nothing to do? So sometimes I find an empty room and read. Other times I go to Starbucks and read. And other times I wander up and down our single downtown road, Broad Street, and take photos and try to avoid getting reported to the police. "That creep is back! Every dang Wednesday he comes back!!"

I took this set of photos in a tiny one-room prayer chapel in the building of our former church. The room was dark, but there is a stain-glass window, an over-size Bible made apparently for a race of future Bible-reading behemoths, and a simple silver cross.

I made all of these images by photographing the back of the shiny metal cross so that it reflected the stain glass window. The scene of the crime:

My challenges were these:

1. Squeezing the camera behind the cross in such a way that neither I nor the camera were captured in the photo.

2. Capturing an image of something representational--I never hit the jackpot, which would have been a close-up of Jesus's face--instead of capturing mere abstract colors and images. This meant I had to move the cross off its station and point it in odd positions while holding my camera in the other hand.

3. Avoiding excommunication from the church.

4. Avoiding arrest.

5. Avoiding my daughter from disowning me.

This photo below is my favorite in the bunch. It's the photo that inspired the title for the series.

This photo below nicely captured some ambient light that looks like light streaming from the cross.

And this one shows how I positioned the cross on its edge to produce some interesting effects. I must say I had to assume that crosses are not like the American flag--that once they touch the ground you must burn them. I decided not to burn the cross because for one thing it was made of metal, and I didn't want to first burn down the church, and because, second, here in good ol' Georgia (Joe-ja) cross burning evokes unpleasantness I'd like to avoid altogether.

"No, Officer, we're not exactly sure what he's doin'. It's either blaspheming God or committing a hate crime. Probly both. But whatever it is, we do know he's gonna be excommunicated from the church. And arrested. And disowned by his daughter. That we do know."

"We got it from here, sir. Believe me, we got ways of puttin' the fear o' god in 'im. To the pokey he goes."

Sunday, January 17, 2010

ooh, the big slow reveal!!!

One last black and white.

Her lovely face.

And below is a photo I took today, rendering her as harmless as possible. A squaw with her papoose. Now I'm not so up-to-speed on the politically correct terms for the indigenous people of this nation. You know who I'm talking about. The people we first killed entirely and then later romanticized with fourteen foot neutered statues. So for all I know squaw and papoose are the most derogatory terms one can use. In which case I'll gladly change them. That's how I do. I call people what they want to be called. I don't always know what they want to be called, but once I learn it I honor it. Which is why I have children. I can call my children whatever I like.

I want to note that I did provide good notice that these pics were coming.

About the doll. My wife's grandmother on her father's side, Margaret, was born in 1904. She married a Swedish man, Alfred Lindholm, who was born in Sweden late in the 19th century. Don't be alarmed; that's fairly typical of the Swedish. They prefer to be born in Sweden. Anyway, he immigrated here on a boat. I say "on a boat" because for my wife that's really the most important part of the story, that we know he came "on a boat." As opposed to the Trans-Atlantic Sweden-to-US chunnel that all the rest of the (Swedish born) Swedish immigrants were using. Or on a hot air balloon--what the Swedes would call "jaatt eir balloonerjishefardig."

But I digress. She just REALLY likes saying he came here from Sweden "on a boat." Which is cool. No harm, no foul.

They were married in the early 1920's. They lived in Chicago, and early in their marriage they took a belated honeymoon-like trip through the Southwest, which is about as un-Sweden-like a place I can think of. They met an Indian who sold them this doll. It's precious in the Lindholm family, and with good reason. The last thing I'm doing is making fun of anything Lindholmish. Or as the Swedes say, "Lindholmish." I'm here to honor, not to mock. That's my motto.

Let's get back to the doll, eh? What I find most noteworthy about the doll is that it's impossible to discern a clear emotion in her face--one can find virtually any emotion depending upon the angle of perception. Also, at times she looks simple in construction but at other angles and in different light she looks eerily life-like.

Steven Taylor and his gang were over at our house and for some reason we ended up in the living room with the lights off. I swear I protested this turn of events, but the other three insisted. Typical. I was lying on the ground under a heap of blankets when I was suddenly inspired to take pictures of the woman, who we keep protected from dust under a glass box covering. Steve joined me in taking pictures, and we alternated illuminating her face with a flashlight while the other took photos. That's Steven for you. Creepy. He couldn't stop taking photos of the doll and, frankly, sort of ruined the evening for everyone. But maybe I'm projecting a bit.

The most terrifying part of the evening occured when I took a photo and then looked at the image of the doll. Her face was lit up, but one could distinctly see another image of a second face. I screamed like a little girly boy!!! "There's TWO HEADS!!!" I began to feel faint because just before I noticed this we had been talking about her as perhaps being a voo-doo doll. (I'm sure it wasn't me who started such nonsense discussion. And, frankly, it's irrelevant. Let's move on, please.) It was terrifying, this undeniable, if also fuzzy, image of a face just like you see in the Japanese photos. You know the kind, right? The spooky Japanese images of a second person, or portion of a person, sticking out of a coat pocket. You've seen them on Youtube, right?

Ummm...I'm not the only one to have seen them on Youtube, am I?

Anyway....right. Yeah. This is a link someone must have sent me. I haven't seen it myself, I'm sure.

Anyway, Juli laughed at my scream of "TWO HEADS!!!! SHE'S GOT TWO HEADS!!!" by alerting me that, yes, she has two heads because she's carrying her baby.

Of course. Like I didn't know that.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Thursday, January 14, 2010

one doll, two images

Both images manipulated from photos of the same doll. Expect to see more along the same lines.

Monday, January 11, 2010

What, am I buggin ya?

Here's the answer, as provided by the one and only Eric Kessler, biologist-herpetologist-artist-and-all-around-superstud:

"It is a type of "true bug" in the order Hemiptera, so you are fine in using the phrase "buggin". Otherwise, most insects are not bugs.

Family Coreidae - Squash Bugs and Leaffooted Bugs- contain small to large insects, some of which are somewhat long and narrow in shape (stink bugs are very broad and in a different family - although adjacent to each other in the field guide). They are mostly dull brown and gray in color. Antennae have 4 segments (in one of your images). The hind femora and tibiae of some species have flat enlargements which give these species the name leaffooted bugs. They are plant eaters.

So, there you go - leaffooted bug!

of some sort"

Ten points to Eric. And points to all the rest of you, too, who tried just for being you. Shinigami-Sidhe and Technoprairie get ten points. Claudia gets ten points for her general coolness and for participating in the facebook chat with Eric wherein I got this information.

And Andy gets as many points as he wants since he'll just end up taking them anyway, deserved or otherwise.

Ten points to the person who can accurately identify this type of bug.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


I know, I know.

Salmon. But I have me reasons.

Too bad this photo didn't come out clearer. I like the capture.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Warrior Without Tom Toms

I gave this dude as much dignity as I could conjure up in this photo. I give him more dignity than he possesses in real (statue) life, or at least in this location, a completely bizarre setting: an apple orchard that doubles as a faux-Wizard of Oz playland for kids--which makes perfect sense because both Illinois, where this orchard is found, and Kansas, the setting for the Wizard of Oz, are adjacent to Missouri.

The place had a completely creepy vibe, man.

It was the kind of place that put me on the alert for clowns hiding in the corn waiting to abduct either me or my children. According to the information provided at the site, our Indian friend was put in storage years ago for a while, and there may be a duplicate of him somewhere else. (My memory of the details remains sketchy, as I kept looking over my shoulder while I was reading the plaque in fear of the abductor clowns.) We found him (his name apparently is "Giant Indian") through the website "Roadside America," a site dedicated to the quirky and bizarre places that blessedly populate our great land like so many stars in the sky.

This is the entrance (below). Oddly, one does not approach Mr. Giant Indian by entering the park but by walking along a fence in the parking lot and then into the orchards. The one perk of this odd entrance was I did get to walk by a bee hive and capture some nice shots, several of which I've posted before. (Who am I kidding? I've posted them all.)

Though here I tried to give Mr. Giant Indian as much dignity as I could muster, I was not so inclined at the time. As you can see he was adorned with a rather large loin cloth, and I wondered how accurate a facsimile this guy is to the real-life fourteen foot tall Indians who once roamed our lands. According to Julianne, posing here, he's not an accurate facsimile at all. Disappointingly so. Or if he is an accurate facsimile, then we must all bow our heads in silence for the plight of our poor giant castrated friends who once populated the plains of Illinois.

I half-expected that in a nearby cornfield, we'd find a fourteen foot tall sculpture of the Indian-hating sinister Andrew Jackson with oversized bloody shears in his hands.

Wow, that turned dark on a dime, didn't it?


Friday, January 08, 2010

Mirror image of bee

And the original photo (here) from which I derived the image above:

Program cover for the funeral of a bee

The Eulogy:

"Queen Bee and worker bees, we've gathered here today to celebrate a life well-lived. Mr. Bee was a wonderful producer of honey, and no one could find clover flowers like him. He'll be sorely missed by all thirty-thousand of his fellow bee workers in our hive. I just wished that at least one of us had learned his name. A tragedy, really. Anyway, back to work!"

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

To the rescue

No, I'm not taking Prozac. (Not that there's anything wrong with it.) I can't explain this rash of color. And happiness. I'm as displeased and disappointed with it as you are, and I'll soon return to my default of all things dark.

But when??

I'm getting distressed by it.

The good news is that I'm still a tyrant. As Timekeeper will attest, this photo was completely "scripted."

"No, Nora! Do NOT look at your mother! You're to look at Emma. What are you thinking? Think of your motivation, Nora. This is a comedy. You're the driver. It only works if you're NOT looking ahead at the road. People. Take your cues, please. I need bigger smiles. Hey, stop crying!!"

Okay, maybe it wasn't quite that severe. But it was close. Timekeeper, what do you say?

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


These were made from the photo below.

Man fishing

I spent too much time on this one. A disappointment. Couldn't find what I was looking for.

It happens.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Happy 2010!

Opening up the year with a splash of color. Hope this year is a good one for you.