Tuesday, August 31, 2010


It's her world. We just live in it.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Blue Spiral

I clarified the photo a tad but otherwise left it untouched.

Blue is a color, you know. Which therefore makes this photo oh so very colorful.

I'm about more than black and white and oh so gray Cleveland and spooky shadows and fog, you know.

Cuz if one thing is true it's this, I'm all about the color.

And the cheer. I'm also all about the cheer.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

It was beautiful while it lasted, Brad.

Brad made reference a few posts back to a piece of pottery that he made in high school that he later gave to me as a gift, together with a note saying he made the bowl for me and that he wished me all the best. He signed the note, "Your BFF, Brad."

I'm lying.

Brad did not give me the bowl. Nor, it goes without saying, did he write me a note. I took the bowl without his permission when his parents, noting how I was pathetically and chronically breaking the Tenth Commandment, offered me the bowl in his absence.

Note: No, despite what you might be thinking, I was not guilty of coveting his ass, as explicitly prohibited in that particular commandment--it was the bowl that I wanted. That and his friendship, but, alas, Brad's parents could not secure that for me.

I think in giving me the bowl they said something like: "Why would Brad want it? Sure, go ahead and take it."

My response was, "But....but....this is art! I mean, this is genuine art. I couldn't take it!!

To which they said, "It'd just gather dust anyway. You're doing us all a favor."

So I did them all a favor and took the bowl.

Now what Brad wrote about my response to the bowl is accurate. I did find this bowl to magically function as the pottery equivalent of Prozac, which is why I dubbed it The Happy Bowl--and also why I insisted that others refer to it as such as well.

No really, I insisted.

I keep this piece of art in my office at work, and it's one of my favorite possessions. Truly. For years and years, every time I brought this bowl up to my face to crowd out out all other visuals--which I did with surprising frequency--I could not suppress smiling or, as often, laughing.

As students and colleagues alike could attest were they to visit this blog (but, gratefully, do not), I have been known to challenge them to stare closely at the bowl without smiling. Though I confess a few soulless pod people could resist the need to smile, the vast majority of persons would eventually succumb to the warm and giddy glow of irrational happiness that the bowl inevitably generates.

It's truly blessed, this happy bowl.

With Brad's all-too-brief appearance on this blog--what, with all the promise that it brought--and now with his just as sudden, and likely permanent, disappearance, I confess to seeing the bowl today in a sadder and wiser fashion. Now it is a poignant and melancholy, though far from hateful, sight to me.

Just don't ask me to look at it for too long.

Note: I have added a photo to the original post about Brad. It's part of the skeleton ball he made--another of my favorite possessions. I fear, that the rubber bands are disintegrating and the ball is shedding itself of skeletons at an alarming rate. The deterioration has been sudden and shocking. This photo of the still relatively robust and healthy skeleton ball was taken a few years ago. Now the sight is not nearly as pretty.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Fog Storm

These photos are five years old or so. I took them at the top of Standing Indian Mountain in western NC. It was evening and my peeps and I had just pitched our tents. After an intense rain shower, fog rolled in. I had never before associated fog with rapid wind, but this fog was billowing and rolling and swirling and whipping at our faces. As the fog moved quickly over us, it created a wild drug-like kaleidoscopic gloaming. Every three seconds the colors and shape of the colors changed dramatically. These photos, all untouched, were taken within a five minute period. What I find odd was how the fog, which again I think of as obscuring light, actually lit up by the remaining sunlight, and when it cleared, the vista, while now open to us, was dramatically darker rather than lighter.

I've experienced nothing like it before or since.

Question: I am in my forties, not my two hundred and forties. Am I allowed to use the word "gloaming"? Or is that SO 18th century?

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Two different shots of the same two statues. To capture the second shot, I positioned myself to the left of the angel in the top frame.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Brad, will you be my friend? Please?!

Could my morning have started off any worse than waking up to read Andy's comments in the last post?

Answer: Yes.

But only were Andy and Harvey to conspire to share with you, reader, all the things that were hidden from you for a reason.

For your own good.

The only good news that came from that post was the discovery that the person who claimed to be Brad actually was Brad.

So Brad, it's really you!


I’ll try to contain my excitement and preserve some dignity, so let me just say I’m really really really really happy you visited my blog. Whatever you want, you got.


Who is Brad?

Brad is Andy’s younger brother, true, but that doesn’t quite convey to you, reader, who he is because you’re surely now thinking of a mini-Andy, and that doesn’t quite get it.

Dalai Lama. Jack Kerouac. David Byrne. Wes Anderson.

Combine these dudes and you have someone almost as hipster zen cool as Brad. Add a dose of Andy Kaufman’s intentional head-scratching twilight zone-ish blur between reality and pure for-consumption personae, and you’re really getting somewhere. Brad is so ironic, he meets himself on the flip-side and the result is pure earnestness.

Reader, Brad and I had this kind of relationship, or virtually so, back in the day, mostly high school and college. Asymmetry defined. He’d like to sit in an easy chair, and he'd rock and rock in this chair at a tempo designed to put everyone else in the room in a trance-like state of being. I would ask him question after question about all manner of things in life--art, god, music--and so on, and he'd answer with one-word answers. I desperately wanted to discover the uber-cool depth beneath the uber-cool surface because clearly genius was driving it all. And Brad was utterly inscrutable. A living secret. Sometimes he'd tease with an answer that promised oh so very much but would ultimately terminate with the implicit message that I’m not worthy to glimpse the depths. He might respond to a question of mine with something like, "Well, that's really hard...." and then he'd scratch his chin and look upward, showing he was giving it real thought. And then.....nothing. That would be it. Nothing more would come. It would be as though he found his answer but forgot that I had asked the question. I'd wait and wait, leaning forward, all bright-eyed and expectant...and...nothing. And Brad would be at perfect Zen peace, the proverbial Wise Man at the top of the mountain, but more or less unaware that he had company.

And because there’s something thrilling about Brad, I'd inevitably end up putting aside all my self-respect and ask something like, "So Brad, can I please please please be your friend?" To which he'd reply languorously, without missing a beat of his rocking chair:

"Nah, that's ok. I’m kinda booked.”

Rock, rock, rock, rock.

So that's why I consider it almost too good to be true that it's really Brad on the blog.

And as for Andy, I won't dignify his “history” of living with me with a comment apart from saying this: I don't remember the black paper.

Photo forthcoming.

Monday, August 16, 2010

1,000 or 500,0000?

This morning at breakfast in response to Nora noticing that Emma was eating from a chipped bowl, Lydia wondered aloud how many plates or glasses break every day. And this is what we discussed for the remainder of breakfast. Well, what's your population unit, Lydia? The United States. My wife immediately said, "probably around a thousand."

This received a glare from me.

A thousand? What are you, some sort of sorceress that you can conjure that number from the air?? Let's think this through for crying out loud. Surely it's more than a thousand.

A thousand! In barely controlled rage, I immediately countercharged that Atlanta alone surely breaks over a thousand glasses, bowls, plates and so on in a single day, especially if one considers all the restaurants in the city. (Upon further reflection I retracted this countercharge as coming perilously close to the ravings of a mad man.)

We had to determine whether we're just discussing glasses, or whether we're discussing all serving ware (though obviously not plastic or paper). Yes, we were being inclusive.

Here's how I went about reasoning through the question. I figured there are about three hundred million people in the U.S., and that roughly translates to about fifty million households. I think that's substantially too low, but good grief it's best to be conservative in dealing with such delicate matters. I then asked Juli how many bowls or glasses we break as a family in a year. She thought about one per month. I thought this seemed high, and I think it's certainly higher than the average non-coordination-challenged family, but we stuck to that number. I confess I did enter into a mini shame-spiral, wondering whether we're an especially klutzy family, but the demands of the moment called for me to pull myself together.

Okay, so twelve broken items per family unit per year. And let's say that our number is average, though I suspect it's high compared to your average household--the kind of household in which people basically master the movement of their own bodies and not constantly drop their plates. Still. So that's, what, six hundred million broken items per year. Divide that number by 365 days and you have over 1.64 million broken bowls, glasses, and so on per day.

1.64 million.

A thousand broken items, Juli? Such profound off-the-markness begs the question, frankly, of how Juli is able to make out a grocery list. "Ok Mike, be sure to get a few tons of beans. You're making chili on Saturday."

I mean no disrespect, understand.

Still, 1.64 mil strikes me as far too high. That translates into one in every 182 persons breaking something every day? Is that possible? Are we really that uncoordinated as a race? Raccoons never break their glasses, it seems. Does our kitchenware industry even sell 1.64 million items per day? I mean, there aren't that many weddings.

So that made me think of another way of looking at it. I figured we should somehow secure from the glassware trade magazine the number of bowls and so on sold per day and then substantially discount that number. Surely the net number of bowls and so on is increasing due to population increase and general decadence, right? So it's not the case that every newly purchased item is replacing a broken item. But lots of discarded items surely break in the trash. We didn't decide whether this counts. I don't think it captures the spirit of Lydia's question. So what percentage of newly purchased bowls and glasses replace broken ones? I'd say....maybe ten percent. I think the rest are purchased when folks decide to change patterns or styles. But if it's only ten percent, then that means that millions upon millions of bowls and glasses are sold every day in the U.S. Can this be so? And if so, why haven't I invested earlier in this industry?

So from all this I scaled back the number from 1.64 million to 500,000.

Five hundred thousand is surely the correct number.


Your job: 1. Praise my reasoning; 2. Confirm my conclusion.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Gothic New Orleans

Just when you thought it was safe to come to the blog, NOLA is back. With a vengeance.

I've been putting all my blog photos into a file, and in so doing I was struck by just how, well, gothic and creepy the vast majority of my NOLA photos were. I mean, why didn't somebody say anything? Isn't that what friends are for?

Friends are supposed to help us out with supportive tips.

"Hey, you've got a piece of spinach in your teeth."


"Hey, your blog is as cheerful as a morgue. Cut it out."

These are the kinds of things that friends say.

With that in mind, I posted a little photo montage in honor of the city's creepiness, a creepiness which, you'll find hard to believe, quite resonates with something inside me.

Saturday, August 07, 2010


I had too much fun making this video. And last one for a good while, I'd guess. No more video, really, plus I won't have as much leisure time to devote to this.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Sunday, August 01, 2010