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The Bookshelf

Doug's bookshelf: read

AntwerpWarsaw BikiniIcelandHow the Soldier Repairs the GramophoneThe Original of LauraBrief Interviews with Hideous Men

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2011 In Reading

As I mentioned last week, my personal year-in-reading list would be pretty pathetic due to the tiny amount of books I finished this year.  Lucky for us, not everyone had such a feeble anno litterarum.  Online literature, arts and culture magazine The Millions has once again collected notable writers’ and book-lovers’ thoughts on their favorite or most memorable reads of the past twelve months.  I plan on going through these selections and adding some heft to my to-read list for 2012, and encourage you to do the same.  Click the image below to access the list, and enjoy:

 

The Millions - Year In Reading

Back In The Straddle

Hitchens - orig via esquire magazineSo of course it would take the inevitable (but still jarring) winking out of one of our brightest lights and most gifted authors, Christopher Hitchens, to shame me into posting something in this long-forsaken space.  As someone who, at the very least, holds reason and good writing as being of the greatest value (if hardly standing accused of being a very reasonable person or erudite blogger myself), it is unforgivable for me to leave this oft-cultivated/infrequently-updated slice of internet – dedicated, as it is or was, at least, intended, to being a diary of the creative mind – remain unattended for so long.  Steps have been taken to rectify that atrocity.  Before jumping in to my pornocopia* of self-aggrandizement, however, please consider bookmarking and reading some of Hitchens’ essays and fond retrospectives at your leisure.  Not a word you read – whether you agree or disagree with the points being made – will leave you anything but richer for having read them.  RIP, Hitch.

 

*     *     *

 

A brief rumination on what has transpired since last I blogged:

In short: commitments and stress have eaten away at all my spare time and all my vision.  Visitors looking in on the state of grammaticaster.com from time to time will no doubt have noticed the sharp drop in activity after mid-year 2011.  Aside from blogging – photography and leisurely pursuits such as running and reading have diminished as well.  The end-of-year book list?  Isn’t going to happen – largely because the size of the total population is too depressing and I doubt I’d be able to conjure up any semblance of a top five or ten.  The half-marathon I was going to run?  Didn’t happen.  (This was partly due to not being able to perform even mild street-jogging for a week after one session – that is how long it takes my stupid knees to recuperate.  But time was an issue as well.)  The portfolio – poised for grander things in 2011 – has grown even staler than this blog.  The only activity I was able to adhere to was the daily snapshot project, which still exists on its modest little tumblr site and is ported to twitter, facebook, and the grammaticaster sidebar (see left) for the internet audience to enjoy.

What good is living in a creative mecca without the time or energy to dedicate to creativity?  What good are pages and pages of good ideas, and stacks of unread books, when I get home too late and too exhausted to do anything but vegetate and eventually pass out in front of the television?  The refrain which grew ever louder from July to, say, November was "life is too short."  And it is.

Life is too short, for example, to waste on people who add no value to it.  That may seem harsh.  But I have always been an advocate of keeping the peace and being the bigger person in the midst of personality clashes and petty squabbles.  I am not going to worry myself with that anymore.  Chameleons can vary their colors to fit their surroundings, but in the end they are always going to be filthy, cold-blooded reptiles.  People who have no respect for me or the people I love should no longer expect to receive any respect – even a paper-thin disguise of forced respect – from me. 

Life is too short, for example, to devote to an occupation that leaves no time for the enjoyment of anything else.  I am very good at my chosen profession – both the technical day-to-day aspects inherent in the spreadsheet- and calculation-heavy, standards-dependent accounting world and at managing and communicating with clients who may not always have the knowledge or the time and patience to deal with what we auditors are asking of them.  I cultivated that side of my personality very well and am proud of the levels of precision and tact I have been able to attain.  But it takes a special kind of person to take on 60-70 hour weeks of public accounting work.  It takes someone with the drive to make partner in a big accounting firm and someone with the fortitude to ride out the constant waves of corporate consolidation and market changes inherent in the business world.  I do not, nor do I want, to possess those traits.  Auditing is my profession, not my life.  As October rolled on, I often confided to my wife that my stress did not arise from the difficulty of the tasks I was given or even the number of jobs I was being asked to juggle at one time… the stress came from the inescapability of the job itself.  There was never a time away from work, even when I was supposed to be enjoying a holiday with my family or a weekend with my wife and dogs (or even a single romantic evening, for that matter) that I wasn’t consumed with the notion that no matter what I was doing, I should be working.  At the end, work was always present.  At my desk, in the field, in the car, in the shower, in my bed in the morning, on the couch with spouse and pets at night, on quiet walks, on sightseeing trips, on vacations home… work was always looming and the tasks were never done.  And as friends were canned or left for more stable or less demanding positions, and as the question of who exactly I was serving, and what the priority was supposed to be – the public or the client’s interests or the firm’s bottom line – and even as my responsibility and reputation with my superiors supposedly grew, the lifestyle slowly but steadily fell out of favor with me. 

As an aside, there was one fantastic respite from the accounting doldrums:  the annual International Balloon Fiesta.  My father drove across the country to share the experience with my wife and I, and I was able to get some spectacular photographs of the event.  You will see the results eventually, but at the moment my desktop – where my photo-editing equipment resides – has stopped powering on.  I have exhausted all the moron-tests (is it plugged in, is the surge protector on, etc.) so now I’m afraid I’ll need to take it to a computer doctor.  Once I have power and access to my software and photo libraries again, I will post wonderful balloon pictures here.

In addition to my work-stress, my wife had recently been expressing some nagging bouts of homesickness – especially in the wake of our week-long June vacation that took us back to Alabama and the company of our old friends for a short while.  She hadn’t been as successful making new friends and acquaintances as I had been (which is way out of the ordinary, let me tell you), and seeing our lonely, empty little house that we couldn’t sell made her wistful for the old days.  While I wasn’t exactly longing for home, I did regret that we often took our friends for granted and more often than was necessary opted to spend time to ourselves rather than with people we enjoyed.  And I have fond memories of that old house too, of course, having talked her into buying the damn thing to begin with and spent nights with paintbrushes, toolboxes and drills making it our own. 

So it was in mid-October my wife sent me a LinkedIn post from the fellow who recruited me straight out of college years ago.  My old company in Birmingham was in the market for a senior internal auditor, and she thought I might like to explore that possibility.  It may have been that I was in the middle of a particularly painful assignment in Santa Fe, or it may have been the accumulation of all these factors listed above.  But whatever the instigator was, I was inclined to shoot a short, informal email via my phone to my old recruiter inquiring about the position.  That act set a series of what now seems like lightning-quick events into motion, culminating in a series of long-distance interviews and an extremely impromptu flight to meet the internal audit department in person… and on that same trip, a respectable offer of employment.  I accepted it that very night, and turned in my letter of resignation the following week.  The allure of being able to throw my knowledge, expertise and passion into a position serving a single client with clear objectives, broadening my experience and at evening’s and week’s end, being able to leave that work at the office and throw my passion into my other passions again, and the allure of being able to do all this on a larger salary while paying for one living space instead of two – the incentives were too strong to ignore.  And as a colleague (who, as fate would have it, was also making a career change at the same time) told me: happy wife = happy life. 

It also occurs to me that an entire football season has passed without me writing a single word about it.  The end result is that my beloved Tide are going to the national championship game in New Orleans to face LSU – a rematch of a game I suffered through in person earlier this season.  It is icing on the cake, people.  Blah blah Trent didn’t win the Heisman trophy.  Blah blah BCS bias, computer rankings, etcetera.  This is the cherry on the sundae.  Our season was made with 42-14.  Everything else is gravy.  I intend to enjoy it (from the first row of the Superdome… look for me on TV January 9th).

What now?  We are one month in to our new life in our old home.  The boxes are semi-unpacked.  The pets are semi-chilled-out.  There are kinks in the system – my wife’s car has catastrophically died, we aren’t receiving mail, the water department thinks we used 89,000 gallons in August.  But there are also glimmers of the life to come:  I enjoyed the Iron Bowl with the very closest of my friends at Lake Martin, my wife and I participated in a progressive dinner with some very fun neighbors and hopefully made some new and lasting friendships, I bought a new car.  During the day I am enjoying adjusting to my new position surrounded by friendly, cheerful and helpful coworkers, and at night I have time to breathe and think (and unpack… but that will give way to other pursuits in time).  I will be migrating my photography portfolio to a new site in the coming weeks, and will be actively planning new photography and writing projects – if nothing else than to simply produce some sort of creative output again.  The schnappschusse! project marches on.  And I will read many many more books in 2012.  Progress on these and other life pursuits will be chronicled here at this blog.  Friends:  expect to get more invitations to gather and enjoy Leslie and my company.

Here’s to the turning of the new leaves.  Here’s to the rekindling of the old fires.  Here’s to old friendships, old haunts, new pathways, new passions.  Here’s to Christopher Hitchens.  Here’s to poetry, photography, the processes and the products.  Here’s to Birmingham and Albuquerque.  Here’s to Crestwood North, our quirky little neighborhood where our key fits perfectly in the lock.  Here’s to the Alabama Crimson Tide – back in the Crescent City for redemption and revenge and that pretty crystal football.  Here’s to family.  Here’s to art.  Here’s to figuring it all out, one step at a time, never getting there but always getting closer, which is all that matters.

Goodnight friends.  And roll tide.

*     *     *

* Not a word, but dammit it just fits.

The Schnappschüsse! Year Two Recap

Two years.  Wow.  And it seems like merely two weeks ago I was here recapping year one.  Time.  It is a funny thing.

Year two (6/2/2010 – 6/2/2011) was a period of many changes.  In June I was notified that my position at a small, local accounting firm in Birmingham was going to be eliminated by year’s end.  By August I’d found another CPA firm in Albuquerque that seemed like a great fit for me, and with more resources and opportunities for growth and specialization, so I moved myself and my family across the country to gorgeous New Mexico. By December, amid political scandal, my new, local firm was sold to a national firm.  So it goes.  At least the landscapes are beautiful and the weather is out of this world.

In year two I also graduated to a shiny new iPhone with its cornucopia of camera apps.  My shots continued to become more thought-out and a bit more post-processed.  The original premise, however, remains the same.  This is a daily record of my life.  This list is intended to provide a decent representation of the bulk of images taken throughout the year.  Also, I cheated.  There are more than ten. 

 

11/21/2010

11/21/2010 – Sarah Palin’s Cat

10.  I wish I knew who the artist was.  There were about twenty of these paintings being sold on the lawn outside a Taos art gallery.  I also wish I’d bought a couple.  I don’t think they were all politically-themed, but this one was the funniest of the set.  Sarah Palin’s popularity baffles and saddens me.  She is a horrible person who, at best, is a shrewd politician who has built her support through fear-mongering and pandering to the under-educated low denominators.  At worst, she is unintelligent (or woefully misinformed) and suffers from an even greater lack of curiosity about the world than George W. Bush did – and that is saying quite a bit.  Even the satire is, on some level, depressing… it indicates that the mass media still considers her relevant. 

 

8/13/2010

8/13/2010 – Miles On The Road

9.  Miles and I spent two days driving from Alabama to New Mexico, stopping in Oklahoma City for the night.  I cannot imagine what was going through his little doggie mind.  He was a trooper, though, even when the a/c froze and we had to spend about 10 minutes of every hour letting it defrost whilst baking in the summer heat.  After figuring out that whining and looking frantically out the window and pawing/licking my arm was not going to change his situation, he curled up and went to sleep in the passenger seat.  A great road trip with a wonderful little companion.  Miles is a good doggie.  Yes he is. 

 

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2/27/2011 – Number Cruncher

3/27/2011 – Sad Giraffe

8 a+b.  One of the main reasons I chose the new iPhone over an Android model was the existence of the Hipstamatic app, which basically simulates photos taken with antique film cameras.  The several "film" and "lens" filters can be randomized by shaking the phone.  It is great fun, and the haphazard-ness of the various configurations encourages the user to take plenty of pictures.  There are always some pleasantly surprising results in each batch, and these are just two examples.  The first is of an an antique adding machine in a Central Ave. thrift store.  (There were several daily snap candidates from that outing.)  The second is one of the giraffes at the Albuquerque Zoo.  It is not, in fact, sad.  Despite the sign instructing zoo patrons not to feed the animals, one ambitious spectator jumped the low barrier and offered this giraffe a snack.  So he is actually lowering his head so the young hooligan could pet him. 

 

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10/13/2010 – Depression Era

7.  A page from James Agee’s and Walker Evans’ Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.  I was reading this masterpiece on assignment in Los Alamos, New Mexico.  Sequestered in a modern but isolated Holiday Inn Express, in a town that pretty much closes down at 5, I got plenty of reading done.  It was a lonely time – newly departed from my long-time home and also away from my new home (and my wife, who had only recently joined me in Albuquerque) – it was hard not to let the sadness creep in.  Even though it takes place in Alabama in the 1930’s, the descriptions of the landscapes and small towns still took me back and made me a little homesick.  The book itself is a strange and exciting mix of poetry, photography, memoir and journalism.  Highly, highly, highly recommended.

 

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12/7/2010 – The Closest You Can Get to the Spaceport

6.  After months of auditing on-site at governmental offices in stuffy, windowless boardrooms, I was stoked to find out that they needed someone to travel three hours south to perform walkthroughs for the New Mexico Spaceport.  I made sure to have my camera with me in case I got to see one of the aircraft or futuristic hangars and so on.  Alas.  The walkthroughs were performed at the Spaceport’s offices in Las Cruces – nowhere near the actual Spaceport America site.  After my audit procedures were done, I took the poor rental car off-roading toward where the meager interstate signage indicated the actual spaceport was located.  An hour down winding, forking dirt paths in the middle of nowhere, I finally saw the terminal hangar facility come into view across the desert.  It was as close as I could get.  The northern access road, which I came upon a few miles later (after almost bogging down in a sand pit… seriously) was guarded and barricaded against public access.  On the long, rattling drive back to civilization, I snapped this picture.  You know what?  It’s still pretty awesome. 

 

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12/23/2010 – It Still Glides Down The Night

12/25/2010 – You Can’t Beat Home Sweet Home

5 a+b.  Home for the holidays.  We flew back to Montgomery, AL for Christmas with the family.  My folks picked us up at the airport and I drove my old chariot, the ’95 Mustang GT my parents gave me, brand new, as a high school graduation present, to the lake house for some glorious and much needed quiet time.  That car and I have been through a lot together.  Late at night when I couldn’t sleep, I used to pop a CD in the stereo and just drive around in the wee hours.  I drove it back and forth from home to college, usually very late at night as well.  And then, when I was in Orlando, I would sometimes start out after a visit to Alabama at some ungodly hour and drive until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any more.  When I was alone, driving at night was one of my favorite things.  Something romantic about the dark, empty roads, I suppose.  Anyway, those memories came flooding back when I plopped into the driver’s seat and fired up the engine.  It is a magnificent machine.  I’m glad my parents are keeping it garaged for me.  We aren’t done with our adventuring yet.  The other pic is from Christmas day.  My family’s living room on Christmas is still one of the warmest and happiest places for me.  Living farther away made it even more special this year. 

 

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9/11/2010 – The South End Zone

4.  Bryant-Denny Stadium unveiled its new southern end zone this year – increasing seating capacity to 101,821 .  The upper deck has finally been extended around its entire circumference, and now the crowd noise is absolutely deafening.  Four gigantic video scoreboards are positioned in each corner, and video display boards wrap around the rest of the structure.  It is an impressive sight.  This was taken prior to the Alabama – Penn State game (final score: Bama 24, Penn St. 3… Roll Tide).  You knew there was going to be at least one football-related pic here, didn’t you?  And I thought it would probably be in poor taste to select this one.

 

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3/11/2011 – The EMTs ignored Dad’s request: he did not get to ride in the fire truck.

3/12/2011 – South From Sandia Crest

3 a+b.  My parents made it out to Albuquerque to visit us in March.  I’d taken the day off, and while we were waiting for Leslie to join us we were going to take a walk from their hotel down to Central Avenue to see the sights.  My dad took a bad step on the uneven pavement and sprained his ankle, badly (we initially thought it might have been broken – the swelling was horrendous).  I’m guessing it was about 30 yards to the street where I could have pulled my car around and taken him to the hospital myself, but he could not put even the slightest amount of pressure on it.  So we called for an ambulance.  Imagine my father’s surprise when a fire truck arrived and the EMT guys rushed out and started taking vitals.  Quite the scene.  Dad was in high spirits the whole time, but was a little aghast at all the attention.  Needless to say, this photograph had to be taken.  The next day we drove up to Sandia Crest.  My dad, on crutches, couldn’t make the walk to the top, but I snapped this picture with an HDR app (pretty nifty) and sent it to him later.  A great weekend.

 

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6/1/2011 – Unlucky Beaver

2.  This gem just made it in under the Year Two deadline.  One week ago we went to Loveland, Colorado to adopt a little 4-year-old Italian Greyhound from the rescue group there.  His name is Kaspar, and this is the first pic of him and Miles playing together.  He is already a special part of our little family. 

 

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6/16/2010 – The Self-Portrait

7/4/2010 – A Day At The Lake

7/12/2010 – His Holiness, The Gummy-Pope

7/18/2010 – Rooster Rodeo

1 a-d.  The Gummy Bear Series.  Come on.  You knew this was coming.  Nothing I have done online has gotten more of a response than these snapshots, taken over a period of about two months in the summer of 2010.  People still compliment me on them and occasionally clamor for more.  Do you know how hard it is to come up with more things for gummy bears to do?  They’re expressionless, inanimate objects.  At least if I was working with action figures or stuffed animals I could pose them or something.  Geez.  Still, it was a lot of fun finding something for the gummies to do every day.  If the inspiration hits me right, then who knows?  There may be a second series in the works. 

 

And there you have it, folks.  I would encourage everybody to memorialize each day, whether it is in pictures or in writing or anything else.  Every one is special and worth holding on to, looking back on, and remembering. 

A Few Notes About Running

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So it turns out merely writing "exercise" on my daily to-do list is not enough to encourage me to get moving.  Last week, in response to my prolonged laziness, I decided to raise the stakes by signing up for the Santa Fe to Buffalo Thunder Half Marathon.  This from someone who is in the worst shape of his life (thanks, Frontier).  In my final few college years (six years ago… wow, really?) I was in prime condition.  I went to the gym three days a week, ran laps around the quad, and generally was not afraid to take my shirt off at the pool.  As recently as a year ago I was running a five kilometer course around my Birmingham neighborhood’s rolling hills or hitting the elliptical machines at the YMCA at least a couple of times a week..  Now, despite living in an apartment complex with a free 24-hour workout room, and living in one of the best cities in the country for outdoor activity, I can never seem to motivate myself to get started.  Enough of all that.  Time to set a goal.  As of this post I have 119 days to get ready for 13.1 miles of agony glory.

It begins.

I struggled through 5K this morning (see the map below), and everything but the uphill slog on Academy Road seemed pretty manageable.  This altitude makes quite the difference, though.  I think that is what this first month is going to have to focus on:  just getting my conditioning back and adjusting to thin air.  I am not even going to worry about timing myself or setting specific distance goals until July.  Anyhow, today I finally hit the wall about 85% of the way through and didn’t want to stop.  Once I got back to the car I ran back to meet my wife, who was walking the roughly 3.4 mile circumference of Albuquerque Academy while I was running it.  Unnecessarily long story short – what a great Sunday morning!  I was up and the blood was pumping; all before 9 am.  For the remainder of the day, although I have been a tad exhausted physically, I have also been noticeably sharper and more alert.  I think we both reached the same conclusion: this should happen every day. 

Basically, my sluggishness has permeated every facet of my life at this point.  My memory is noticeably poorer.  I get fatigued just sitting at my computer at work.  When I get home, not only do I not feel like doing physical activity, but I cannot even muster the willpower to write or edit photographs or, sometimes, even submerge myself in a novel.  Mostly I just veg out and browse the internet with the dog (who, come to think of it, probably doesn’t care anything about the internet… aside from maybe the cat memes).  Today I had to remind myself that perhaps it is not that the stress of the day gets in the way of the activities I enjoy.  Maybe the absence of activities I enjoy contributes to the stress of the day.  How much better would it be to either start off the day with a run or else do a lap around the Academy after work?  Once I got into the rhythm of it, I am positive it would re-energize the rest of my life: my job, my writing, my relationships… everything. 

photo courtesy of mapmyrun.comI am sure of it because I have done it before.  Why is it so easy to forget such a basic lesson?  Even if it cannot give me back my creative energy, having more stamina and sharper focus will de-stress me enough so that I may be able to tackle the larger issues.  I have always been enamored with eastern philosophy and the practice of meditation, but I have never really been able to sit still for or even find twenty quiet undisturbed minutes during the day.  My meditation was my running.  It was where I could shut the noise of the world out and focus on the present moment, my immediate thoughts and emotions, etcetera and so forth.  And looking back, when I was able to practice mindfulness during a run, I was often able to be more mindful at my job and with my family. 

Anyway, I don’t want to go off on a tangent here.  This is not an exercise blog.  In fact, I intend to re-focus Grammaticaster even more on art and creativity and less on personal journaling (which I find pretentious and boring).  But every little compartmentalized bit of life affects everything else, too, and this grasp backward to recapture my old physical ambitions – which is totally within my power to do – will hopefully energize my interior, creative ambitions as well. 

Over the next few months, expect to see two or three updates on my progress toward the 13.1.  I am still working out the specific details of the training, but I’m thinking about splitting it into four stages: freshman, sophomore, junior and senior (because I’m doing my running around the Academy… get it?  I’m so clever.)  Freshman stage is just going to be about establishing (or re-establishing) the habit of running, as well as acclimating my lungs and muscles to the environment and intensified activity.  I will iron out the other three stages as the process gains momentum.

So: instead of looking at my list at the end of the day and casually, if wistfully, carrying the "exercise" entry forward to tomorrow… for the next three and a half months I am officially "in training".  Every day. 

(It seems to me that, in addition to establishing a workout routine, my success is also tied to maintaining better sleep and diet habits.  Maybe I will address these in future posts.  If anyone has any advice to impart, experiences to tell or resources to share, feel free to give me a good hard slap in the comments.  Have a good week, everyone.)

Schnappschüsse! Year One Retrospective

In a couple of weeks I will have accumulated two full years of daily snapshots (archived at my "schnappschüsse!" tumblog).  Illustrative of much of my world-wide-rambling, second-guessing and rhetorical hand-wringing – a year removed from the first anniversary I found myself considering what would have been a good idea at the time: a look back at that year’s photos.  I will properly mark the two-year point on June 2nd, but today I am playing catch-up.

For those familiar, the tag line is "keep track of every day the date emblazoned in your morning" – a Jack Kerouac quote that, while grammatically odd, sort of distills the essence of the snapshot project for me.  There is no way I have the willpower, especially right now, to keep any kind of daily journal.  I used to write a poem a day, at least, but those days are long gone.  Taking a picture now serves that same purpose.  It makes every day important.  It forces a memory and cements that moment in time and space forever.  Okay, it’s just a pic from a mobile phone, but the idea makes each day a little more significant or a little harder to just toss away while getting caught looking ahead to the weekend or the next big event. 

So, the rest of the background is rather simple.  Two years ago I finally upgraded to a mobile phone that had a camera in it.  I, being in the midst of my ongoing "where has my creativity gone" crisis, and being aware of of projects like Jamie Livingston’s Photo Of The Day, decided to use the new-to-me technology to my advantage.  The rest is in the archives.  I haven’t been very good at all at sticking with so many of my creative projects, but this one is a success story.  The snaps march on. 

The selection methodology here is not concrete or complex.  These are ten photos out of 365, most of which say something and mean something to me.  These are photos that may be significant for the date on which they were taken, the subject matter, the memory it evokes, or that merely lend themselves to a short quasi-interesting paragraph.  It begins with…

 

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6/2/2009 – Untitled

10.  The beginning.  This shot of the burned-out husk of Woodlawn Methodist Church has the distinction of being the first daily snap.  Nothing like establishing the notion right off that not every snapshot is going to be gummy bear art and whimsy.  Two nights before, my wife and I were driving back to Crestwood via 1st Ave N after having had dinner somewhere in town.  By that time the flames had died down, but the building was still smoldering and the emergency vehicles had the streets blocked in both directions.  It was devastating.  My mother and her family attended this church when she was growing up here in the 1950’s.  I’d always wanted to attend a service, but never got the opportunity.  The church continues, but the historic building was a total loss.  Click here for a "before" pic.

 

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8/18/2009 – Stuck In Time

9.  Just look at that.  Is this a digital scan of a polaroid from 1974?  Nay.  At the tail end of the first decade of the 21st century, the boardroom of this Bham, AL labor union office looks like they got their furnishings from when a used tire store remodeled their customer lounge sometime during the Ford administration.  Look at that television… it has rabbit-ears for chrissakes!  I’m guessing they have a hard time viewing their PowerPoint presentations on that thing.  You can see for yourself – these are authentic period accoutrements.  The chairs, the curtains (what fabric is that?), the nuclear-orange walls.  This was my work space for two weeks.  In all fairness, that adding machine with the tape roll.. that’s mine. 

 

snap053110 (top of the rock)

5/31/2010 – Top of the Rock

8.  New York City from the top of Rockefeller Center.  This snap sort of illustrates part of the progression over the year.  At first the ‘daily snap’ was just a quick, dirty click of the blackberry shutter.  Now I am beginning to care about presentation as well as pure content.  See how level that horizon line is?  That’s because by this time I have become meticulous about my snapshot-taking – mostly attributable to the knowledge that these will be appearing on the internet for anyone to see.  The snapshot as an extension of myself.  Ugh.  This is also significant because NYC is my favorite place in the universe.  Expect at least one more from the Big Apple below.

 

snap062009

6/20/2009 – Untitled

7.  Lake Martin from the old Scarborough lake house.  There are plenty of things I miss about Alabama, but most of them can be compensated for in some way or another (keeping in touch with friends via social media, email, etc.; green chile in place of collard greens).  The lake is not one of those things.  Having a quiet spot, even in the wintertime when the water level was lowered so far that our dock would rest on the sandy bottom, to escape to for a weekend when things got really stressful… there is nothing here that takes the place of that.  This was our sanctuary, and only an hour and a half down Hwy 280.  I took it for granted.  We built this place in 1994 (maybe?) and for years my family played along these shores; and then in later years it became a place where friends, relations, and finally my own family (my wife, my dog) would congregate with each other and shake off the cares of modern life for an extended weekend or so.  Nothing remains untouched by tragedy, of course.  After my brother’s accident in 2002, the house took on a heavy, somber vibe that never dissipated.  The weight of memory is tremendous.  My parents have upgraded to a new house across the lake now, where they can escape from their own burdens.  That place is wonderful too, and necessary.  But this spot will always be special. 

 

snap030910 (baby our love song must survive)

3/8/2010 – Baby, Our Love Song Must Survive

6.  On March 8, Over The Rhine played at the Workplay Theatre in Birmingham.  This band’s older stuff is amazing, although I could honestly do without their last couple of releases.  (Check out Good Dog, Bad Dog, Films For Radio and Ohio for their best work.)  The point really isn’t the band.  I think this is a great shot from a great angle.  Karin looks like she’s looking right at the camera.  And, look, if you have the opportunity to see a show at Workplay, please do.  It is a top notch venue and the ambience (in the theatre-space anyway) is intimate and unique.  We’ve had some great times and seen some fantastic acts from the balcony there.

 

snap031810 (highlight of my week)

3/18/2010 – Highlight of my Week

5.  Ah, snapshots wherein I make fun of my boring job.  This was tax season.  Copy the client data.  Enter the pertinent information into the computer program.  Highlight the corresponding figures on the source documents.  Print.  File.  Repeat.  I love the illusion of action here, though.  It’s a pic that turned out well.

 

snap100309 (didnt go to oxford)

10/3/2009 – Didn’t Go To Oxford

4.  This one started out as just me being an ass.  Take a candid picture of my unsuspecting wife and put it on the internet without her consent (with a funny caption).  It’s an innocuous sample of my favorite kind of humor – the inappropriate kind.  Over time, though, it has become one of my favorite shots.  First off, she just looks great here… she’s got that playful, relaxed smile with a touch of ‘don’t you dare post this online’ look for good measure.  And she’s wearing my sweatshirt from the semester I spent abroad.  I love that.  This one encapsulates the essence of the project.  Moments like this happen all the time.  How many of them are just glossed over – just one more Sunday morning at the pancake house or something?  But not this one.  This happy moment is burned into my memory forever.  Yay, photography!

 

snap070509

7/4/2009 – Untitled

3.  New York again.  I went to the city by myself for the Fourth of July weekend that year.  This is the patio area of the Think Coffee on Bleecker Street.  Significance?  This is the exact spot at the exact time where I last wrote something that I liked.  And then the hand of the muse departed, and I have been searching for her ever since. 

 

snap032410 (hello fellow innocent bystander)

3/24/2010 – Hello Fellow Innocent Bystander

2.  Snapshot as unintentional art.  I think this one is beautiful.  It used to be a tart-warmer – a little vessel that holds a small chunk of scented wax that, when melted by placing a tea light underneath it, produces a pleasant odor throughout your living room or what-not.  Leslie was having a stressful week, and had already inadvertently broken the ceramic doorknob on our front door.  The stained-glass tart-warmer was another casualty.  I teased her relentlessly, of course.  Truth is, the tart-warmer is prettier this way.  I still use it as my desktop background sometimes.

 

snap010710 (remember)

1/6/2010 – Remember

1.  You’re damn right this is number one.  The Crimson Tide had twelve college football national championships at that time, but it had been seventeen years since the last one.  My alma mater’s fight song, composed in 1926, declares "Fight on, fight on, fight on, men!  Remember the Rose Bowl, we’ll win then!"  2009 could not have been more perfect.  At season’s end, my dad and I found ourselves in sunny Pasadena, CA for the BCS national championship game.  Don’t mistake me… making Tim Tebow cry was the highlight of the ’09 season, but watching our defense splatter Texas for four hours was a close second.  When the confetti was launched into the air: best father-son moment EVER. 

 

Stay tuned for the year two recap.  Expect Gramiscellany/Thought Dump to return once it’s not the only thing happening on the site.

Gramiscellany: RSS Purge Edition

Let me get this out of the way first:  the "gramiscellany" posts are supposed to be weekly summaries of randomness that supplement the blog – not that comprise the blog’s entirety.  It’s a work in progress.  (It is supposed to be published on Friday evenings, too.  Oops.)  Speaking of works in progress, those of you visiting my site on a mobile device might be experiencing things a bit differently.  I am experimenting with creating a mobile version of Grammaticaster.  Currently, it is ugly as sin.  For those of you viewing the standard version, it looks like this:

photo

Hideous, right?  Bland.  This will get better or will disappear entirely.  Also, there should be a link at the bottom of the page that will redirect you to the normal view.

Now: some fun links.  Today I have been purging my google reader "starred items" and, as part of the process, I selected ten old bookmarked articles for your browsing enjoyment.  Here you go.

You’re welcome!