Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Friday Shootout - Smells, fish, and pheromes

As I started to get to work on this Friday’s shootout on the topic of smells, assigned by Nan, Bagman and Butler were ready to give me the business
The moment I walked in the door.
BAGMAN: “Oooh! What is that odor?”

BUTLER: “The smell of stale creativity.”

“Very funny, guys,” I said. But they had a point. I was trying to figure out how to photograph smells and realizing that scent was one of my poorest and least practiced senses. How about this, I suggested, thinking about the smell of lighter fluid and charcoal prior to the hamburgers.

BAGMAN: “Well...So so. But not very sexy”.

So I mentioned to him that I didn’t think smell was going to be a very sexy topic anyhow, and maybe not very photogenic either.

BUTLER: “Humans are nasally challenged, but the animal kingdom is amazing. Do you know that a butterfly can smell a potential mate’s pheromone from miles away?”

In the background, Bagman is quietly singing a song that my friend Lee Armen and I learned to play on the guitar in high school; we thought it was quiet bawdy at the time…I think it was a blues piece by Blind Boy Fuller.

BAGMAN (Leering at me): “What’s that smells like fish, Mama. I’ll tell you if you really want to know…what’s that smells like fish, etc etc.”

BUTLER:  "Careful, Baggie!  This is a G-rated blog!"

BAGMAN:  "You're the one who brought up pheromones!  I'm just giving it a human touch!"

Ignoring both of them as usual, I take a picture of spices in our kitchen cabinet.

And find some pungent memories from an earlier time we spent in Italy --

Although I remember the taste of gelato more than the smell...mmmm.

And how about that paper plant in Georgetown? It's close to my least closer than Tuscany.

 Even pollution can be pretty at sunset.

BUTLER: “If you’re upwind.”

And cutting cilantro.

Flowers in the backyard smell beautiful...

BUTLER: Are you sure?  Most flowers smell good and these probably do...but I think you just went outside and shot them without actually smelling them.

I blush.  I have to admit that smelling things is really not my forte.  But I'll bet these would have smelled good if I had actually take the time to smell them. 

BUTLER:  "Always take time to smell the roses."

BAGMAN: "Could you get any less original?!   I was hoping you'd say 'pheromes'!"

But I do know for a fact that Karen's hair always smells good.
Maybe that's a bit pheromish.

Oh...and Bagman looked up that song up on the Internet.  Everything is on the Internet.  It was an old blues song by Blind Boy Fuller.   Over Butler's protestations, Bagman made me copy and paste the first verse below:

BUTLER:  "If you let Bagman post those lyrics, I'm disavowing any connection with this post."

BAGMAN (pushing the PUBLISH button): "Anybody who uses the word "disavow" should get lost anyhow!"

What's that smells like fish, babe?
Do it any time you wanna do.
What's that smells like fish, babe?
Do it any time ya wanna do.
Don't come in a bottle---don't come in a can,
That's what every good woman wants from every good man,
What's that smells like fish, babe?
Do it any time you wanna do.

I agreed with Butler that this was probably not right for G-rated audiences. But, like most song lyrics (and some poems) I was never entirely sure that I was interpreting the metaphor correctly.

BAGMAN:  "Oh, you were interpreting it correctly!  That's why you and Lee never played that song for your grandmother...although she would probably have laughed."


  1. Wonderful shot of Karen's neck, Mark! Perfect.
    And the smell of dry sausages. God, the odor of the sausage sellers at the markets. Bad Feet. Many Bad Feet. Not anything you want to eat. But then a sausage on its own, with a bit of bread and something red to wash it down with, is great.
    I was hoping a less obviously photogenic prompt would get your brain cells going and get you out for the Shootout! Can't resist a challenge.

  2. Your spice cabinet is so neat and tidy!I love the smell of cilantro and it's a must have in my kitchen.

  3. Great shoot out! My sense of smell isnt too great because of my rhinitus and allergies but I still enjoy the stronger smells in life.

  4. Pollen count is high here today so I can't smell all your smells but I did bump my nose on the monitor trying.

    Great choices, Mark. And I see Bagman is still "humming" along in his usual style.

    Miss you!

  5. M,B&B.
    Love the new header image - how very Jimmy Durante of you... I'm sitting here wondering about smells around me too... I may have to actually go shoot something today!

  6. “The smell of stale creativity.”
    I love it. I can't get any enthusasm for this topic - but I have another 24 hours - so you never know.

  7. That's right smells can be good or bad or stale as Butler mentioned. But I think your creativity is not stale it is just not freshly baked. LOL You bad boy.

  8. Very creative! Especially loved the briquettes ablaze and the butterfly sniffing/gathering the flower stuff. Oh and the hanging cheese congers memories of stinky cheese. We have paper plants all along Lk Michigan here in WI...STINKY enough to make your eyes water. Love this post.

  9. So good to see you in top form! Love that you thought of Karen's hair. Reminds me of my mother's hair which always smells of apples. And now I'm heading for some smelly cheese!

  10. I love the smell of spices - good one!

  11. You've shared some great smell shots, here...and I was touched by the fact that you appreciate the smell of Karen's hair :)

  12. Giggle snort...I so love your shootouts...I never fail to blow coffee out my nose when I read them. It was a wonderful combination of fresh creativity and bawdy humor...loooooove it! And the shot of your wife's neck was really sweet..that all of our mates would think the same of us!! Wonderful shootout hon, Sarah

  13. love the first shot of the charcoal and fire. hate when you can taste it also on the steak or hamburgs. all fantastic smell shots. you have even made smog look pretty. are you a bit of a romantic also Mark, or is it Butler or is it Bagman?? lol love the larger nose shot as the header shot also.

  14. I had to go back and check the header because I missed the big nose at first! (How could I?) Those flames on your grill are really photogenic and make me want to take my camera out next time we grill.

    Most of all I like your shot of Karen's hair: so special.

  15. what's that aurchio or something you smelt in Italy? Those tubes of things.

    I have a mention of hair too, my grandma and great grand ma's.

    That burning BBQ charcoal, were you like me spending too much time on the computer that you forgot?

  16. Well, it looks like you are baaaack(!) and in full creative form once again. Nice post.

  17. Thought I'd pop by for a whiff. I love how you captured the fire dancing around the charcoals. Wonderful camera work!
    I am also liking how the thoughts of smelling Karen's hair
    brought you right back to Blind Boy Fuller's blues. =D Nice post, for sure.
    Sweet basil cooking with tomatoes is a summertime delight for me. Fresh rosemary with potatoes is awesome too. Thank you for the love and support dear friends!!!

  18. My first thought when this topic came up was the sweet smell of success. But I was completely clueless as to how to photograph that.

    I really like your shot of the charcoal and lighter fluid. I've always loved that smell. Oh, and I like you photo of the cilantro being chopped too. I can taste it already.

  19. Hi, I do think this is a great blog. I stumbledupon it ;
    ) I will return once again since I book-marked it. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich
    and continue to help other people.

    Also visit my blog; natural cellulite treatment