Thursday, February 25, 2010

Friday Hometown Shootout - My Favorite Topic

It's like Christmas morning!  I can't sleep and Bagman and Butler must have been in the same boat, because they come bounding into the B&B studio the moment my foot hits the creaky board near my desk.

BAGMAN:  "Favorite Friday!!!!  Favorite Friday!!!  Hooray!!"

BUTLER: "And did you see the slide show Ginger put together on Hometown Homepage?  It was awesome!"

BAGMAN:  "Awesome?  When did you get so modern sounding, Butler, you old fart?"

BUTLER (flustered):  "I mean it was exceptionally audacious." 

BAGMAN: "Who cares?  Let's start!  My favorite topic of the year is Sexy Women!"

BUTLER: "That was never a topic." 

BAGMAN (frowning): "You can't blame a guy for trying, Dude."

Meanwhile, I'm ignoring them as usual and putting a photograph on the blog.

BAGMAN: "What the &%$# is that?"

Unflustered as usual, I reply, "Cemetaries.  I figured we do cemetaries. That was Patty's topic on March 25th"

BUTLER: "Don't you think that's a rather gruesome choice?"

BAGMAN: "Downer, man."

"Well, I know it wasn't really my favorite.  But you've been trying to wean me from my archive and this week I actually took a few hours and went out to take some new pictures and...

BUTLER: "Did you remember how to use the camera?"

BAGMAN: "Obviously not, Butthead.  He couldn't even find the color button!"

BAGMAN: "Okay, okay.  So you found the color button.  But I still think we'd get a better post if we did another Power or Amusing Signs.  Or Relaxation or People.  Or the Color Red, Sunsets, or Sexy Women..."  (Butler and I both give Bagman our best baleful looks) "...well you can't blame me for trying."

BAGMAN and BUTLER in unison: "Thank God!  You've switched to Birds by Scriptor Sinex.

No, I reply slowly and with great patience.  Magnolia Cemetary is a big cemetary near the wetlands and there were lots of birds there.  And Magnolia is also full of history.  For instance:

It's where the crews of the Confederate Submarine Hunley are buried.  The Hunley was the first submarine that ever sunk a ship.  It was really just a huge metal tube that worked with a handcrank.  When the confederates first tried it out on a practice run, it sank and everyone drowned.  So they raised it, and a bunch of new guys volunteered, for some reason, and got into it and sailed out into Charleston Harbor, rammed a Union ship, sank it and then promptly sank themselves as well.  About eight years ago, some people who had become more adept over the years at going underwater and coming back alive discovered the Hunley half buried on the bottom, raised it up and brought it back to Charleston.  Archeologists spend a couple of years restoring it and removing the remains of the original crew and burying them here.  It was a really big deal at the time. 

BAGMAN:  "Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz." 

BUTLER:  "Yawn."

"You guys have no appreciation of anything," I complain.  "How about this?"

BUTLER: "Well, it's not great, but fair.  But it isn't a cemetary."

"I was standing in a cemetary when I shot it!  Doesn't that count?"

BAGMAN: "I didn't want to do cemetaries in the first place!  I want to do Sexy Women!"

BUTLER: "You mean you want to do a Friday Shootout on Sexy Women."

BAGMAN (moping): "No.  That's not what I said."

Continuing to ignore them, I post three more quick shots.

BUTLER (Getting up and heading for the door): "I'm sorry, old friend, but I'm getting tired to cemetary shots.

Suddenly I remember something.  "Hey!  Look at this!"

I found this old picture in a box last week and scanned it.  It is a picture of my mother's grave in Wrentham, Massachusetts.  The marble bust was carved by my grandfather.  I just realized that she passed away only 8 days after my sixth birthday. 

BUTLER: "Yes, yes.  Bagman and I are both sorry for you, as usual."

BAGMAN:  "HEY! Wait a freaking minute!  That's an archive photo!!!  You said you picked cemetaries because you finally got around to shooting some new stuff!!  This is a cheat!!!

BUTLER: "Yes!  Bagman is right!  If you are going to use archive pictures we can pick another favorite topic."

BAGMAN:  "YES!  Like..."

But I didn't wait for him to redundently say 'sexy women' again and turned off the computer and went back to bed. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I didn't realize birds could do this

I suppose most animals do this but I had not thought about it before until I was sorting pictures this morning.  On Friday, I had actually gone out and spent a couple of hours just shooting...

BAGMAN:  "Finally!  I was wondering when you would break your addiction to your archive and finally try to shoot something new!"

...and I went over to Magnolia Cemetary thinking that I might use "Cemetaries" as my Friday Shootout Favorites this week.  Not that cemetaries are my favorite, but I had left a meeting early and...

BUTLER: "Your meeting was at a cemetary?"

Near a cemetary.  Anyhow, the sun was nice, it wasn't too cold, I didn't want to go straight home so I thought I'd see if I still remembered how to use the camera.  

Anyhow, Magnolia Cemetary is an old historic cemetary near a wetlands and there was plentiful wildlife in addition to the expectedly plentiful nolife.   Among some other birds, I was stalking this white heron.

And when I was going through and cropping shots, I realized that I had clearly irritated the poor thing enough to raise the hackles on its neck.  Do birds have hackles?   Whatever the word, the two details below are of the same bird. 

At first I thought it was the wind, but it was a very calm day.  At least I think it was.  I thought only cats and dogs did this. 

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ego Rising

Periodically, I go sifting through the luggage of my past -- boxes of old notebooks and photographs...

BAGMAN: "Yeah.  Periodically.  Right.  Mostly those times when you're too damn lazy or insecure to actually go outside and try to photograph something new!  When your passion is embracing a wheelchair and you're trying to rediscover it in your past instead!"

(Long pause while I take a deep breath.  Bagman can sure spoil a mood.  But I'll continue despite his criticism.)

Yesterday, I ran across two self-portraits from 1962, when I built my first darkroom with the help of my grandfather. 

Now, Bagman is dancing around the room as I'm getting ready to post this, singing "Who wears short shorts.... da da da da da.... We wear short shorts.  da da da...."   Ignore him.  It's an old song from around that time.

I do remember that my right leg and foor are at a slightly odd angle because my camera didn't have a timer or remote shutter release so I jury-rigged a black thread to the trigger, down the tripod leg and attached it to my sneaker so I could snap the shot with my foot, while pretending to be very very serious.

But I can't remember or figure out what I was pretending to be doing.  Apparently reading in the first shot.  But the second shot looks like I'm pretending to study two things at once.  The stretched out roll of film, however, looks white, more like fly-paper than a negative, and the square thing looks more like a 4"x5" negative...and I know I didn't own that kind of camera. 

It may not matter because I was really just posing and trying to look very professional and genius-like.
I really had a huge ego back then.

BAGMAN: "Right!  As compared to now when you are so freaking humble?!  If you think you've misplaced your ego, why are you now posting it?"

Embarassed silence.

BAGMAN: "Why don't you go outside and see if you still remember anything about taking pictures?"

I hate Bagman when he's right.  

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ode to my Knees

Thank you, knees
for elasticity that bounced me up
a thousand times while learning to walk,
for healing a hundred times from gravel
and skateboards and bikes,
for looking, well, not too bad
in shorts and bathing suits
in front of girls in high school.

I'm grateful, knees, for your heroic --
if not always sucessful -- efforts
to keep me erect after climbing down'
from barstools.  And then when I finally changed
to healthier addictions
for taking the pounding of marathon miles.

I appreciate you, knees, for not shaking too much
when standing in front of crowds to speak,
for supporting my weight when kneeling to pray,
and, twice, to propose.

And now, I beg your fogiveness, knees
for totally ignoring you and making you sit
bent and immobile under desks,
for letting you grow still on the couch too much.

So now you ache incessently and stab me
should I dare to stoop, to wear my trousers rolled.
But I will not complain, dear knees,
for you have served me well, so I will just say,
"Thanks."    And take another aspirin. 

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Hometown Screw Up

Okay.  I knew this day would come.  Not that it makes me feel better.  But I have nothing today.  Not even a good story about why I'm a scratch today.  And Lindsey Vonn can ski for a gold medal on the toughest downhill course ever when she can hardly walk! 

I also missed Zebra Thursday (which is Nan's rather focused invention).  Of course, I've only made Zebra Thursday once and I posted it on Wednesday.  But this Thursday, I was busy ringing bells for Barry. 

So I'll try and warp time a bit and post Zebra Thursday today (Friday...I think).

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I hope this post works because I've had a bear of a time trying to get Blogspot to upload videos. And I had new movie maker that is too complicated. So this has taken...blah blah blah. Anyhow, today is the day that Barry the Great Explorer completes his Chemo and gets to ring the hospital's chemo completion bell! And lots of people around the world are ringing with him. I thought I'd ring it on my blog! Yea Barry!

I sure hope it posts right...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New evidence that prehistoric man used paint

Yesterday was Presidents' day in the United States.   It is a holiday that used be called Washington's Birthday until the ongoing avalanche of political correctness in America rolled over it and we decided that it discriminated against other presidents. 

In 1880 it was actually held on Washington's Birthday (February 22).  But in 1971 -- when Congress  apparently had little else to debate and people wanted Holidays to always fall on Mondays (except for Thanksgiving and Christmas) -- they declared it would always fall on the third Monday in February.  This means that it can fall anytime between February 15 and February 21.  A brilliant move since it will never fall on Washington's actual birthday. 

But some states wanted to honor other presidents.  Massachusetts used it to also celebrate John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Calvin Cooledge, and John Kennedy, because they were born in Massachusetts.  Well, to be really truthful, Calvin Cooledge was not born in Massachusetts but spend most of his political career there.  And George Bush was actually born in Massachusetts but spent most of his political life elsewhere.  So it's really more like "Presidents We Like Day."  

And in Arkansas it's called "George Washington and Daisy Gadson Bates Day." 

And nobody really knows whether it is spelled Presidents Day or Presidents' Day.

This year, we celebrated it as "Mark Should Paint the Stairs Day," which meant that I didn't get to celebrate it at all. 

But by the end of the afternoon, decorated from head to foot with Oyster Shell speckles and drips, I looked down from the ladder and made one of the century's great archeological discoveries!

This prehistoric can painting is still being studied by archeologists who hope to extract DNA, but most experts think that it indicates early hominids with knowledge of Chinese Calligraphy crossing the Bering Strait in late Winter at the beginning of the Spring Thaw.  There is much contemporary debated about the small creature being attended to by the larger figure in the middle.  If the prehistoric paint tribes did bring penquins to the North American Continent, why is there no record of this?   

BUTLER: "Too may paint fumes, Mark.  Take an aspirin and go back to bed."    

Monday, February 15, 2010

Quick update

Almost a tweet or a twitter...although if I start out like this is will be a typical boomer epic.  We boomers do like to write.  I wonder if Dickens was a boomer?   Where was I.

BUTLER: "You were going to speed it up.  I doubt you can."

Oh yeah?  Oh yeah?'s this --

Gotta paint the hall, do taxes, Conner just went back to parents, Karen got a new computer, my Facebook was hacked and I'm trying to delete it, and I'm generally irritable.  That should cover it.

BUTLER:  "I must admit that I didn't think it was possible for you to be brief."

Well, let me explain.  You see....blah blah blah (and this is where Butler pulled the plug).

Sunday, February 14, 2010

First Measureable Snow in Charleston in over 10 years

Yes, after feeling so superior this all the heavy snow around the Country.  We actually got two inches in Charlston last night.  In fact, I heard on National Public Radio that Google Earth was trying to get pictures to show it was the first time ever that there was some snow in all 50 States.  They knew there was snow in the 49...but were trying to see if there was any snow in a shadowed spot on some mountain in Hawaii...

Anyhow, Conner got see snow for the first time. 

And he got to see a snowman -- our neighbors made it last night

Not the prettiest snowman in the world.

BUTLER: "I think it looks just like Bagman."

Bagman hits Butler with a snowball.

Conner looks three-years-old here
He actually just started walking last week.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Goodbye Facebook

Once again, someone -- or some disembodied electronic entity -- has slipped into my Facebook account and emailed everyone on it a message, supposedly from me, saying, "Hey open this!"  A virus of course. 

But since I hardly ever use Facebook, I just deleted the whole dang thing.  I suspect there are lots of people wondering if I'm dead. 

So I wanted to let you wonderful folks who follow me on Blogspot know that I am not dead.  Although the next few days will be quiet, I think.

Of course, if the disembodied hack actually had away of killing me and I really was dead, it could also probably write a blog just like this to fool you into thinking I'm still alive. will I be able to prove that I'm alive?   Deep question.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Friday Shootout -- Aquariums (A love story)

I'm looking in the mirror and thinking that I'm one ugly sucker before I have my coffee when Bagman suddenly bursts in, already wearing swimming trunks, and shouting,  "Holy Mackerel!!  It's time for the aquarium shootout! Come on, Fishlips, Let's dive in!"

Perched on a nearby stool, Butler grunts, in his most snapperish tone, "Well, wahoo to you too."

And me?  I always sing a tune a day to add a ray of sunshine in the world, and this morning, just for the halibut, I'm singing an old Arlo Gutherie song:   "I don't want a pickerel...just want to ride on my motercyckeral."

BUTLER:  "Maybe I'm getting hard of herring, but motorcycle doesn't rhyme with pickerel."

Tired of Butler's constant carping, I argue, "Motorcycle doesn't rhyme with pickel either but, Arlo Guthrie sold lots of records with it."   But Bagman is insistant and we've run out of puns so we pile like sardines into our small environmentally friendly electric car that we've recently built out of  recycled batteries and electric eels and we're off...

"Excuse me miss but the Charleston Aquarium is that way..."

Our aquarium is not huge but it draws a crowd.

Grandpa is a facinating and entertaining tour guide

Well, at least somebody stayed awake to smile at my egocentric cleverness. 

Yes, I do seem to be more focused on myself here

Then rising, seductively, out of the depths comes a fish that finds
my header picture today to be irresistably attractive.

Kiss me, handsome!

Excited and seduced by her beauty, I dive in!
But before I take the bait...

Karen is there to stop me from my rather fishy daliance.
and reminds me that I may be a sucker for ogling that piece of tail,
and on the overall scale of things....

fooling around...

could get me stung...and I already have

a whale of a marriage.

So like a fish out of water, I wiggle back up the path to home.

And yet, I can't help but pine,  just a little,
 for the lovely-lipped carp 
 who flirted with me at the aquarium.

But I don't really think the water is bluer
on the other side of the glass.

Astronomy in the rain

Thinking about tomorrow's Hometown Aquarium shootout, I was starting to feel like a fish in a fishbowl.  The rest of the country has been getting socked in by snow but Charleston has been getting rain.  Constant rain.  

So I went outside to see if the rain was heavy enough that fish might be swimming in it.  I thought I saw  a school of droplet skimmers racing away from a hungry lightening fish and shot off one quick shot.  I didn't take time to focus or anything for fear the rain would destroy my camera.  The risks we are willing to take the for the Friday Shootout!

Dang! No fish!  But the camera was intact.

But something struck me as I was looking at the droplets, or what I thought were droplets.  Lately I've been turning green with envy at Harold's new lens and his shots of stars in the sky.  Amazingly enough, I realized that I could spot the Little Dipper constellation in the upper right hand corner of my rain picture -- or maybe it was a star picture. 

Ursa Minor
(Latin for "Little Dippy Bear" or "Bear holding water dipper"

And since I am a student of the night sky, I knew that if Ursa Minor was in the upper right hand corner, then Ursa Major (Latin for "Big Mama Bear holding larger dipper" could not be seen because it would have been further to the east near the constellation Goldilockus Canae (Latin for "Blond Girl with dog" or "Blond Girl that Orion thinks looks like a dog" -- the scholars are still debating on this one).  However, I had accidentally captured a part of the rainsky to the west where, looking very carefully, I could find Ursa Bagmanus (Latin for "Lock up your daughters").   See below.

I love astronomy!  Particularly now that I realize you don't even need the sky to be clear but you can do it just as well in the rain. 


PS:  I'm sorry I confused people about tomorrow's shootout -- Aquariums!  I mentioned Plazas but tried to highlight NEXT week so it wouldn't be confused with THIS week but I've been known to do the wrong theme before.  

I think I have it straight, however.  This week is Aquariums, which is actually due tomorrow so by Saturday Aquariums will be last week and Plazas will be this week then, but not now.  Unless you don't read this until Saturday in which case you should ignore what I just said because Plazas will, by then, already be this week and next week will be the one year anniversary -- meaning last year, not next year -- and we can pick our favorite topic to repeat.  I think I'll pick the one I did ten weeks ago if I can only figure out what week that was by the time I start doing it.  

All I know for sure is that the post I've got scheduled after this one is Aquariums. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Free Association Wednesday

I don't know why I titled it that. 

If I recall correctly, it is already Zebra Wednesday except that I ran out of zebra shots a year ago.

I hate it when people at work called it hump day.  Not all of us hate work that much.

Thank you, Nan for reminding me about batteries.  Unfortunately they had already taken out the trash.  But I promise that I do recycle almost everything else and will now, most certainly, recycle batteries as well.  I think I used to believe it was only the rechargeable ones. 

Town plaza is a great topic for NEXT week's Friday Shootout.  Bells would be another appropriate topic.

I'm really glad that I don't have to pay for free association. 

My brain just stopped working.  I'm also really glad that it is recycleable and that I can recycle it by just closing my eyes for a few hours. 

Monday, February 8, 2010

Baby teeth

Yesterday, waiting for the Superbowl to start, I was cleaning out and rearraging an old desk in the guest room.

BAGMAN: "Rearranging!  You sound like some geek from Good Housekeeping!  Why don't you tell the truth sometimes!   Karen was on your ass about all the junk in the desk so you just moved it all to the empty bureau in your studio!  Same pile of junk, different place!"

BUTLER:  "But he did throw out a couple of dead batteries." 

In any case, while I was cleaning out and rearranging the stuff, I ran across some things of Karen's in there. 

BAGMAN: "So now, at least, the pile of junk in your bureau is at least all your junk!"

Karen has every scribble Brian ever made from Kindergarten on up.  Every Valentine's card I ever gave her.   And I remembered immediately when I saw this tucked in a drawer --

The Tooth Fairy's safety deposit box.

It seems a bit gruesome somehow.

But who am I to judge what people collect.  So this morning, after my morning libations...

BAGMAN:  "What kind of a jerk uses words like 'libations'?"

BUTLER: "In this case, Mark, old friend, Bagman is right but for a different reason.   The definition of "libations" is the ritual use of a beverage, particularly an intoxicating beverage, usually as a sacrifice.  It has nothing to do with shaving and showering.

Does coffee drinking count?  

Anyway, after shaving and showering and, trying to remember what word I meant to use, I gathered my fingernail clippings and asked Karen if she had a place she was keeping them.  

"The trashcan," she answered without missing a beat.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

"Worried Runner" - Circa 1985

Looking through old photos, I spotted this picture and couldn't help noticing the look on my face and wondering what I was thinking.

Of course, maybe I was just wondering why the air seemed to be having less and less oxygen.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Poof.....ssssssss.....headache gone

Just a short note that my head is now back to normal and grateful for all the nice comments on the shootout.  I will swing by, if I get a chance, and see some I might have missed.

And, as I expected, some of you knew (Kerry and J9 ) peoplehole covers, as manhole covers are now called since we have become politically correct and women have succeeded through years of struggle to be allowed to work in sewers...

BUTLER:  "Not funny, Mark.  You are really going to get in trouble for that politically-charged tidbit of ironic sarcasm." 

...uh, sorry...

Anyhow, yes, sewer covers are round because it is the only shape that cannot accidentally slip into the hole.   I suppose it didn't take more than two or three accidents like that before people realized it was really really important to avoid having to rescue square covers from muck. 

I think I'd better quit while I'm ahead.

BUTLER:  "You think you're ahead?"

Reminds me of one of my grandfather's favorite jokes when I was a little kid and we were in the car.  He'd say, "Hey!  What's that in the road?  A head?"

For years I was too young to get it.   One day, I got the pun and answered.  "What's that in the road behind?" 

Bagman and Butler both give me long serious looks.  I think I'll just go start on my taxes. 

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Friday Hometown Shootout - Circles

All week I've been singing, "For every thing, turn turn turn, there is a season, turn turn turn..."

When I started thinking about circles last weekend, I thought it might be difficult.  Silly me.  The difficulty has been trying to pick and choose.  It seems I have been subconsciously shooting circles all my life. 

BAGMAN:  "They're very female, you know!"

BUTLER:  "Shut up! He's got too many pictures to waste time in babble."

Of course, Butler is right on this one and I don't think I can create some sort of interesting story line.  And I'm running out of time as always.  So I'll just throw it together.   Ready, Set, Go...

BUTLER: "You realize that this looks like you took it with a Brownie."

Yes, I know it is out of focus.  I was in the car, scrambling to get the camera out of the bag, shooting with one hand through the windshield while accelerating.  

I'll start with a batch of old ones.  This post is actually quite discouraging to me because my old shots are all better, in my opinion than my new ones.  I don't seem to be improving with age like I expected.

I don't have a clue what this was...

Nature's own wind-direction meter

Got milk?

This was a pot in my sink in college...I think I was stoned when I shot it.

This hang in our bedroom -- a detail from a locomotive exhibit
in back of a conference center, where Karen and I met
Back when I first started digital and I thought 2 megapixels was great.
AND now for some new stuff, since I can't rely on archives forever.

Okay, okay, photographically dull but I wanted to add it to challenge all of you.  Do you know why manhole covers are always circular?   I'm guessing some of you know so I'll wait until after comments and reveal the answer Sunday or Monday.  Boooo.

In the basement of Drayton Hall Plantation in Charleston

Our local television station.  Whatever happened to rabbit ears?

Local swimming pool waiting for summer
(which in Charleston is expected any day now)

We'll have to re-inflate this when it comes.

Ho hum.  Whatever happened to my ability to take photographs?
(But it's a circle!)

Maybe photoshop can compensate for mediocre photographs.
(And maybe not)

I do kind of like this one.
(Of course I've posted it before, but I couldn't resist)
(And it's not that old)

Knock knock.  Who's there?  

Tire.  Tire Who?  Tired of circles.

Underexposed and hurriedly shot, but I wanted to add this because there are Sweetgrass Baskets which are really one of Charleston's unique attractions.  From the earliest days, as we all know with great guilt, were imported to the Carribean and then to Charleston to maintain the sugar, tea, and cotton industries.  From the Caribean, they brought with them the Gulluh culture which thrives today.  It has its own dialect and one of the most beautiful crafts are the sweetgrass baskets.  Route 17 in Mount Pleasant where I live is lined with rough shacks out of which they sell these handmade creations.  I've been meaning to stop and shoot some of the ladies, sitting in front weaving these things but I've been strangely shy about stopping and asking them to pose.  One of these days...   But recently the entire stretch of road has been named a National Heritage Corridor, whatever that means.   One of these days when it is warmer and I am braver, I want to sit down and do a story on these ladies. 

Okay.  It's time to stop now.

BUTLER: "And what's your excuse for the fact this one is out of focus too when you had all the time in the world to shoot it?

I don't have an answer for that.