Sunday, November 30, 2008

Help! I spent most of today looking for a crow. Or a raven. Well, O.K., a representation thereof. A carving. A statue. A statuette. I don't know - whatever you call a small, three-dimensional representation of something. Could I find one? That was exactly what I wanted? Of course not! Here on the west coast, home of ravens and crows - nothin'. At least, not what I'm looking for. And it's not like I'm fussy or anything. A foot high? Realistic? Maybe with wings spread? Nah. Help!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Believe it or not, this is a shop in a big, fancy, expensive mall. Most of the shops look like this - empty. The big, fancy, expensive mall isn't. It's a big, fancy, expensive white elephant. Luckily, it has a nice movie theatre in it, with 10 or 11 screens, that shows cheap matinees.

Speaking of cheap matinees and deceptive appearances, as I mentioned yesterday, I went to see the new Jean-Claude van Damme movie today. Contrary to expectations, it was good. A lot of fun. And a nice little exploration of today's theme - deceptive appearances. And von Damme actually acted! Fairly well, at that. So, go see it. You'll be surprised.

I also got my copy of "Annie Liebovitz at Work" yesterday. It's not a bad book, especially if you are, like me (and Ms. Liebovitz), of a somewhat advanced - though not yet decrepit - age. There's more text in the book than photographs, with the text telling the stories behind the photos, and those photos trace the cultural events that formed the background of my youth - Nixon, the Stones, Hunter Thompson... The prose is far from deathless, apparently the product of a series of interviews which were later transcribed and edited by an actual (sort of) writer. I got the feeling that a straight-ahead literal transcription would have been much more interesting as the few hints of Ms. Liebovitz's personality that made it through suggest a much more forceful, possibly abrasive personality. Still, it's really the photos that matter, and she does do great work.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Anybody ever seen a Jean-Claude van Damme (is that even how you spell his name?) movie? I haven't. Interestingly, I'm going to see his latest tomorrow. I'll let you know.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Some days it just seems like the bus is never going to arrive.

And, happy T-Day you South-of-the-49th folks!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

As someone who rides a bicycle almost everywhere (with occasional use of public transit), this is definitely what I'd like to see in a car dealership. Space, the final frontier.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

And, this just in from the "Frontiers of Stupidity". Grade for these students? There isn't one low enough, unfortunately.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Hello. My name is Stephen, and I'm an addict. And, what's worse, I'm utterly unrepentant!

Once upon a time, in an age long-forgotten and technologically-deficient, books were bought in bookstores. This was good. It meant that there was usually a gap, sometimes weeks or months long, between hearing about a book and actually buying that book, giving one time to forget about the book. No more. Tonight I was seated on my couch, sipping a glass of wine, and reading "Passage to Juneau", by Jonathan Raban. He writes both fiction and non-fiction. His fiction is good, but nothing that will last through the ages. His non-fiction is much more interesting and I would strongly recommend it. "Hunting Mr. Heartbreak", "Old Glory", "Bad Land", and, of course, "Passage to Juneau" are all fine books, well worth reading. This latter book I purchased recently from Amazon. I can't remember, now, why, but I'm willing to bet it was because I'd just read something else that reminded me of Raban and made me aware of this book. In it, Raban mentions a book about crows and ravens. I've got a strong fondness for these birds, as does a good friend of mine. Two copies of the book are now on their way to me (one for me, one for the friend), thanks to the instant gratification granted by Amazon. Along with a book of photographs by Saul Leiter (recommended on a photography web site I read regularly), another of photographs by Annie Liebovitz (same reason, coupled with an admiration of her work, different site), and Jose Saramago's latest, "Death with Interruptions". I only hope I can finish Raban's book (almost there) and James Woods's "How Fiction Works" (also from Amazon) before the next shipment arrives.

Like I said, my name is Stephen, and I'm an addict. And don't try to stop me!

And, no, I'm not getting any monetary reward from Amazon for this confession.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Some people have (or, in Ms. Garber's case, had) all the fun.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Went to see "Slumdog Millionaire" tonight. A nice little "Cain and Abel" story, set in, of course, India. And somehow focused around India's version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire", which provides a nice reversal to the usual problem of life being a series of unanswerable questions. In this case, life provides the answers.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Don't you hate it when inanimate objects hang around, listening? Watching?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

While I wasn't paying attention, it seems I posted my 1,000th piece. Today's is the 1,003rd - how'd that happen? And, when I started, I'd just gotten a Nikon Coolpix 4500. Halfway along, I picked up a D50. Now? Well, as you may have noticed, I'm getting pretty enamoured of the Canon G10. I've never owned one of their SLRs ("D" or otherwise), but this is, I have to admit, the second "point-and-shoot" from them that I've used. Years ago, I had a Canon Photura that I'd bought to replace a teeny Pentax clamshell-design autofocus camera that I'd, um, er, left out overnight in the rain. The Pentax was great - small, took good pictures - and I was sorry to lose it. Well, I went off to a local camera store where I'd worked once upon a time to look for a replacement. The Photura was definitely not a replacement. It was about 10-times the size, had a zoom lens, and was the weirdest looking camera I'd ever seen - complete with a flip-out spotlight! Between its weird design and that spotlight, well, of course, I had to buy it. Yep - just 'cause it looked so damn strange, I bought it. Picture quality? Who cared? Luckily, it was fine. Too damn big, but....

Anyhow, back at the G10... I'm getting to like it more and more. I can live with 80 ISO (heck - I lived for years with ISO 25!). And it's (reasonably) small and (reasonably) light. And, so far, I'm liking the output. I still can't believe they can get this kind of quality out of a dinky digicam sensor at 15 MP. It would be interesting to see what Canon could come up with in a 10-12 MP camera using whatever magic it is they've got going in the G10.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

By the way, I went to see "Synechdoche, New York" last weekend. Goooood movie. I don't know how well it'll do, given that Kaufmann is a guy who actually thinks about things, but... Went to see the new Bond film, too. O.K. movie. About what you'd expect - "bang! boom! zoom!", the end.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Are you as amused (bemused?) by the Republican party as I am? I mean, aren't they the party of "family values", "fiscal responsibility", "chastity", "rule of law", and all those other swell things? Sooooooo, how is it that one of their top-ranking members (well, he used to be, anyway) got caught with his pants down, as the saying goes, and his hand reaching into the toilet stall next door for a little "meet (yeah, you could spell it the other way, but this is a tasteful blog, right?) and greet"? How come they managed to rack up the biggest debt load in American history in only eight short years? How come they embrace unwed teenage mothers? And, how come, when one of their own is convicted on ethics charges (i.e. he's a criminal and he's unethical) they don't fire his ass? Could it be because they're the party of hypocrisy? Or are they just really (and I mean really) stupid?


Monday, November 17, 2008

Something we all forgot in the celebrations after Obama's victory - George Bush is a stupid man. And spiteful. It would appear that in the waning days of his dismal presidency, he will do as much as he can to further fuck up the lives of Americans. It's sad to think that only the good die young.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I don't know about you, but I'm thinkin' this isn't a bad result, technologically-speaking, from a 14.7 megabite digicam. I mean, the size of the sensor on the thing is about the size of the fingernail on your little finger. Any blur you see is 'cause I was shooting at around 1/15 sec. and holding the camera in a kind of awkward position. And, yep, there's some noise - a very teeny bit, which, considering that I shot this at 200 ISO is pretty amazing. Canon seems to have worked some major magic. Now if only Adobe would hurry up and add the G10 to their RAW converter software so I won't have to go throught Canon's (not bad, but not great), convert it to a TIFF, and work with that in Photoshop.

Working with the G10's going to take some getting used to. I've used SLRs too long now, and I'm pretty used to the way they work - how to hold them, where the controls are, etc. Digicams are a different ballgame, obviously. Having to use the LCD for framing and shooting is the biggest challenge. There's just no ideal way to hold the camera, so I always feel in danger of shaking it during the exposure. Still, the LCD is huge (especially compared to my old Nikon 4500), so it's a little like working with an old 6x6 with a waist-level viewfinder (except held vertically now, of course). And I have to admit, it's a mighty nice LCD, too.

So, it's going to take a while to get the hang of the thing (you should see the instruction book and its seemingly endless list of things the camera can do), but I have to admit there's a lot to like about a camera that fits in your pocket (well, a jacket pocket, anyway), and that you can carry fairly inconspicuously in one hand.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I know, I's tragic. Three days now with no new photo! But, all is not lost - no! All has been, however, very wet, with no real opportunities for photographic fun. At least, not of the actual "picture taking" kind. On the other hand, photographic shopping has been done. Yep, I succumbed. Have you noticed? Every single photo blog - review, pro-talk, whatever - has been raving on and on about the Canon G10. If you want to see how totally over the top it's gotten, check this out. It was written by a guy with enough spare cash on hand to buy any, um, system (I was going to say, "...piece of camera equipment...", but) he wants, and who has been doing and teaching photography for a fair while now, so his comments are worth listening to. Anyway, as you've no doubt figured out already, I went and bought one. So, Sunday's photo (which I'll be posting Sunday evening, Pacific Time) will be from the new camera. It seems pretty nifty so far.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

These dang leaves just won't go away. Isn't that what they're supposed to do when fall comes?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It's November in Vancouver. So what, you say? Well, so it rains all day, and the light level at noon is just about right for 2 hours after sunset. On the other hand, of course, things stay pretty green.

Monday, November 10, 2008

O.K., the political junkies have had their day. Now it's time for the science nerds to have some fun.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Why I love Sarah P.: “Now we kick in that fiscal conservativeness that needs to be engaged, and we progress this state with $57-a-barrel oil.”

“ prudent with public dollars and provide services more efficiently than have ever been provided in the state of Alaska before.”

“My actions will continue to be first and foremost in good service to the state of Alaska.”

All quotes courtesy of, naturally, the NYT. And, of course, the stupidity of Sarah Palin.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Everybody loves crows, right?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Ooooh, dear. Here we all are in a celebratory mood over the fact that America has finally chosen intelligence over stupidity, and we get this little reminder that a substantial portion of the country is still made up of idiots.

Oh, well - as Richard Dreyfus advised Bill Murray in "What About Bob?", "Baby steps...".

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Go ahead. Make what you want of the picture.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Um, congratulations, America. You done good. Real good. And I'm just a tad excited about that. Intelligence was chosen over stupidity and venality. Amazing, but true.

Typically, Blogger doesn't seem able to get the font right, but.....who the hell cares? Obama won! He crushed McBush!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Here's an idea, people of America - let us do it. The right guy'll win and the entire world will wake up Wednesday morning with a great big grin on each and every face. What could be better?

And, of course - go, Al, go!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Just finished watching "War Photography", a documentary about James Nachtwey. Well, not so much about Nachtwey as about his work (he'd hate to have anyone think it was about him). And, really, it's not even about his work. It's about the horrors human beings perpetrate on one another, and about surviving those horrors. If you haven't seen it, get on it.