Monthly Archives: December 2008

Photography: Prime Lense

I was watching this video on Bruce Gilden’s take on street photography. He basically just jumps in front of people and takes their picture. No permission. No fair warning. Just a flash in their face.

Anyway, this led me to investigate what kind of lens works best for “street photography.” As it turns out there are a lot of opinions on the matter. See here and here and here for opinions.

The consensus beyond whatever works seems to be some sort of “prime lens,” which was a foreign term to me. It’s a lens with a fixed focal length. Thus, “prime” is the opposite of “zoom.”

The advantage to using a prime lens is that it simplifies the picture-taking process. You can be quicker. You can become familiar with how best to shoot with that focal length.

So, that’s that. I don’t know much. But I’m noting what I learn here so I can remember. Please feel free to comment, correct, or inform me.

Resolutions for 2009

1. Be more critical. Be more inquisitive. Ask more questions. Have higher expectations. Dig down deeper. Frame things multiple times.

2. Have more fun. Stop worrying. Live in the moment.

3. Create something everyday.

Goals like “passing the bar” and “getting a job” will come in a subsequent post. Despite being firmly determined to accomplish each of those things, they aren’t exactly resolutions to me.

My Year in Cities: 2008

I spent one or more nights in each of the following cities in 2008. Looks like I didn’t get around much. Hopefully, 2009 will take me to many shiny new places.

Traverse City, MI
Ishpeming, MI
Concord, NH
Park City, UT
Chicago, IL
Rogers, CT
Grand Canyon, AZ
Las Vegas, NV
Ann Arbor, MI
Lansing, MI
Grimsby, ON, Canada

For Whom I Write

Hemingway said once:

I believe that basically you write for two people; yourself to try to make it absolutely perfect; or if not that then wonderful; Then you write for who you love whether she can read or write or not and whether she is alive or dead.

I agree with this even if I don’t know who I love at the time or if I feel that no one is currently in love with me. If I am writing there must be someone out there who either loves me for what I write or loves the simple fact that I write.

If I’m not writing for someone else – someone who loves me – then I am writing for myself. I am usually trying to perfect some distant memory or mash together what’s left over of my past to make sense of it. When I look back at my life most things that seemed complicated at the time are now decidedly straightforward – the slow fade of life. There is always more than I remember. The “more” is what I satisfy with my writing. Whether it is exact, perfect, non-fiction, or the exact opposite doesn’t matter. What matters is what I want to remember and how I choose to share it.

So, yeah. I can agree with Hemingway. I write to perfect my life. I write for the woman I love. I may even be writing or you.

Yellow Line Two

A thin yellow light dissected the hotel room where Will and Sarah slept in a mess of cheap white sheets. The digital clock on the bedside table glowed bright green in Will’s cloudy eyes. He reached to snooze and hit volume, causing the harsh buzz to blare and startle Sarah. She jerked her head off the pillow and said, “Turn it off.”

Five minutes later it went off again, waking them from the deep after-sleep that would be the last comfort of their day. Sarah was up and out of bed in seconds, naked and cold. She glanced in the large mirror on the wall at the foot of the bed as she walked by to see that she was the same outline as the day before. Her hair fell down to the middle of her back and over her shoulders. She had vacant light blue eyes that set heavy upon their chosen subject. Her cheeks, ribs and hipbones were like jagged rocks protruding from a calm ocean, moving harshly under her taught skin.

She reached into her purse on the dresser and fished around for cigarettes. “Where are the smokes?” she asked. Will moaned. “What the f–k. Where are they?”

“Last night, I don’t know. They’re probably in the shower.”

Sarah walked to the bathroom and caught herself in the mirror. Again. The fluorescent light was harsh and unflattering. Will saw her pause.

Yellow Line One

Gone broke in my car and got nothin’ to listen to. I’m bored with two hours down and twenty to go on a plain old worn down road with a bump in the middle and no yellow line. The dust blows if I roll down the window, and my back sweats a sweaty hole in my seat if I roll it up. Doesn’t even seem like AC’s been invented yet with this old beater I’m rollin’ around in. It’s breathin’ too damn hard to worry about something so sophisticated as conditioning of the air.

I squint ahead to see what I can see, and what I see is mostly a light gray line splitting two green fields and a stray black and white dairy cow mooing on the left. No big red barn ’cause that’d be asking too much of this dust bowl landscape I, for some reason, chose to cross in the July heat. That’s a July heat with an emphasis on the Jew, like you hear people say in movies about southerners. I’ve never met a true southerner with a true accent, so I guess I’m just speculating my memory on a motion picture. But that’s the best I got, and if you were here you’d get that I gotta speculate on anything I can to keep on the pencil line-road.

In Her Eyes

He stood, half seated on the antique writing table in the hallway. His stomach lurched. She turned off the hallway light. He surrendered to the darkness and slipped further down the front of the table until he was seated on the floor with his head on his knees. The weight of his error pinned him to this moment. He looked up again in her direction like knowing prey anticipating the first strike of its attacker. But there was nothing coming. Through the darkness there was only the blackness of her eye sockets, highlighted below by her cheekbones.

He looked through his tears and said, “I know what you’re thinking.”

Anger overtook him and he thrust his elbows into the weak old wood of the table until it began to crack. The lamp that sat atop the table fell and shattered on the floor. Glass scattered around him. He pumped forward and back again with so much force that his body was kicked away. Laying in glass, elbows bleeding, he screamed and pounded his fists until the pain absolved his lack of control.

There was a sincerity to her existence in his life that he desperately wanted to understand. But could not. She loved him and did not lie when she told him so. He could not stretch far enough through the darkness to reach her. Even if he was seated beside her, their arms entangled, looking into her cold blue eyes his empathy for her love would be insufficient. The fact that he could not try hard enough to make successful something that was not meant to succeed infuriated him.

Written from 2:15 am to 2:35 am in my bedroom in Traverse City, MI.

Two Of Everything Good, Please

“I’ll take two,” I told the young waitress behind the counter wearing a pale blue dress and filthy grease-stained apron. Her blond hair was pulled back tightly into a bun that looked like a small abandoned barrel of hay. In a hurried motion she swept her untrimmed bangs behind her right ear. As her fingernails, painted black, came back to her side I noticed she wore no earrings. There were two sets of holes but no earrings to dangle from or loop through them.

“Anything else,” she asked.

I stared at her and imagined that she was wearing strands of diamonds from each of the holes in her ears — that the diamonds radiated a bright white light that washed over the painful blue fluorescence. When I looked through my imagination, though, I saw that her eyes smoldered — perhaps with impatience — in the pits of her face and her ears were still unadorned.

“No. Thank you.”

Written from 12:05 am to 12:26 am on Monday, December 15, 2008 in my apartment in Concord, NH.

Proust Questionnaire

This is actually a highly modified version of the Proust Questionnaire, a questionnaire that was popularized by Marcel Proust in the late 1800s. The questionnaire was later picked up by Bernard Pivot and used on his French television show where James Lipton, the host of Inside the Actors Studio adapted it for his own use. My responses are to the questions posed by Lipton.

Q: What is your favorite word?
A: Ridiculous

Q: What is your least favorite word?
A: Whatever. Or fine.

Q: What turns you on creatively?
A: Comfort. Nostalgia. The dark. Music.

Q: What turns you off?
A: Pessimism. Apathy. Ambivalence.

Q: What is your favorite curse word?
A: Depends on how badly I’m golfing.

Q: What sound or noise do you love?
A: UM football crowd. Silence. Shower.

Q: What sound or noise do you hate?
A: The fish tank when it is not full.

Q: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
A: Travel journalist, novelist, pro golfer, entrepreneur.

Q: What profession would you not like to do?
A: Accountant, country western singer, IT manager.

Q: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
A: Your family and friends are right this way.

Movies I Saw in 2008

I saw the following movies in the theater in 2008:

  • 27 Dresses
  • Rambo
  • 21
  • Leatherheads
  • Forgetting Sarah Marshall
  • Iron Man
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
  • Get Smart
  • The Dark Knight
  • The Pineapple Express
  • Tropic Thunder
  • Vicky Christina Barcelona
  • Burn After Reading
  • Eagle Eye
  • Religulous
  • Flash of Genius
  • How to Lose Friends & Alienate People
  • W.
  • Quantum of Solace
  • Twilight
  • Four Christmases
  • Kenny
  • Gonzo

I saw the following movies that were released in theaters in 2008 on DVD:

  • A Lawyer Walks into a Bar
  • The Bank Job
  • Made of Honor
  • Sex and the City
  • Recount