Category Archives: Art

Minutia – Chapter 4: Failure

Chapter 4: Failure

Thomas Edison failed on his first 100 attempts to invent the light bulb. When asked if he was upset with all of his failures he responded that they weren’t failures. He had learned 100 different ways not to invent the light bulb. I think of that story at times when I need motivation and I can’t seem to make the picture in my head and the picture on the screen the same. Then I also remember that Thomas Edison used to publicly electrocute cats and dogs to show the dangers of Tesla’s competing style of electricity. That reminds that the distance between genius and insanity is measured by success.

I had just got home from Ames. I had a belly full of Club sandwich. I had invites to not one but two swinging parties burning in the back of my mind. One party was in Des Moines. This party was to celebrate Nate and Ryan’s birthdays. If I attended this party I would get to see Ryan. He is the recognized master of the high five. This was a strong selling point.

The second party was for Sara H.’s graduation. She had recently graduated college and was having one last shindig before she left for North Carolina for a stint with Habitat for Humanity. While Ryan is an acknowledged master of the high five, Sara is an acknowledged master of profanity. Perhaps the only one I know.

Sara H.’s party was in Ogden. Nate’s party was in Des Moines. I considered my options. Then I considered that the sun was quickly fading in the sky. It had been a while since I had felt the Maxxum 5D in my hands, if you hadn’t counted the pictures of Bethany and her new camera I had taken an hour or so ago.

I was feeling restless. I grabbed the camera and loaded the car up with fake flowers. I hit the road. I had a general idea of what I wanted to do, but I just didn’t know where I wanted to go. Plus, I was going to need an assistant.

There was really only one man for the job of assistant. With apologies to Baier, if I were an artistic genius like Van Gogh, Jay would be my Gauguin. This is for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that Jay would look great with a mustache. The second reason is that Jay is always riding me for being lazy.

Any time that I say that I should put up a tripod, but that I won’t do it because it is too time consuming, he is right on my back calling me lazy.

I dream that someday Jay and I can have a confrontation where he tells me that the only thing he can tell by looking at my work is that I work too fast. So I can get right back in his grill and tell him that he “looks too fast”. If this happens I would prefer that Jay was wearing red pants.

I had drove around aimlessly for awhile before deciding on giving Jay a call. He answered his phone and sounded a bit like a man that had been beaten down. I’m sure he had. He had probably spent 10 hours at work.

Without trying to sound pushy I asked Jay if he might be interested in helping me with a little photo project that I was working on.

“When?”

“The sooner the better.” In reality I had some disposable time, but I wasn’t in the patient mood.

“I’ll need to take a shower first.”

“It would be better if you didn’t.”

That sentence kind of hung there for awhile.

“What do you want me to do?”

“It might involve you getting wet.”

“What do you want me to do?”

“I want to go down to a stream and then you are going to throw these fake flowers into the stream. It might involve you actually getting into the stream, plus we might have to cross the stream, and you might have to help me find the flowers if they get lost. Plus there is always the chance of mud.”

“I can’t take a shower?”

“I wouldn’t see the point. You are just going to have to take a shower after we are done.”

“I really stink.”

“We both are probably going to stink before this little exercise (in futility) is over.”

“Why me?”

“Because you are my Gauguin!”

“Wasn’t he kind of a prick?”

“It would be better than being my Signac?”

“Yeah, that pointillism joker with his ‘scientific method’.”

“Yeah, screw that guy.”

“Screw pointillism too.”

“So you’re in?”

“The deal is that you can’t complain that I stink.”

“I wouldn’t think of it.”

I swung by Jay’s pad and picked him up. I had a basic idea of what I wanted to do. Although I knew this was going to be entirely a test run for a later photo, I needed to make the test run as soon as possible. The deadline for State Fair Photography Salon was quickly approaching and I wanted to be able to place my order with Adorama with plenty of time to spare. That way I would get the pictures back with plenty of time to discuss my matting options with Monica. After all, Monica is my matting expert because of her vast knowledge of the color wheel. Plus she can put a picture on different colored mattes and say “that looks good, it really brings out color X.”

I’m not at liberty to discuss what I am trying to do with this picture. Only Monica gets to see the four pictures I enter to the State Fair Photography Salon before the reception the Tuesday before the State Fair opens. At that point, Sara J. gets to see the pictures. Then, I might post them on my website. That is if I do well. If I don’t do well, I just pretend like I’ve never heard of the State Fair Photography Salon.

Jay got in the car. I didn’t smell any stench on the man. Which means he was either grousing for no reason or he had made haste to take the White Trash Shower. I didn’t smell an excess of cologne on him, so I think that he was really just trying to buy time until he could think of a good reason not to wade through a stream with me. His plan failed.

I turned the radio up and we headed towards McHose Park.

I had chosen the stream that ran behind McHose Park. Perhaps it isn’t the most sanitary stream in the world, but it had three things that I prized above all else.

The thing I wanted the most was solitude. I knew that if I was hanging around this stream, I would most likely be able to do my work in peace. As opposed to Ledges, where there would be people crawling all over the place. McHose Park is always busy on the front side, but not many people hang around the backside, unless they are engaging in an illegal narcotic based activity. If I ran into such people, we would leave each other alone.

The second thing that I liked about the stream behind McHose Park is that while it isn’t deep, there are sections of it that are fairly deep. The water can get as deep as 3 to almost 4 feet deep. Finding one of these deep spots would be key to my artistic pursuit on this day.

The final thing that appealed to me was clear water. Unlike portions of the stream at Ledges or Squaw Creek, the water that runs through this stream is very clear. At least in the parts of the creek that have a sandy bottom.

One of the sad truths about McHose Park is that despite being one of the largest and most beautiful City Parks in the state, it has come into disrepair lately. The main paved road that cuts through the park has huge sections where the term pothole seems to hardly even be appropriate. The gravel back roads are eroding away and the city does not seem to be interested in grading them. A couple of the bridges on the backside of the park are well past being called safe.

I drove down the one gravel road that is still passable for somebody in a sedan. I stopped and parked a few hundred feet past Turtle Pond. I parked right in front of the Water Treatment Facility.

There are no words that adequately describe the smell that first attacks your nostrils when you smell the air outside of the Water Treatment Facility. If Jay was worried about any body odor, this smell should have put him at ease. I don’t know the person that can produce an odor that can compete with this smell. For purposes of intellectual honesty, I should admit that I do know a couple, but nobody that I would ever allow in my car.

Years ago McHose Park had a road on its very backside that you could drive through. It was a gravel road that allowed you to drive through the stream on a couple of occasions. For some reason, the City closed down this road. Although you can’t drive on it any longer, it is still there. Slowly eroding away and being reclaimed by the forest. We walked down what is left of this road.

When I originally envisioned this project, I thought about a part of the stream that is on the very south edge of McHose Park. A part of the stream that was almost all the way to US30. There was a small waterfall at this part of the stream and a stretch of the stream that was a decent depth. However, we were quite a ways away from that part of the stream, so I decided to just make do with the first decent part of the stream I came across. After all, these were just test shots. It didn’t need to be perfect.

Those were the thoughts that crossed my mind as walked down the road, past a crane and a Bobcat that blocked part of the road. Those were the thoughts that crossed my mind as we approached a section of the road where the stream crossed the road.

Jay looked at me and said, “Now what?”

My plan wasn’t terribly thought out. I told him what I knew.

“You are going to stand down here. I am going to walk down there.” I said while pointing in the general direction of downstream. “When I give you the signal, I want you to throw the fake flowers in the stream.”

“That is it? You drug me out here to throw fake flowers into a stream?”

I saw that he had brought with him his particular brand of insolence.

“Yeah, that is pretty much it.” I conceded.

I decided to take on the stream barefooted. I loathe sandals and do not own a pair or their bastard offspring the flip flop. I can’t even bring myself to say flip flop. Last time I bought a pair, I made Olivia refer to them as “water related footwear.” Those “shoes” ended up in the bottom of the channel that separates Lower Cullen Lake and Middle Cullen Lake. It was either lose the “shoes” or go underwater with the Maxxum 5. Today I chose to go barefoot.

I do not know if Jay thought what I was doing was stupid, but he didn’t ask me any questions. If Jay knew what I was about to do was stupid, he has been conditioned in past encounters to let me make my own mistakes.

The other theory that I can operate under is that Jay might have noticed that I was wearing hiking boots. He may have considered the possibility that I didn’t want to get my hiking boots wet or muddy. They might have been my dress shoes. After all, we did have a friend that was vacationing in Spain that tried to pass hiking boots off as dress shoes on more than one occasion.

Whatever Jay’s motivation for not pointing out my stupidity, what I was about to do was a very stupid thing. I was going to try to make my way through a series of concrete blocks and rocks to a part of the stream that was just sand. These concrete blocks and rocks stuck out of the stream at weird angles. These concrete blocks and rocks were intermittently covered with algae.

I took off my boots and socks. I waded into the stream. The cool temperature of the water gave me an initial shock, but that gave way to a sensation of pleasure. The water was rather refreshing.

I inched my way off the road and onto a concrete block. My first step was decisive. Then I stood there and realized I didn’t really have a good second step. The rocks and the blocks were at funky angles. While I would have no problem handling this situation with two hands free, one hand was clutching the Maxxum 5D. True I could have left the camera dangling from its strap around my neck, but quite frankly I don’t believe in the camera strap. I believe in my right hand.

I was standing on a concrete block. On all sides of me was rushing water. About a foot a way was the bank. I could have stepped to the bank and walked about 20 feet and hopped into the stream in a place that wasn’t occupied by a mishmash of rocks and blocks.

It is possible that what crossed my mind was that taking the bank would have been a wimp’s way out. I would say the way of the pansy, but I have since learned that the pansy is actually a very hardy flower and does not deserve to be compared with people that are feeble or cowardly. The iris on the other hand . . .

In actuality I don’t think I ever considered the bank. I made a few more tentative steps. It seemed like I was going to make it. I made a few more steps. It seemed like this plan was going to work.

Then I tried to step up on to a concrete block. I placed my foot on top of a rock and began to push off. The rock was covered in algae. My foot slipped right off. I lost my balance and started to fall face first towards the concrete block.

I had an option though. I could put a couple of hands in front of me and stop my fall or at least push myself off to the side of the concrete block. The only problem was that I held the Maxxum 5D in one hand. If I tried to use it to help stop my fall it would surely be smashed into several no longer functioning pieces or it would have ended up in the stream. Then it would have been in one no longer function piece.

Out of my peripheral vision I realized that I still was only a few short feet from the bank. I tossed the Maxxum 5D in to a growth of grass and continued to let gravity take its course.

I put my hands out and pushed against the concrete block. My face was saved. My body shot upwards, but I was still not in equilibrium. I fell to the side and landed in the water.

“You alright?”

Jay’s concern was heart warming. I pulled myself and what was left of my dignity out of the water. I walked over to the bank to find the Maxxum 5D. It was sitting on top of the grass, looking as if it had not been flying through the air a few moments earlier. I picked it up. I looked it over. I tested it. It was fine.

I sat down on the concrete block and looked myself over. The camera was still in one piece. My face was still intact. There was a throbbing pain in my left foot though.

This term is not used with any kind of medical training. I believe that I hyperextended my left foot. When I was falling on the rock, all my weight went on the front of my foot and my toes bent upwards well past where they are supposed to stop bending. The result was a dull throbbing pain on the bottom side of my foot that felt like a bruise, but there wasn’t a bruise to be found. Further examination of my foot revealed a decent sized gash along the side of my big toe.

“I’m fine,” I answered. “Just a little cut.”

“We calling it a day?” He asked, but he already knew the answer.

I just gave him the look. The look that indicated that I wasn’t an iris, I was a pansy.

“Want your boots then?”

“Yeah, that suddenly sounds like a real good idea.”

Jay threw me my boots and I made the rest of the journey without incident. I stopped at a bend in the stream that was about 100 feet from Jay. It seemed like a good spot because on the west side of the stream there was a clearing on the bank. Plus on the outside part of the stream’s bend, the water was at least 2.5 to 3 feet deep. I gave Jay the signal.

He began dropping the fake flowers into the stream. I waited. He kept throwing them in. I waited. He had thrown them all in. I waited. I waited. I waited.

“This isn’t going to work.” He yelled downstream at me.

“Why not?”

“They’re sinking.”

“That doesn’t make sense.”

“Doesn’t matter what it makes, they all sank.”

I began to walk upstream. Sure enough, not even 20 feet from Jay I found all of the fake flowers. They had all sunk. Fake flowers don’t float. This didn’t make sense. The flowers were made out of plastic, which floats, and silk which I would assume isn’t heavy enough to sink. I had reckoned wrong. I reckoned that maybe that the part of the stream where Jay had thrown the flowers in was too turbulent for proper floating. I grabbed all the flowers and headed back to my bend.

I dropped the flowers into the calmer area of the stream. They floated for a second and then they dropped to the stream bottom.

This sucked. I looked up to call out to Jay. I wanted to tell him that this sucked, but he was gone. It was like that moment in the horror movie where two people are in the woods and one of them disappears. Either the person that disappears shows up moments later for a “fake scare” or their body shows up in the third act all distorted and mutilated.

This wasn’t a horror movie though. Jay showed up moments later. He had wandered off and collected some small real flowers.

“This sucks.” I was finally able to verbalize, but I had lost some of the venom.

He ignored me and threw the flowers into the stream.

“Real flowers float.”

Which was great, but not real helpful. If I was going to use real flowers for my picture, I would need a flower with a much larger bloom than what Jay was finding. I saw a grouping of the type of flowers that Jay was throwing into the stream and I took a few pictures of them so that I could identify them later.

I came back to the stream and tried to get what I could out of the sinking flowers. I figured it was good enough for a test run.

I walked back to Jay, got out of the steam and walked the uncomfortable walk of somebody with wet boots. While I was walking in these wet boots to the car I decided that I didn’t really feel much like going to a party. I felt like getting out of these shoes, taking a shower, and playing with Photoshop. This would be my Saturday night. Not exciting, but I would get plenty of sleep and be able to start up my church streak again. Plus I would be plenty rested for the next day’s graduation festivities.

When we got back to the car I came to the sad realization that even though this was a test run, I hadn’t learned how to take the picture that I wanted. I had learned a way not to take the picture that I wanted.



Broken Bridge of McHose Park

05-19-07
Back of the Crane

05-19-07
The Deceptively Tricky Rapids


“You should have worn your shoes and I would look smashing wit a mustache.”


The Small Flowers on the Bank


Coming Back from the Bend

05-19-07

Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World

As you may know, it is part of my Sunday ritual to check the Post Secret website. I think it is one of the most beautiful and compelling community art projects going. Everybody has secrets and it is therapeutic to find see that there are other people will similar secrets (struggles and burdens) as you. Most of the time I enjoy the funny ones or the ones that I can relate to. This Sunday I saw one that although it certainly isn’t funny and I can’t relate to it, I found it to be beautiful nonetheless and I wanted to share it in this way. So below is my favorite “secret” from this week.




Here is a short story:

I was walking the mean streets of Ames the other day. I walked by a place that had an advertisement in the window. It proclaimed that this business needed “Rock Stars”.

I decided that although I don’t possess the requisite musical talent, perhaps they would hire me on because of my incredible personal charisma and give me the proper training to become a “Rock Star”.

After a couple minutes of inquiry it turns out that they didn’t really want a “Rock Star”. They just wanted people to make their lousy sandwiches for a low wage.

My search for somebody to hire me as a “Rock Star” continues.

Post Secret

Last Thursday I went to a lecture by the Post Secret guy at the Union with Stephanie, Jen, Derrick, and Sara. It was rather informative.

If you aren’t familiar with Post Secret it is an art project where people write down their secrets and send them to one guy. He started by handing out self-addressed card is DC and asked people to write down a secret and mail it to him. He then took those cards and posted them at a public art exhibit.

He has published 3 books of Post Secrets so far and he continues to get about 3,000 cards a day. He posts the 20 or so best ones every Sunday on his website:


Post Secret

Below are some of my favorites from this past week:

















Odonata

I haven’t had the “pleasure” of being on MySpace much lately. Which means that my “blogs” have become sporadic and if I’m not mistaken, lower in quality. I can’t say that this saddens me. There are more important things I should be doing with my time, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t times that I miss the moments of entertainment I get from this little site or the contact I lose with some people that I seem to only make through this “social networking” thing. Still, Uncle Sam hit me with a pretty stiff tax bill this year. I should be trying to figure out how to raise the funds to pay the feds off before I end up rotting in debtors prison. Although I do know this one thing about many of my chums. If I do end up rotting in debtors prison, I shant be alone. Some of us will be rotting together. I think I speak for all of us when I say, “Do your worst Uncle Sam! Just not to me, I’m not like normal people. I don’t like pain.”

I have changed the background music for the blog yet again. I will not pretend to have the musical talent or knowledge of at least 4 of the subscribers to this thing. I just felt that I should cool things off a little bit after the hard rocking of Pillar’s cover of “Sunday, Bloody Sunday”. I’m also quite certain that somewhere north of where I sit typing, Mike Britson is scoffing at my tenet that Pillar is anywhere near the neighborhood of hard rocking. I can’t dispute this fact. Mike has always claimed to be the “World’s Greatest Music Snob”. I do not think that he has a t-shirt that proclaims this fact, but in my heart of hearts I hope that Stephanie made him a button that did.

I come away from that aside. All I really wanted to point out is the fact that the new background music is “Minuet in G”. It was composed by the great Ludwig Van. It has always been one of my favorite pieces of music. Due to my relative musical ignorance (despite being a wretched to middling trombonesman in my day) I may be interpreting the intent of the music incorrectly. I have always been struck by how desperate this music sounds. It is more than sad. It is desperately mournful. Yet when you feel like it should be too depressed to carry on, it seems to find a way to carry on. In that ability to carry on, I find the song hopeful as well.

Take that for whatever you like. I don’t claim to be an expert. Although I do subscribe somewhat to what Roy Adzak said about art:

“Good art is not what it looks like, but what it does to us.”

Meaning that the person interpreting the art is in many ways more important than the artist. That is a somewhat scary thought. I have the slight delusions of my own artistic ability I don’t like giving up my art and allowing whomever stumbles upon it to translate what it means. I don’t even struggle with the control issues that some of my friends do and it is still difficult.

I guess what makes this concept bearable and allows me to subscribe to it is the fact that the alternative is utterly unbearable. Namely, having to explain the meaning of everything. Of course, this also allows me to view “Minuet in G” as desperate and hopeful in the same breath and dear old Ludwig Van just has to accept it. IN YOUR FACE BEETHOVEN!!

Dictionary Dot Com defines “irony” in such a way: 5.an outcome of events contrary to what was, or might have been, expected.

I’m not sure this following tale is actually really ironic in the way the word was forged by its creators or in the “Alanis-Morrisette-I-Clearly-Wrote-A-Song-About-Irony-Where-I-uses-Examples-of -things-That-Aren’t-Ironic” way.

Perhaps it is ironic that I don’t know if this is ironic and I am having a go at somebody else for their ignorance. Perhaps I should just tell the tale.

Not really much of a tale. I have found a home for some pictures of mine. Here is the arguably ironic part: that home is the Boone Homeless Shelter. My church has adopted a room at the homeless shelter. As a congregation we are donating items to fill this room. I have donated a copy of “Happiness Shared: #01” & “Happiness Shared: #02” to adorn the wall of our room.

What I found out tonight is that when each homeless family leaves the shelter and sets up their home, they get to take everything from the room to furnish their new home.

I did not hand the pictures over to Pastor Phil personally. I left them in the hands of my sister Teresa. Allegedly Phil was excited by this donation and thinks that I should donate such pictures every time a new family moves into our room.

In some small way I have a “standing order”. In no small way, this kind of excites me. Looks like I’m just doing good deeds all over the place. But before I break my arm from patting myself on the back, I should show you what is going to the homeless shelter, to somebody’s home, and perhaps someday to a Goodwill Store near you.


04-04-07

04-04-07

So what would these other good deeds be that I am doing? Depending on your ability to recall facts about me, you may remember that a while back I was instrumental ( by instrumental I mean the same way I was instrumental to the success of the BHS Concert Band by holding down the last chair trombone) in the making of a batch of soap. Some of the soap from that batch is going into care packages for people being released from Mitchelville State Penitentiary.

The truth is that I had nothing to do with this donation. It is all Shannon. Yet since, she is donating soap for this cause AND I helped make the soap. I get to glom onto some of her glory. The boys I hang with like to call that bandwagoning. Except for one. He likes to call it innovating.

However, I am going to attempt to make the world a better place in one more way. It is through something I hope to propose and railroad through Friday Night Supper Club through my power of oratory. I won’t tell you what it is, but I will give you a hint. I should also point out that at this time Friday Night Supper Club is a secular organization. I point this out for my sister Teresa.

I like to go out to the woods on my break. Some people like to smoke. I like to commune with nature. No tax on that, suckers!!

While I was out there I went a little crazy with the camera on a fellow that became a buddy of mine. Since he was what I like to call Odonata, I cracked out the 50mm lens. This is a lens that is fine and dandy for Odonata, but then I heard a rustling to the left of me. There he was for the 5th time this year. The groundhog! The problem was that I was unprepared for this development.

I did not have the proper equipment. He was staring me down, practically screaming at the top of his rodent lungs: “I’m ready for my close-up Mr. DeMille!” All I could do was take this incredibly bad picture from about 75-100 feet away. This picture is cropped quite a bit. If you saw the original you would never be able to find the groundhog. That isn’t a challenge. Just a statement of fact.


04-04-07

At least I got a few decent shots of my chum Odonata:


2007

2007

2007

2007

2007

2007

2007

Within these images I find solace, but I’m still coming for you Mr. Groundhog!!!!

Rectification

I got lots of information to get out there, so I’m going to dispense with the niceties and just jump in and get this “blog” on!!!

Well the response to my anti-Dasher Management rant and artwork has been universally negative. Just some of my favorite e-mail responses:

“What you don’t want my kid to be happy when eating his Happy Meal? Then you are a jerk. I hope you can’t sleep at night.”
“You call Andres Serrano a hack. In my dictionary I pasted your picture next to the term “hack” because Mister, that is what you are.”
“Mountain Dew and water? Clearly your bladder lacks the courage of your convictions and that makes you a coward.”
“You’re attempt at a kinetic sculpture is weak. It doesn’t even compare favorably to the writings of Nicholas Sparks.”
“‘Piss Kroc’. Crock of #!%@# that is what you are sir.”

Despite this unified public front I move forward with my plans. Ahh . . . but what are those plans. I was all set to tell you about my plans to open an online store, but then “it” happened. I had just concluded lunch with a couple of compatriots when the waitress laid the fortune cookies on the table. I smashed my fortune cookie open and hoped for a good fortune. What I got was solid advice.

“Keep your plans secret for now.”

So you see, I can’t possibly tell you about my online store plans for now. The fortune cookie has advised me to keep my plans a secret. Fortune cookies have never steered me wrong in the past. Including the following nuggets:

“You will find an outlet for your creative genius and accomplish a great deal.”
“You have many personal talents that are attractive to others, so be sure to use them.”
“You are interested in public service and would make an outstanding statesman.”
“Time is right to make new friends.”
“You will do well to expand your business.”
“You have an unusually magnetic personality.”
“You will soon meet a dark stranger.”

They are all true, except I have yet to meet a dark stranger. I suppose I need to work on that one. Although a co-worker recently referenced a website to me called “Savage Love” and the URL for said site has something to do with the stranger. When I heard that I instantly thought about the Albert Camus novel “The Stranger” which both the President and I enjoy in a very similar manner.  (Meaning we both like to pretend that we read it to sound intellectual at parties.)

Instead of having to do anything remotely with literature, this “Savage Love” website is some kind of dating/sex advice website. Now I have not visited this website because I’m a little bit leery of visiting such a site on my work computer because I don’t want to be the guy that triggers the “porn surfing at work is to be done only during lunch” memo. You know how porn eats up the company bandwidth. However, yet another unnamed co-worker did visit the site and indicated to me that the following subject was a topic for “Savage Love” – “Openly Skank”.

The fact that there was a topic entitled “Openly Skank” reminded me of two facts and created a new question for me.

Fact #1: I used to hang out with people that used the term skank quite frequently, but now I don’t know anybody that uses the term skank any longer. This term must have fallen out of the popular vernacular. How sad.
Fact#2: I am a big fan of a local ska band named “Slaughterhouse 6”. They rip it up.  If you ever have a chance to check them out: Do it! I bring this up because there is a well-known ska dance called “The Skank”. That reminds me of the fact that Derrick has a theory that ska dancing is regional. Derrick and I are ready to travel the country to research his theory and write a paper entitled “Regionalism and Ska Dancing” just as soon as somebody is ready to hand us over a big fat grant check. We’re waiting America. Hands open. Fill them with cash please!

Question #1: If there is a person that is “Openly Skank” then by definition that means that there are people that are “Closeted Skank”. It is a tautology. Look it up. Why would anybody want to concede to themselves that they are on the lowest rung of “The Social Ladder of Promiscuous Women”? Do these women aspire to the next step?

All of that though is neither here nor there. This little tidbit is also quite a bit off subject. I hit a few Chinese restaurants with quite the assortment of people. Some people that sit across the table from me while I consume edibles insist on always saying the “in bed” thing. Annoying? Indubitably! Not the strangest thing that comes into my field of vision though. I eat with 2 people that refuse to eat the fortune cookie or look at the fortune?!?!? They don’t even like to touch it. I swear I’m not making this up. They feel like it is voodoo or black magic. They think that to engage the fortune cookie is to play with dark forces. It is the same as playing Ouija, by Parker Brothers to them. Those warlock bastards!!*

For the record, fortune cookies have no religious affiliation. Fortune cookies (just like nachos) are a completely American invention. They were invented as a marketing ploy. There is nothing dark or sinister about them. They are the equivalent of the toy in the bottom of the Cracker Jack box. The only dark force at work at the buffet is the inability to get a refill after the bill hits the table.
In reality, I should get back to the subject matter at hand. My future plans for my online store. However, to know the future you need to examine the past. I really only want to go back a few days.
On Sunday I loaded up the iPod with some quality music and hit the open road with Jesse. Turns out we hit the open road just a little too hard. To the tune of a 102 dollar speeding ticket. The cop was a swell guy; he knocked it down 1 mile for me.

“I saved you 30 bucks.”

Since you are so concerned about my financial state, officer, I know a way you can save me another 102 dollars. It involves that ticket, an orifice, and the word “sideways”.

We made the rest of the trip to Mendota Heights unscathed by incredibly stupid arbitrary traffic laws. We picked up Nate and headed to some town that I won’t even try to remember to imbibe the goodness that is Buffalo Wild Wings. We knocked down some Jerk wings and watched the stupid Bears stumble their way to a playoff victory. WooHoo! They are still losing this weekend to the Saints. So party it up while you can Bears fans.

After a stuffing meal we hit Excelsior to see Bethany’s school and teach her how to make “legal backups” of DVDs. We then headed back to the St. Paul area. We made a quick stop to replenish my diminished supply of Faygo and buy a 4 pack of Boylan Root Beer (it is sweetened with pure cane sugar) and we were back at Nate’s to pick up our bounty. 3 cakes exquisitely crafted by the master for my 1 year work anniversary. A Peanut Butter Cake, Chocolate Mousse, and some kind of Lemon Cake, each one greater than its predecessor. That statement isn’t entirely true. Man, I love me some Peanut Butter Cake.

We loaded the bounty into the back of the Taurus and bid Nate a fond adieu.  Then we headed out for the open road. The only hiccup being that the open road was now covered with snow and Minnesota drivers. Regardless of the obstacles created by nature and Minnesota’s public education system we made it to Iowa where miraculously the roads were mostly clear because there were actually snowplows out?!?!

We kicked it up a notch to make up for lost time in Minnesota, and then we hit a wolf pack of people doing about 55. I was manning the driver’s seat for this part of the sojourn. I thought about that earlier speeding ticket still burning a hole in my pocket and then thought, whatever! I eased into the passing lane and gave the Taurus a healthy dose of gas. When I got to the front of the pack I realized that a state patrolman was the lead dog.

FUDGE!!!!

Only the word that came out of my mouth was decidedly less Christian. So I had to make a decision. Fall to the back of the pack like a victim of castration. Or put “them” figuratively on the dashboard and pass the patrolman in the middle of a blizzard.

I gave the Taurus a little more gas, passed the patrolman and slowly pulled away. I waited to be pulled over and given the inevitable ticket. It didn’t happen. Victory was mine.
The rest of the trip was just spent rocking out, basking in the glory of victory.

Monday night I managed to be late for bowling yet again. I was matched up with the worst bowler in the league. He beat me like a red headed stepchild. I guess that makes me officially the worst bowler in the league.
Tuesday was my 1 year work anniversary. I brought in Nate’s cake. I believe that they were a smashing success. So much so I was nominated for being a “nice guy” at the company meeting. Nice guy. I got them all fooled. (strokes cat that sits on the arm of his chair knowingly)

On Wednesday Monica joined Jesse and I for lunch. We drove 1 block to King Buffet. Besides the fortune that started this whole mess of a blog, the only thing of consequence that transpired was Jesse determining that I would have made an “awesome stoner”. Now I know what some of you with limited English skills (such as myself) just had a word pop into your head: Onomatopoeia!! No that is not it! Oxymoron!! Awesome and stoner are concepts that deny one another. A person can not be both awesome and a stoner. I asked, nay, demanded clarification.

I’m paraphrasing and elaborating at the same time, but this is what came out of his mouth. “You usually go all the way into things. You would blow glass so that you could make your own hookah. You would make bongs out of ordinary household items and they would work as both a bong and whatever it was that they were originally supposed to be. You would listen to Dave Matthews, Phish, and the Grateful Dead and pretend like it was deeply moving music. As if it existed on a higher plane. You would have walls covered with black light posters of hemp, mushrooms, and Pink Floyd. You would subscribe to High Times magazine and carry pictures of the Bud of the Month around with you like it was the “coolest thing ever”. You would wear hemp jewelry. You would give passionate diatribes about the difference between decriminalizing marijuana and legalizing marijuana. You would fly into a rage any time anybody used the term “gateway drug”. Then finally when you decided to enter the adult world and get a job you would listen to whining Nancy Boy music like Jack Johnson and John Mayer.”
For the record I would never listen to John Mayer. “Waiting on the World to Change”! How about getting off your duff and help start changing it instead of whining that “there’s nothing we can do”. That song has less social meaning than “Fergalicious”.

Thursday meant supper with a friend, and a new episode of The Office, and Papa Bear on The Colbert Report.

So I guess that brings us to the present. I can begin my plans for the future. What does the future hold for me? What does the future hold for us? I can’t tell you all about the future but I will tell you that I am currently working on a plan for my future online store. I just can’t tell you about it. I have to heed the cookie you know!

I can make some vague allusions to it though. It is a style that in some circles is known as “The Bennett Style”. The people in those circles need a hobby. Perhaps they could take up crafts.

Speak of the devil and the devil will appear. Tomorrow night I am very excited to be going as far south as Maryland Pike for craft night. I’m not all that crafty, but it will give me a chance to admire the works of an acknowledged master: Sara Junck. Also, I haven’t spent much time painting frames and I need to get a frame painted if I am ever going to get a picture proudly displayed in Salon 908. So part of the future involves craft night.

Speaking of acknowledged masters, I think I have finally determined a time and a date for my much ballyhooed trip to Brunnier to see the sculptures of Rodin. This coming Thursday they are having a reception with appetizers, music, and a speaker. The good news is that there are still plenty of openings for the trip. A couple of people have already fallen out.

Jay just can’t commit because he doesn’t know when he will get off work. Maybe he will come back into focus when the day draws nigh.

Monica hates Rodin. Her exact words were, “Screw Rodin, if he was any good they would have named one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles after him. Plus sculptures suck as a general rule.”

If the  Brunnier trip falls apart, I at least have a few movies to fall back on. A few movies that I have had my on my radar for months have finally found their way to the theaters of Ames and I am pumped up.
“The Last King of Scotland” is playing at the Varsity. “Running with Scissors” has graced the Dollar Theatre. “Dreamgirls” is holding it down at the Movies 12. There are plenty of high quality movies in town for once. Although I do regret missing “Candy” which left Ames last night. I also eagerly anticipate the arrival of “Pan’s Labyrinth”. I beg you Cinemark don’t make me wait much longer for the latest film by Guillermo del Toro. I can’t wait for the latest film from the master filmmaker that brought us “Hellboy” and “Blade II”??? Whatever, I still want to see it.

January 30th is also a pretty exciting date. That is the date that the new Norah Jones CD is released.

Then on February 5th there is going to be a pretty sweet concert at the Maintenance Shop. Not as incredible as a Lesser Known Saint show, but I’m still pretty stoked about going to see Matt Werz in concert.
But all these events are in the hazy future and none of them have anything to do with the online store. That is really concerned with the website. Avid followers of the Photography 139 website will have noticed a small change in the website.

You see it was Christmas recently. To mark the birth of the savior of mankind people like to give friends, family, and social obligations gifts. I rolled such a gift into a CSS manual. Okay, half of you just fell asleep. WAKE UP!! So, I have slowly been converting the website into CSS. Outwardly you will not notice much of a difference, but in the future it will be a billion-gazillion times easier to update the look and fell of the website.

This new knowledge also enabled me to move the navigation bar from the side of the website to the top of the website. This move makes the main body of the page quite a bit larger. The immediate consequence of that is that I can make the pictures much larger. The immediate consequence for you is that it will take longer for you to download the pictures. But did I mention that they will be larger??

I’ve went ahead and started designing the site to be best seen at a screen resolution of 1024×768 as that is more or less the standard now. It will still look fine at larger screen resolutions, but you might find it slightly annoying if your screen resolution is 800×600. I will not apologize for this because I am trying to help your boat rise with the tide. Just the way that the “No Child Left Behind Act” did.

So now you know that the site looks slightly different. Still no information about that online store to be had around these parts, is there? I did promise broad allusions. I am a man of my word, but you may want to turn back now. My kinetic sculpture plays a small part in the future and we all know that nobody likes that sculpture. The hatred is so intense that I have decided to change the name to “Anti-McDonald’s Book Deterioration Thing”.

Let’s go back to the past. A few weeks hence I ate lunch at The Great Plains Sauce and Dough Company with Sara. This is back when she used to eat food, but that is now a part of her past and a subject I will not dwell on. The subject of conversation was reached about the 4 people in the world I hate. She thought that it was bad to hate these people, but then I named the 4 people that I hate and she said it was okay to hate “those” people. However, I think it is more than past time to let that hate go. The man whose birthday we celebrated on Monday said the following thing:

“He who is devoid of the power to forgive, is devoid of the power to love.”

It is likely that he was right about such things. The “Anti-McDonald’s Book Deterioration Thing” is a symptom of that hate. If art is meant to glorify God, all this glorifies is me.

However, it is part of the plan for the online store. To open this online store I figure I need  to raise about 160 American dollars. True I could dig into my own wallet or use some of my recently attained “phat” bonus check. However, I choose to run my “business” is the same manner as PBS.

In the near future I will put some items in the store. If anybody buys enough of them to put 160 American dollars in my possession I will move on with the opening of a legitimate online store that people will be able to use their credit cards and such to purchase high quality Photography 139 merchandise.

The first thing to go into the “fundraising” store will be “The Anti-McDonald’s Book Deterioration Thing”. It will have an initial price tag of 10 bucks. When it does not sell, it will be thrown into the Des Moines River where it will descend to the muddy bottom. It is where it deserves to be.

I’ll let you know when the fundraising begins. I am certain that you are whet with anticipation.

*In all sincerity, I don’t recall if it was Parker Brothers or Milton Bradley that mass marketed the “witchboard” to America’s youth. I don’t know if they were wiccans or warlocks or spawns of Satan or smoking lots of dope. I just know that it the single strangest toy in the history of mankind.

MF Day

By the time this blog gets posted it may very well be January 16, 2007. However MF Day is definitely January 15.

Ahhh . . . You don’t know what MF Day celebrates. In fact, you are probably looking at your calendar right now and noticing that today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It is also that. That is the reason that you didn’t see many government employees out and about today. I do not wish to steal any of the thunder from Martin Luther King Jr., so before I delve into the dirty details of MF Day let me share the Martin Luther King Jr. quote that I think best illustrates the threat to our nation today.

“A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on an installment plan.”

But what about this enigmatic MF Day? MF Day is the anniversary of the last day that I had to throw on some crest pants and dig for a uniform shirt from Aramark. MF Day is the anniversary of the last day I entered a Dasher Mismanagement store as an employee. MF Day is McDonald’s Freedom Day.

So on this the occasion of the 1 year anniversary I would just like to take a few quick jabs at the village idiot that owns Dasher Mismanagement and his clueless son-in-law that runs things.

I will take these shots via the medium of quotes. I will not share any of the pearls of wisdoms these fellows dropped on me in my days chained to the oar in the basement of their wage slave ship. If I shared them with you it is most likely that you would think I was making them up any way.

No, the quotes I am going to use are from the McMessiah – Ray Kroc. You probably don’t understand what I mean by that, but towards the end of my tenure with Dasher Mismanagement I was becoming deeply frustrated with the fact that McDonald’s was a religion to many of the upper management people in the organization and the co-op. They even would quote Ray Kroc as if what he said was the gospel and therefore was beyond contestation.

I don’t blame Ray Kroc for what his organization had become. He most likely didn’t realize how evil his corporation would become in the future. He probably would have never believed that his hamburger business had turned into a real estate business with a “restaurant” front.

So I will use a Ray Kroc quote and show how Dasher Mismanagement reflected the vision of their messiah.

It’s easy to have principles when you’re rich. The important thing is to have principles when you’re poor.

The Dasher Mismanagement view would be that you are a better person when you are rich. Therefore whatever a rich person does is the principled thing. It is the job of the poor people to take such things in stride and turn the other cheek. That is how poor people show their principles by submitting to the will of the wealthy. It is important that they do that because that is how they show that they are good people.

You’re only as good as the people you hire.

At Dasher Mismanagement we hire tons of good people. Then we treat them like crap so that they quit and we can hire more good people. I believe that Dasher Mismanagement has set a record for hiring good people therefore they think that they are very good. Ray Kroc never said anything about retaining good people.

The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.

Of course at Dasher Mismanagement the Village Idiot and his son-in-law can’t be expected to live up to the standards that they set for themselves. Hell, they can’t even be expected to live up to the bare minimum standards for decent human beings. But they sure can set the standards for other people. So what if they don’t live up to the minimum standards that they have set for themselves in their handbooks?

When you’re green, you’re growing. When you’re ripe, you rot.

As soon as you understand what you are doing, then we can no longer lowball you on salary. So we will have to start treating you like crap so that you quit.

“Luck is a dividend of sweat. The more you sweat, the luckier you get.”
Dasher Mismanagement takes this one quite literally. That is why they strive to make sure that the air condition units work in next to none of their stores. So what if the temperature in the grill area can sometimes reach 110 degrees, think of all of the luck that those wage slaves are generating.

“None of Us is as Good as All of Us.”

This means that nobody is as good as the heads of Dasher Mismanagement. If you have an idea, it is not any good. Unless the heads of Dasher Mismanagement regurgitate that idea as their own 2 months later.

I have just one last bit of commentary about what I really feel about the demons at Dasher Mismanagement. It is visual commentary and the idea is stolen from a no talent hack by the name of Andres Serrano.


Piss Kroc

This picture is entirely symbolic. I didn’t really fill a jar with urine. I don’t have the time or the inclination to do such a thing. The yellow liquid is actually Mountain Dew and water. It is symbolic of urine. The whole piece is symbolic of how I feel about that company I used work too damn hard for. I call it “Piss Kroc”. Again the name is stolen from the afore mentioned no talent hack.

Thank you for indulging me in this narcissistic episode.

Failed Beginning

So I thought quite some time about beginning a new segment on this blog. I was going to do some endorsements. You know, endorsing products, ideas, people. I was all set to endorse my first product: Heartland Creamery Milk. In fact, I even went so far as to have the following image made:


Chocolate Milk Endorsement

 

You can see that I was serious. Definitely in the mood to do some hardcore endorsing. It wasn’t without any particular reason. In fact there were a few reasons for my strong passion for Heartland Creamery Milk. Let’s start with the obvious. It comes in a glass bottle. How cool is that? It keeps the milk quite a bit colder than the plastic jugs that most milk comes in. Secondly those glass bottles bring back pleasant childhood memories of taking milk back to Boyd’s Dairy.

Another reason for my passion for this milk is that it is quite tasty. I am not willing to place it on an even pedestal with the holy grail of milk: Anderson Erickson. However it is certainly quite a bit better than Roberts. Of course almost everything is better than Roberts

I also enjoy the fact that Heartland Creamery owns all of their own cows. Therefore they have complete control over the product that they are putting on the shelf. Plus, they can control the cow’s diet and any “antibiotics” that the cows might get.

One last thing that “rings my bell” about this milk is that the company is unabashedly Christian. All of the profits from this product go to support a Christian Academy for violent children and an Adult recovery center.

Sounds great doesn’t it? The problem is that I can’t bring my self to give Heartland Creamery my complete and utter endorsement because People Magazine wrote an article about this school in their October issue. This article asserts that the students are abused physically while they attend this school.

Now normally I wouldn’t care about what a rag like People Magazine has to say about anything. This is a magazine that is only suited for beauty salons and keeping houseless people warm during a cold winter night. I have a suspiscion that even houseless people would rather endure the cold than having People magazine come into contact with their skin. I know that if I was given the choice of lining my clothing with People, Entertainment Weekly, any Left Behind novel, or a Nicholas Sparks tome OR just being cold . . . I wouldn’t even think twice. Bring it on Old Man Winter!

Although I do confess that I would burn all of those failed writing attempts to keep warm. As long as I got to wear gloves. I wouldn’t want my skin to come into contact with that trash.

But this is off the point. The point is that on the Heartland Creamery website there is a response to the attack by People. Their response isn’t overwhelming in reassuring me that this is just another attempt at trashing religion by the mainstream media. You know, like how the 700 Club is a clever parody by the liberal media designed to make Christians look stupid . . . oh, that’s not a parody?!?

The response basically is quite up front with its use of what they call “tough love”. They admit to being raided by the government in 2001, but that none of the charges stuck. So I’m not sure where I come down on this whole milk controversey. (I hope somebody out there caught that rip snorting pun. I’m talking to you Nate! Twin Cities, huh! huh!) I do know that I can not endorse this product at this time, but there glass bottles are extremely cool.

I also think that Heartland Creamery should make an energy drink called “Tough Love”. I’d buy it and I don’t even drink energy drinks.

While I’m on the subject of my beliefs and God, I would just like to point something out. I don’t know if it says this on my main MySpace page, but I do have one core belief about God and athletics. It goes a little something like this:

I do not believe that God takes an active role in deciding the outcome of sporting events. No matter how much people in the stands or in the game pray, ask, or plead for God’s intervention. I do believe that God takes time out from rooting against Notre Dame to root for the Iowa State Cyclones.

I bring this up because anybody that watched the Sugar Bowl last night witnessed history. Notre Dame lost its 9th straight bowl game. This is a new NCAA record. Furthermore, 85 teams have won a bowl game since the last time Notre Dame won a bowl game. 85!! There are only 119 teams in Division I football.

Here is a little story from work today. Tell me that somebody else gets the exquisite irony in the statement one of my co-workers made today. I’m going to slightly paraphrase, but the essence of what was said is still there:

“I’m a genius. I have proof. I took a test on the internet.”

I assure you that this statement was not said in a facetious manner. It was said straight faced. It was meant to be a statement of fact. It almost makes me want to go off on a rant about how the term “genius” is overused and how “genius” in actuality has next to nothing to do with intelligence and it certainly has nothing to do with how people score on standardized tests. It also make me want to do a rant on the various forms of intelligences, but I won’t at this time. I’ll just let that sweet phrase sink in a little bit longer.

How about another picture:


Thinker Recreation

Why this picture?

Because next week at the Brunnier Art Gallery an exhibition of Rodin’s sculptures is opening. True it is only about 30 sculptures, but how many opportunities do you have to see the work of a man who is widely considered to be the greatest sculptor since Michaelangelo in virtually your own backyard. I say virtually because these sculptures will not physically be in your backyard. However, if anybody is looking for a late Christmas gift idea for me, a Rodin sculpture would look great in my backyard. I’ll even let you borrow my window breaking rock. Although I will need it back soon. The 1 year anniversary of my first day at my current place of employment is rapidly approaching and I’ll need that rock to “buy” some cake.

The rock thing aside, I’m pretty freaking jazzed about going to see the work of Rodin. If anybody else wants to go, let me know. But if you roll with me, you have to display the proper amount of snootiness. It is a metric ton of snootiness.

Speaking of art, I’m going to start working on a new photo project now that the calendar is virtually done. Anybody out there with a burning desire to press their face into a piece of plexiglass for a picture let me know. I’m not making that up.