Category Archives: Nader

B.B.A.T.

This is a small collection of 4 different stories about 4 different people.

Monica

I really only wanted two birthday presents this past year. One was stained glass from Jen. I got that back in May. The second present was a painting from Monica. I got that on Wednesday.




She painted it on an old window that came out of my mom’s house when she got new windows. Monica struggled with this painting a little bit because she felt that I would want something with bright colors and she doesn’t usually use bright colors in her painting. I think the struggle was worth it. I think it is a masterful work that I will display proudly next to the works of Jay Janson, Jen Ensley and Rebecca Peterson.

Jesse

I posted plenty of fall color pictures, but what I didn’t do was give proper credit to Jesse for manning an umbrella for me on one of the days when it was raining.


Jesse - Photo Assistant

If you have ever wondered about what the glamor of being a photo assistant for me looks like, it kind of looks like that picture above.

Nader

We celebrated what Nader claims to be his 21st birthday on Sunday. We went to see Darjeeling Limited and then ate at King Buffet.


Nader

Jay wants to record my ramblings about movies and edit them into some kind of coherent movie review. If this works out, the first of these reviews will be Darjeeling Limited.

Jason Baier

I think most people that know me know about B.B.A.T. Jason Baier was inspired by my recent pictures of lumberjack Janson and grew himself a beard. I documented this beard and the results are these pictures.


Jason Beardo

Jason Beardo

Jason Beardo

Jason Beardo

As you know, the second part about my theory is related to grooming. Jason tried to complicate my theory by growing a hybrid beard. The top of the beard is completely natural and allowed to run wild. However, he decided to get a little freaky (I must say that I do not like this aspect of his beard one bit) and shave the lower half of the beard. I was not able to gather enough data about his general demeanor to figure out where this creepy hybrid beard will fit into B.B.A.T. I hope that I’m never near enough to a hybrid beard again to collect such data.

Lunch Break

Yesterday I went to Central Campus to see Obama speak. I didn’t have a memory card with me, so I had to borrow a camera from a co-worker. It is a good camera, but it only has a 3X optical zoom, so a couple of these pictures are very heavily cropped.

I met Nader and my sister Teresa there, but I forgot to get a picture of Teresa. The first picture is of Nader.


September - Misc.

September - Misc.

September - Misc.

September - Misc.

September - Misc.

September - Misc.

September - Misc.

September - Misc.

September - Misc.

September - Misc.

I wasn’t sure I was going to see Obama speak this time since I have already seen him speak twice this year. However, my resolve to see him speak hardened when a co-worker went off on a rant about how reading Obama’s books were equivalent to brainwashing. I hadn’t noticed that I had been brainwashed, but if it seems that I have, let me know. I’m willing to go through deprogramming.

Two Stories from the Last Two Days

I have two brief experiences from the last two days to share.

Nader’s 20th Anniversary

This past Friday marked the 20th anniversary of Nader’s arrival to these United States of America. There is a Lutheran church in Gilbert that sponsored Nader’s immigration. They invited him to attend the church service on Sunday to help celebrate the anniversary.

Nader called me and asked me to give him a ride to Gilbert and sit with him in church for this celebration. I knew I would be sad to miss my personal church service, but I figured it would be a good chance to experience a Lutheran church service. That isn’t something I’ve been exactly hankering to do, but I do kind of want to go to a Quaker service sometime.

It turns out that they had forgotten that they had invited Nader to church and were mostly confused by his presence until he explained to them why he was there. They apologized and were embarrassed and promised to have Nader back up for a proper celebration soon.

We sat down in the very back row of what looked like a very new sanctuary. However, the new digs did not translate into comfortable pews. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such uncomfortable pews. Perhaps the pews in the Lutheran church up in Boxholm are close, but not quite as bad as these.

I don’t want to bash the Lutherans because religious intolerance isn’t my bag. I will just say that the service wasn’t very exciting. About halfway through the service I looked over at Nader and saw that he had fallen asleep.

I was impressed. I have known that his capacity for dozing off during a boring movie is unprecedented, but I didn’t know it would translate to the ability to fall asleep during church. Especially in the world’s most uncomfortable pews.

I can’t blame Nader for falling asleep. He isn’t Christian. I’m not sure he has even been to a church service since before the Islamic Revolution. (Before the fall of the Shah it was okay for Muslims to attend a Christian church service. After the fall of the Shah it was a punishable offense.) The service wasn’t all that compelling. I decided to let him sleep and envied him slightly.

The Pastor began the sermon and Nader still slept. The sermon was on the parable of “The Prodigal Son”. Nader still slept. The Pastor tied the parable in with the accepting of new people. Then he referenced Nader. Everybody in the sanctuary looked at Nader. He was blissfully unaware in a state of sleep as his closed eyes pointed towards the ceiling.

After everybody looked back to the front of the sanctuary I gave Nader a shove to wake him up.

“The Pastor just mentioned you in the sermon and everybody stared at you while you were sleeping.”

“They’ll just think I was reading the program.”

“Except your program wasn’t on the ceiling.”

At the front of the sanctuary they were preparing for the sacrament of Communion.

Nader asked, “Is this about over?”

“It looks like they are doing Communion. We could be here awhile.”

“Want to sneak out?”

In reality I did want to sneak out, but I knew that Nader still had to meet with the Pastor after the service to discuss his 20th anniversary celebration.

“No, we better stay. Just don’t fall asleep again.”

Another High Quality Bowling Memory

My Monday night bowling league has started up again. I’m not particularly possessive of this league, it is merely the league that I am in. I’m not a good bowler nor do I even have a passion for the game. It is something to do with Jim and I get more than enough residual entertainment out of these nights to make it worth the effort.

Last year we had a pretty good team. We finished third in the league. However at the end of the season two of the people from the team decided to move on. I actually figured this might be the end of my bowling career. I was okay with that. I would walk away with my lowest career average, but also my highest team finish.

Jim asked me if we found a couple other guys if I would be interested in continuing. I considered the options and decided I would continue if given the opportunity. However, despite being down two guys, neither one of us did any recruiting. We decided just to tell Darryl (The Lord of the Imperial Lanes) just to give us any two guys that walked in the door. We would make them champions.

Truthfully we never claimed that we would make them champions, but we really said that we would take any two guys. Now I’m not saying that Darryl gave us the dregs of society. He didn’t. These two guys seem perfectly nice. However, they aren’t what I would say that I normally look for in a companion. Perhaps that makes me an elitist, but I can handle that label just fine.

For starters, I spent almost the first week after the first night of bowling half convinced that one of them was a murderer. I couldn’t quite remember how I knew him or his name, but I was half convinced he was a guy that murdered somebody back when I was at dear old BHS.

It turns out after some crack detective work by Lowell that he isn’t a murderer. He was just friends with the murderer.

Then during the second week of bowling one of the bowling alley employees called me over for a private conversation. She wanted me to tell the two new guys on my team that they need to improve their hygiene because they were stinking up the joint.

By their physical appearance, I would have guessed that she was probably right, but as soon as I walk into the cancer factory known as Imperial Lanes, my olfactory nerves call it a night and I can’t smell anything.

Last night was the third week of bowling. One of the new guys didn’t show up. However, the other new guy did show up and he brought a friend. Around the end of the first game, I heard the following conversation. I’m cleaning up the language and leaving vast amounts of details out just because I don’t need to relive them.

“This sucks.”

“What sucks?”

“I have to get rid of the porn on my phone.”

“That does suck. Why would you have to do something like that?”

“My kid was playing with my phone and he found the porn.”

“That sucks.”

“Yeah, I know. Plus some of that was really good stuff.”

“Like that one where that girl [CENSORED].”

“I know I love the one where the girl [CENSORED] is awesome.”

I’m not what you would call an “expert” on pornography. So I was quite surprised that you could even download porn to your phone. I haven’t quite figured out what the practical purpose of having pornography on your phone would be. If anybody out there knows what it is, keep it to yourself.

Marks

I think whenever a person has had a job it leaves a small indelible mark on them. It pops up in different ways. When I was in high school I used to bean walk. To this day when I drive past bean fields I can’t help but scan them to see if there has been a weed infiltration that could use a skilled team of weed terminators to put the insurgency down.

I worked my previous job for way too many years. It left less of a mark and more of a scar. When I walk into a bathroom it bothers me when I see streaks left over on the wall from people using the wrong cleaning supplies. It bothers me when I see windows with streaks left in them because nobody taught the kid cleaning them the proper way to clean windows. Also troubling to me is that I know what the fecal matter of flies looks like. (I know this because to this day, the West Ames McDonald’s it still covered in fly poo) So if I am in a restaurant and there is any fly crap, I can see it. I can walk into almost any fast food restaurant and tell you why their service is slow and what they should do to fix it, but the troubling side of that is that I am actually thinking about it and I can’t stop that. The most troubling aspect of this scar is that I can walk into almost any McDonald’s and tell you approximately the era the store was built and how many years ago it was last remodeled.

I haven’t really had much of a mark from my current job. Other than people asking me computer advice and wanting me to fix their computers about the only things that have come to me uncontrollably is that once my friend Bill wrote his own “Geek” quiz and one of the questions was “How much RAM is enough RAM for your computer?” None of his answers was the proper answer. I can’t remember all of the answers, but the one that scored you the most “Geek Points” (which was considered a good thing for the sake of said quiz) was “You can never have enough RAM”. I think I started writing him an e-mail out of instinct telling him that the answers to this question were flawed, because in fact you can have too much RAM. The answer actually depends on a combination of your motherboard and your operating system. It is possible to have too much RAM and it is better to match your RAM, but all of that depends on your mother board and how much RAM and what kind of RAM slots it has and what types of RAM it will even accept. It is possible to slow down your computer by adding RAM. Plus, certain operating systems will only recognize so much RAM. You can put 2 GB of RAM in a Windows 98 Machine but you would be wasting your time, because the operating system is only going to recognize 388 MB of RAM or so.

However, I stopped short and just deleted the e-mail before sending it.

The only other thing that I instinctually do because of my current job is flip off the stack of Canon 1600s 1700s 0r 1800s that they have on display. It is my understanding that those things have absorber pad issues.

Last night I went to see the movie “A Mighty Heart” with Nader. There is a sequence in the movie where in the background of a scene at the Wall Street Journal there is a printer. That printer is the HP Laserjet 4250. I instantly knew this fact and lost a bit of my focus on the movie while I was checking to see if they had purchased the optional envelope and sheet feeders. They had purchased the optional sheet feeder, but not the envelope feeder. After a few moments I snapped out of it and returned to the movie.

For those of you that want to know, “A Mighty Heart” was a good but not great movie. The most remarkable aspects of the movie were the performance of Angeline Jolie and the way they handled the beheading. Going into the movie, you knew that Daniel Pearl was going to get his head cut off, but you didn’t know how they were going to handle it. They handled it very well, but I will not tell you how and I’ll leave that for you the reader to discover on your own. Incidentally, “A Mighty Heart” leaves Ames on Thursday, so if you are inclined, you will have to catch it somewhere else.

As for the performance of Angeline Jolie, she was incredible as Marianne Pearl. It was definitely a return to the form and potential she displayed in “Girl, Interrupted”. It was almost good enough to forgive her for making those Tomb Raider movies.

But what about Nader’s perspective? Those of you that have had the pleasure of meeting Nader know that he doesn’t like very many movies. When he has complete disdain for a film he will substitute profanity for a word in the movie title and leave that as his review. For example, “The Lord of the Rings” becomes “The Lord of the Crap”.

He did not change the title of “A Mighty Heart”, but he also did not like the movie. Nader said that he didn’t feel bad for Daniel Pearl. He was an American and a Jew. He shouldn’t have been trying to interview Islamic Jihadists. These are people that want to kill all Jews and all Americans. What did he think was going to happen?

I told Nader I thought he had a “defeatist attitude”, but I have never met an Islamic extremist in my life. So I don’t have a frame of reference to make such judgments. Nader spent 6 ½ years in an Iranian prison thanks to Islamic extremists, so he knows the type very well.

I asked him: “So you don’t want to go to Pakistan with me?”

“Screw Pakistan. You want to meet people that want to kill you, I’ll just take you to Iran.”

This lead to a discussion about how they named a street in Tehran after the assassin that killed the Egyptian Premiere that negotiated a peace accord with Israel. This is where we will start our tour of Iran.

So if anybody wants to sign up for a vacation in Iran with an American and an escaped Iranian political prisoner, we are taking reservations now.

Why I Need a New Dress Shirt

There is so much I feel like I need to write about Not about me I am a man of no great consequence and my “adventures” are not the kind that are interesting for other people to read.

Yet, I feel compelled to write I feel the need to write So write I shall I have plans this week for three separate blogs This is the first of those blogs The other two will most certainly be blogs that most people will not be interested in reading Those two blogs are about two topics that the grand majority of people feel either completely ill equipped or completely uneasy discussing Those two topics are of course: religion and politics.

Good, you are still here You didn’t close the web browser in a disgusted or haughty manner You were able to deduct that this blog is not about religion It isn’t even about politics In fact, it isn’t even about photography, unless you want it to be.

I assure you that when I do publish the two blogs about the uncomfortable subjects I will give you ample warning You will be able to click away quickly and find a blog that is more to your liking At least it will be comfortable and comfort is all that most people really desire.

So now I have written a full four paragraphs and haven’t come to the point The point is related to movies If you know me at all, you know that I am a fan of the moving picture On Sunday I completed a phase of my quest I went to see “Letters from Iwo Jima” with Nader Now I have seen all 5 Best Picture Nominees Now I just need to pick off some of the other categories here and there It might involve a trip to the Fleur Cinema in on Des Moines Although there isn’t much out there left for me to see, I would still like to see “Notes on a Scandal” and “Little Children” before Oscar Night If you are a fan of the Academy Awards, then this is a big DVD day “The Departed” is released today I would say that it is a good bet for “Best Picture” and nearly a mortal lock for “Best Director” I have already seen the movie, so it doesn’t matter much to me More interesting for me is the release of “Half Nelson” Ryan Gosling is nominated for “Best Actor” for his work in this movie Also coming out on DVD today is “Water”. It is nominated for “Best Foreign Language Picture”. If you don’t know what “Water” is about I will now include a brief plotline I have snagged from the IMDB:

The year is 1938, India is ruled by the British, and it is around this time that Mohandas K. Gandhi has arrived from Africa Banaras and left in the care of a wide assortment of widows who live at “the widows’ house,” shunned by the rest of the community. Chuyia believes that her mother will come to take her home. Here she meets several elderly women, including the head of the house, Madhumati; a quiet, confident woman named Shakuntala; and a gorgeous young woman named Kalyani — all widows. Chuyia does not know that according to Holy Hindu Scriptures she has been destined to live here for the rest of her life, for when a woman’s husband dies’, she has three options: One, to marry her husband’s younger brother, if his family permits; two, to kill herself on his funeral pyre; three, to live a life of celibacy, discipline, and solitude amongst her own kind. A new law in India which permits a widow to re-marry is not popular, and it is these customs and openly welcoming the lower castes that will pit Gandhiji against his very own people, apart from struggling with the British to leave India. Kalyani meets and falls in love with young Narayan, a follower of Mahatma Gandhi, who wants to marry her, despite his mother’s protests. But on the day he comes to take her to his home, as they are crossing the river to his family estate, Kalyani recognizes the house, the very same house she had been forced to visit as a “prostitute,” to be with Narayan’s father. The question remains, can Kalyani marry the man she loves? Will he want to marry her when he knows what has passed between her and his father? And Chuia really destined to live the rest of her life as a widow among shunned widows?

Although I am quite intrigued by this movie, I don’t think that it can possibly be as good as “Pan’s Labyrinth”, which is my second favorite movie to come out last year Either way, I’m quite excited to see it.

The final Oscar nominated movie to be released on DVD today is “Marie Antoinette” However, I might skip this movie It kind of hurts me to say that because it is directed by Sofia Coppola who directed “The Virgin Suicides” which is one of the best movies of the last ten years That being said, it is only nominated for one Oscar in the minor category of “Costume Design” Plus it looks really bad When I first saw the trailer for this movie I was shocked out how incredibly dreadful this movie looked I instantly had a desire to avoid this film I haven’t had such a strong negative reaction to a trailer since I saw the trailer to “Domino” The reaction was so strong that you could have sworn that the words “Directed by Michael Bay” had just come across the screen.

That being said, I will still probably give it a chance even though it goes against my basest instincts.

So why all of this Oscar talk? I alluded to a formal Oscar Party a few weeks ago This year I will be attending a formal Oscar party The party takes place at Legend’s in Ames.

The exciting thing about this year’s party is that it is doubling as a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society I don’t believe it is necessary to point out to you that the American Cancer Society is a very good cause So much so that I’m willing to make the following deal to anybody:

“If you make a contribution to the American Cancer Society through me to this event . . . I will match your donation.*”

There it is You will not find a much better cause You will not find a much better deal. However, I will throw in the following tidbit For the proper sized donation, I’m willing to throw in a framed and matted picture from the Photography 139 photo galleries. The frame will even be hand painted by our skilled craftsman (namely me).

Just something for you to think about . . . but if you are interested in taking me up on this deal, write to the following e-mail address:


christopherdbennett@mchsi.com- E-mail address deleted

*Up to $500.00 I’m a nice guy, but I’m not a cashbox.

Spirit Pumps

Just thought I would jot down a few quick thoughts.

First of all, I would like to share the fruits of my labors from Craft Night!!


Restore Blog - Spirit Pumps - 01-24-2007

Okay . . . so one could make the case that painting a frame and matting a picture hardly constitutes a “craft”.

I’m not the craft police, but I did do this on Craft Night. I even finally decided on a name for this picture: “Last, Loveliest Smile”

This picture will soon be displayed in Salon 908. You could say that it will be on “Public Display”. I won’t because I’m not that pretentious. I’ll just say that it is hanging on a wall where people I don’t know might gaze upon it lovingly or in disgust.

I have to give credit to my sister Teresa. She was right about something. A few weeks ago at Supper Club we ate at Es Tas! It was terrible. Teresa recommended that we go to the West Street Deli instead. We ignored her sage advice and paid a pretty hefty price. Namely the worst french fries I have ever forced down in my life. Yesterday I met Teresa for lunch and we hit the West Street Deli. I ordered a club sandwich. It was tremendous. I don’t have the words to describe the greatness of this sandwich. Instead, I will steal a poem from Coleridge to encapsulate my feelings about this sandwich.

Desire

Where true Love burns Desire is Love’s pure flame;
It is the reflex of our earthly frame,
That takes its meaning from the nobler part,
And but translates the language of the heart.

That pretty much says it. One tasty sandwich!!! As some of you may or may not know, I bowl (very poorly) in a Monday night league. Even by my abysmally low standards I have been in a bit of a slump lately. In fact, going into Monday night I had not won a single game since before Christmas.

On Monday night I found myself matched up with Shaun Wirtz. Is he better than me? Certainly, but this is not an insurmountable task. Yet, he thoroughly thrashed me in the first 2 games, extending my losing streak to 9 games. I stood on the threshold of a double digit losing streak. So I dug deep inside and told myself: “You can not lose this third game. If you do . . . eh, whatever.”

With my new personal “whatever” mantra fueling me, I powered my way to a 10 pin victory. Of course, he won the series, but I left the bowling alley a winner. A winner of 1 of my last 11 points, but a winner nonetheless. Well maybe a little “theless”.

Tuesday night I went to see “Running with Scissors” with Stephanie and her friend Maggie. Let me tell you something about art films. For every “Little Miss Sunshine” or “Memento” there sure are a lot of “Pieces of April”. Actually I don’t hate “Pieces of April” that much, it is just the first movie to come to mind. “Running with Scissors” was a big time disappointment. They changed the focus of the book from Augusten Burroughs adolescence to his relationship with his mom. They eliminated about 10 characters, which is okay, but they twisted the other characters just enough to entirely screw up the essence of the book. I was particularly bothered by the way that pretty much left Dr. Finch off the hook for being responsible for almost all the misery in all the other characters lives. Rather than being grossly incompetent and extremely unethical; he came off as merely eccentric. Plus, there were at least two scenes in the movie that were so poor that they made you a little uncomfortable when watching them. Similar to when your friend shows you something that they are really emotionally invested in, but it blows and you’re not really sure how to react. Do you tell them: “Dude, this sucks.” Or do you try to change the subject quickly? Or do you feign enthusiasm? Whatever you do decide to do, you are still uncomfortable while you consider your options.

In “Running with Scissors” I was uncomfortable with the incredible lameness in particular of the scene where Annette Bening’s character hallucinates that she is seeing snowflakes falling from her ceiling while the soundtrack blares: “Blinded by the Light”. Normally I would laugh out loud at such a horrific sequence, but because I wanted to like this movie, I had to look away. Similar to Nader during the sex scenes of “BrokebackMountain”. Although Nader just felt a little squeamish around those scenes. I felt embarrassment for the filmmakers.

Tonight would be movie night with Scott. It would be my turn to choose the movie. Last time it was his choice and he chose “Clerks II”. I should make him watch a French New Wave Film or something by Fellini as punishment for making me sit through one long scatological joke trying to thinly masquerade itself as a morality tale. Although he does deserve to be punished in such a way, I do not wish to make his brain explode in head. I am making him watch an independent art picture. I do not know how good this movie is because I missed it when it was at the Varsity. I am making him watch “Brick” which I know is better than “Clerks II” without breaking its plastic seal; I just hope that it is exponentially better. Although no movie is that bad on a 106 inch screen, except maybe “Clerks II”.

I would just close by saying that I am currently reading what might be the best book I’ve ever read. I won’t tell you any more about this book at this time, but I would reiterate that it is phenomenal. It also taught me this fun little fact: “Presbyterians” is an anagram for Britney Spears.

Oh yeah, one last thing: Rodin is tomorrow. Still time to signup for the field trip!!

The Ballad of Parsaei

The Ballad of Parsaei


 
I have a friend by the name of Nader Parsaei. He is perhaps the largest fan of the Oscars on the face of this planet. He is from Iran. He is in the United States because of the political persecution that he faced in Iran. There is a fascinating story about how Nader made it to the United States.

The story begins in Iran before the Islamic Revolution and the fall of the Shah. Under the rule of the Shah all Iranian men were required to serve 2 years in the military. When the Shah fell, Nader was serving in the Air Force in a radar tower.

The new leaders of Iran wished to curry favor with members of the military and their plan for doing this was to shorten the military requirement from 2 years to 1 year. Nader had served 15 months and was sent home.

Nader was not home for very long though. Less than a month after being released from the Air Force a friend of Nader’s invited him to come down the a local university where there was a protest going on.

Nader is not a political person, but he decided to go to the protest. It was a decision that changed Nader’s life forever.

At the protest Nader got into a disagreement with a supporter of the Islamic Revolution. The supporter asserted that Khomeni spoke for God.

Nader disagreed with this statement and said that Khomeni could not speak for God because Khomeni endorsed murder and the killing of innocents and God would not condone such things.

Nader thought little about the altercation, but as he hung around the protest for a little longer he was grabbed by 2 agents of the new government. They put a bag over Nader’s head and shoved him in to the backseat of a car. He was driven to a prison and he was immediately incarcerated. There was no trial. There were no charges. This is where Nader would spend the next 6 ½ years of his life.

In prison Nader was tortured. He was beaten. He was burned.

In his part of the prison the guards had a spy. Any time any prisoner badmouthed Khomeni or the Islamic Revolution they were singled out for extra violence. When Nader figured out whom the spy was he attacked him. The guards pulled him off the spy and beat him some more. He spent the next 6 months in solitary confinement.

During Nader’s time in prison there was a moment of joy. Nader overheard 2 guards discussing the winner of an Oscar. He overheard them say that Henry Fonda had won an Oscar for “On Golden Pond”. Henry Fonda was one of Nader’s all time favorites dating back to the first time Nader had seen his second favorite movie “The Grapes of Wrath”.
After 6 ½ years of prison Nader was granted one weekend of freedom. The cost of this weekend was his grandpa’s house. He gave his house to the government in exchange for 1 weekend of freedom for his grandson.

His grandpa had brokered a deal to have Nader smuggled out of the country. He told Nader not to worry about him because he was an old man and the government would leave him alone, but if Nader ever came back to Iran he would shoot him, himself.

He was loaded up into a large cigarette carton and he and his smuggler set off for the Turkish border. If they would have been caught he would not have been returned to prison. Nader and the smuggler would have been executed on the spot.

As fate would have it they made it out of Iran safely. When they had made it into Turkey the smuggler tried to get Nader to get out of the carton, but Nader refused. The smuggler pointed out Mt. Ararat, but Nader still refused. Finally the smuggler pointed out some pretty girls on the side of the road. This convinced Nader that he was in Turkey because they didn’t have girls that looked like that back in Iran.

The plan was to make it to a Scandinavian country and live there. However fate intervened in Austria. Nader was arrested as an illegal immigrant and placed in a refugee camp. This wasn’t all terrible because while he was there he got to visit the hills that Julie Andrews sang and danced upon in “The Sound of Music”.

Once in the camp Nader was asked to prove that he would be executed or tortured or imprisoned if he was sent back to Iran. He pointed out that he could ask the Iranian government for documentation of his false imprisonment. They would not provide documentation indicating their human rights violations, so Nader instead showed them the scars his body posessed from his years of torture. The broken nose and his burned side proved to be adequate enough to prevent him from being sent back to Iran.

While in the refugee camp Nader thought about coming to the United States because it was his dream to come to Hollywood where the movies he loved so much were produced. It had always been the plan to end up in Scandinavia, but why not try to get to the U.S.?

He was told my other middle easterners that this was a waste of his time. There was a little old lady by the name of “Germand” that decided whether or not a person even received an interview to be considered for admission to the U.S. Germand had a long standing reputation for disliking middle easterners. She wouldn’t even smile at middle easterners, let alone put them on the interview list. They warned him not to bother and to angle for his second choice. Nader listened to their advice but didn’t pay it any mind.

When he saw Germand he approached her and said: “Germand, you are looking so beautiful today.”

At first Germand looked at him. Then she cracked a little smile. Then she burst out into a full laughter. Then she put Nader on the list.

When the day of the interview came Nader called back to Iran to talk to his Mom to tell her that he might be going to America, but he didn’t get to speak to her on that day. The police had thrown her into prison to try to bait him into coming back to Iran.

Nader was put in a very tough position. His Mom was in prison because of him, but he was powerless to do anything about it. He went to the interview, but his heart wasn’t in it.

The Americans began asking him questions through an interpreter, but he didn’t answer. They just stared at him. Finally he told them: “I don’t feel like doing this today. I just called home and they’ve thrown my Mom into prison to try to get to come back.”

The Americans looked around at each other and then finally one of them stood up and extended their handed and said: “Welcome to America!”

Nader’s joy was short lived though. When he came back to the camp he found out that a family had been rejected by the Americans. This bothered Nader so he made an appointment with Germand.

He told her that he was just one man. This was a family. They needed and desrved to go to America much more than he did. He requested that his name be taken off the list and that this family be put on the list in his place.

Germand denied his request. She told him that no matter what else happened, he was going to America. However, she promised to look into this family’s case for him. 3 days later this family was approved and they were allowed to come to America.

Blue Steel Plans Halted

I failed in my quest to get “Building 429” properly framed for display last night. I also learned that my attempts to get “Blue Steel” placed prominently in Salon 908 will not result in anything tangible. However, “Earth’s Laughter Series – #04” might get a spot on their walls. Jesse will attempt to negotiate this deal with Kelly in the near future.

The “10 Second Movie” feature will not be added to this Notebook quite yet. This week was fairly hectic at work and Jesse and I could never quite get aligned for our tribute to “On the Waterfront”. Perhaps that will occur in the near future. It might even happen next Tuesday if everything breaks just right. Of course, there is a small chance that a tribute to something else could surface this weekend if everything breaks just right during Friday Night Supper Club.

Outburst of the Soul” has been the Picture of the Week this week. The name comes from a quote by English composer Frederick Delius who said: “Music is an outburst of the soul”. When I took this picture I had no larger ambitions than having a birthday present for the subject of the picture Derrick. I don’t want to get too far into the meaning of the image because I think that explaining the purpose of a piece of artwork begins to take away the meaning of that artwork. I believe that artwork should stand on its own. I also agree with Oscar Wilde when he said: “The moment you think you understand a great work of art, it’s dead for you.”

I don’t think there are many mysteries about the meaning of “Outburst of the Soul”. My worry is that it is too blunt. I’ll just give you a little bit of the back story of this image. I contacted Derrick about meeting him during my lunch break to take a couple of pictures of him and his guitar. He agreed.

The first time we had a little bit of trouble hooking up. So a second time was arranged. On the second trip I ran into Nader in downtown Ames, where Derrick worked. When I got to Derrick’s place of employment he wasn’t back from his lunch break. So I waited in the back alley with Nader for Derrick to show up.

I was also supposed to meet Jesse for lunch. After about 5 minutes in the alley, Jesse showed up. We all talked for about 15 minutes before the man of the hour showed up. He went inside and came back out with his guitar.

I took about 40 pictures with about 4 different poses. I settled on this one finally because Derrick effectively blocks out the Bud Light truck that had parked in the other end of the alley during the middle of this shoot. When I downloaded the images to my computer I was worried that the image’s harsh contrast between the shadow and the bright light of the alley would ruin the image, but Monica argues that it adds to the picture. I can’t remember her exact words, but it was something about music leading Derrick from darkness into the light. I won’t lie, that wasn’t the intent. If that was the intent I would have had Derrick meet me at a tunnel. It does serve as a reminder to me that to some degree, art is only worth what the viewer brings to it. Every piece of art has a different value to every viewer.

Regardless of that little treatise, the image was put through Photoshop and I took all of the color out of the image except for the color of Derrick’s guitar. After a little tweaking here and a little tweaking there, Derrick’s birthday present was ready for him and ready for the world.

I should also point out that in my current capacity with the company that employs me; I do not have an office. What I do have are lots and lots and lots of walls. I have taken to covering these walls with 8.5 x 11 copies of some of my assorted works. There aren’t many people that walk by my walls. The people who do walk by pretty much never stop to look at anything I have posted on my walls. That is perfectly fine. I post the pictures for me. I need some color on my walls or the dreariness of the gray wallpaper would surely drive me to madness. Yet, when I first put up “Outburst of the Soul”, several people did stop to admire that picture. A few even came back to see it a second time.

I state earlier that I failed to get a copy of “Building 429” framed last night. I should make more of a concerted effort tonight. I painted the frame black and then added craquelure over the top of the black paint. The first coat of craquelure failed to give me the desired result. In fact, I got hardly any cracking at all. So I gave the frame a very liberal amount of craquelure via a second coating. The result was not what I was striving to create, but I can’t say that I’m not pleased with the result. I think the frame looks awesome. I am ready to boldly proclaim it as one of my best frames to date. I just need to get everything put together. It will be something for me to do while I’m waiting for “The Office” to bless my television screen this evening.

The reason for my failure to finish this project last night was I attending dinner with Monica and Cory Ungs last night. Cory has been in poor health over the last few months and it has caused more than a few moments of consternation for me. There was a time when it was thought that he might have to have heart surgery. Finally, they have diagnosed Cory with Type II Diabetes. Not the best diagnosis, but at least he can now begin to manage his health and he seems to be doing a very good job at it. He is exercising and managing his eating schedule very well.

After dinner we went to see “Hollywoodland”. Cory wouldn’t go to the movie. He would not respond to my constant barbs such as: “Come on nerd, it’s a Superman movie.” Or the classic, “Nerd, nerd, nerd, nerd.” The short version of the story is that “Hollywoodland” is a good but not a great movie. Adrien Brody and Diane Lane gave their usual great performances. The shocker of the movie is that Ben Affleck did not stink the joint up as he has consistently done since “Good Will Hunting”. He was actually very good as George Reeves. A man whose aspirations for greatness were constantly out of his reach and was pigeonholed after playing a role he despised. One of the saddest sequences in the movie was when his part in “From Here to Eternity” was cut from the movie because the first audiences couldn’t see him as anything other than Superman. What was going to be one of his greatest professional triumphs was taken from him by the thing he hated the most. Although the acting was great, the movie itself started to wander near the end of the 2nd act. It also didn’t end very strongly. I didn’t completely dislike the ending, but it wasn’t real strong.

Other than working and eating and watching the Padres blow a lead in the 8th inning to the Cardinals (thank you very much Scott Linebrink) I have been reading Thomas Merton lately. I came across something he wrote in his book Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander. He wrote something about businesses that struck me as poignant. Particularly as I can related his point to a company that previously employed me because the people in that company really drank the Kool-Aid that they were making. They were in denial about everything dealing with their company to such a degree that I never understood it. They certainly had no place for dissension or even intelligent thought in their business plan. Then I read these words by Thomas Merton and I suddenly understood these people. I still feel sadness for them, but at least I understand why they are incapable of understanding why all of their ideas are bad and were surprised when they failed. Where they worked had become a religion to them. They are incapable of question the dogma when it comes down from the CEO? They view it as “Gospel Truth”.

Businesses are, in reality, quasi-religious sects. When you go to work in one you embrace a new faith. And if they are really big businesses, you progress from faith to a kind of mystique. Belief in the product, preaching the product, in the end the product becomes the focus of a transcendental experience. Through ‘the product’ one communes with the vast forces of life, nature, and history that are expressed in business. Why not face it? Advertising treats all products with the reverence and the seriousness due to sacraments.

It helps me understand why so much corporatespeak feels like attempted brainwashing. It helps me understand why when I went to corporate meetings it felt like I was going to a revival meeting for a religion that I didn’t believe in. I was going to a revival meeting for a religion I didn’t believe in.