I went in to see Monica to get my quarterly shearing. Do you see a difference?
I feel much better now.
I was sitting at work today minding my own business when an e-mail fluttered across cyberspace and into my inbox. Technically it was two e-mails. I now share with you what was contained in those e-mails, namely pictures from Jen’s camera of the Oscar Party.
I think for the 2009 Oscar Party I might switch to a fedora and bring a cane. Although with the beanie Jen says I look “very Mohammad”. I dig that.
I might as well throw up a few pictures I took on that night. I didn’t take a camera to the party. I’ve been considering buying a small camera that I can fit in a pocket for this type of event, but I haven’t done it as of yet.
I know it is derivative, but everybody loves the bass picture so why not post this one?
If you are wondering, I will be buying a Sony. Carl Zeiss Lens! That is all I need to say!
I’m not what you would call a commercial photographer. However, recently I have gotten some commercial photography gigs.
The first gig was (and is ongoing) to do some of the photography for the website of a local soap company. However, I don’t want to delve too deeply into that because I will go into much greater depth about that when the website makes its World Wide Web Debut.
The second and third gig are kind of similar and somewhat related. Look at the picture below.
Some of my best friends were in a now defunct local band known as UnHingd. The members of this band have pretty much gone their separate ways, but they have stayed musical.
Not pictured is Dennis. He has moved on to become the lead singer of 35 South.
Mike has formed a new band with the old drummer from Obsidian’s Dream and some dude named Adam. His new band is called Inebriated Saints. Mike contacted me about taking some pictures of them during their upcoming show.
Let me tell you what all the cool kids are going to be doing this Friday night. I can hardly believe I’m about to write this: (Grit your teeth you can get through it.) The cool kids are going to be going to The Venue to watch Inebriated Saints win the Battle of the Bands. The winner gets to open for Firehouse. Yeah, that might be one of those win/lose things. It will also mark my first appearance at a Boone Bar since June of 2006. I think it was the Southside if you are wondering.
No really. It should be a great time and Mike is the self proclaimed “Best Bass Player in Ames”. Who am I to argue with that? I will post some of those pictures in the near future.
Then earlier this week I was contacted by Shawn, the former drummer of UnHingd.
Shawn booked me to take pictures of his new band Act of Gravity for their website. I’m pretty excited about this opportunity and will certainly post those pictures when they get taken.
You can check out Act of Gravity’s website by following this link:
One other small tidbit of news. On Monday I had a check pass through my account that made it official: I’m debt free. Not for very long hopefully, but it feels good to breathe the sweet air of freedom
Perhaps you are wondering what happened to Guitar God Derrick Gorshe.
He is also still active musically. Besides being the sound guy for 35 South and being the store manager of Rieman’s Music, he might also be putting the pit orchestra for one of the Ames community theater groups next productions. Look for updates about that as they become available.
I am on vacation this week. I have not taken a vacation since before Christmas last year. It has become apparent in the last couple of weeks that I was in a desperate need of a vacation. I had become burned out. I was no longer looking forward to coming to work every day. I was definitely looking forward to every weekend with increasing desire every week. It was becoming increasingly difficult for me to concentrate and the easier the task, the less desire I had to complete the task.
This came as a surprise to me. I did not think that you could become burnt out at a job where on most days it is fun to show up to work and there is next to zero stress. As it turns out, I could get burned out. It turned out that I did get burned out.
So I’m taking this week to recharge my batteries. I’m taking this week to sharpen my saw.
The need of a vacation was not merely derived from my waning batteries. It also came from the need to stop answering the same question over and over.
As many of you know, I was rejected by the Iowa State Fair Photography Salon this year. I haven’t written about this rejection yet because I’d been working on this blog about the Des Moines Arts Festival and the difference between liking to take pictures of naked chicks as art and pornography. I was hoping to write a really clever blog that included some examples of parody, but it just seems that my heart isn’t in it. I might later today publish my weak attempt, but it might just be better for the world if this poor attempt never sees the light of day.
I believe because I haven’t written about my rejection, some people feel that I am ashamed or angry about this snub. This is not the case, but because of my silence on the subject, I see how people could have reached this inaccurate conclusion.
So I’ll break my silence.
On the Saturday of the Boone County Fair, I woke up and went to the mailbox. There was a letter in it from the Iowa State Fair Photography Salon. It read as follows:
Dear Mr. Bennett:
There are days when it is great to be the all powerful judging committee of the Iowa State Fair Photography Salon. Those are the days that we discover new talent or days that we see things that we have never seen before. This letter is not in response to one of those events. It is our duty to inform you that you are not a startling new talent. Your work is not revolutionary. In fact, the only thing startling about your work is its decided lack of talent. You sir suck! We take no joy in pointing out your numerous inadequacies as a photographer. However, we would be derelict in our duties if didn’t beseech you to never pick up a camera again. It would be better for you if you pursued a different hobby that isn’t so demanding. May we suggest playing the keytar. We feel it is an instrument poised to make a comeback.
If you have not yet picked up what we are laying down, let us quote the immortal Marty McFly:
“Get out of here kid, you got no future.”
If you decide to ignore our advice, we have done some research and found out that one of your co-workers, a Mike Vest, is a very talented photographer. We feel that your only chance is to study at his feet and maybe some day you will take a picture worthy of being in our Salon.
Good luck next year you no talent hack,
2007 Iowa State Fair Photography Salon Judges*
How could I be angry? They were so nice about it.
The truth of the matter is that it doesn’t bother me that a co-worker got a picture in and I didn’t. Truth be known I always get it handed to me at the Iowa State Fair. I had a streak of two years in a row of getting pictures into the State Fair. That was a good run.
I start over again next year.
I don’t get angry or upset because I know that this is a hard competition. Only 20% of the pictures entered get displayed. Whether or not you get a picture in is kind of a crapshoot. Who knows what the judges are going to like and not like? I have theories about it, but I’m not going to go out my way to make a “photo contest” picture.
I make the kind of pictures I like. I figured out a long time ago that these aren’t the type of pictures that do well at photo contests. I try to make the type of picture you would want to put on your wall. These are not the type of picture that do well at photo contests.
So be it. The end result of this rejection is that I will end up entering the Pufferbilly Photo Contest this year. I was slowly entering a mindset that I was “done” with photo contests. However, I realized this past year that what I don’t like about photo contests (the competitive part) is outstripped by what I like about photo contests. What I like is people seeing my work and reacting to it.
These are my favorite photo contest memories.
A few years back at the Boone County Fair I entered a picture of Karma. The picture was a macro image of her mouth. I was standing nearby and these people stopped and looked at my picture and insisted that the photographer must have “brushed this dog’s teeth” before taking the picture. Karma was a great dog and companion. She never had her teeth brushed though. Although in retrospect, she might have liked it.
Last year I won three trophies at the Pufferbilly Day Photo Contest. That was not my favorite moment.
My favorite moment was when I was standing next to the photo display with Jay. A couple of ladies came down to look at the displays. One of the ladies had drug her friend down with her just to point out one picture to her. It was my picture. It was not a trophy winner, but it made such an impression that she had left to bring her friend back to see the picture. That was a great moment.
The question about my co-workers success and my failure are not quite extinguished by these answers. People feel I should be jealous or angry about this situation. I ask you, what kind of person is angry about somebody else’s success. I’ll tell you what kind of person. A small person. A prick. A software support person.** I am none of these things.
As humble as I might be, I do have some pride in my work. So before the failed images get locked in a trunk for the rest of time I would like to put them on public display here. I could go into theories about why they were rejected, but I’ll let you postulate on your own.
The good news is that my family is only tainted with one loser. My sister Teresa did very well with her crocheted projects. She did thusly:
1. Snowmen Ornaments – First place
2. Blair the Bear – Second place
3. Felted purse – Third place
4. Felted bowl – Third place
5. Crinoline Lady – Third place
6. Grab Ball – Fourth place
7. Heart doily – nothing
8. Baby afghan – nothing
*Just for the sake of gullible people. I didn’t get this letter. Just a post card saying that all my pictures were rejected.
** I say this because I recently went to a bachelor party for a guy from work and a good portion of my party experience was spent listening to the people from software grousing about other people in software. Come on people!!! It is a party, leave the office at the office.
At the conclusion of Supper Club tonight, I convinced Willy and Jay to throw around a frisbee so I could play with a freeware program known as Hugin. This program will stitch several images together for you to make a panorama. What lies below isn’t great art, but I think it is kind of cool. I might end up being the only one. This starts with the original 4 images and ends with panoramic image.
Mr. Wentworth came over to Boone this weekend. So it turned out to be a pretty good weekend. I took some pictures to remember the events that Bill’s presence triggered.
First of all, I have completed the next picture to be hung in Salon 908. Below is a picture of the picture that will replace “Last, Loveliest Smile”.
This picture is an enlargement of a picture that Teresa commissioned me to do for her living room. I have named my color flower pictures the “Earth’s Laughter Series”, but I did not have a name for black and white flower pictures. Until now. The full title of the picture is “Happiness Shared – #01”.
The title comes from the old adage: “Happiness held is the seed. Happiness shared is the flower.”
On Sunday we went to Cold Stone Creamery. I found out Bill is somebody that hates seeing people have a good time at their job. Usually I find that the people that fit into this category hate the job that they have. Bill seems to fit into that category as well. So when we got back to Boone I took a picture of Bill.
Bill complained that I didn’t give him a chance to get ready before I took his picture. I told him that I wasn’t interested in posed pictures. I was interested in pictures of people how they are. A pretentious person might call that candid photography. A pretentious street photographer might call it guerrilla photography. I just call it capture what “is”.
Willy decided not to ride to and fro with us. The weather was warm and he was ready to get on his motorbike.
The second picture was taken from Jay’s automobile. It turns out that being on a motorbike doesn’t automatically make you look cooler. But check out those sexy legs. Ladies.
Some time last week Jay Janson went a milking. There is video tape evidence of Jay’s encounter with an utter, but I have yet to lay my hands upon it. Jay did bring me the coolest memento from his adventure.
I could really go for a Boyd’s malt right now. One of my fondest memories as a child was returning the milk bottles to Boyd’s because I got to put the bottles on a conveyor belt. I’ve always been fond of conveyor belts.
Then on Monday while I was on my break I encountered this fellow.
I have also seen the groundhog that lives behind the building within which I toil 4 times so far this year. I only saw him twice all of last year.
Then despite all of these good things that put me in good humor I came upon something that reminded me that while Spring brings much good to the world it also bring pure unadulterated evil back to Boone.
I have worked in Ames and lived in Boone going on 10 years now. There has been one constant in that experience. The ability of co-workers to constantly deride Boone as being a backward, hick, racist town.
I point to the myriad of good things there are about Boone.
They point to the Speedway.
I don’t have a rebuttal.
Let me start out by saying “Happy Valentine’s Day” to the people who are celebrating it. Let me say “Happy Wednesday” for those of you who are not.
“>Willy’s birthday was over 2 months ago. I am a timely person. So, I am glad to report that I have finally finished Willy’s birthday present and handed it over to him. Unfortunately, I have no clue where he is going to put this in his apartment. You see Willy’s walls are made out of either concrete or pixie dust. Neither one is good for hanging things. At least I know it won’t end up in the bathroom. No wall space. For reasons I haven’t been able to make right in my head, whenever anybody actually requests a piece it always ends up in their bathroom. I’m not quite sure what to make of this phenomenon. Below is a photo of the gift. This picture is entitled “Grizzly McAlpine”. The subject named the picture himself. This is the only time I have ever allowed such a thing to occur. The mat was originally an orange-brown color. I painted it silver, but allowed some of the original color to bleed through. The frame is black. I was originally going to put a coat of silver underneath the black and then distress the black paint to allow the silver to come through. I decided just to keep it simple and leave it one color and let the stress come to it in its own due course.
So most of the 2007 Calendars have been printed, laminated and bound. There are just a few left that need to be distributed. If you still want a calendar and didn’t get your order in, better let me know. Because 2007 begins in 13 hours and every day that a calendar comes late, it depreciates in value.
Below is a little bit of a look at what you would get by “purchasing” a calendar.
I would just like to impart a small bit of information about why each month was selected.
January Image – Ledges Daily Denouement
I selected this image because it was the most wintery of the images that I have selected. It definitely leaves you with a cold feeling.
February Image – Unnamed Butterfly Image
I made this image exclusively for distribution with this calendar and I don’t like it, so it will remain an Unnamed Butterfly Image.
March Image – Flower in a Ditch
March begins the Northern Hemispheres return to life. Therefore, this is the first of many traditional nature images.
April Image – Oversaturated Dragonfly
April is a month traditionally oversaturated with rain. I went a little crazy with the exposure compensation on this image. Make it a bit oversaturated by traditional photographic estimations.
May Image – Kentucky Appetizer
Traditionally I put my favorite image in May irregardless of whether or not I think anybody else will enjoy it in the slightest bit.
June Image – Yellow Swallow Tail
The end of the traditional nature images.
July Image – Outburst of the Soul
A random selection here.
August Image – Wildflower
August is a great month for wildflowers.
September – Portrait of the Artist as a Middle Aged Man
A random selection here.
October – Wheat Grass
The only fall looking image of the bunch so it went in a fall month.
November – Four Flowers
Olivia’s birth month. My auction image from Songs for Olivia.
December – Building 429
A Christian image for the month of Christmas.
Not much info there, but enough for the intellectually curious.
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.