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A note to let you know that I haven’t forgotten about the Artist’s Notebook. In fact I have so many things to write about that I don’t know where to begin. There was the trip to Minnesota to see the Foo Fighters, there was Rebecca’s senior picture shoot, and Halloween of course. I might even write a little bit about the Iowa State Football season, but right now I’m just going to go to bed.

A Cyclone Victory

Much has transpired since the last time that I took keyboard in hand and banged down a few thoughts for the World Wide Web. I won’t discuss many of those matters at this time. I’m only going to bang out some thoughts about the UNI-ISU football game on last Saturday. I don’t have a “Snapshot” page of pictures from that game quite put together at this time, but it will burst into existence in the next couple of days. It will definitely be up before we manhandle Nebraska on Saturday.

My observations:

1. Jon Davis is our best receiver. For all the hoopla that Todd Blythe gets, he has become a ball dropping machine. That is ironic since Jon Davis has the reputation for having bad hands. Even Blythe’s touchdown was a catch that he missed the first time and got lucky that the ball came back to him. Forget the fact Davis has been the most consistent receiver on the team. Forget the fact that he is the only receiver not to have dropped a ball this year. Consider only these facts: 1. He leads to team in receiving yards with 304. 2. He is second on the team in receptions with 21. 3. He has the longest reception of the year at 44 yards. 4. He leads the team in yards per reception at 14.5 YPR. Other Cyclone fans can call sports radio shows and complain that we aren’t throwing the ball to Blythe enough. I will wonder why we aren’t throwing the ball to Davis enough.

2. We might be 3-2, but we could very easily be 0-5. To break it down, our 3 wins are thanks to a dropped pass in the end zone, an overthrown ball in the end zone, and a field goal that floated barely wide right. All three plays were the last play in the game. Football truly is a game of inches. Although dominating performances against inferior opponents would have been nice, I get a certain amount of morbid joy from seeing us on the right end of those inches for once. How many times have we lost by that same small increment? I can think of 9 just off the top of my head: Alabama in 2001, Florida State and Texas in 2002, Colorado and Missouri in 2004, and Nebraska, Baylor, Missouri, and Kansas in 2005.

3. We almost lost to UNI at home. That would have been incredibly embarrassing, but I have had season tickets since 1983. It wouldn’t have been the worst thing I’ve ever seen in Jack Trice Stadium. I’ve seen ISU lose to UNI two other times already. I’ve seen us lose to Baylor. I’ve seen us lose to Connecticut. I’ve seen us lose to Western Michigan. The icing on the cake is seeing us lose to Drake the year before they completely dropped football. I don’t think anything will ever be as embarrassing as that 20-17 loss to the Bulldogs in 1985. I think the modicum of success that we have achieved in the last few years has spoiled Cyclone fans to the point that we now treat unimpressive victories like losses. I’m not sure if that is because we have arrived as a midlevel power conference program or just a statement on how quickly we forget.

4. When UNI kicked a field goal to take a 27-21 lead the two people to our right and the two people to our left got up and departed. I understand if these people would have left because this put UNI up by 10 points or 17 points or even 9 points. It didn’t, it put UNI up by under 7 points while giving our offense the ball with 2 and half minutes left to get into the end zone. At this point in the game our offense was moving the ball at will. The only thing separating us from putting this game away much earlier was a pair of fumbles. One by Austin Flynn as he was trying to power his way across the goal line and another that simply bounced off Ryan Baum’s helmet as he misjudged the trajectory of a Panther punt. There is no good excuse for the thousands of Cyclone “supporters” that streamed out of the stadium after that field goal. I think Jamie Pollard should take the money he flushed down the toilet for that stupid inflatable toy the players use to enter the field, and station ushers by the gates to take pictures of people who leave the game under these circumstances. Obviously we don’t want to ban them from coming to future games. However, establishig a Wall of Shame for such people would be a good deterrent and remind “fans” to support their team to the bitter end. The Cyclones have broken my heart on many an occasion. I don’t use it as an excuse to quit on them in the future. I put my heart back together and remember that next week might be the game where the other team misses a field goal at the buzzer to lose the game.

5. Although I have yet to find anybody to sign on to my theory, I think UNI made a huge mistake by laying up and going for the field goal that gave them a 27-21 lead. Not only do I disagree with the 3 straight runs they called in the red zone, but I think they should have manned up and went for it on 4th down. The worst case scenario was that they don’t get the 1st down and ISU gets the ball on the 15. They still have to go 85 yards to get a touchdown. True ISU could kick a field goal and head into overtime during such a scenario, but I don’t think I have to remind anybody about the Cyclones’ history of missing pressure field goals. Conversely, if the Panthers make the 1st down, the game is essentially over. ISU is out of timeouts. UNI could run out the clock or at worst leave just a handful of ticks left for the Cyclones offense. Now laying up was the prudent decision, but I think you only make prudent decisions when you are playing either your equals or your inferiors. Division 1-AA teams only get so many opportunities to upset 1-A schools. You have to be willing to take some risks to do it. UNI should have taken that risk.

6. Never thought I would write the following tidbit: I want to see more Stevie Hicks. The guy is averaging over 5 yards a carry and he is getting less than 10 carries a game. I understand that ISU has fallen behind in their last 2 contests, but I don’t think that means you abandon the run completely. Not when it is working to the tune of 5 yards a tote. That being said, I think I have finally figured out what is stopping Hicks from being a great back. He is definitely nothing more than an average D1 back, but that is good enough considering how bad our running game has been since Haywood graduated. However, Hicks shows the speed and power to be more than just an average back. There are times when I thought he was just way too indecisive. He seemed to stand in the backfield motionless after getting the ball and then he would get tackled for a two yard loss. I think his poor decision making comes from a lack of vision. I don’t think that Hicks sees the field very well. That explains to me his occasional indecisiveness and his lack of big plays. The play in the UNI game that leads me to this conclusion was late in the 1st Half. UNI was leading 21-7. ISU decided to roll the dice on 4th and 2. The call went to Hicks. There was a cavernous hole to his left. Rather than cutting to the left and perhaps taking it to the house, Hicks followed Koch straight up the middle. The problem with that decision was that Koch didn’t make it past the line of scrimmage. There was no hole where Koch had gone. There was at least a ton wall of cardinal, purple, and gold humanity. Hicks tried to move the pile. I’m sure Hicks is a strong guy. He certainly is an impressive looking human being. However, I don’t think on his best day he could move a ton of human bodies two yards. On Saturday he didn’t move it 2 inches.

7. Jason Scales. I like seeing him getting more playing time. I would like it even more if we could see more plays with him in open space. The screen play was a nice setup for Scales to use his talent. He is quicker and has more moves than Hicks. I think running him between the tackles isn’t the best use of his talent. I’d like to see more options and more sweeps with Scales.

8. Marquis Hamilton caught a huge ball during the game winning touchdown drive. I hope they keep enlarging his role in the offense. Especially with a Nebraska team that has proven an inability to cover tall receivers coming to town this Saturday.

9. Here is a riddle: The ISU defensive line has gotten penetration. What just happened? The other team called a screen play. I know they are young. I know they are small. We need to find a way to put pressure on the QB. Blitzing isn’t the answer unless we stop playing this soft zone garbage. When the opponent is throwing 5 yard passes because your corners are 15 yards off the ball, a blitzing linebacker isn’t going to get there fast enough. Not even close.

10. The other thing that concerns me about our defense is that we are missing an awful lot of tackles. On 3rd and 7 in the 4th quarter, Eric Sanders (who nobody will mistake for Michael Vick, Seneca Wallace, or even Todd Doxson) made Curvey miss in the backfield and then not 1 but 2 other Cyclones miss him as he trekked down the sideline for one of the most pathetic first downs you are ever going to see. I love Alvin Bowen. He is fast and hits like a bulldozer. That being said, I don’t know if he still leads the country in tackles, but I would lay money down that he leads the nation in missed tackles.

Those are my observations. I am still predicting another Cyclone victory on Saturday. Nebraska is a paper tiger. I believe the real Cyclones will show up this week. They have to right? We’re quickly running out of Saturdays.

A Little Pro Bono

Originally Posted —9/14/2006 9:10:39 PM

After looking at the UNLV pictures I decided to put together a page with some of the snapshots. There aren’t many there, but the ones that are there can be found at the following link:

Iowa State versus UNLV

There is now less than 2 days to the big Iowa State-Iowa showdown. I feel sorry for people that don’t live in Iowa, because there isn’t much better entertainment than listening to Iowa fans rationalize away a loss to Iowa State.

The five year anniversary of September 11th has come and gone. In Des Moines somebody put together a memorial field consisting of an American flag for every victim of those terrorist attacks.

I bring this up because I have been tapped by the American Legion Auxiliary of Roland to take some patriotic pictures for there Christmas baskets or some such thing. So last night I went down to the Memorial Field with Monica to take some pictures. This excursion ended mostly in disaster. I took my camera to work to recharge the battery, but I forgot my memory cards. This meant I had to travel to make a stop in Boone before I headed to Des Moines. I compounded that mistake by taking a wrong turn off the interstate and by the time I made it to the Memorial Field it was fairly dark. I took a few pictures that are worth anything. You can peruse those pictures at the following link:

9/11 Memorial Field

I also might be looking at taking some pictures near the Veteran’s Home in Marshalltown.

Weekend Reflections

Pufferbilly Days has now passed. At some point in the future I will go up to the Chamber of Commerce and retrieve my pictures, trophies, and ribbons. That is correct, instead of giving our ribbons for Win, Place, and Show; they give out trophies. I’m not complaining. This will be the first trophy that I have won since I was maybe 10 years old. But a trophy doesn’t help with my quest to some day have a wall covered with ribbons. I suppose that I could nail the trophies to the wall. The truth be known, I feel like I don’t need to enter the Pufferbilly Day Photo Contest any longer. Even though I only won 1 division and there was no “Best of Show”, I feel like Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. When their video for “Jeremy” won the VMA for “Best Video” he said: “Good. Now we don’t have to make videos any longer.” They didn’t for a long time. I feel like, “Good. Now I don’t have to enter that contest any longer.” But of course I haven’t won Color yet!

I most likely will continue to enter the Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest though. Not because of my “ribbon wall” that will never come to fruition. Although if somebody would give me a “Participant” ribbon for “life”, I would proudly display that. Which reminds me of a point I shall make further down in this page.

I also won’t continue to enter in some narcissistic attempt to win the Color Division. I will continue to enter for the only reason that I think most artists enter anything. To see how people will react to their art.

On Friday evening I was standing near the Photo Contest with Jay. He had just received his marching orders from the Salon 908 CEO about his artistic contribution to the Salon 908 float. On the way back to his Keeler Street studio, we dropped by the Contest so he could gaze at the entries.

As we were admiring the artwork, two girls from a slow pitch softball team known as either the “Jammers” or “Slammers” came around the corner. One of them had already came up to the Photo Contest. She had brought her friend back with her to specifically see 1 picture. I tell you with no small amount of pride that the picture that so piqued her interest was my self-portrait entitled: “Blue Steel”. The title is a reference to the movie Zoolander. I briefly considered the name “Magnum”, but I decided that was a bit presumptuous. The reason that I relay this anecdote is because it is an example of the type of recognition that is most meaningful to me. I enjoy it way more than any ribbon or trophy. A stranger connecting to something that I have made. How cool is that?

Unfortunately I get little of that kind of recognition because I can’t just hang around my pictures all day. Despite any voyeuristic tendencies I might possess, I just don’t have THAT much free time. It does remind me of a time that I entered a picture of Karma in the Boone County Fair. The picture was a close-up of Karma and a predecessor of “Happy Karma”. As I was looking at the flowers in the horticultural exhibit nearby I overheard some lady remark to her husband that I must have “brushed that dog’s teeth” because they were so white. Karma was perhaps the greatest dog in the history of the universe, but she never got her teeth brushed.
That brings us to Saturday night. I headed to Jack Trice Stadium know full well that I forgot to charge my camera batteries. Therefore there will not be a page of “Snapshots for the ISU-UNLV Game”. At least it is not likely that there will be one. If I do get bored enough to put something of that ilk together, it will at most include 10 pictures.
Observations from Saturday’s game:

We played terrible. But we always play terrible the week before the Iowa game.
The defense was quite a bit better, but UNLV made many more mistakes than Toledo. The same dump passes and 3 yard crossing patterns worked well for them.

We can’t cover kickoffs at all.

I’ve never seen anything quite as pathetic as the display that UNLV put on after the game. Refusing to shake hands and jumping up and down on our logo was reprehensible. What is the old saying: “Sports don’t build character, they reveal character.” I believe that they do both. For the record, the play that UNLV insisted was a touchdown. Their receiver was closer to Webster County than the north end zone of Jack Trice Stadium.

Brett Meyer had what had to be one of the worst games of his career. Even the passes he completed weren’t accurate. Also there was a decided lack of the QB draw that was extremely effective against Toledo.

3 carries isn’t enough for Jason Scales. When can we see what this guy can do?

RaShawn Parker is the man. He is a true Freshman and he already making big plays on the defensive line. Jason Berrywho?

So Sunday was a washout. Art in the Park is always my favorite part of Pufferbilly Days. I
didn’t even go to it this year because it rained all day. Instead I finally made it to the theater to see Little Miss Sunshine. I had forgotten that Labor Day weekend had passed and finally the theaters will start to fill up with good, intelligent movies instead of the barren waste of space movies that occupy the multiplexes during the summer months. Movies like: Hollywoodland, The Prestige, The Illusionist, and The King of Scotland. Finally a reason to go to the theater.
Little Miss Sunshine was better than I expected, which is saying something because I have been anticipating this movie since May. I am ready to proclaim it “The Best Roadtrip Movie Ever Made!!” I would go into more detail, but I think it is sufficient to say that it is both intelligent and funny at the same time. I very rare combination for movies these days.

One last note. I’ve been experimenting with adding video to the website. If you are one of the observant fans of this site you may have noticed a 2 second video of Bethany at the bottom of this page. That video was the result of said experimentation. That success shall pave the way to a future little video segment I hope to get going in this journal. Jesse and I are going to act out 10 second clips from some of my favorite movies. No particular reason for this besides that it entertains me. Hopefully it will entertain you too.

Iowa State versus Toledo

I had the pleasure of attending the opening game of Iowa State’s football season on Thursday night. Going to Iowa State home games is a family tradition. I have had season tickets since 1983. That means I have seen lots and lots of Iowa State history. I have a friend currently working a rehabilitation program for addiction. On Monday and Tuesday nights I go down to the Powell Center for educational sessions and a “Concerned Persons” support group. I bring this up because last Monday during the educational session the speaker spoke eloquently about the power of “spiritual places”. Jack Trice Stadium is a spiritual place for me.

Being a well salted Cyclone fan, I feel that I am borderline psychic. The gent that I attend games with, Jason, is in the same vein. For example, before the Cyclones’ failed field goal attempt, Jason looked at me and said: “We’re not going to get a good snap.” A second later, the ball flew over Austin Flynn’s head. Flynn made a valiant attempt to get the first down, but his pass attempt fell to the ground incomplete.

I knew going into the game that Iowa State would struggle in this game. We always stink it up in the first game. This often leads to false confidence on the part of Iowa fans, such as in 2005. It was not a big surprise to me when ISU’s defense and special teams were atrocious. I take heart in the fact that teams always make the most progress between the first and second game. Plus, Toledo is a good team. They will win more games than us this year. They will go to a bowl game.

Here are my observations placed in a “Good News—Bad News” format:

GOOD NEWS: Stevie Hicks looked quick, fast, and strong.
BAD NEWS: He only gained 89 yards, fumbled the ball once, and missed a block that resulted in a 15 yard sack of Brett Myers that ended a drive. For all of his improvement, his longest run was for 12 yards. For a school that once had the following people toting the ball: Dwayne Crutchfield, Dexter Green, Joe Henderson, Blaise Bryant, Troy Davis, Darren Davis, and Ennis Haywood; the bar has been dangerously lowered. It has gotten to the point that we talk enthusiastically about a guy who’s best effort netted us 12 yards. Troy Davis would have come back to the huddle disappointed after a 12 yard gain. I don’t wish to dwell on the past, but it is a point of reference.

GOOD NEWS: The defense is fast and hits hard.
BAD NEWS: They get to the wrong place fast and make hard hits after the first down has already been attained. The same dump passes that Nebraska and Baylor used to beat us last year worked again. That is reason for concern going into the Nebraska and Texas Tech games. Mike Hopkins, Toledo’s big and fast tight end, looked like a man playing with small children. He was that dominant. This makes me wonder how we are going to defend the bigger Scott Chandler of Iowa.

GOOD NEWS: We didn’t miss any field goals.
BAD NEWS: Everything else in the special teams was pretty much terrible. We blocked an extra point and then walked off the field. Allowing Mike Hopkins to pick up the ball and walk into the end zone. Two points for Toledo. We had a punt blocked. The snap to the holder was consistently bad. 2 were high and a third bounced to Flynn. We were very lucky that only 1 field goal attempt ended poorly for us. The kickoff coverage was lackluster at best. Toledo was able to consistently return the ball to the 30 yard line or better. This is a point of concern with the new shorter tees, there are going to be a lot more kickoffs returned. Even in windy Jack Trice.

GOOD NEWS: Todd Blythe scored 2 touchdowns.
BAD NEWS: He didn’t show up until the overtime.

GOOD NEWS: We won.
BAD NEWS: We probably didn’t deserve to win.

GOOD NEWS: We won an overtime game for the first time in school history.
BAD NEWS: The game never should have went into overtime. Going for two in the middle of the third quarter was a laughably bad decision.

It was about 4 or 5 years ago I began taking a camera to the game. Sitting in the stands is not what I would call a prime spot for photography, but taking me cameras allows me to engage in two of my passions at the same time. I would give you an example of what this is like, but I think you can use your imagination.

Perhaps at a later date, I will provide you with my commentary on the new pre-game additions at Jack Trice Stadium. I guarantee you there will at least one complaint about ACDC.

Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest Deadline

Today at 4 PM was the deadline to get pictures turned into the Chamber of Commerce for the Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest. Last night I set aside some time to mount and mat my images, but my pictures had yet to arrive from Adorama. Not their fault. It was entirely my own fault for not getting my order to them on time.

I used the time to watch my favorite movie to come out this year: “Akeelah and the Bee”. A movie I can highly recommend to anybody. The movie also contains a quote I find to be highly motivational. What follows is not the exact quote from the movie, but as it was originally written by Marianne Williamson:

“As I interpret the Course, ‘our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.’ We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

I did not spend the entire evening watching television though. Monica came over and picked out the mats to go with the photos for the competition. Fortunately, this morning while I was at work my pictures arrived. I was able to mount them and take them back to Boone while I was on my lunch break. Therefore, you might be able to see some of my images at the Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest if you are in Boone that weekend.

Although I don’t get to worried about Photo Contests as a general rule, I feel this might be the strongest collection of images that I have entered. I am not predicting anything by any stretch of the imagination, but no matter how well I do or how extreme I fail, I feel good about this collection of pictures. I think there is at least one picture that should speak to everybody. Which picture really strikes each person is always a surprise to me. Such as Willy really liked the butterfly picture. Monica really liked the picture of Derrick. Jesse really liked the picture Willy. I don’t like to play favorites, but I think I most enjoy my self-portrait (for reasons of vanity) or the picture of the crucifix on the Bible open to Ephesians 4:29. A scripture I chose because it is one of my favorites and an inspiration for one of my favorite bands: Building 429. I believe most people won’t like how dark the image is, but I really wanted to create as much contrast in the picture as possible to make the crucifix shine as much as possible.

I am also pleased with the amount of techniques or at least styles represented in the pictures. There are 3 black and white pictures and 3 color pictures. 2 of the pictures utilize Photoshop. There are 2 macro pictures. There is a nature picture. There is a flower picture. There are 3 portraits, but all 3 completely different. 1 still life. The only thing really missing would have been some kind of flashy in camera special effect or a double exposure. I am going to get into multiple exposure a lot more in the next few months, but nothing that I’m ready to discuss or at least have cemented in my noggin.

At this time, there aren’t any of the entered images available for viewing on the website, but hopefully sometime Friday I will be able to get something up in the Photo Contest section of this website. Keep your eyes glued to the “News” section of this website to tell when they get added.

Tonight is the first game of the season for the Iowa State Cyclones. It is a night game, so the amount of usable images I will get out of the game will not be many. At least there won’t be many without the demon viper known as “digital noise”, but viewed at a smaller size, they shouldn’t be too bad.

So look for a “snapshot” page of pictures from tonight’s game sometime this weekend. I also plan on putting together a similar collection for the pictures from the Iowa State Fair this weekend.