Monday, November 26, 2007

Living in the past

Well, here's the deal. The rhinovirus I had? It won. Now I'm on the second round of antibiotics for the bronchitis it welcomed with open arms, and, really, I'm just crabby and wallowing in self-pity and new generation drugs. Blechh ... My sense of humor is down the toilet, it's only 4:40 pm and the sun disappeared for happier climates long ago. So I decided the present sucks. I am going to revisit my autumn vacation, when I was healthy and it was sunny, and post my favorite pictures. Hope you like 'em!

Junction of the Seward and Sterling Highways, southcentral Alaska.

Pond, Seward Highway, southcentral Alaska.

Storm over Kenai Fiords, Kachemak Bay, Alaska.

Russian Orthodox Church, Ninilchik, Alaska.

Church yard, Ninilchik, Alaska.

Mount Alice and beach houses at Lowell Point, Seward, Alaska.

Okay, enough escapism. Gotta go slam the next pill. And daydream about sunny skies. See ya!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Tight crops

The title refers to the photographic technique of zooming in on a subject, or cropping a photograph during post-processing, in a way that isolates elements of a larger subject or even reduces the subject to abstract lines and colors. This photo of graffiti on a downtown Fairbanks wall is an example of a tight crop ...

(The title does not, of course, refer to last summer's unfortunate fashion statement in women's pants. I mean, don't even get me started ...)

... as is this photograph of metal benches taken outside the Alaska Sea Life Center in Seward, Alaska. I really loved the contrast between the curved and straight lines of the benches, the bright water drops from an earlier rain storm, and the enigmatic diagonal stripe of the concrete retaining wall behind the benches.

(... but, since you mention it, what the hell are clothing designers thinking of, coming up with all these form fitting clothes and pants with cropped legs and dropped waists? I mean, hello America, no one wants to see your spare tire even if it's accented with a pierced navel! And do you have any idea what that stuff looks like on a 59 year old geezerette? I mean, gravity won, people, and it's not a pretty sight ...)

This photograph of a part of the boat launch ramp at Chena Lakes Recreation Area shows how tight cropping can isolate elements of a larger subject (much like todays fashions isolate unfortunate figure flaws) and bring attention to interesting graphic patterns and colors (which reminds me, children's fashions aren't much better - I mean, what's with all the pink, fluffy stuff in the girl's section and when did streetwalker chic become a fashion must for the under 12 set? And what's with the camo clothing in the boy's section?? Who are we trying to hide them from?! Where is all this going? What is the world coming to? My god, fellow clothes wearers, it's time for the revolution! Let's march on Paris and 5th Avenue! Death to the godless, imperialistic fashionistas ... oh ... er ... heh, where was I?] Um, so anyway, if you're feeling like you're stuck in the photographic doldrums, I highly recommend tight crops. The end.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Road trips can be -- whimsical

"Lawnmower races, Sisterdale VFD Annual BBQ and Dance, August 18 -- be here!" Road trips can be whimsical.

Once I saw a faded La-Z-Boy recliner sitting in an ocean of red Indian Paintbrush, out in the middle of nowhere, facing the distant, beige mountains. It was a little the worse for wear, but the view from its lumpy cushions was as good as it gets.

On the backroads of Alberta, a witty farmer stuffed a pair of blue work britches with straw, fastened boots at the ends of the pant legs, rolled the whole works up in a hay bale with the legs and boots protruding and left it neatly centered in his field, causing drivers like myself to do a double take and veer wildly over the center line. They like to be push the envelope down there, those Canadians.

Once in Missouri I was in a MacDonald's where every single customer, down to the smallest child, wore cowboy boots. They stared at my family and our feet, we in our scuffed tennies, as if we had just landed our space ship in the parking lot.

I paid $12.44 for a meal in Tennessee. The figure sticks in my mind because it took me a few minutes to interpret, "Thatah be tway-uh fo-ah-tee-fo-aah," each syllable drawn out like the strands of some verbal taffy pull.

Okay, now, don't laugh. I fell in love with a blue-eyed cowboy at a Texaco station in Durango, Colorado. But after a few smitten minutes I signed the credit slip he offered me and left him and his tight jeans for the siren call of the road. I'm not sure it would have worked out anyway. Do cowboys take road trips?

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Archives battles deadly pest invasion and wins!

Reports of the capture and subsequent demise of that most feared rodent, Rattus archiverae drozdii, have been confirmed by this reporter after interviews and on the scene investigation at a well known historical repository in this northern city.

"We were appalled, disgusted and quite pleasurably grossed-out," remarked one witness who declined to be identified. Staff at the archives were first alerted to the possibility of a rodent invasion by the usual signs, which we will not go into here, feeling, as we do, that this scandal rag ... er, apex of journalistic endeavor shouldn't stoop to discussing matters of excretory function. As our illustration illustrates (note to self: find better wording), mousetraps were deployed and archives staff expected shortly to capture one of the more mundane of the rodent species. Shock and horror reigned upon the discovery of R. archiverae drozdii, a vicious specimen known for devouring not only precious historical documents, but also the occasional archivist! However, courageous staff soon dispatched the nasty beast and the archives was once again safe and sound.

Rattus achiverae drozdii was first identified as a separate species by the preeminant scientist, Dr. Ozda. Dr. Ozda has noted that R. archiverae drozdii can be identified by the unique characteristics of its eyes, particulary the yellow sclera and red irises, and by its unfortunate taste for the flesh of archivists, not to mention its remarkable overbite and the pugilistic set of its snout.

Our great northern city owes a debt of gratitude to the brave archivists who brought down this ravening beast and averted a catastrophe. We can all sleep more soundly knowing our historical documents are safe and so are our beloved archivists.