Friday, July 31, 2009

"Fried Fridays: Cardinal Sins and Cardinal Directions"

I had several stories that struck my fancy as I decided upon this week's Fried Friday's winner...and they all had a common theme: Driving.

I'm not talking "Miss Daisy", but just general driving issues. I want to first give an honorary FF award to Highway 74 through Monroe, NC in Union County...been a long time since I've had to drive that stretch of highway, and anyone who has had to deal with is already shouting "AMEN!" before I even write how horrible that stretch of highway is. Light after light after light with what seems zero timing to make the sardine-can traffic move a little more continuously.

A runner up, and in some respects a more serious and solid FF winner is the German minister (as in government) who had her government-issued chauffered limousine drive her 3,000 miles to Spain so she could spend time meeting with German residents living in Spain about some health care and investment issues...yeah, okay...

No, this week I chose to take a much simpler story that holds a great lesson for us all...

"Two Swedes walked into a bar..."


OK, they didn't walk into a bar. They simply took their 'holiday' to make trip they've wanted to make for a long time into Italy: The Isle of Capri.

The articles I dug up did not say if the pair flew to Italy and rented a car or drove their own car down, or rented a car somewhere and drove down...the story gets rolling as they are in a car with a GPS unit.

I'll admit, GPS units have a great use and are a major boon for the directionally-challenged. I've never owned one and doubt I will...I'll admit that overall I'm pretty good with a sense of direction, even in new territory, and, get this: I'm a male who WILL stop and ask for directions when needed.

(I told the crickets to not bother chirping this time...)

The story goes that this pair had set their GPS unit on Capri and wanted first to go to the famed "Blue Grotto" on Capri's northwest shore.

Their first hint should have been that Capri is an island and not a part of the mainland...

(crickets are free to chirp, now...)

Setting aside that minor detail, the two Swedes arrived at their destination and finally asked authorities where they could find their intended landmark. After what had to have been a deer-in-the-headlight look from even the most polite official, he or she pointed south and explained they needed to turn around and go about 400 miles where they could then pick up a ferry to hop over.

(hold on a second, crickets...)

Everyone was a bit confused on how they could have gotten so far off course, and the Swedes didn't get angry, just took the bitter info pill and headed on their way. One thing about computers and sophisticated electronics that you can never lose sight of: they do what you tell them to...and hopefully you know the correct steps so you can maximize their effectiveness.

"I'll take "Mispellings" for $800, Alex"

Instead of entering C-A-P-R-I into the GPS unit, they typed in C-A-R-P-I...

(have at it, crickets...)

Slightly different destinations within Italy, wouldn't you say?


TGIF, y'all! May all your entries be accurate ones, today and everyday!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

More musings...

Today's fodder comes from a friend I've blogged about before who sends out myriad forwarded emails, most of which are, simply put, junk. Lies. Bigoted viewpoints that blend political with zealous religious rhetoric as if that gives them some immunizing force field. But that in and of itself is NOT the source of my musing today...

It's the pictures. The vast majority of these slanted emails have graphics attached, and one thing stands out poignantly.

Jesus is as 'white' as Wonderbread.

If that's not screwed up, I don't know what is. Take a 'whitey' and put him in Gaza and he'll stand out like an Edsel in a sea of Bel Airs...a cardinal in a murder of crows...a Kareem Abdul Jabaar in the midst of Tokyo citizenry.

I don't get it. Seems like a good many of the very people stumping for their 'truth' accept lies left and right, and Jesus being 'white' is one of them. And we wonder why we in America get criticized for being arrogant. NEWS FLASH: making Jesus 'white' like our dominant culture is the very embodiment of arrogance...or at the very least, unthinking stupidity.

And so I muse if people like my friend stop to even consider the racial paradox and what it really means...the message it sends...the conflict it creates. I'm pretty sure Jesus wasn't a hippie with blue eyes, fair complexion, and Bobby Sherman good looks.


Spent my Tuesday driving down and back to Atlanta...I think that every location can lay claim to having the worst drivers as they are omnipresent. In some mecca like Atlanta there are so many more people that it necessarily means there are that many more really really bad drivers on the roads.

Driving defensively is the best advice anyone can give. I have to muse about all the media and entertainment outlets that make movies and video games involving speed and being a jerk...and wonder how that directly affects some of the behaviors I see on a daily basis.

Ah, fodder for another more fish in the barrel at which to shoot!

Just musing...

(pulling out the apple crate for my soapbox...)

We've all been weathering the economic abyss as best we can...the very idea of 'survival' makes you sink or swim, fish or cut bait, as there isn't much of a middle ground to do nothing at all when it comes to how all of this affects our personal lifestyle.

Even before this international mess, the idea of working your lifetime 9-5 for a company like my dad did was long shot to hell in a handbasket. Rare is the business that truly protects its employees and values their years of service...seems like protocol anymore is to slice those cords at the drop of a hat and send people on their way because their wages are higher and they're more costly to the retirement system. 'Too bad, buh-bye, good luck. Thanks for your dedication, which doesn't mean a hill of beans to us at this point.' Such stories are a dime a dozen, sadly.

My bigger concern is the longer haul. Here we have companies that are doing what they deem as necessary to 'make it', which for most means cutting jobs and asking those still with jobs to take on additional responsibilities for those let go, without any additional compensation in any way, shape, or form. Be thankful you have a job, they say. Remember, you're replaceable, they say.

What do you think will happen as pastures start turning greener once we bottom out and begin seeing a repaired economy? Will companies replace the workers they let go and get back to business as in the past?

Call me a skeptic. I think most will not. Afterall, they'll be able to say, "Hey, look at the work we got accomplished with this truncated staff...we're getting the job done with a nice low bottom line." Employees that kept their jobs are likely to keep their added burdens for quite some time.

I truly used to think that most businesses would value your work and protect you through thick and thin. I now know that's pretty much a fairy tale. I have little trust in the 'goodness' factor of Corporate America, and this is from an outsider looking in who chose to shift to the outside last year. The Almighty Dollar will continue to reign supreme, sadly and short-sightedly.

My hope, if not prayer, is that there is a movement afoot in the business world that will acknowledge and deal with matters not from a bottom-line dollar view but from an intrinsic overall spiritual view as well, looking at employees as a community and not just a commodity. "Old School" can be a good thing.

With that said I'll step down off my soapbox and return to my sawdust world with my dust mask on...

Friday, July 24, 2009

"Fried Fridays: 'Grilled' is more like it..."

Let's be frank about it.

One man's treasure is another man's trash.

While some relish certain things, others don't.


Laws are in place to promote civility and safety, among other things. We're gonna travel down the 'other things' highway for today's fodder...

In Hawaii, it's the law that there be no vehicular advertising. As is the case with the Blue Ridge Parkway, kinda sorta, commercialized vehicles are prohibited for reasons of aesthetics and the preservation of natural beauty.

One company on an Hawaiian promotional tour got into hot water when an environmental group 'The Outdoor Circle' had a beef with it and got boiling mad over the publicity stunt, claiming the touring vehicle to be in clear violation of said law.

No buns about it.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the Weinermobile:

Around since 1936, these slightly conspicuous meals on wheels have had a loyal following. I actually found one in a mall parking lot in Pittsburgh many moons, neat critters, and definitely a part of 20th century Americana.

Oh, Kraft said the group was blowing smoke for publicity as they had filed and obtained every permit needed for the temporary touring, but given the vitriol of the environmental group, Kraft said this will be their last island tour. That's lei-ing it on the line, I tell ya. No furter tours for the ol' Aloha State.

I've not been as caught up on the news of late as I normally am, so played a little ketchup...lo and behold, a driver who wasn't even hot-dogging it managed to send a giant weiner car into a Wisconsin house just last week. Seems as though they were attempting to turn around in this person's driveway, thought they were in reverse and, well...they weren't.

You know, there are a lot of jokes that can be made, here. I'll rise above it for now and let them slide.

P.S.: for those prone to envy, it now comes in a vienna sausage version...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

"For Whom The Bell Tolls"...

Good-bye, Gidget...

At the ripe age of 15, Taco Bell's iconic 4-legged figure passed away...the pint-sized pitch-dog that gave a massive shot in the arm to the Amer-Mexican fast-food chain crossed the Rainbow Bridge...

As is the case with any sensation, it has a down side in that it spurs spontaneous human behavior that is not always a good thing. All of a sudden there was a surge in interest to buy Chihuahuas before understanding pet ownership and the breed...which led to price jacking because they were 'hot' dogs...and which leads to more abandoned pets when the cuteness wears off. 101 Dalmations, same thing. Beethoven and St. Bernards.

I'm all for someone having the choice for a purebred animal as long as they pursue it with the best of intentions. But I also know there are vast numbers of abandoned/rescued dogs of all blends in shelters and homes waiting to find their 'forever' parents, and they're a helluva lot more affordable, too.

Gidget did create quite the stir. One of my favorite ads was with Godzilla (click on links below)...


Of course, the most famous line was the one in the picture above, and a great ad that went along with it....


I just may have to go get a cheesy bean burrito in honor of Gidget, today...


Strange work situation Wednesday at News 14 as serious equipment issues arose the night before at "command central" in Raleigh. It was actually a miracle that news was put on the air at all overnight and Wednesday, so kudos to the mad scrambling by the Raleigh crews and management. As of this morning I know no updates if things got at least patched or not.

Alas (with a big ol' smile), it's back to flute work today. That's always music to my ears!

Woof, y'all!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"One man's trash..."

My neighbor heard me sanding and tuning flutes outside and came over for a howdy and an invitation. He is an assiduous landscaper and loves his botanical pursuits. That includes not only growing but grooming, and getting rid of the dead stuff.

He wanted to show me a large cedar tree that had been dead for 6 years or so, but was not lying flat on the ground (a good thing), as well as a smallish hickory tree that he girdled 2 years ago, also 'dead-standing'. All have great flute potential, so I'll be hacking them up in the next few days and see how they look.

But out of the corner of my eye was a large pile of limbs that he had piled up to prevent erosion...lo and behold my eyes lit up as I discovered some wildly shaped pieces that should make incredible branch flutes...some are going to be VERY challenging as I have to find the right area to put the 'nest' as well as the finger holes...and one has excellent potential for a natural drone (2-chambered flute). I picked out several select pieces and took them home to prepare them for further study by removing the extraneous stems and such and hitting the nubs on the belt sander:

(click pics to enlarge)

Looks like a mix of holly and boxwood (only a guess), thoroughly dry but most without any major cracks, which is a real plus. The large "Y" on the left will be the challenge to turn into a drone, with separate barrels going out each arm. However, unlike a 'regular' drone, they will not be the same note, which gives me lots of creative options. Do I run the playing side on the right and in a high key, and then make the drone barrel an octave lower? A musical fifth? Or do I put the playing holes on the left and make the drone barrel to the right a musical fifth or octave higher? Ah, this type of challenge really gets my creative mind going! Something different, that's for sure, assuming I can pull it off. I still want two separate chambers coming out at the mouthpiece, and it looks like I've got plenty of wood to do that.

With my fill-in TV work at News 14 and WSOC recently, I'm not in major flute-making mode, though I have chosen to focus on a crop of mid-range half-pipes close to F#. This is about as low as I can make a half-pipe (actually, E is), which is in a range that pleases the majority of ears wanting to 'hear' a native style flute sound...

The lighter tan flutes are spalted Maple...the two more brown ones are Sassafras (smells SO sweet when you cut and sand it!)...and the reddish quartet is some beautiful 'clear' cedar (no knots), Most of these are actually over Ebony bottoms, with one over Redheart and another over Poplar. These are sanded to the 280-grit level at the moment...assuming it stays dry, I'll whip up some simple blocks for 'em and start fine-tuning each one.

Hopefully it will be a quieter weather period today and tomorrow as the weather crew is short-staffed for new-equipment well, it will make for sander-friendly weather!

Monday, July 20, 2009

"Morton's Salt" says it best...

Eeegads. I know I talk about 'boundaries' a lot in weather as they are very important to understand where they may set up shop and what they are capable of producing. I'm pulling a few days at News 14 for the early morning shift, with Tara Lane now at the helm through the mid-day hours.

Heavy localized rains began after midnight in the western half of the Triad, and as the early morning progressed, the storms and rain became especially prodigious along the Surry/Stokes border, down into Yadkin County. I figured a flash flood watch if not warning was eminent today, and the the watch and warnings are up as I write now at 1130am.

Below is the storm total just through 11am at the latest. Colors can be coded on the left (in inches), and while this is an estimate from the doppler radar and not actual amounts, you can rest assured it ain't too far off the on pic to enlarge as I discuss it a little more...

If you connect the red blobs in a fat line, you see it run NNE to SSW...the red colorations represent the heaviest rainfall (in inches)...and notice the red areas begin at a particular point. Cell after cell after cell kept generating in the same spot in the atmosphere and running the same direction, leading to a very limited area getting threatening rainfall of the last weather hits I did live was to put my hand at one point on the map while the storms looped a 3-hour I held the hand still, you could see the storm generation from the one 'hole' in the atmosphere.

Thank goodness the boundary is also flexible and generally shifts through the day to 'spread the wealth'! Whew!

Just another classic case why I focus on boundaries so much...when you add in other factors that aid in uplift, those boundaries can spell 'trouble' as today's storms did...and are, still.

No rain over my head so it's sander-time for some new half-pipe flutes...before I get sleepy!

Glub, glub, glub, y'all!

Friday, July 17, 2009

"Fried Fridays: For the love of...!"

(cue game show music)

First, we have Michelle Cawthra (30)...
Next is Hysear Don Randell (40)...
Lastly...Trudy Randell (37)

Come on down! You're the next contestants on
"I Want To Win An Orange Jumpsuit!"


Love triangles have been around for all time, in all shapes and forms. In and of themselves, it's nothing new. I imagine most if not all get pretty twisted and strange in time. Thankfully, no one was knocked off in this one.

In fact, Denver police authorities say they got along quite well.

Well enough to swindle $11 million from August 2005 to July 2007 from the Colorado Department of Revenue (CDOR). And they did it through quietly funneling unclaimed tax monies through various fake accounts they set up.

On the surface we have Michelle, former CDOR supervisor, deeply in love with Hysear....only Hysear was married, and so we have this love-stricken vixen that was luring Hysear away from his wife Trudy, supposedly. Trudy had outward 'suspicions' but played it a little dumb.

Sometimes good ol' lurid sex is enough to drive the loco-motive, but Michelle sweetened the pot with money from "a family trust fund"...lots of money. Seems as though Hysear gladly accepted her 'advances' to pay for delinquent child deals...diamond business ventures.

All from Cawthra's 'family trust fund', of course. They say love is blind, and apparently Michelle was born without eyeball sockets...

In part of her testimony she was quoted saying, "I did things I don't think I otherwise would have done had I not been in love with him."

(cue the cricket chirps)

Pearls of wisdom this woman is full of...she went on to state that she didn't benefit from the $11 million dollars she helped steal for her Prince Charming. Oh, well she did get some jewelry and trips out of the moolah, but she didn't 'benefit' from it...

(crickets now confused whether they should chirp or not)

Apparently even the 'innocent victim' wife Trudy had her hand in the cookie jar and has also been indicted for helping set up fake accounts for money transfers, etc.

Clearly Michelle was the mastermind who actually forged documents, cleared the way for transfer into fake accounts, and regularly used coworkers passwords to do her dirty work so as to avoid detection.

Love is a many splendored thing.

So is an orange jumpsuit, I suppose.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Photo 'stuff'...

Just throwing in some miscellaneous pics from several days on any to enlarge, as always.

I was musing that if I composed flute music for this waterfowl below...

...would it be my "Swan Song"?...

You could also argue that this hen below... a wood duck...!

I hearkened back to episodes of Sesame Street where, with this picture below, they could sing a jingle familiar to many:

"One of these things is not like the other,
One of these things just doesn't belong..."

A little hard to maneuver my little Canon S2 and Mercy-on-a-leash simultaneously, but at least I got one cute shot of the ensuing standoff...

Also, given my auto settings which was not for a fast shutter speed, the gray-body leapt northward making for a weird kind of picture as the body elongated through the relatively slower shutter opening...

Earlier blog posts have my 'cherry' shots of the local Green Heron I'll be using for forthcoming flutes shortly...I did have some other rather poor quality shots that, once run through the most basic of Photoshop clicks, made for much more interesting 'mood' snaps...

...the diffuse glow of light...

...literally turning this into a water color painting...

...and this approach with a dry brush...


Blessed be, y'all. Have a good 'un.

Friday, July 10, 2009

"Fried Fridays: Is Santa next?..."

"Sticks and stones
May break my bones,
But words will never hurt me!"

I have dusty memories from being in my single-digit years, but I remember two words that we siblings would throw around at each other in a somewhat derogatory way: "Pie" and "Pansy".

"You Pie!"
"Yeah, well you're a Pansy!"

And then came the chastising by mom not to say such things...ah, the simple days.


Maybe you're not one for personalized plates, but I have been. I've owned "4X5 VIEW" when I had my photography studio and shot large format some..."1BZZYB" when I owned my awesome (and small!) Geo Metro Convertible that was bright yellow with a black top...and "UGLYBOYS" for the obvious flute reference.

62-year old William Junge owns a nice big ol' Chevy Tahoe, he does. In 1999 he applied for his own custom Nevada plate and wanted "TAHOE" (as if the tailgate nameplate isn't visible enough). As luck, or the lack thereof, would have it, it was already taken. So he got his second choice instead: "HOE".

When it all began, I know not. But I do know a supervisor with the DMV sought to have Mr. Junge's plate revoked on the basis of the impropriety of "HOE" referring to the vernacular slang for a prostitute.

I always thought that was spelled "HO", but I digress...

(cue the cricket chirps)

Oh, we're talking myriad boxing rounds in the court system, with the ACLU stepping in and ultimately riding that legal pony all the way to state Supreme Court which is where the DMV chose to take the issue. The DMV was riding hard on the definitions found in the web-based Urban Dictionary, wherein 'hoe' is listed as a demeaning word to not only prostitutes but women in general.

What pansies...

The ACLU, in level-headed fashion, basically said what idiot would base their sole definition of a word from some informal street slang dictionary? Clearly there are other non-offensive definitions that preexisted...

"Farmer John dug up his juicy beets with a prostitute..."

The justices ruled in favor of Mr. Junge, allowing him to keep his "HOE" plate. The DMV wasted incredible amounts of taxpayer money to pursue a fuzzy-at-best issue. Congratulations, y'all.

Boy, it's a good thing the ruling didn't go in favor of the DMV...imagine the legal sparring that would have ensued to alter Santa's famous chortle...

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Making 'snap' judgments...

In an earlier lake walk, I'd taken pictures of a certain carapaced individual that you defintiely don't want to pick up and cuddle, especially one as large as this one...

Snapping Turtle

Chelydra serpentina serpentina

I'm not a herpetologist, so I don't know if this could be an Alligator Snapper or not, which would be a different genus...suffice it to say let it go its own way!

A little turtle humor for you...

Q. Why did the turtle cross the road?
A. To get to the Shell station.

Q. What did the snail say when he hitched a ride on a turtle's back?

Just a little 'forwarded' humor that made me smile...I'm in flute-prep mode in my head this morning, so not feeling eloquent-in-the-pen. Figured you might could use a chuckle or two!

1. My husband and I divorced over religious differences. He thought he was God and I didn't.

2. I don't suffer from insanity; I enjoy every minute of it.

3. Some people are alive only because it's illegal to kill them.

4. I used to have a handle on life, but it broke.

5. Don't take life too seriously; no one gets out alive.

6. You're just jealous because the voices only talk to me

7. Beauty is in the eye of the beer-holder.

8. Earth is the insane asylum for the Universe.

9. I'm not a complete idiot -- Some parts are missing.

10. Out of my mind. Back in five minutes.

11. NyQuil, the stuffy, sneezy, why-the-heck-is-the-room-spinning medicine.

12. The gene pool could use a little chlorine.

13. Consciousness: That annoying time between naps.

14. Ever stop to think, and forget to start again?

15. Being "over the hill" is much better than being under it!

16. Wrinkled was not one of the things I wanted to be when I grew up.

17. Procrastinate NOW!

18. I Have a Degree in Liberal Arts; Do You Want Fries With That?

19. A hangover is the wrath of grapes.

20. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a cash advance

21. Stupidity is not a handicap. Park elsewhere!

22. They call it PMS because Mad Cow Disease was already taken.

23. He who dies with the most toys is still dead.

24. A picture is worth a thousand words, but it uses up three thousand times the memory.

25. Ham and eggs. A day's work for a chicken, a lifetime commitment for a pig.

26. I smile because I don't know what the heck is going on.

27. When you cross a Labrador with a Poodle you get a Labradoodle. It stands to reason, then, if you cross a Bulldog crossed with a Shitzu you get...

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

A sigh of relief...

Across the country this past week was news of a serial killer on the loose in Upstate South Carolina, around the sleepy (former) mill community of Gaffney. Today it's more known for it's outlet mall on I-85 as well as the "The Peachoid" water tower, aka "the big orange butt in the sky"...

It was an interesting live press conference last night, that stalled starting until close to 9pm...interesting from all kinds of angles. The sole purpose of the event was to say without a doubt the killer had been killed in a shootout just north of Gastonia NC, in the predawn hours Monday. Outside of his name, 41 year old Patrick Burris, little other details we'd all like to know are being kept private while the investigation continues...but the news had everyone resting much more soundly last night, no doubt.

The boy had a rap sheet 25 pages long, supposedly...and I commend the SLED director who spoke. One of the first things he talked about was his anger over seeing such a career criminal repeatedly arrested and then repeatedly let back out on the streets. I think we all know there is a seriously flawed situation with most of our criminal justice systems...lack of jail space, lack of prosecutors, lack of money overall...and we can continue to expect this type of unfortunate lapse as we have not tended to the judicial/criminal fires as well as we should have. Citizens and municipalities have been begging for years for funding and government help to at least dim the blaze some, but you could argue it's a runaway problem - unfortunately continuing to head downhill for many.

Burris was with two other people who were not killed when the shootout took place...the vehicle and personal description matched up well, though there are cementing details that have not been divulged. The ballistics tests were positive that the weapon used Monday morning was the weapon that killed the Gaffney residents in the past week...but much of the investigative work now has to be done without Burris being able to talk about it. Where had he been the past year? Who did he travel with? What was the connection, if any, with his victims? That info won't come out completely any time soon, I'm sure. At least for the victim's families, there is a sense of semi-closure, for now. Amen.


Of interesting note: Gaffney is in Cherokee County, SC, which falls into the Greenville-Spartanburg-Asheville DMA (media market). In that market is CBS (7) in Spartanburg, NBC (4) in Greenville (along with Fox), and ABC (13) in Asheville. Not only was this a serious local issue, but it was clearly a nationwide story, as well. When the press conference was on-going, all stations took it 'live'...except WLOS TV13 in Asheville (unless they showed only the very first part of it, incompletely...I was tuned in to another channel when it began). The powers-that-be deemed "The Bachelorette" to be of greater community/viewer importance while the other channels were live through the 5 law enforcement speakers. Boo-hiss, former employer of mine.


Never would have thought this would be a 'pick' show of mine, since I'm not a big TV watcher...I have to back up to an interview/story I heard on NPR radio a few months ago about a Puerto Rican 'repo' man and his family that was followed for a story on unique jobs, or something like that a good while ago. I'm fuzzy on the details I heard, but basically the owner-operator thought they could pitch the idea for a cable show that would catch everyone's interest...and so, currently on the "TRU" cable channel, you can watch "OPERACION REPO". With that said...

I have grown weary and even disgusted with 'reality' shows that seem to be quietly staged in setting and participants, with filming/editing purposefully manipulated that takes 'reality' out of the equation. It tends to be fake. Staged. Smoke and mirrors for entertainment and shock value to hook viewers. However, I have to say "OPERACION REPO" is refreshingly raw and not any of the aforementioned schlock. Even the "TRU" network uses a slogan something like "Not Reality. Actuality." The "Repo" family itself is 'unique', which you'll just have to see for yourself, or Google the show and watch any number of trailers. But it is oh-so real, not at all staged or faked. Their trucks have myriad inboard cameras that run all the time, and the 'chase' vehicle has a team of photographers that take great risks to record the almost-inevitable confrontations that occur.

I find it fascinating, intriguing, and totally captivating. Your blood pressure can't help but go up while you watch it...after each episode (and they seem to run several back to back), you shake your head over the 'owners' getting their cars taken...very few take it well or 'lying down'...some pull weapons, many show their @sses, and danger potentially lurks around every corner.

Highly unlike me, Mr. At-Times-Anti-Media-And-Not-A-Couch-Potato to give two thumbs up for something other than a nature or learning program...this one is in itself a 'learning' program that will open your eyes...wide open.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Just something that 'hit' me...

*** (click on pics to enlarge) ***

Hope all y'all had a nice 4th...I prefer a more 'quiet' celebration, and Mercy was NOT disappointed! Earlier in the day, I was loading Mercy in the car for her morning walk...I just happened to look over at the raspberry and blackberry bushes and immediately something caught my eye...

Some things just jump out into my sensitive 'eye' that sees all kinds of different things...and this one leaf just happened to be in the unusual position to reveal a most intriguing photographic landscape. I did have my ol' trusty Canon S2 with me, took the above scene as a whole, then switched into macro mode and moved in for the shot below...

...and all I did was to slightly underexpose the scene to keep the highlights in check. Cool 'scape.

In walking Mercy I came upon a mama Mallard and her 7 was most interesting to watch the babies when mom would quack a simple command...they would all paddle in closer around mom, if but for a moment...

Too, with the morning showers on July 5th, the glass-topped deck table yielded a neat little mini-scape for another Canon S2 photo-op (below)...

All of this to urge any and all of you, whether you have a camera or not, to make sure you take the time to 'observe' small, beautiful vignettes that constantly occur all around us. This is far from the first time I've ever written this in my blog: stop and smell the roses, even if for a moment...

Saturday, July 04, 2009


Friday, July 03, 2009

"Fried Fridays: All Fired Up..."

NOTE: I'll be the first to admit that this is not my normal 'vein' for a Fried Fridays entry; poking fun at people who do truly idiotic if not mean things to others is one thing, but today's poke is actually humorous and sobering in the same light. The humor is clearly directed toward the situation, not the person involved. In general, people are living longer, and care for the elderly will continue to be a topic of growing importance and concern to families and societies, alike.

With that respectfully said, here we go...!


I'll repeat what I wrote some time ago as the economy was going to hell in a hand basket and budgets were being guillotined: cut police, firefighters, and teachers only as a last resort. They are the kingpins of our ultimate safety and well-being for the future.

Like police, firefighters have to go from zero to ninety at the ring of a bell, as time is almost always of the essence. Life's very balance could be hanging by each ticking of the clock, and they put their training, experience...and their own lives...on the line.

As on many a late night, one such call came in...


It was just yesterday, Thursday, that an elderly woman placed a frantic phone call to the police and fire departments: her television was on fire.

Say no more. Specialists quickly arrived on the scene to put the fire out and prevent any loss of life.

Luckily, there were no injuries or loss of life.

Actually, there was no fire.

Nor any smoke.

And the TV was in perfectly fine operating condition.

Seems as though the tenant had channel-surfed across a German station that for several hours late at night broadcasts the image of a wood-burning fireplace for a little ambiance...

(cue the cricket chirps)

The fire was promptly put out with a single click of the remote.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled holiday in progress...

Please have an enjoyable and SAFE 4th of July holiday weekend, y'all!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

"Once upon a shoot..."

When someone says to me, "Oh, I'd love to be in acting" I immediately say "DON'T!" I suppose if you love being rejected most of the time, can deal with the constant financial feast or famine (with famine heavily outweighing any feasting), and can be comfortable with having any plans you've made constantly change because of auditions and such, then I suppose you could wear that cloak. But it is a fickle one at best, I tell ya.

I got my 'official' start as a paid actor back in 1990, I think...give or take a year, anyway. And there is as much a business side to the learning curve as well as the talent/skill side. When you're new at it or 'hungry', just about anything sounds good, and oft is the pressure to take pretty much what comes your way.

But you ultimately have to throw caution to the wind and look 'ahead of the curve' at times, asking yourself the tough questions as you consider taking or even pursuing the chance for certain jobs. And not just the job, but the contractual side of the shoot which includes how the client can use the image/footage, in what media, and for how long. Very important. For example, I would never do an ad for a cigarette company or an acting role where I had to smoke on camera - just a 'no can do' decision I made long ago.

One friend from Richmond, VA did a TV ad for a national insurance group in the late the time, the $800 fee seemed like a lot and was most welcome, I'm sure. However, he accepted their terms that the shoot was a 'buyout', which means the company could do whatever they wanted with the ad whenever and wherever. For 10 years that ad ran sporadically across the US (usually late at night!), and he got nary a cent more for any of it. Great deal for the insurance group. Lousy deal for the actors. It pays to think long and hard beyond the almighty dollar being dangled in front of your face as you consider potential ramifications.

With that said, I accepted one and only one modeling job that was for 'stock' photography. Basically, the shoot entailed a 4-hour window with about 6 'talent', and we were told to bring a wide array of wardrobe selections. They put us in groups as well as alone, in party poses, wedding poses, casual poses, funny faces, laughing/smiling faces, you name it...the photographer paid for our fees up front and then created generic images that he put into his stock photography business.

From a client's perspective, if there is a preexisting picture th
at works for an ad campaign, it's cheaper to purchase a use for that image than it is to go through the time, money, and hassle of doing a full acting shoot. From the talent's perspective, you sign away all rights to the images and any further pay. This was probably a good 6-8 years ago I decided to do be a part of this Raleigh, NC shoot...I simply can't peg the year, but clearly I was thinner and had no graying temples at the time!....

Yep, I got an email from my agent's wife in Greenville, South Carolina who asked if I'd done any liquor store ad, as it just HAD to be me in the picture. I knew I hadn't, but I did remember the stock shoot and figured if it were me, that's where the picture came from. She said she's send a copy, and after a couple of weeks her 'tear sheet' arrived in the mail. That was me, alright, and one of the scenes from that day's shoot. About 6 years ago another similar shot showed up in a Nashville, TN Christmas sales circular, but I've long since lost that sheet...a former WLOS employee had moved there and seen it and sent it to me at the station, where I was working at the time.

I don't do buyouts anymore, unless there are extenuating (and safe) circumstances, and for good reason. Ye actors out there have to decide for yourself what works best for you. I've represented a lot of products, but this is my first liquor store - makes me wonder what will show up next...!