Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Best Buy Bodhisattva

If you like reading, read this article at Gamers With Jobs. It will not disappoint. Don't worry about not understanding games. It's not about the games.

As one and with purpose, they stop in front of the GH3 shrine. Choreographed in their movements, the smallest of the clan hands the well-used Gibson Les Paul reverently to the leader.
"OK Kyle, here you go."

...I see Kyle move through the selection screens, and my heart jumps to my throat.

"Through the Fire and the Flames" on Expert.

The song itself is classic hair-guitar, and while watching the original guitarist play it is a jaw dropping "holy-Jesus-on-a-popsicle-stick" experience, as music goes it's not the kind of thing I put on my iPod for casual listening. It exists purely as an expression of guitar hubris.

As the stage swirls on the screen, a calm comes over Kyle. His face slackens a bit. He closes his eyes. His lieutenants absorb his tension, shuffling their feet, biting their nails. The highway of the fret board starts rolling, and as the first note falls, Kyle's eyes open.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Birthday!

Those are the first words spoken by Frosty the Snowman in that holiday classic, and a greeting shared between my sister and I around this time every year.

My hope for all of you is that this holiday finds you in good health and with family and/or friends around with whom to share the happiness.

I don't care if you celebrate Christmas, some other holiday, or none at all. Good will is truly one size fits all, and I'm taking this Christmas to wish a little your way.

So Merry Christmas, Happy Channukah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, etc.!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Body Count

It's not something I keep up with, usually, but this has been an unusual two weeks.

I don't know the total for the seven years that I've been shooting, but I've been to more than a couple scenes where people have recently met their ends. Last week I was on call, and I was busy.

The last few rotations had gone by with hardly any calls, maybe even none, so it was no surprise to me when the pager finally warbled its happy tune. That day was a harbinger of things to come.

The week began with a car accident, where the driver was DUI and swerved into the path of an oncoming truck. In a vain attempt to defy physics and occupy the same space at the same time, the greater mass of the truck won out, and the two passengers in the car lost everything.

Early Friday morning I was on the campus of LSU, having been called out to the murder of two doctoral students from India gunned down in an apartment. Apparently they were the victims of opportunity, having let their guard down at the worst possible moment.

Exactly 24 hours later I was recording another scene of twisted metal and rumpled blue tarpaulin. Some unfortunate soul rolled his truck on an empty stretch of highway in the land of jambalaya, and the collapsing roof crushed the life from his body.

Forty-eight hours after that, I was dispatched to the other end of the DMA for a fire in Rosedale that claimed the life of a woman. I arrived just in time for her lifeless body to be loaded into the waiting transport, and to grab a few shots of still smoldering coals.

It was when I handed the pager off to the next guy that it hit me that I had recorded so much of the reaper's work from one Monday to the next. Only interesting to me because I think that is a one-week record for me. Call week was over, but the death card kept getting dealt to me.

Tuesday found me on the road to New Orleans on a story about some missing boaters. Four people went against common sense and Coast Guard advisories and took to the waters of Lake Ponchartrain in a 14' flat-bottomed boat three days before, but weren't reported missing for two days. Two were found alive on the marshy banks, not far from each other, but one was found dead, and the other may or may not have been found yet. I'm pretty sure that if or when he is found, his pulse won't be, thus his inclusion.

Today (Friday) brought be to the breaking point. One more life had been taken in a senseless act that may have far larger repercussions than those of the gunshots responsible. Having arrived long after the scene had been cleared, I searched the ground for clues to direct my lens. When I found them I realized that I was standing on the exact spot where the victim had spent her last few moments pleading for her life.

I had inadvertantly broken one of my rules and stood on the very spot where the victim had died. It's a rule born not of superstition, but of respect for the departed and the family they have left behind.

Having thought about it, this was tough, but probably just the crack that broke the dam, letting the swirling undercurrent of emotion leading up to this holiday pour out. After 10 minutes alone in the privacy of Mobile 16, I was able to finish my day and head into the solace of four days away from the grind.

I think the real underpinning of my stress is that, while we are happy and enjoying this first Christmas with Claire, it's shaded with a tinge of blue. We were supposed to have twice the fun and laughter to share, and we all feel the loss of Chloe, whether we have acknowledged it or not.

We have duly honored her this year, and well continue to in those to come. The real kicker is that she is enjoying the holiday more, because she is sharing the birthday cake with the big J.C. I wonder if they put all 2000 candles on it, or cheat and use the numbers?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

SEC Championship

The LSU Tigers made the trip to Atlanta with only the slightest glimmer of hope for a National Championship bid if they won. I made the trip to Atlanta with a bottle of Dr. Pepper and a Christmas station on the radio.

The trip began well. Turdpolisher and I had tried to coordinate our departure to convoy up to Atlanta. I was a few minutes ahead, but figured I could drive slow enough for him to catch up. Then he had problems at the bank, and fell an hour behind, so I was left to my own devices. Maybe it was a good sign that I began the trip listening to Cheech tell Chong about the Santa and His Old Lady Commune, a Christmas classic.

The rest of the drive was uneventful, which is good, because the last big trip I went on was enough to last me a year. We ate well, and the hours weren't too bad. The only problem I ran into was trying to find a gas station that accepted either of the two gas cards we use. I finally found one after an hour and a half of driving, and stopping at nearly 20 stations where the attendants looked at me quizically when I held up the cards. Frustrating.

The day of the game was quite interesting. Some guy on ESPN broke the story that Les Miles was definately going to be the coach at his Alma Mater, Michigan. Most LSU fans still hadn't recovered from the loss to Arkansas that seemingly knocked their team out of the running for the National Title, and this latest news was more than they could take. I'm actually surprised I didn't see any of them leaping from the balconies of the hotel! What could they do but shrug it off. After all, it's not like they hadn't been left before.

Everything changed when the Lesticle called a press conference at 1:50 p.m. He was none too happy, seeing as how he was trying to avoid all of this talk until after the current game was over. He stepped up to the mic and flatout refuted the earlier reports, then wrapped up with 'Have a GREAT day,' said with just the right amount of 'screw you guys' thrown in. I'm not knockin' the guy. I love that video.

The team played a good game that night. I found a Turd on the field. I hope no one stepped on him.


They played it close for two quarters, then pulled away in the second half.


They needed a miracle to make it to the championship game, though. As the night wore on, the dominoes kept falling, and the Tigers got their Christmas wish, just a bit early. They helped me out as well, because a New Year's Day Bowl Game would have really hurt my holiday plans.


The drive back was uneventful as well, but I found a killer rainbow to welcome me back to the Deuce.


Thursday, December 06, 2007

Copious Content

Before I get to my recap of the SEC Championship Weekend, I've been thinking...

Dangerous, I know, especially for a photog. Most people might even think I'm going above my pay grade, but we all know better.

I've been thinking about the abundance of media available for consumption, and how one person might just shut down when faced with it all. It's why I post so sporadically. With 24 hours in a day, how can one person keep up with everything in which they might be interested? I have work, which occupies a large part of my day, and sleep, which takes slightly less time. Now I have a family which takes up a good chunk of the leftover time, and so I only have a couple of hours to create and consume content.

I have a few webcomics that I read, PvP, Penny Arcade, and Real Life. Two of them have podcasts that I have never listened to, but I'm sure I'd like. I just don't have time to listen to them. Maybe I should get an iPod, then I might be able to listen at work.

There are other podcasts that I'd like to listen to, such as Leo Laporte's The Tech Guy, which I sometimes get to hear live on XM Radio on the weekend. I first got to know Leo by watching The Screen Savers on Tech TV, may it rest in peace. He has the gift of boiling a complicated technical issue down to the simplest terms that anyone can understand, and always does it with a pleasant demeanor.

I also like to read the blogs written by other photogs, many with much more talent than I, a better record of posting, and therefore higher hit counts. I didn't start this blog to get hits, but I do like to know that people are reading, and enjoying what they read. I guess all writers do so because they have words that have a need to get out, but if what I write can actually touch others, and possibly make a difference in their lives, then I can feel good about that. Mostly I just write because I need an outlet for what's bouncing around inside my noggin.

Though they are also media related, there are other blogs that I like to read, such as Verge New Media, The Spacey Gracey Review, and Paw Paw Bill. In the case of Bill's blog, it's a tenuous connection, but he used to be in the business. As I may have mentioned in previous posts, I'm a voracious reader, and I enjoy learning new things and being exposed to different viewpoints. That makes the internet both a wonderful invention, and the bane of my existence. I have unlimited access to anything I could possibly want to know, but not enough time to absorb it all, and so I freeze in trying to figure out where to begin.

As I've also made clear, I enjoy gaming. I have more blogs that I read related to that, such as Gamepolitics and Gamers With Jobs. While I enjoy gaming, I don't get to engage in it often, because once I get caught up with all these other things, I don't have time to play.

I also have an email account, which I hardly ever read either. It could be that all of this is why I should win the lottery. Then I might have the time to do all of this.

I almost forgot, I also watch Prime Time television, as part of family time, but that's also time not spent playing games. With shows like How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, Heroes, October Road, Journeyman, The Unit, Boston Legal, Bionic Woman, Dirty Sexy Money, Smallville, Grey's Anatomy, and Numbers, my nights are mostly accounted for. There are other shows I'd like to watch, such as 24, House, Battlestar Galactica, The Office, My Name is Earl, Dr. Who, and others that I can't remember. Add to that some of the better Saturday morning cartoons, which are at least as good as what I grew up watching, and I've got a pretty full plate.

Oh, and I haven't made time to read any books or magazines throughout this post. Am I trying to do too much? Where do I cut back? How do I shift anything around to make better use of my time? AAAUUUGGGHHHH!!!!!

How Smart?

Gamepolitics has a link to a Blog Readability Test on Critics Rant. You can check any blog by typing in its address there. I scored High School.

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