Saturday, March 31, 2007

13 Proven Dimensions of Compatibility

A few weeks ago, one of Joel's co-workers asked him if he'd be the assistant coach for the baseball team at the high school where he teaches. He's in the final throes of his masters' thesis, and in light of that, didn't think he could commit to assistant coaching this season. He really wants to do it next year, so he's been helping out when he can. Yesterday at practice, he got hit in the eye with a ball.

He's fine; he just has one hell of a shiner. My first thought (after making sure he really is okay and all that good stuff) was DAMN, eHarmony's patented method of matching based on 13 proven dimensions of compatibility is FRIGHTENING. Why are we LIKE this, so unbelievably uncoordinated and unlucky? Even scarier- how are we BOTH like

Anyway, his eye is all purple and bruised, and we're supposed to go to Andrea's baby's baptism tomorrow. This should be interesting...

"Hey! Congratulations! This is my boyfriend Joel, by the way, the man I've been telling you about for a year and a half?... What?.... Oh, THAT! He missed the exit off the Turnpike so I popped him in the eye, no biggie!"


Friday, March 30, 2007

Photos Fixed

You know something? That essay down there titled "Part Two of Two" is MUCH more powerful when you can actually see the examples of what I was talking about. The photos weren't loading properly, but you should be able to see them now.

Aiden's Baptism

Baby got baptized, oh, let's see... TWO months ago, THREE months ago? Something like that. It's taken me this long to master all the techniques I wanted to use in iMovie. So, um, enjoy! (belatedly)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Scene: Bedroom, approx 4 a.m.

Woman: No! No! A bear!
Man: Whuh?
Woman: A bear! A bear is attacking Bella!
Man: (Shaking woman's shoulder) It's only a dream. Wake up!
Woman: There's a bear!
Man: You're having a nightmare.
Woman: A bear is eating Bella and Fred!
Man: Bears don't eat dogs and cats. They eat berries and fish.
Woman: (screaming) THE BEAR! ATE! BELLA!
Dog: (Hears name, opens one exasperated eye at the foot of the bed)

:::Man picks up Woman's hand, places it on sleepy dog, who is decidedly undevoured by bear::

Man: There Is. No. Bear. WAKE UP!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Part One of Two

I've decided that if I'm going get past this writer's block, I've just got to push through it without worrying too much about "polish." Just a heads up: all of the photographs in this essay feature living, breathing models. Some of them are really offensive, which is why I've got my knickers in a twist in the first place. View them at your discretion. Here we go.

On Tyra Banks' reality game show "America's Next Top Model," where 12 "lucky girls" cry, pout, and pose their way through a series of challenges in the hopes of landing a modeling contract and center spread in Seventeen magazine. It's like MTV's "Real World" meets "Survival" meets the spokesmodel portion of Ed McMahon's Star Search from the 80s. Every episode features the models attempting to master a basic skill that will supposedly serve them well in the fashion industry- get a radical makeover! pretend to be bald! hold an energy drink while jumping on a giant trampoline in an airplane hangar! dress up like a fairy tale character and fall onto a mat!

Uh, sure. Bizarre? Maybe. But who is it hurting?

This past week, the most recent episode went way, way over the line. The most recent ANTM challenge required the women to pose as if they were brutally murdered. Tyra Banks, who ironically tackles issues of abuse and violence against women on her talk show, and her crackerjack team of judges coached the eight remaining models through a photo shoot where they pretended to be shot, poisoned, decapitated, electrocuted, strangled, drowned, shoved off a rooftop, and robbed of their internal organs.

The challenge was couched in cute terms in that each girl was supposedly "killed by a model." During the judging, the models each made up a cute story. For example, the model who had her internal organs stolen pretended that the other models, desperate to know if her voluptuous breasts are real, cut her open to find out. This was met with smiles from the judges and giggles from the other women. The backstories drew from footage of the drama going on in the group house where the models live, which comprised the earlier part of the episode: OMG! One girl wants to use the phone, but another model is hogging it to sob to her husband because she didn't win a $40,000 bracelet in a pose-off!

:::CPB commences with banging her head on a table:::

Only one of the models seemed remotely effected of the intense violence depicted in the challenge, and only, she claimed, because she recently had a friend who OD'd. No one questioned the makeup artists. No one raised objections during the judging. No one said, "No."

Interestingly enough, up until yesterday the website featured each model's snuff shot with the judges comments next to it. Some examples include descriptions of the models as "very beautiful and dead," "sort of morbid," "marionettes broken up," "broken down dolls" and my personal favorite, "Death becomes you, young lady."

You can see all the models' photos and the judges' comments

The snuff shots off the official website now, in part because bloggers
with greater circulation and earlier deadlines than me have capably covered this controversy. It blows my MIND, though not as "glamorously" as this model's mind was blown, that the banner ad on America's Next Top Model's website is a plug for the Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Why is this okay? How are we so desensitized to violence against women in fashion photography that NO ONE on the executive board of a prime time TV show with national sponsorship from Cover Girl batted a single false eyelash at this concept? Easy, breezy, beautiful? I don't fucking think so.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Part Two of Two

I want to attempt to answer that question. I want to answer that "How?" The sad truth is, violence against women in fashion photography is a slippery slope, and it's nothing new.

I don't shoot fashion. I don't ever intend to shoot fashion. I had an amazing professor, though, who taught me a lot about the industry. I know there are photographers out there who DO shoot fashion, who ARE feminists, who see their work as a craft, whose work offers compelling commentary on the state of society, who do more than merely sell a great pair of shoes with images that shock and awe. My professor taught me about semiotics, the signs and symbols that express more than the mere assembly of objects on a page, drapery and cloth on a model. He laughed when I described Kate Moss as a "blow-up doll who had the air sucked out of her head," but he disagreed.

Around this same time, I was taking an "Image of Women in Media" classes. I wrote essays just like this one. I learned to mine fashions images for phallic symbols: anything from fingers to high heels could be interpreted as such. Intense cropping that cuts into the photograph of a female model's could be seen as a virtual amputation.

The following is a passage from the essay I linked to above. The author is describing this Guess ad.

"Women's bodies are arranged in positions where the bondage is invisible. This photograph plays on the passive, receptive woman motif with a twist: sadomasochism. Note how the model's hands grip each ankle, in an awkward and unnatural pose. Her arms appear "attached" to each ankle by invisible bonds. Her legs are spread wide apart and she leans far back. The position looks painful and difficult to maintain for any length of time. Her expression is ambiguous. Is she in a state of ecstasy? How could she be, in that straining pose? There appears to be a mixture of pain and pleasure in her face. The ad is exploiting the misogynist iconography of "woman-in-pain-but-she-loves-it-really".

Is this blogger's analysis of the photo in the Guess ad a stretch? I argue no, but allow me to apply the same kind of analysis to a recent Dolce and Gabana ad that sparked a storm of controversy.

Amanda Gore at writes:

"The image shows a woman being pinned down by a half-naked man, with four other men watching. In typical D&G style the models look moody and agressive, expressions which in this case many have read as signifying a menacing situation, with some going as far to say that the image looks like gang rape."

And yet, one could say that the the ad is sexy, the male models are all gay anyway, the ad achieves its goal of standing out from the clutter.

My sophomoric feminist rants, much like the one I quoted above, were always met with a certain amount of eye-rolling. "It's just an ad!" So why does it matter? The feminist argument is that the prevalence of such images desensitizes viewers to violence against women. It perpetuates the notion that pain and injury are sexy, that brutality is sexy.

It's a slippery slope, and at the bottom? It's ugly.

It looks like this.

And this.

And this.

It looks like America's Next Top Model.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Stops and Starts

Hey, readers in bloggy blog land. Are you... bored? I sort of am, bored with the blogging thing, I mean. I don't really know what to write about. Thankfully, I haven't had many madcap adventures involving car accidents or clumsiness, which is a good thing. I keep starting these tour-de-force essays on the n-word ban and the most recent (and truly egregious) challenge on America's Next Top Model, and I do the research and I gather the links and then... the essays sort of fizzle out before I put anything polished together.

Anyone else up for another round of the Great Blogging Challenge?

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Lost actually aired an episode that a.) moved the plot forward b.) answered a big overall series-long question in a satisfying way and c.) gave me some screen time with my Sayid? Can it be?!?!

Special aside to nemo: I forgot to mention: the title of the "performance art" I shot tonight (with the reedless saxophone) was "Into the Abyss." Heh.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Nobody puts Baby in the corner.

More fun with YouTube. This is pretty great.

Friday, March 16, 2007

"Can't Sleep. Clowns will eat me." -Bart Simpson

I don't really think clowns will eat me if I sleep. I just can't right now. I am so wound up and tired and loopy that I'm actually practically bouncing off the walls. Joel keeps sweetly imploring me to just come to bed already, but really I think he wants me to just shut the hell up with the laughing out loud at Mimi Smartypants and the occasional surprise noises from pop-up ads.

The thing is, I'm at this hyper level of exhaustion where if I go lay down, I'll just end up entertaining myself by lightly, lightly touching his hair, not even enough for him to notice at first, until it finally bugs him enough to just wake him up. I used to do this to Amanda when we had to share beds on vacation when we were kids.*

*When I say "when we were kids," I mean the last time I did it was during Fun Girl Weekend less than a month ago.

I shouldn't do that, not least among the reasons being that Joel has to get up BEFORE THE SUN which is UNNATURAL and WRONG, people. If Mother Nature intended us to get up before sunrise, she would have instituted a loud universal honking sound to indicate such. Boyfriend has to rise and shine early enough to explain things like metamorphic rock and plate tectonics and magma (please read "magma" in a Dr. Evil voice, thanks) to adolescents, because he is good and noble and smart. Whereas my plans for tomorrow include taking a picture of a condemned Mexican restaurant and a new cafe opening at a commuter rail station, which- WHING DING DIDDLY DO**- the fun never ends!

**told you I was wound up

Oh, yeah and there are those pesky ten inches of snow coming tomorrow. Hopefully, no one will get hit by a train, because that's how today began. "Good morning, Chunky Photojournalist Barbie! It's me, the Grim Reaper, and I'll be rearranging your Thursday schedule!"

Actually, I doubt the Grim Reaper would use quite so many exclamation points.

PSA to readers: DON'T WALK ON TRAIN TRACKS. I want you to LIVE!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Idiosyncratic Pets

Watch the movie! Leave a comment! Have a nice day!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Been sleeping like it's my JOB

Hi there. I haven't had a whole lot to say lately, and the blog has been suffering, I'm afraid. I'm really, really ready for Spring. The cold weather and intermittent snow is getting to me. The increased sunlight has helped, but the whole "spring forward" thing always throws me off-track.

Also? I have a wedding client whose flakiness has crossed over into Downright Freaking Rude territory. I seriously hope said client isn't treating her caterer the same way, or I'll be pulling the banquet manager aside to request "clean food only," a la Fight Club, at the reception.

My schedule was all over the place last week, working very late followed by super early mornings. I was a little off my game with my shooting, nothing disastrous, just uninspired. On Friday, I shot five assignments between 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., including a WWE wrestling match, featuring wrestlers at the, um, beginnings of their careers, shall we say? (We shall.)

There are some things that are not meant to be seen up close, or from all angles. Sleight of hand is one example; stage combat is the other. Having dated Stephen all through college and during his stint at the Magic Hat, I have a pretty good idea how most of it works. WWE wrestling, when you see it up close and at an angle not intended for television cameras or members of the audience, looks an awful lot like Ren Faire stage combat. And I'm talkin' about BAD Ren Faire stage combat. I once saw an underemployed actor in a summer children's theater production of "Romeo and Juliet" wield a fake ham as a weapon more convincingly than the "wrestlers" I saw on Friday. So that's saying something.

I spent most of my weekend sleeping off the general apathy and malaise that's been settling in. It was fantastic. Today I got organized, cleaned the house, finished the laundry, grocery-shopped, had a mini-date with Joel, made a complex and healthy dinner. And that's everything I haven't blogged about. You're all caught up.

I've been videotaping my pets and their antics lately, getting footage to practice my editing skills. Would anyone be interested in seeing Fred rubbing his face on things (this is the compulsion of the week), including but not limited to fake flowers, a door frame, a wicker storage bin and a bunch of bananas. Anyone up for that?

Friday, March 09, 2007

Not my sister's birthday party...

...though I AM working on her mini-video, too.

This is from a joint birthday party for Joel's/my friends Mitzi and Walter in Queens. I seriously doubt you will enjoy this if you aren't one of the people in it. I promise to work on a thoughtful and/or entertaining entry for a larger audience sooner or later. At the moment I'm fighting cabin fever and and crankiness and general apathy....Probably nothing that a few consecutive sunny days with temperatures above 55 degrees wouldn't cure.

You don't need my malcontent ramblings, do you, Internet? Those are for Joel to enjoy and savor for himself, I guess.

In the meantime, I'm honing my new professional skillz with videos of my friends doing tequila shots and karoake. We're getting Final Cut Pro and mamma jamma video cameras with shotgun mics pretty soon.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Furry Little Whackjob.

I was just minding my own business, downloading a TV show from iTunes, absently petting the cat. I was "cuddling" him in the only way Fred tolerates- from about a foot away, gentle pats, no holding, confining or anything even remotely representing a clutching action permitted- when he sat up, licked my pants (down by the knee) twice, leapt off the bed and galloped out of the room.


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Still Recovering...

Amanda had one heck of a 30th birthday last weekend in Philly, and I had my first serious hangover since college. At one point there was a nine-foot beer bong. Pictures are online here

Friday, March 02, 2007

I had nothing to do with the bagels.

Two weeks ago, I got an assignment to go to a local elementary school for a standalone package (Filler photos, really- not necessarily newsworthy enough to merit a full story). Anyway, the school was having a Newspaper In Education program wherein several classes of third-graders were emulating their parents by reading the newspaper over breakfast (bagels from Dunkin Donuts) in the cafeteria.

It just so happened that I had a crazy-busy schedule the previous day (not one but TWO water main breaks) AND I have a co-worker out with pneumonia, PLUS a couple advance stories I had worked on earlier in the week were published. So, like, every photo in the A and B sections were mine. One of the kids at the newspaper-and-bagels thingy that I was covering asked me if I took any of the pictures. I winked, showed him my name on my press pass and said, "You tell me." He got all excited looking for the photo credits, and soon one of the teachers cottoned onto it.

The next thing I knew, the principal handed me the cafeteria microphone, and I did an impromptu assembly on The Life of a Newspaper Photographer. (My training as an emergency substitute teacher served me well, actually, and none of the kids threw milk at me.) They were great. They asked me really insightful questions, actually.

One of the kids asked me how I know when a house is on fire somewhere, and I remembered that Mr. Incredible and Frozone are listening to a police scanner in a scene in "The Incredibles," which made perfect sense to them. Now I kind of wish I made something up about having Spidey-Sense, but hey! I managed not to swear in front of the kids the entire time, which is really a superhuman feat for me.

Case in point: This thank-you note from one of the kids made my whole damn day.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Masochism Tango

I am ANGRY. I am FRUSTRATED. I need to get out of the wedding photography business. Or not. I don't know.