Wednesday, January 31, 2007

More ordinary photography


I really have to question the whims of Fate at times, especially in regard to behavioral reinforcement. We are learning all the time through what we do that gets rewarded and what we do that gets punished, and one would think some overriding force in the universe would be aware of that.

The other night my girlfriend and I ordered take-out from a Brazilian restaurant near her apartment. The location of the building was close enough that we walked over to retrieve our food, rather than driving. That's better for the environment, and gets us exercise, which is good for us. From a Karmic standpoint, we seem to be on good footing, wouldn't you say?

The restaurant is on the opposite side of a major street relative to her place, and positioned about halfway between two intersections with stoplights. To cross the street either we had to walk the away from the restaurant and then double back, or go past it and then double back; either way it tacks significant extra distance to the walk. Well, a third option did exist: We could jaywalk in the middle of the block.

As we were directly opposite from it, I noticed a break in the oncoming traffic, then looked back and thought there'd be a break in the other direction's traffic momentarily. "Wanna make a break for it?" I whimsically asked. We made a break for it, easily crossing the first half of the street. However, a car turned out from a side street and blocked our continuation across the other half, thwarting my plan. However, it would only be a matter of time until the cars going the other way let up, so we waited between the double yellow lines in the middle of the street.

Like the house in the song by Madness, yes.

Admittedly, this was not an admirable ploy, as we were, technically, not in the right, but we weren't actively blocking any cars from proceeding. Karma may have been a wash at that point.

The remaining distance had two lanes of traffic to cross. We needed only a small break to traverse it. It shouldn't be long.

Then a motorist in the lane nearest us saw us and insisted on coming to a stop to facilitate our less-than-lawful crossing, despite a line of cars behind him. We waved him to continue. He resisted our commands and continued to stop. In addition to be oblivious to the irritated drivers behind him, he wasn't noticing that the cars in the other lane, the one farther from us, were not stopping, as they couldn't see us.

He wouldn't budge even though we flailed our arms to beseech him to move.

Finally we gave up and started out in front of his motionless vehicle, in hope that someone in the other lane would notice us before we were sprawled across the hood. A moment later a car very begrudgingly allowed us to pass, honking and yelling obscenities at us as we did. Okay, we deserved that, although if the first driver could just muster the will to believe that, really, we were okay without his pseudo-charity, and he had allowed us to wait until we could cross without inconveniencing anyone we could have avoided paying such penance.

Having learned our lesson, on the walk back with our food, we made a point of walking down to the intersection with the crosswalk and the green light. We were obeying the rules, which would seem to be what Fate would seek to reinforce, I would think.

When we got to the corner the light was red, so we waited for it to change, even though there wasn't much cross-traffic at that point. As I noticed the light turning amber for the other direction, in front of us a car made a right turn on what was still (for us) a red, but there were no oncoming cars to impede it, so that was allowed. The reason the driver didn't just wait the extra second for the green appeared to be because the impatient jerk behind him honked.

The light turned green for us, replete with a walk sign showing from the opposite corner. We stepped off the curb, and… stopped suddenly as the impatient jerk (in an SUV, talking on a cell phone, naturally) made a right turn directly in front of us, wheels squealing as they drove over the lines of the crosswalk that gave us the right-of-way.

My girlfriend made an obscene gesture at him as he sped away. My hands filled with the bags of food, I could only sneer at his fading taillights. We continued across without further incident.

To recap: When we jaywalked, we got honked at but did not come close to getting hit; when we went to the crosswalk, we nearly got plowed into. That's hardly the ideal way to encourage us to obey the rules the next time. I'm just saying.

I suppose in the future we'll just get it delivered.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Flush with excitement

Yet again we find ourselves basking in the soft afterglow of that most exciting of annual events. That's right: Saturday was Thomas Crapper Day. (You can read last year's post about it here.) My girlfriend and I celebrated the day at Universal Studios with my sister and brother-in-law, because there's no better commemoration of his supposed legacy than to use the restrooms at an amusement park. However, everyone likely participated in the festivities from wherever they happened to be just by using a toilet, be it in their own homes or the homes of friends, or even public places like restaurants or rest stops on the highway (shoes and shirts required for this category).

We even headed over to B. B. King's for dinner after the park to further celebrate on the toilets there as well (where the restrooms have attendants to hand out towels), but we're pretty serious about our Crapper Day; I don't recommend that level of celebration for novices.

Important: When it comes to joining in on the festivities, please don't overdo it, as no one wants to see another person rushed to the emergency room from excessive Crapper Day partying (a.k.a. crapping).

Remember, while it's true that when you gotta go you gotta go, it's also true that when you don't gotta go you don't.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Here's looking at you

I trust I don't got some 'splainin to do about whose eye this is.

I will reveal this tribute is painted on a wall at Universal Studios.


Friday, January 26, 2007

Keep out

This won't mean much to non-photographers, but it's true: This night shot of the fence on the west side of Hollywood High School was taken hand-held (no tripod), no flash (obviously), on a camera with no image stabilization.

What? You were expecting notes on ISO or something? Come on. I'm not that serious.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Under the underground

A triptych of photos from a Metro train station. That's right. I took pictures in a public place, which, in this era, is an act of rebellion.

Or it's just a way to capture some interesting angles in a way that's no threat to anyone. It's so difficult to distinguish those nowadays.

(Not that you'd really know this was in a train station unless I told you.)

Enjoy. Until "the man" shuts me down.

(Attention FBI: It just looks like that's an arriving train coming into the third shot. Because it is. But let's not dwell on that.)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

This is not helping

The following is grammatically accurate: true or false?

"It's true; the dog licked its own genitals."

Answer: Depends on your preference regarding use of the semicolon.

Oh, you thought I'd focus on something else. How about a bit of a rant?


People who cannot get the hang of the possessive not indicated with apostrophes need to stop using contractions. They won't, because they're idiots (even if they comport themselves with reasonable skill in areas other than grammar), and more so because they can get away without correctly differentiating "it's" from "its"; such distinctions are no longer of import in our society (the failure to know the difference would not prevent one from being elected president, for example).

These are the depths to which we have fallen. Perhaps more accurately, these are the depths where we have always been but where previously we pretended we were above but where the shared delusion has worn away.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

On the way down

Heading down the tremendously long escalator to the Pershing Square station on L.A.'s Metro Red Line:
Above, the shot uploaded directly to this site.
And below, here's the exact same shot, when uploaded to flickr and referenced here:

Go ahead an click on them to see what the difference is.

Never let it be said I don't give my readers choices. Even ones they don't need.

Feel free to click on the Comments link below and offer your thoughts. Perhaps you've ridden an escalator and would like to talk about that experience, for example.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Giving you that insider's view that no one else is

Recognize this? It's an area that thousands of people visit every day, although, admittedly, it's not usually photographed from this angle.

Okay, I'll give you a somewhat more conventional view:

So the next time you're walking down Hollywood Boulevard to the west of Highland Avenue, and you stop looking at the Kodak Theatre, the El Capitan Theatre, Grauman's Chinese, and the Hooters at the ground level of the TV Guide building, you can think to yourself, Hey, I've seen the back side of that Norbit billboard on Doug's site. Because of that, I'm better than these other tourists.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


The original Snakes on a Plane came in 1981, and it was called Raiders of the Lost Ark. Indy flees from the spear-hurling natives after stealing the golden idol, jumps into the seat of the prop plane, looks down to see the pilot's pet slithering by his feet, and screams, "Snakes! I hate snakes!"

When one has cast Samuel L. Jackson, one is obligated to include "mother fucking" in the dialog, but the sentiment is otherwise pretty much the same.


That would have been vastly more appropriate months ago. I may as well as start actively priding myself on how untimely I prove to be in most areas.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

It's true: this sucks

Think about it. The clue is in the post's title.

Okay, fine. Here:

No sympathy for fake sympathy

Unforgivable application of faux-Shakespearean diction to contemporary slang vernacular (which isn't even that contemporary any more), submitted for your condemnation:

"Verily, it doth suckest to be thou."

Monday, January 15, 2007

Tests of my unconditional love in a purely theoretical context, part 1 (perhaps)

When someday we may have children, I imagine I'll have the standard parental worries: that the child is healthy, that the child won't fall in with the wrong crowd, that the child won't be possessed by demons (requiring me to smother him or her while sleeping), and most important, that the child will not become seriously interested in modeling. (That is, being a model; I'm not too worried about interest in building models. That I will worry about after I see what models are being built.)

It's not so much that I'd worry about her (we'll assume it's a her—pardon the sexism) self-esteem possibly being hurt, as it is a terribly competitive field (reality television has driven that point home quite resoundingly); I like to think we would imbue her with self-esteem sufficiently strong to recover from any disappointments. My fear would not stem from her failing at it; my concern would be that she was moderately successful—not tremendously successful, but enough to go to events like open casting calls.

Events where there are hundreds of teen or pre-teen girls strutting around in four-inch heels, with their overbearing stage mothers in tow.

Events like one I ran into last week as I walked to lunch.

Working just down the street from the Bonaventure Hotel in downtown L.A., typically I go over to one of the restaurants in there at least once a week. I noticed a bus outside the entrance but didn't think much of it. I strolled in through the automatic sliding doors and headed toward the nearest elevator bank (the restaurants being on the fourth and sixth levels), and passed a very tall but very young-looking girl-woman (where her features reveal her to be the former but her appearance and wardrobe attempt to convince us she is the latter) in the aforementioned heels—and that, I assure you, is unusual for a weekday around lunch time. I didn't think much of it, however, until I turned a corner by the elevators, where I witnessed the doors to one of the elevators open and a passel of girls and mothers spill out. I glanced around the lobby and realized the hotel was infested with them; they were milling about by the front desk, they were streaming up the escalator, they were coming in the doors on the opposite side of the building (where I could see through the glass doors more buses and rows of suitcases still waiting to be brought in by the bell hops.

Immediately I revised my lunch plan. Anywhere else was a better idea. I squeezed past the ones blocking my path near the elevators and made my way out the doors, crossing the street to a surprisingly not-busy Koo Koo Roo, where I ate a burrito and read a magazine with no preening pre-teens in sight.

Now, the pedophiles among you will assume that my fear stems from concern that I will find the underage females sexually attractive in an inappropriate way. Oh, if only that were the issue I'd consider myself lucky.

Groups of adolescent and young teen girls freak me out. I remember as a teen myself when my younger sister had a slumber party. The giggling. Oh, dear God, the insidious giggling. When one or two girls giggle it can be quaint; when they congregate and overwhelmingly outnumber both one's self and all the adults present, it becomes a cackling cacophony that surely rings endlessly in one of Dante's levels of Hell.

I barricaded myself in my room until the next morning; neither hunger nor the chance of a urinary tract infection was going to make me leave the relative safety of my room.

Obviously, I survived. Within a few years both my sister and her friends were too old for such events and I figured I had escaped those situations forever.

Wait, you're thinking. Wouldn't you have to endure those events as a father if you had this theoretical daughter?

Not if I could help it. But now, being an adult, I could pretend to have some authority—not that I would, but I could delude myself with the belief that I was in a better position.

However, a night of adolescent girls would be nothing to having to go to the sort of events like I saw at the Bonaventure (and which I've seen in years past at that venue). At least the slumber party would consist of the girls acting like adolescents. And there'd be a relatively small amount of them at any given time. At some vast casting call (or whatever the hell that thing was I walked into), they'd outnumber me by a ridiculous factor, and they'd be trying to be adults, and their mothers would be there.

And they'd be giggling (either literally or figuratively), but I'd have nowhere to hide. But because I'd love my daughter, I'd do it.

At least until I convinced her to be interested in something—anything—else.

Her mother? She's away on some business trip in this nightmare. I know the way these things work; I'm not getting out that easy.

Unless my daughter turns out okay. Or is merely demonically possessed.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Undeserved reputation?

Pigeons getting clean in the fountain at Cal Plaza, downtown L.A. (And everyone says they're such dirty birds.)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Yep, yep, yep

In my intermittently continuing quest to bring you the unusual... and failing...

After years of riding the train to work through some of the more colorful areas of Southern California, I gained a reasonable sense of the sorts of subject matter expressed in the graffiti that adorns the walls and buildings along the train route. Some was fairly artistic, much seemed to mark gang territory, but there didn't seem to be anything that really stood out.

Then one day, months back, I passed a spot in South Central, just before the Slauson station on the Blue Line, that I found interesting. It was something that years of passing by led me to consider noteworthy. On more than one occasion I thought, I should take a picture of that and post it on the blahg, but I kept forgetting to get my camera ready in time when the train would get to that location (just north of Gage Ave.).

Months of seeing it, day after day, as the train passed and making a mental note to try to remember the next time and failing all came to an end a little over a few weeks ago. I got my camera ready in plenty of time. I imagine the person sitting next to me thought it odd, that I'd be waiting to shoot a photo in an area that was not, by any conventional standards, all that picturesque. Nonetheless, I was quite pleased with myself for remembering and being ready.

The location approached. My camera was in hand and pointed out the window, my finger on the shutter button. It was a beautiful sunny day, with good mid-morning light.


What I was shooting was that text partially covered by a tarp.

As shown above, I still took the photo.

You may be able to discern the word if you look close enough, but the graffiti on the back of a wall, the subject of the picture that I had intended to photograph for so long, was too obscured to be an effective shot. Perhaps you can make it out from the bottom half of the letters what the unusually political message is (at least, relative to what most of the other graffiti says), but otherwise the opportunity was ruined.

That, in a nutshell, is what I've come to expect out of life.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Spam subject line of the day

Another interesting amalgamation of our language from the spammers:

The reticent of mockingbird

As always, this syntax is the completely unmodified text caught by the spam filter. At least, this is one without any typos, and, unlike most of the rest, one that is still G-rated.

Monday, January 08, 2007

What if there's no light at the end?

Westbound tunnel from the Pershing Square station on the Metro Red Line.

Don't worry--the lights just keep going around the curve.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Happy New Something

On New Year's Eve I didn't get drunk yet I still ended up on the floor.

If you need more explanation of this, you didn't get drunk either.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Lingering holiday stuff

This ornament hung in a doorway at my girlfriend's family Christmas party. I kept hitting my head on it over and over.

Being tall is not all it's cracked up to be.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Straight talk on small talk

No one aspires to do something. One either does that something or one does not.

One aspires to get paid to do something.

I find it to be the case that many people are in jobs that are what they do to get by until they can get paid to do what they aspire to get paid to do.

Hence, I think we need to adjust the assumptions implicit in small talk we make with people with whom we have just become acquainted. Rather than asking "What do you do?" to inquire what they do for a living, with the assumption that what they do for a living defines what they aspire to be paid to do, when the likelihood is greater that it's merely what they do to earn an income without any particular significance to their desires. So the question should be very specific: "What do you do for a living?" That asks exactly what information is sought without any intentional or inadvertent insinuation about what the information says about the person.

We'll place the onus on the person to state whether the job is, in fact, what he or she had previously aspired to get paid for; unless explicitly stated, the assumption should be that the journey (so to speak) is still pending.

A follow-up query, logically, becomes "What would you like to do for a living?" (That is, if the answer to the first question did not already tackle that.)

If the person is too thrown by this new protocol, or answers with inappropriate candor (given the novelty of the relationship), by all means fall back on discussing the weather, or how tasty the hors d'oeuvres are.

Sometimes you'll need to wing it. Nature of the beast, I'm afraid.