Tuesday, November 30, 2010

And Suddenly It's Winter

Holga Pic on Spring Garden

Holga Pic silhouette

The temperature seemed to drop very quickly. Cold weather seems to have taken over North Carolina. All the leaves are on the ground now, even the deep red ones. It was also freezing cold in Atlanta where we visited for Thanksgiving. Usually, we spend the day after Thanksgiving visiting a museum or local attraction and this year we were planning on the zoo. Unfortunately, the weather did not permit for time outside. It was rainy, cold, and gray, putting everyone into moods to match. Somehow we redeemed the day, but shopping. The thing about the day after Christmas is the crowds seem to subside after noon. We only went to Target, Trader Joe's, and CVS, but it was fun and not as stressful as it may have been three hours earlier.

When we returned to Greensboro on Saturday (after a stop in Charlotte to visit Ikea) I rested for the night so that I could get up the next morning to prepare for second Thanksgiving. It has been a long time since I have not had my sister with me to listen to Alice's Restaurant for our Thanksgiving celebration. It is odd to be the only one to know (relatively, it is a long song) all the words and want to dance around. My grandmother did a good job though and we tried our best to get my daughter to dance, which she did for a bit and then got bored. Afterward, we ate Tofurkey, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and an apply gingerbread upside down cake. It was a very good second Thanksgiving.

On Sunday after we have recovered from dinner we put up our Christmas tree. Growing up I always had a real tree, but my husband really wanted a tree with light already on it. Putting lights on the tree is not his favorite thing to do and he feels passionate about it so I gave in a few years back. I have to admit it does make the Christmas tree easy and it is so nice when you plug it in and the beautiful light fills the room. It's so nice and suddenly it feels like Christmas in just a matter of minutes, with no struggles over the tree. I have to admit I'm starting to appreciate the artificial tree.

As soon as I have film developed I will post some Christmas-y pictures, but for now enjoy the last memories of fall.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

We are getting ready to head down to Atlanta to celebrate our "first" Thanksgiving. When we get back we will celebrate our "second" Thanksgiving this Sunday (that's when we listen and dance to Arlo Guthro's Alice's Restaurant). Today I made a pumpkin cheesecake and a vanilla sparkling wine pound cake. I just finished wrapping them up and realized I had not taken pictures, hopefully I will remember when I get there.

There are many little things that signify the holiday that are springing up, for instance the radio station that plays not stop Christmas music and an ice rink downtown. I always get excited for the holiday commercials like the Hershey's kisses acting like bells and the one at the rings loud and long. One of my favorites is the Folgers commercial from the 1980s when the son comes home to surprise the family on Christmas morning. In the 1980s and 90s I thought it was lame, but now it's pretty cool because they keep playing this circa 1980 commercial. It has become a tradition. A few days ago I even told my husband I couldn't wait to see it.

Here comes the big disappointment. While watching some television tonight a Folgers commercial came on about a son coming home Christmas morning...but, it is not circa 1980 it is a contemporary family! They RE-SHOT the Folgers commercial! How could they do this to me? And it is so cheesy and unwatchable, ugh. Hopefully, I can find Miracle on 34th St. playing somewhere. Though, with my luck it will be colorized or even worse that awful remake.

To end on a happy note. My daughter and I went to the mall this week to Christmas shop and she saw Santa and he waved to her and it was very cute. She didn't sit on his lap just yet, I wasn't sure if my husband would want to be there, but she looked around the Santa area and oohhed and aahhed a lot. Christmas takes on a new perspective when you have a little girl around. Maybe I won't miss that Folgers commercial too much.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ballet Movies

Holga Test 1
Holga Test 4
Holga Test 2
Holga Test 3
Here are some more pictures from my recent Holga tests. I am so excited about some of them. Hopefully, I will get some good ones when I work with the ballerinas as well.

This weekend my husband let me escape to the movie theater so I could see, Mao's Last Dancer. It was not spectacular, but acceptable. Unfortunately, there were no really good dance sequences. They were all shot pretty blah and simplistic. Regardless, I am thrilled that there are two ballet movies out this fall season. If you also include Frederick Wiseman's most recent documentary, La Danse, this has truly been a great year for ballet movies.

I sort of knew that Mao's Last Dancer was not going to be all that great because it's release was held for while, which is never a good sign. Though, the fact that it got a fall release gives it a little lift. I probably say this a lot, but the film has potential and if re-edited it could be much better. The conflict needs to be established much earlier than it is. One reason I really wanted to see the film again was to see Amanda Schull in another dance film, but she doesn't dance at all. I knew she didn't dance much, but I thought there would be something.

There is a scene in the film where the dancers in China get a smuggled VHS tape with Mikhail Baryshnikov on it. The minute I saw that tape I knew it was going to be Baryshnikov, but there were actually some murmers of surprise in the audience of five. Though one women I think was trying to inform the rest of her ballet knowledge, she did this throughout the film. It was fun, I am glad to know she has some basic knowledge, perhaps she would have more if she paid better attention to what she was watching. Am I being to critical? But, really what other dancer would videotape have needed to be smuggled into a communist country in the 1970s?

The ballet film that everyone is excited about, even males and non-balletomanes (which is amazing), is Black Swan. It's definitely a trailer worth watching. I am very excited to see it and hopefully I will be able to sneak away again, maybe even twice if it is as good as everyone is saying.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Today as I was driving my daughter to the arboretum for a walk the trees we drove under looked extraordinary. If only I had my Flip camera (and I wasn't driving) then I could have made a nice little autumn-esque video for Flip'n Friday. Unfortunately, I only had my still camera, but I'm planning on giving it a try this weekend when I can enlist my husband to drive.

Tonight as I was absentmindedly looking at videos on youtube, I decided to check out an old fave. Years ago I kept coming across Patty Griffin's video for Chief and, thus, began my love affair with her music. She has an amazing ability to create characters and stories in a manner of minutes. And the music is wonderful as well. A number of years ago I saw her at Cat's Cradle in Carrboro, NC, she was too "big" to be playing the venue, but apparently she insisted to her manager that he make it happen. At one point she forgot the lyrics to Rain and the entire crowd sang louder until she could catch up with us. It was one the best concert moments I have ever experienced.

Taking Its Toll

I'm not sure if I have ever explained how the academic job market works, but it is extremely different from all others. In the fall August-November most jobs get posted with deadlines ranging from about November-January. So you have to try to apply to all the jobs that are in your area of expertise, in all areas of the country, and these applications are not for the faint of heart. They often have many different elements and some schools want everything plus the kitchen sink. As deadlines pass you wait for a phone interview, sometimes they come two weeks after the deadline, sometimes a month or more. Speed is not a common attribute in academia (which I don't think is always bad, sometimes things need to move slowly to be done right). If you are one of the lucky ones and you get a campus invite that entails a two day interview process where you meet faculty, students, deans, give a teaching demo, and/or show your own work. Plus look around the town where the school is located, so you determine if you can live and excel in the area. And now I also have to consider if my daughter can live and excel in the area. It's exhausting.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Gone With the Wind

This weekend all the leaves were beautiful and it was sunny, warm, and perfect. We went on a lovely walk and found a new park for my daughter to play. Now, the week has gotten windy and rainy, which causes all the beautiful leaves to fall off.

Yesterday, in the morning a noticed my fig tree was still covered in leaves. When I looked at it again that evening it was completely bare; the wind and rain had taken off every single leaf! I always hate it when this happens and it seems to happen every year. Even though we seem to have lost an inordinate amount of leaves yesterday there are, luckily, many of the leaves have held on. In Greensboro there is a street (West Market) that has a picturesque canopy of trees arching overhead as you drive under. They have all changed colors and it so beautiful. Even on a day like yesterday when you drove under the light was amazing as if filtered through the leaves. Today looks to be shaping up to be better, at least the sky is blue!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I Miss Law & Order (the original)

I know that it had been on forever and I can still watch episodes on TBS, but I still miss it. In my opinion, CSI is all flash with no substance. Law & Order is thought provoking and deals with tough issues. Yesterday, I watched an episode that was probably close to ten years old that dealt with e coli and the food supply being tainted. Still relevant. It's not just about the grotesque way in which people are killed, but also about the politics of our nation. The show had a visual style (hand held camera work) that reflected the nature of the characters and setting instead of just how extreme can we get with our color grading. I am particularly upset that the show did not get a proper send off. They deserved a real final season with guest appearances and a Lenny Briscoe tribute of some kind. All right enough with my rant.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Holga/Diana Experiments

I have this really grand idea to do the publicity for my ballerina documentary using my Holga and Diana Cameras (and possibly my grandmother's Duaflex). The idea being that if I am trying to humanize an icon, the ballerina, using these un-perfect cameras to showcase women who have spent their lives trying to achieve perfection would visualize the concept. Sound good? Though, all that matters is that they look good.

The above pictures were taken with the Diana. They are so dark. Ahhhhhh. The Holga pictures look significantly better at least when looking at the negatives, but my scanner won't recognize the negative. Ugh! It's driving me completely crazy. I think it is because all the pictures are jammed together and the scanner wants to see singular frames and not one long frame. I wish I could throw the scanner through the window. Perhaps, it would work then?

This weekend I received test prints, no negative scanning required. Yay! Though I still have to scan the prints, but that is a piece of cake. Some of them are so beautiful with lovely flare and out of focus edges. The exposure is much better, but I really want them to be almost over exposed. I think I just need to not be picky and go with the flow of whatever develops.

I have already taken two rolls of one of the ballerinas. They are still waiting to be developed. Cross your fingers!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Catch Up/Preparation

Even though I took these pictures before Halloween I think that they are very Thanksgiving-y as well. I always feel sorry for Thanksgiving because everyone tends to skip over it. Christmas is already in the air it seems. Yesterday they were put up wreaths and lights at Friendly Center. We went into Macy's and their trees were up and Christmas music was playing. Of course, I did get a little Christmas spirit when I walked in. I celebrated my birthday this weekend and when my daughter saw my husband carrying my wrapped presents her eyes got all big and she went, "ohhhhh." She loved tearing off the paper. She didn't care too much about what was inside unless it was a CD. She loves playing with CDs. Reading the labels, examining the disc. I wonder if we will be able to keep any presents wrapped with her around.

Look at me, I've digressed from my thoughts on Thanksgiving. Growing up my Thanksgiving was a little different from my friends. My mom is a vegetarian and we never really had turkey. Every now and again my dad would make one, but it was never the centerpiece. When I was really little I remember eating shrimp, but then she gave up seafood. The most important part of our holiday has always been listening to Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant at noon. They play it live on KBCO (the former local radio station in Boulder that now resides in Denver). We drink mimosas, eat bruschetta and dance around. And have done so since longer than I can remember. My husband's family does the more traditional thing where lot's of family gets together and there is a lot of food (including turkey, often more than one, I think, honestly I don't pay that much attention to the turkey).  As all marriages go traditions have to be melded together and my Thanksgiving tradition has become the Sunday after Thanksgiving tradition. And after we listen to Arlo we put up the Christmas. After all, Thanksgiving can't last forever, not like Christmas.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Our Halloween

I remember being excited for the first Halloween where I lived in a house (one that was divided into two apartments). I had lived in apartments up to that point (or went out for Halloween) and had not handed out candy before. The promise of cute kids in costumes was very excited. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed because most of the students had no type of costume at all! When we bought our house and Halloween came around on the calendar I thought finally: costumes. While there were much more cute costumes there were still the costume-less. I wonder when this phenomenon started. Aren't costumes required? Though I have to admit I still gave the kids candy. I'm not going to be the mean lady who won't give kids candy.

This year was different. Every single kid had a costume, pretty much. There was one little boy whose sister, dressed as a princess, told me he was nothing. When I turned my gaze toward him he started talking about his costume, but I couldn't really figure out what he was saying. He was probably three. My guess is his parents didn't think he would be into Halloween, but turned out he was ready. I don't think he counts. There were cute costumes, scary costumes, odd costumes. Plus my parents were on Skype and able to be part of our Halloween. They live on a short street that doesn't get a lot of trick or treaters so they had fun as well. Halloween is much more fun with costumed trick or treaters!

My daughter would run up to the door and look at all the kids as well. It was so cute. There was one other Little Red Riding Hood that we saw as well (though her costume wasn't home made, but still very cute). Earlier that day we took my daughter to Harris Teeter to get some groceries and she was the star, not that she noticed. Everyone kept stopping to say how cute she was, though most thought she was Snow White because she wasn't wearing her hood and was carrying an apple. She likes to get a piece of fruit at the grocery store.

All in all it was a very pleasant Halloween and beginning to the holiday season. Yay!