Sunday, February 26, 2012

Pictures of February

It's not quite the end of the month, but it's close enough to do another roundup of photos I took this month but didn't post in any entries. There are some small stories here, but nothing really seemed like it needed a whole entry.

In sort of chronological order:

1) Spring is more or less here:

spring flowers

Flowers are blooming.

2) Someone thought they were clever:

the treachery of images (and of French)

They're trying to copy Magritte's The Treachery of Images, but they got the French wrong. Feeling like they needed to over-explain via the double parentheses was just egregiously awful on top of that.

3) I saw a mural downtown that I'd never noticed before:

train mural

the day that I was out doing pinhole photos. There are probably dozens of murals all over the city that I've never seen, and it's fun to run across them.

4) Some friends and I painted The Rock on campus:

painting the rock

That's me in the middle.

The Rock is a large, flat-sided boulder on campus that is painted by students, businesses, and whomever else on an almost daily basis, depending on what's going on:

go lady vols!

happy holidays?

Homecoming rock

and is such an important fixture on campus that the University moved it, a rather difficult and probably expensive process, when the lot it occupied was designated to house the new health center:

the rock, on a truck

the rock, hoisted

After several hours it was fixed in place on the corner across the intersection from the one it used to occupy.

Getting back to this month, though, the university rolled out a brand new "Big Orange. Big Ideas." branding campaign this month:

and some friends and I decided that we had a big orange idea of our own:

painted rock (1)

painted rock (2)

Our statement stayed on The Rock for over 24 hours before being painted over, and was picked up by two local newspapers and editorialized in a cartoon in the school paper. I don't know if it will have any long term impact on the campus, but for a day people were looking at it and talking about it, and visibility is always a good thing.

5) I saw a dead bird the other day:

dead bird

It must have hit one of the windows of our building.

6) I made soup this weekend:

cheese soup, with croutons

Herbed cheese soup in the slow cooker. It was really easy, and cheese soup is a big bowl of love. If you want to make it, you'll need:

2 10 and 3/4 oz cans of condensed Cream of Chicken or Cream of Celery Soup (I used the Cream of Chicken with Herbs)
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 pound cheddar cheese, shredded

Mix everything together in the slow cooker, then cook on low for 4-6 hours. An hour before eating, stir, and stir again before eating it.

And that's it for February.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Valentine's Day Love Story

It's Valentine's Day.

love explosion

Today fills most people with one of the following emotions: joy, bitterness, sadness, happiness, smug superiority, sneering disdain, or drunk. Drunk is totally an emotion, and I've experienced it on a number of Valentine's Days, regretting my life choices and swilling wine or something that has vodka in it while eating fancy cheese and watching Bette Davis shoot some man on the television. For the past few years, though, I've opted not to get drunk, and instead soak my bitterness in a good, hilarious reading (sometimes out loud) of Merrill Markoe's "Deranged Love Mutants" from How To Be Hap-Hap-Happy Like Me.

While eating fancy cheese.

And watching Bette Davis shoot some man on the television.

This year, though, rather than read Markoe's scathingly sarcastic critique of "Romeo and Juliet", I decided to focus on a real love story, a love story for the ages, a story of a boy and a girl and insanity and amnesia and secret marriages and creepy cousins and tragic death and the young descendants of warring houses that isn't "Romeo and Juliet".

It's the story of Supergirl and Brainiac 5.

Our story opens when Supergirl flies to the far flung future of a thousand years from now, to try out for membership in the Legion of Superheroes. No sooner does she show up at her tryout, though, than she meets an attractive green-skinned blonde:

supergirl, brainiac, and brainiac 5

Unfortunately, he's the descendant of one of her cousin Superman's greatest foes, and Supergirl's relationship with her cousin, Superman, was weird enough already:

marrying your super cousin?

Yeah. In case that whole "We couldn't possibly marry each other back home on Krypton, but here on Earth it's totally ok" speech didn't quite creep you out enough, just keep in mind that in that panel Superman is in his mid-to-late twenties and Supergirl is sixteen.

Krypton must have been the Kentucky of space.

Anyway, back to our story, Supergirl initially distrusts Brainiac 5, but that quickly changes:

lightning lad, cosmic boy, supergirl, brainiac 5

and he's immediately smitten:

brainiac 5, supergirl

Supergirl would return to the future many times, and she and Brainiac 5 would continue their long distance romance, but the stress of a thousand year divide gradually took its toll. She was always running back to the 20th century, and he had a couple bouts of insanity, and she was dating a mer-boy, and he accidentally built a killer robot that murdered one of Triplicate Girl's bodies (oddly un-traumatized, she immediately became Duo Damsel), and eventually they just grew apart. Supergirl stopped coming to adventure with the Legion, but Brainiac 5 kept a torch burning:

"superboy and the legion of superheroes" #204 (1)

And suddenly, while he was on (hetero) space-vacation with Star Boy:

"superboy and the legion of superheroes" #204 (2)

the Maid of Might walked back into his life, with a hand on her hip:

"superboy and the legion of superheroes" #204 (3)

and love in her heart:

supergirl love robot

The kind of love that makes you want to bite someone's face off:

"superboy and the legion of superheroes" #204 (4)

As a mature, responsible superhero, Brainiac 5 makes a rational, not at all impulsive choice:

"superboy and the legion of superheroes" #204 (5)

He quits his job, ditches his friend, and flies off into space with the love of his life. They've barely gotten away from the vacation asteroid, though, when they fly straight into trouble:

"superboy and the legion of superheroes" #204 (6)

Deadly zotron radiation. The cruelly savage response of a heartless, uncaring universe to true love.

Supergirl springs into action, wrapping Brianiac 5 in her indestructible cape to protect him, but when they cruise through the zotron radiation and she unwraps him, Brainiac 5 makes a shocking discovery:

"superboy and the legion of superheroes" #204 (7)

He didn't run away with Supergirl at all! He ran away with a face-mauling Supergirl robot, but where could she possibly have come from? Who would do such a thing?

"superboy and the legion of superheroes" #204 (8)


Brainiac 5 did it himself, in his sleep.

He built a Supergirl love robot, in the pages of a comic intended for children, and programmed her circuits to love him:

"superboy and the legion of superheroes" #204 (9)

Between him and her cousin, Supergirl's love life is a damn mess, people.

Rather than being creeped out by the love robot, Supergirl lets Brainiac 5 down easy:

"superboy and the legion of superheroes" #204 (10)

but they never did get to pick up where they left off.

"crisis on infinite earths" #7 (2)

Because Supergirl died in battle:

"crisis on infinite earths" #7 (1)

leaving Brainiac 5 devasted.

"crisis on infinite earths" #7 (3)

(And me, too. As a ten year old, I cried for HOURS after I read that comic. Like, full out, laying on my bed, weeping and sobbing crying. My mom probably remembers it. It was that bad.)

Brainiac 5 might not have been so sad, though, if he had known that he and Supergirl could never have been together, anyway. Because if they had fallen back in love and gotten married, Supergirl would have been...

...a super-bigamist!

"Superman" #415 (1)

Not only was Supergirl dead and (barely) buried, but now we suddenly found out that somewhere, in some unseen tale, she'd gotten married, possibly by a friar while hiding from an arranged marriage in a tomb and pretending to be dead.

Now, it's possible that I might have played a little too much "World of Warcraft" for a few months there, but Supergirl's husband doesn't look too bad. He has sort of a sexy elf type thing going on, I guess? A little? Maybe?

Legolas and Supergirl

Oddly, the way he looks on the cover isn't quite the way he looks in the book:

"Superman" #415 (2)

He's greener, for one thing, and he's wearing garters. Garters. Over tights.

Supergirl married one of the Pussycat Dolls.

Anyway, Superman finds him breaking into the Fortress of Solitude and trying to steal a strange object out of Supergirl's memorial. They fight over it for a minute, but then Superman knocks the poor guy down and takes the object away:

"Superman" #415 (3)

Defeated, the alien tells his story, which opens when he finds an unconscious female drifting in space:

"Superman" #415 (4)

Like anyone would, he immediately scoops her up in his spaceship's robot claws:

"Superman" #415 (5)

and revives her:

"Superman" #415 (6)

Oh no! Memory trouble?

"Superman" #415 (7)

Yes. Supergirl had amnesia, just like Reva Shane when she drove her car off that bridge on "Guilding Light", Rachel McAdams in that movie where Channing Tatum keeps taking off his shirt to prove his love to her, or my mom's Avon lady when we lived in Alaska after she hit a moose with her car.

It turns out that Supergirl, while flying through space, got clocked right in the head by a kryptonite meteor, which gave her amnesia. It didn't make her forget that she was attracted to green men, though, and after a couple days of light flirting, romance ensues:

"Superman" #415 (8)

followed by an immediate quickie-marriage at space-Vegas:

"Superman" #415 (9)

Supergirl just loves those green guys with no impulse control, I guess.

Their marital bliss is interrupted, though, by a rampaging alien:

"Superman" #415 (10)

and the battle leaves Supergirl a little shaken:

"Superman" #415 (11)

In the morning, Salkor wakes up and she's gone.


Well, the keepsake they were fighting over explains:

"Superman" #415 (12)

She got amnesia again.

And then she died.

"Superman" #415 (13)

So, there we are this Valentine's Day. Rather than celebrating the love of two horny Italian teenagers with a death wish, we can instead celebrate the love that exists between a boy genius and a Supergirl.

And her cousin.

And a love robot.

And her secret amnesia husband.

And her superhorse, which sometimes transformed into a centaur who wanted to date her.

But that's a story for another day. For today, happy Valentine's Day.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Pinhole Camera in the Old City

My relationship with the lady who develops film at Walgreen's has slowly improved since I actually started trying to cultivate one. This happened slowly, and was not an entirely smooth process, but now when I take the film in I explain that it will be blurry and not quite lined up and that it's from my homemade camera. Then I calmly explain that I will take anything that she can get, and I appreciate all her hard work, and by the time I'm done she's ready to spend an hour fighting with my blurry, not lined up film and not say a word when I come back to pick it up.

Or she hasn't said a word until today.

Today when I came in to get my pictures and my photo CD she was pretty excited, and I waited to hear that I destroyed the entire roll but they were going to bill me anyway. Instead, I got, "I've been waiting for you to come in! Let me get your prints, because you got some really, really good ones!"

She wasn't kidding.

This picture of Patrick Sullivan's Steakhouse and Saloon is so good it looks fake:

Patrick Sullivan's

The colors are great, I got the building dead center in the shot, and everything is sharp but just blurred enough to give it that dreamlike quality that my friend Megan described as "looking like the vision of someone's future death in a Final Destination movie". Here's another photo of the saloon, which I took a couple years ago, for comparison:

patrick sullivan's saloon

The lady at Walgreen's liked it so much that she tried four different prints of it at different levels of contrast and brightness, to get just the right one. People will go the extra mile for you if you show them that you appreciate it.

What's even better is that there are other good photos in the same batch. (Which is nicely satisfying since it was windy, bitter cold, and snow flurrying the entire time I was walking around the Old City.) This one of random buildings on South Central Street, for example:

The Old City (2)

looks vibrant but also oddly distorted at the same time. I love it.

I also like this one of "The Oarsman", a sculpture downtown that I've photographed before:

pinhole Oarsman

Even the pictures that aren't my favorites are still interesting. Here's State Street:

State Street

South Central Street again:

The Old City (1)

And this one of the train tracks that cross Central Street:

train tracks

I set the camera down on the track rail for it, which seemed like a good idea but left me a little disappointed now that I've seen the photograph. Train track pictures always interest me because of the perspective you get from the rails narrowing and coming together in the distance, but lowering the camera to this level flattened everything out so much that the perspective is gone. Still, it interests me a little because the bridge that you can see in the far distance at the center is the Gay Street viaduct, which I took this photo from:

gay street viaduct

It's kind of intriguiging to compare them, since it's a photograph of the same piece of land from two widely separated perspectives.

I also went to Gay Street:

Gay Street

and Market Square:

market square, from the stage

and there's nothing wrong with those pictures.

There just isn't anything really interesting about them, either.