Saturday, August 29, 2009

the audacity of Mother Nature

It is difficult to describe just how disappointing it was to get rained out last night. At an intellectual level, I am fine and understand completely that there is weather related risk associated with any outdoor performance. The inner child, the spotlight hungry performer on the other hand, is still on the verge of stomping his feet and howling in outrage at the audacity of Mother Nature.

We started rehearsing for this show in April, seemingly about 15 minutes after we finished striking the spring show. For me that meant twice a week rehearsals, plus class and related strengthening work, for four months. As this weekend drew imminent, extra rehearsals were added, further chewing up free time to be with our partners and simply get things done.

When yesterday turned into the most perfect late-summer day with a blue, blue sky and warm sun, my heart was bursting with joy. This show is a real treat to perform, and it seemed like we had finally caught a break in the weather this year and would have two nights of performance. Then about 45 minutes before show time, we started watching a front move in. Out came the iPhones and Blackberries for live weather radar. It did not look good. There was a narrow but sever band of storm that was going to hit us without a doubt. We started prepping for rain; moving things into tents or covering them with tarps. The sound and light table got quietly powered off and bagged, then covered with tarps. The crowd was seemingly unaware of the gathering storm until the wind hit and the lightning became frequent. Many scattered for cars, bikes or other shelter. Some die-hards stayed in hopes that it would just blow over. It was not to be, however, and the storm hit with high winds and driving rain. We battened down the rest of what was still open and jammed into either the back stage tent or the sound/light tent. We had dropped the E-Z-up sound booth tent down to half-height and thrown a tarp over the whole thing to further protect the expensive gear therein, and eight of us jammed into there as well. The rain only lasted 20 minutes, but the timing could not have been worse. The entire crowd (2000+) had scattered. There would be no joy in Mudville this night.

This morning dawns hazy with a thin cloud cover. The NOAA weather forecast is for mostly clear and cool all day. Right now it's a chilly 56 degrees (F) and the high is only supposed to reach 66. It will be a challenge keeping muscles warm between the end of warmup and the performance itself. I desperately hope the weather is not a repeat of yesterday. I think my inner diva would win and I would stomp and shout my disappointment. With fingers crossed, I start my day and hope it ends in performance.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

loaded with foliage and bearing numerous acorns

I drove past Orton Park today and was surprised to see a tree down that had been standing as recently as last night. It had clearly been cut down - I looked for any evidence that it had toppled and been cut up.

Tree Down at Orton

The tree that Cycropia will perform on this coming weekend is visible in the background. It is the one with the obvious scar.

Tree Down at Orton

The tree appeared healthy at first glance, loaded with foliage and bearing numerous acorns.

Tree Down at Orton

When I looked at the stump, there is a section that looks rotted. But it didn't extend very far up the trunk, rather it looked more like a chainsaw had been inserted down the trunk but not up. That is not what happened: It was clearly a rotten section, I am just attempting to describe what it looked like in shape. The upper sections of the tree showed no signs of rot to an uninformed observer like me. Does anybody reading this have some insider info?

Tree Down at Orton

It is pretty distressing to me, since it makes me wonder if the lovely tree that Cycropia flies in each year will fall to whatever made the Madison Forestry department deem this tree to be doomed. Will I drive by in a month and see "our" tree down? While it seems unlikely, the forestry group did just trim a bunch of dead branches out of it. How is the core?

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Cycropia Rehearsal at Orton

Wow, am I tired! In preparation for the aerial dance performance at the Orton Park Festival, a bunch of us dancers and dancer-friends gathered at the park at 9 AM. First on the agenda was to rake and rake and rake under the oak tree in which we perform. Nothing quite like stomping bare-footed on an acorn. After raking, we picked up buckets full of sticks and acorns. Simultaneously, folks prepped the branches with rigging for the apparatus we use. By noon, the space was clear and we started a long rehearsal process.

Cycropia: Rehearsal at Orton

Each piece got a set amount of time to rehearse. One of the pieces I'm in got a bit longer time slot, because we need the polishing time. For two hours we ran the piece and lab'd certain sticky spots. Equally important was simply learning how things worked on the actual rig points in the tree.

Cycropia: Rehearsal at Orton

The second piece I am in had a shorter time slot as it needs less work. We ran the physically intense piece three times and called it sufficient. Reena got a really nice shot of our finale:

Cycropia: Rehearsal at Orton

Tomorrow we have another long day of rehearsals.

There are more photos posted in a slide show HERE at my Flickr site. Enjoy!

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

"My Big Adventure" by C. Hook

Today began as most others, with a frustratingly slow, relentless pursuit of breakfast. My human companions were slow on the switch, still asleep well after the sun was up. I don't get it. Why don't they nap during the middle of the day? Then they would be up and at it, feeding me when it was appropriate. But no, like the mewling kittens they often seem to be, they needed rousing. I got the female up first, and after an interminable period she gave me First Breakfast. It was...adequate. The male rolled out later (as is his due) and also attended to himself before me. He challenges me constantly for alpha status and I am thinking I might have to remind him, again, just who is in charge. These moments are never pretty.

After Second Breakfast I was ready for either a trip Outside or perhaps a nap. The male indicated that we were going Outside, so I accompanied him. This particular morning was different though, because instead of merely attaching that Mobility Limiting Device (MLD), effectively curtailing my meanderings to a tiny piece of turf, we loaded into the pregnant looking Machine. I was uncertain as we moved away from My Yard and gave a few low growls to voice my displeasure. Male consoled me, and I relaxed seeing that he was at ease. After a Long Time we jumped out. All I got was a few tentative sniffs of the immediate surroundings, shackled as I was again by the MLD. This was vaguely familiar, but an old memory. We went back inside and then it hit me. We were at a place the male referred to as the Vet. Still on the MLD, I explored the area. It seemed calm, no canines being all spastic and alternately trying to eat me or drool on me! Then I spotted him; a big orange tabby lurking on a bench! He looked at me and I at him. Deciding that I could whup him, I ignored him. Bad move as it turned out. But I didn't notice what a sneak he was until later.

The other human, my male referred to her as "Sin-dee", went out of sight and made A Noise. The orange, who Sin-dee called Kal-vin, leaped off the bench and moved his corpulent body surprisingly fast. I would have laughed at his pudge swinging back and forth - actually pulling him into a comic gait as it wallowed back and forth - but that would have been Uncool. Instead I tried to figure out what would make him run, a clearly uncommon event for him. Only one possibility really- Food! Sin-dee came out and I moved towards her as far as the MLD would allow. As surely as mice have tasty brains, she had Food and she put it down for me. Right on! This Sin-dee is OK. I scarfed.

As I was rending the Food, Kal-vin snuck in from the side. Instantly on offense I laid my ears back, bulked up, and let out a mighty hiss! I'll be damned if he didn't do the same. As if he could take me! What was he thinking? Amusingly the humans intervened. My male dropped to my side as if to defend me, while Sin-dee used her hind foot to brush Kal-vin back. Still alert and letting everyone know I was not to be messed with, I allowed my male to move me to a better defensive location. Kal-vin allowed himself to be protected in some undisclosed location. Being no dummy, I remained on high alert, even when Sin-dee gave me some more Food.

Whatever strange reason brought us to the Vet, my male now allowed me to lead him back outside to the Machine. He was all elbows and knees, trying to carry two boxes, a small bag, the business end of the MLD, and an array of jingly things that he fussed with. Eventually he got it together and we loaded back into the Machine. He made soothing noises, and eventually I quit worrying about Kal-vin.

After Some Time we stopped bouncing. The male reattached the MLD and opened the Machine. I jumped out, trying to clear a strange looking puddle. Unfortunately I misjudged and landed weirdly on a strangely-rounded rock, and almost dabbed a paw into that weird muddy puddle. Close call!

This place was Different. The wind was blowing my fur so hard it was almost uncomfortable. There were strange and wonderful smells. There was a ginormous body of water, rolling and splashing like I have never seen. Then, just as I was getting used to the water, I spotted a flock of peculiar Giant Birds. Immediately I dropped into a crouch and started stalking them. My male seemed intent on the hunt as well and the MLD was not inhibiting my movements. The doofus on the other end of the MLD Clearly does not understand stalking, and the Birds flew off before I could get close. Drat! Just one of those would have filled my belly half a dozen times, at least. The male crouched and seemed to want to linger, so I hunkered down in a sunbeam where the wind didn't wreak such havoc on my fur. We chilled.

When I had had enough, I started to lead my male back the way we had come. We loaded back into the Machine and again began bumping. What the heck is going on I do not know, but after indeterminate Time the bumping stops and we were Home. I lead to the Door and we go In. In a bit of brilliance, my male puts Food out for me, an unexpected treat. When I'm done eating, one imperious command is enough to have my male open the Door and allow me back Out. The jerk reattaches the MLD. Well, at least there is fresh rain water out here for me to get a good drink. Now it's time for a little nap under the day lilies. Who knows what incomprehensible thing my human male will do. I really just cannot figure him out, but when all is said and done, he really is an OK sort.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Al Khemia at the High Noon Saloon

This event slipped past me completely. At the beginning of August, Reena's other band, al Khemia, played an early show at Madison's popular High Noon Saloon. They opened for another local band, Patchwork Monkey. Al Khemia plays a melange of Arabic music, mostly classics. Joining them on stage for this performance was talented local belly dance instructor Mona N'wal. It was a pretty good show, and the audience seemed appreciative. It bears mentioning that members of al Khemia also play in other bands: Reena and Marko play with Pagee Go Go, and Alec and Rebecca play with Patchwork Monkey. Bill plays on demand for Mona's dance classes.

You can view photos on my Flickr site via this full-size SLIDE SHOW, or you can view them right here in a smaller format.

al Khemia at the High Noon Saloon

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Dreams of Vacations Past

I have been working on a large photography project, and have not been taking many photos for purely pleasure. Often I post images from recent or in-process projects, but this one is time sensitive: I cannot release any of the photos prior to a future date, so they will just have to wait. Too bad, really, because some of them are tremendous.

As I was sitting at my desk today I daydreamed about a past vacation that was totally enjoyable. I thought, maybe we should repeat that trip. That got me to thinking about more trips, and many of them I wished could be reprised. I guess that means they were good vacations. So, in lieu of recent work pictures, I'll post a few vacation pics!

a13 from Tobago Cays
Tobago Cay in the southern Caribbean

The above photo was taken while on a Windjammer (RIP) cruise. The ship had only 44 passengers on that trip (max. was 66) so it was pretty spacious. We avoided all touristy ports of call and instead spent our days on deserted islets like this one. Awesome.

Lake Superior Shoreline

On a completely different sort of a trip, we took our motorcycles around Lake Superior. From Madison we drove to Sault Ste. Marie, into Canada, and around the lake counter-clockwise. As beaches go, the one at Tobago wins the day. There is something alluring about the power of Lake Superior however that draws us back fairly often.

Day's End Reward
Day's End Reward

We are more inclined to take care of our own meals when we travel, eschewing fancy restaurants in favor of the simple pleasure of grilled steaks and cold beers. This is especially true when we are traveling on the motorcycles. This particular trip was an exploration of twisty back roads in western Wisconsin. There are thousands of them, and we have done variations of this theme half a dozen times at least.

Desert Womb
Cave Near Moab, UT

Hiking in Moab was interesting, but it was primarily a dancing trip. A later trip to Sedona was more about experiencing the spirit of the place. Just hanging out at our B&B was pretty amazing.

Penrose B&B in Sedona

Last year I made a trip out to Cape Cod, which included a ferry ride to Martha's Vineyard where we rented bikes and toured a bit. I was really there because I was officiating at a a good friend's wedding ceremony.

Falmouth Harbor, Cape Cod
Falmouth Harbor, Cape Cod

Hmmm, now where to?

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Squirrelizer

I'm in the process of editing a significant photo shoot, and I felt the need for a bit of diversion. I was reading a favorite blog, TYWKIWBI (that is, Things You Wouldn't Know If We Didn't Blog Incessantly) and they linked to a site that will insert a squirrel into your photo. WTF?

So I did it, and it cracked me up.

Masamba Dance at Summer Samba Fest

Both TYWKIWDBI and The Squirrelizer can be found here:

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Studio Dressing Room

Here is a shot of the dressing area in the new studio. It is not finished, but at least it is now operational. The vanity was donated by a friend (who I just re-connected with after nearly 30 years!), and while serviceable, is begging for a makeover. Reena is pondering. Feel free to offer suggestions.

Studio Changing Room

The lights are color-corrected (6500k) compact fluorescents, and use little power and generate almost no heat. There's 240 watts on each side, so there really is great light for applying makeup and doing hair.

My first paying shoot is tomorrow. I am really looking forward to a session in this great new space. Do not expect to see model pictures right away because the photos cannot be released until after a certain date.

Now, what am I forgetting..?

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The other end of the studio

Two more shots of the studio, this time the desk and changing room area:

Studio-the desk end

Studio-the desk end

The work table in front will have a skirt around it to hide all the tubs and storage bags that are probably going to remain under it. We still need a shelf on the wall above the desk, some installation of lights we just bought for along side the vanity (in the changing area), and a wall-mounted coat rack for the entryway.

Oh yeah, and maybe we could find some pictures to put up!

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Yoga.......Y-O-G-A, Yoga!

Another couple of studio shots, still from that first day playing with the light. The first one is a bit underexposed, but the contrast and illumination of the body reads better to my eye. I'm holding the remote trigger in my upper hand in the top photo, and it's under my left index finger in the second.

Studio Test Shots - Yoga
(What's up with that foot?)

Studio Test Shots - Yoga

And the first on again, tweaked a bit for emphasis:

Studio shot - Reworked
View Larger

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Studio Stuff I

Well the new studio is about 85% set up. It is ready for the work of photography, but the niceties are not yet done. We still need to create the dressing area and get make-up lights on the vanity. We are still looking for some chairs that will pull double duty as reception and modeling chairs. I'll know them when I find them. Some wall-mounted shelves are still in order, as well as a guest coat rack and a curtain to put across the wall to act as a buffer in case someone walks in while a model is in a state s/he does not desire to share with others (Mick or the landlord are the only possibilities, and I'm not worried about Mick). A Do Not Disturb sign is probably a good idea.

Here are a few shots of the setup:

Studio Setup

Studio Setup
View LARGE On Black

There are some example shots after the jump, so follow the link to read the rest!

These are the first real shots taken in the new studio space. Again, I was just messing around using myself as a model as I got myself familiar with the space.

Studio Shots

Studio Shots
Looks Like Rain Again

Studio Shots
Doing Up My Hair

Studio Shots

Lighting that black, black, black boa is a real challenge. Trying to get some definition on it without blowing out everything else takes some thought, and so I have to try it. That, and it feels good...

I am pretty much open for business now!

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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Captain Hook

It has been a while since I posted any photos of my cat, Captain Hook. He is a strange one; both incredibly affectionate and aloof, and he constantly challenges me regarding who is boss. Two years ago, at age 15, he was diagnosed as diabetic, we opted to forego insulin injections and rely on diet modification. He is on an all-protein diet and is pretty obsessed with food. Missing meals is not part of his plan! Here he is reminding me that, surely, it must be meal time!

Captain Hook
Hey! Where's my Mouse In A Cup?!!

He is still going strong, and at this very moment is reminding me that a second round of breakfast would be appreciated.

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Friday, August 7, 2009

Making Progress

The new studio space is taking shape. It seemed so big the day we initially looked at it:


Once we started moving things in, space seemed to fill up quickly!


Fortunately, once we got some organization - a process which will be ongoing for a while - it seemed like we would do alright. We are still pondering some storage options, and should have the changing area/vanity set up by next week. We got the oak look flooring in yesterday and it now seems much less industrial and more friendly.


We have several options on how to put up backdrops, and this tent-pole method was simply the first we set up because it was simple and fast. I'll try out the other rig later today. Fun and exciting time right now!

My first scheduled client is next week, with another being set up for the week after.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Night and Day

View LARGE On Black

"Night and day, you are the one
Only you beneath the moon or under the sun
Whether near to me, or far
It's no matter darling where you are
I think of you
Day and night, night and day, why is it so"

~Cole Porter, sung by Ella Fitzgerald

Yep, it's been that kind of year

...for Reena

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Livin' and Dryin'

Livin' and Dryin'
Livin' and Dryin'

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Summer Samba Fest II

Here is the next installment of photos from the Summer Samba Fest at the High Noon Saloon. Accompanying the Handphibians was the ever lovely and talented Masamba Dance troupe.

Summer Samba Fest 09

When these women hit the stage, the crowd moves forward and the cell phone cameras sprout like mushrooms. No surprise there. Masamba is all about high-energy dancing. They really bring a fun and lively energy to the 'Phibs performances.

Summer Samba Fest 09

There are more in the slide show here, or watch it in small-scale here:

I suggest taking the link to view it large! There will be a set of Handphibian pictures coming soon.

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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Summer Samba Fest, Part I

The band in which my wife plays - Pagee Go Go - was the opening act at Madison's first (annual?) Summer Samba Fest. Attendance was pretty good, and the band played well. Friends of the band came from Chicago and Duluth, MN to see the show.

Summer Samba Fest 09
Pagee Go Go at the High Noon Saloon

There were all sorts of people in the audience. Some opted to get into the spirit of things and wear samba or carnaval-inspired clothing or costumes. Reena has been doing more singing with the band, and last night she did fine. They are doing a cover of Hank William's "Jambalaya", a Cajun song done in sort of a forro style. Pretty fun, actually. The band also covers a lot of classic Brazilian music, mostly samba, but they also have some originals, and other covers as well. I particularly enjoy their rollicking cover of Tom Wait's, "Ice Cream Man".

Summer Samba Fest 09
Reena, Chris, and Kristin

My first batch of photos, those of Pagee Go Go, are in a set at Flickr. Here's a link to a slideshow, or watch it here in a small size:

There will be a couple more posts for the headlining band, The Handphibians, and the special guests of SSF, Masamba Dance. Watch this space!

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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Whither Your Food?

I went to the farmer's market today with a friend who is a chef by trade. It was fun to experience the market in a different way.

Choose your food wisely

Often when I go it is with no particular mission. I most likely just dropped the missus off at work, and am enjoying a Saturday morning of leisure. I wander, seeing what catches my eye. Sometimes I'm motivated visually, with the camera calling, while other times my stomach leads me wondering, what's for breakfast?

Choose your food wisely

My friend was preparing a meal for the missus and I later that day, and chose her ingredients with scrutiny, often asking questions of the farmer/vendor.

Choose your food wisely

As I type this, dinner is almost ready. I find I am thinking - a lot - about what I am about to eat. Where did it come from? What was sprayed on it, or the soil in which it was grown? Did it, or can it, wash off? Was the animal treated in a humane and ethical way?

Choose your food wisely

I see bumper stickers around town that read, "Who's Your Farmer?" Good question to ask. Do you trust Monsanto to do what's right for you and your health? I have my doubts.

This chef dislikes "food porn" photos, so there will not be images of the succulent and sumptuous dinner. You will have to use your imagination!


I lied. Here are the food photos!

Superb Supper

Superb Supper

...and voilé!

Superb Supper
View LARGE On Black

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