Sunday, November 29, 2015

Adele Emergency!!!!

The big news in the world of entertainment is that Adele has a new album out called "25," and it's broken records for sales.  If you buy it at Target, you get three bonus songs.  I was at Target last Tuesday night and saw it and thought, "Oh, to heck with it.  I'll just get it at the library."  I was #20 in line for the single library copy which means it could be a year before I had my turn with it.  I can be remarkably patient with library books, CDs, and DVDs and I'd keep the loot.

That night I saw a clip of one of the songs from the CD, the second one Adele sang on SNL called "When We Were Young."  Instantly, an Adele emergency was created and I had to have it.

There's a Target three blocks from my office that opens at 7 a.m.  I was there as they opened, bustling past the employees who were still securing the doors open, asking for the new Adele.  I scored the CD and a pack of spearmint gum, and I went to work.  Emergency over.

Jimmy Fallon, the Roots, classroom instruments, and Adele?  Yes, please.  I've featured these Fallon/Roots/classroom instruments vids in the past; this one doesn't disappoint.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Vive la Belgique!

Yesterday, 21 November 2015, all public transportation in Brussels, the capitol city of Belgium, was closed down.  People were advised to stay away from airports, train stations, and shopping malls.  The national Crisis Center raised its terrorism level for the Brussels area to Level 4, which means a serious and immediate threat.  I know a couple of people who live in the Brussels area.  I sent messages to both -- the good doctor whose photos were shared here in this blog just a few weeks ago; and someone whom I know online.

This morning I saw that online friend was around and we chatted briefly as well.  I'd left him a message that I was thinking of him and that I hoped all was well and he said, "Thank you to be worried.  Its really going bad we have to live with it." He added that it was "nothing," which I took to be his way of saying that it is what it is.

I no longer work in a train station -- yeah, I changed jobs, jumping from the frying pan into the fire but a fire that's not in a train station -- so I don't have officers of the law with dogs, officers of the law with bulletproof vests, officers of the law in groups of two or three roaming around the public areas of the building where I work.  I entered via the back door of that building, the part that's not by the trains, then took an elevator to the office building lobby to avoid the long escalator rides and the train crowd; I never saw the cops with dogs or bulletproof vests or the groups of cops.  The only reason I knew they were there is if someone came in and said, "What's going on?  I just saw a couple of canine units."  We'd all wonder what was going on, no one heard anything on the news that morning, and then we'd get back to work, because it is what it is.

Vive la Belgique and I hope that no terror befalls them.  Also long live us all and I hope no terror befalls any of us either.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Vive la France!

National anthems are, by their nature, rousing and thrilling.  They evoke national pride and stir the hearts of the citizens.

In light of the horrific events in Paris on Friday, November 13, I offer to you a scene from Casablanca.  The Nazis are entertaining themselves with a German tune which really bothers the many French people in Rick's.  They're mostly in Casablanca waiting to get papers so they can leave Morocco for somewhere neutral, somewhere free.  It bothers no one more than Victor Laszlo who walks purposefully to the band and insists they play the Marseillaise; Rick nods his approval and the bands plays it.  Every one of the many French people in the bar joins in loudly and with great passion.  I ask that you join in loudly as well.  Vive la France!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The good doctor

Dr. Sanjiva Pather is a radiologist originally from Mauritius, now living and working in Brussels, Belgium.  We met on a tour of Kyoto.  We sat together on the bus and happened to get along.  At Kiyomizudera Shrine, we started talking about photography, he produced a massive lens, I laughed and said inappropriate things.  San showed me pictures as he took them and I was so impressed by the movement he captured with that excellent piece of glass.  Please note: it doesn't matter what the equipment is because a good photographer can get good results with a disposable camera and San is a very good photographer who knows how to put his excellent camera to good use.  San has an enviably good eye and was generous enough to share some of his work with me.  I asked him to answer some questions and tell me about the pictures he sent.  I am so pleased to share his work with you.

(Editor's note:  Because of the time difference and busy schedules, I am 90% certain of the quotes for the pictures.  However, those which I couldn't match with the quotes San sent to me are labelled  "Untitled," the city where I think they were taken, and then the month and year.)

Oh, I Think So:  What kind of camera do you use?

San Pather:  Nikon D 610.

OITS:  What's your favorite lens?

SP:  70-200mm 2.8 but it's a big piece of machinery for current use. Most pictures from Japan were shot with the 24-70mm.

OITS:  You sent me a broad selection of photographs from your trip to Japan.  What's
your favorite thing to photograph because you do best with it?  For example, I prefer to shoot people as I do best with that.  You can set me up on a street corner to get an obvious picture of a building and I will still honk it up.

SP:  I really would like to shoot "contextual" portraits, catching the subject off-guard. Also, I think I am really lame at landscape shots.

OITS:  Where will you go on your next vacation?

SP:  Costa Rica (I hope!).

"The only person on the street in Akihabara. ... Tough time to be a hostess of a theme bar."
"Open kitchen of another restaurant in Tokyo. ...
... Never a wrong decision to follow the local crowd to find something to eat."
"Purifying and somehow refreshing ritual outside Meiji-Jingu." (part 1)

"The other side of a traditional wedding."

"Purifying and somehow refreshing ritual outside Meiji-Jingu." (part 2)

"Great place for Ramen near Ebisu -- Ippudo Ramen.  Great ambience too!"
"A metro, like anywhere else in the world?"

"Rebel with a cause."

"Watching some cranes in their natural habitat habitat."
"A rare public display of affection."

Untitled, Tokyo, September 2015

"Free people behind bars in Kyoto."
Untitled Ramen, Kyoto, September 2015
"Two very nice ladies striking a pose during their morning chat in the streets of Kyoto."

Selfie:  "Made up of weird bits and pieces inside..."

"One of the most intriguing scenes from the small streets of Kyoto."

"Learning from Eileen about photos of people taking photos."
"The 'not bad selfie, but can do better' look."
Untitled, Kiyomizudera Shrine, Kyoto, September 2015
Editor's note:  This was the picture that made me see San's talent.  Look at the movement in the hair of the girls!  Look at the shallow depth of field!  It's that nice, fast glass and the photographer's eye.
Untitled, Kiyomizudera Shrine, Kyoto, September 2015

Untitled, Kiyomizudera Shrine, Kyoto, September 2015
Untitled, Kiyomizudera Shrine, Kyoto, September 2015

Untitled, Kiyomizudera Shrine, Kyoto, September 2015
"Pick to drink from only of of three fresh water sources:  health, wealth, and something I can't remember. ...
"Drinking from more than one source makes you a greedy person, or a thirsty person, kind of ..."

"Free people behind bars in Kyoto." (part 2)

Sunday, November 1, 2015

What's missing this week.

This week, I had every intention of showcasing the excellent photography of Dr. Sanjiv Pather of Brussels, Belgium.  Alas, I am deficient in a lot of computer stuff.  Because of this, the blog is an apology to Dr. Pather, my readers, and to myself.  I am sorry, San.  I hope to get it in next week.  I am sorry, my readers, but the computer bested me in a game of Brains vs. Me.  I will not beat myself up any more than necessary.

NEXT WEEK!  The photography of Dr. Sanjiv Pather of Brussels, Belgium!

Come back for it -- it's really worth the effort to see his work.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Taking pictures of people taking pictures of people: Flamingo revisited

A week or two ago, I was making a dash out of the Loop Station post office and then across Federal Plaza to get the subway when I saw them.  Were they art students?  Friends?  A couple in love?  She wanted his picture leaning against Flamingo.  She had a nice longish lens on her camera and I thought, "Oh, ah, she will do this right!  She will zoom in!"  As evidenced below, she did not.  But it's Flamingo so it's worth the shot.

"SEE??  There he is!  That black dot on the orange thingy!"

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Taking pictures of people taking pictures, Japan edition

Bla, bla, bla Japan. OMG had a great time yikkety yak.  I wanna go again blibbety blab.

So I snuck in pictures of people taking pictures.  People were very fast on this trip!  I had to move quickly or the moment was lost.  I lost more than one moment.

At the Fifth Station on Mt. Fuji, it's hard to miss people taking pictures of people
"I am cute.  I wink at myself in a selfie."
The selfie stick but way more elaborate
A picture of the casks of sake at Meiji Shrine is de rigueur

Those sake casks?  In the background behind them.  What else?  ME!


Casks a'poppin'

This person actually said, "That's Mt. Fuji?  It's so BIG!"
Mt. Fuji is in the background for them, too.  They could handle the size.

Tres!  And he never told me to take a hike.
Kiyomizudera Temple -- So many people in traditional garb who weren't part of a wedding.

View from Kiyomizudera Temple, over the forest where it stands, toward modern Kyoto

Peace, love, and selfie sticks

They are super cute but it's still a selfie stick
This radiologist from Brussels carried 35 lbs of equipment and is such a good photographer that I was envious.
'Cause all the cool kids, they seem to fit in

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sumo has football beat all to hell

Close-up of a sumo, pre-tournament match
American football is considered the national sport of the USA.  It used to be baseball but several years ago, football took over for the sheer spectacle, the force, the length of season, the size of the players, the passion of the fans and owners.  A few years ago, I drank the Kool-Aid and enjoyed football a lot.  I still do like it but no longer have the same fascination.  The radio's as good as the TV for play-by-play and evening-news or internet highlights are another good option should I be participating in life as we know it.

In  Japan, the national sport is sumo wrestling.  Not baseball, which came to Japan when it was invented, long, long ago, but sumo which came to Japan even longer ago.  When I was on vacation, I went to a tournament.  I am someone who can enjoy a competition with specific rules so I totally understand the fascination.

The actual matches don't last more than a few seconds.  The last matches of the day were between the highest levels of sumos.  It was strength, training, ability, intelligence, agility, and concentration against another man who had the same qualities.  Sometimes they'd hit each other so hard they'd go sailing out of the ring, airborne, landing on the front row (where other sumos sit).  That's a lot of flying beef, my friends.

The whole spectacle of the parade of the wrestlers and the traditional motions they go through while they're standing in the ring, in unison, is terrific.  There is a parade of sponsors before each match.  Sometimes there are many sponsors -- Endo, a young Japanese top-tier wrestler, had 21 sponsors -- and sometimes there are one or none.  The winner of the match takes it all.  There is synchronized breathing and concentration.  More concentration.  More breathing.  Salt is tossed in the air by each Sumo to purify the ring.  They clap their hands once to ask the attention of the Gods so they're not alone in the battle.  They drink water to cleanse their bodies; they stamp in the ring to ward off evil spirits.  No, this the exact order and these things can happen more than once. It begins finally when both wrestlers put their fists on the ground and the referee yells, "Hakkeyoi!" The match is over when something other than the soles of the feet touches dirt or someone steps out of the ring.  Of course if your mawashi (the "belt" that covers up the male action) comes undone, if you use an illegal move like kicking or punching, or if you don't show up, then you've lost.

Both wrestlers sailed out of the ring in at least two matches and the five judges gathered in the ring and discussed who won. In one case, the sumos had to go again; in the other, the sumo who hit the ground first was the loser.  The referee wears a knife on his belt; it signifies that he would rather fall on his knife than make a mistake in his duties.

No woman can ever enter the ring.  The present head of all of sumo is a woman and she can never enter the ring, even to present awards.  (She understands and accepts the tradition and is okay with it and you should be, too.  It is their tradition.  Don't get all feminist on their behalf.)

When the two sumos enter their battle, they are shown as East and West on the board and it shows up on the board only as East or West.  You have to pay attention to who is wrestling at a sumo tournament.

Below are a few pictures and they're acceptable to me and shows what it is like.  If there's ever a sumo tournament on American network TV, I will watch it, but since I don't have cable, it's sort of unlikely.

No matter the sport, a tourist will cuddle up.  (Nope, this isn't me.)

"Lady, leave me alone.  Seriously."

The judges convene to determine who touched dirt first.
Panorama of the sumo stadium (from my seat which wasn't so close but wasn't in the rafters either).
After the parade of the sumos, before the match begins, they present themselves to the crowd.