Category Archives: Photography

The Fantastic Fest 2013 Tour de Kitsch!

In order to get to Fantastic Fest a couple of weeks ago, I had to drive across most of the United States. The 1,171 mile drive between Minneapolis, MN and Austin, TX goes past a lot of rural country, meaning there is a bounty of strange little truck stops with strange little things hiding in them.

Thus, as per tradition, here is the Tour de Kitsch!

Bite me, Iowa! Fishin' with Truman
Rose Grove, IA:
BITE ME, IOWA.
Bythedale, Missouri:
Every rest area should have a giant mosaic of Harry S. Truman being stalked by a fisherman.
Sometimes, you want the disembodied head of a raptor guarding your table salt. Anyone need a cowboy armadillo?
Ottawa, Kansas:
Sometimes, you just need a giant, disembodied raptor head to guard your precious table salt.
Marietta, Oklahoma:
Cowboy armadillo? Sure, why not!
I checked. My booty would not fit. Time to pick Knute Rockne's nose.
Kearney, MO:
I checked. My booty does not fit.
Mattfield Green, KS:
The Knute Rockne Memorial stands at almost the exact halfway point between my house and the Cargills’ place. Therefore, I now declare a new tradition: picking Knute’s nose on the way through Kansas.
We're having a car picnic! Does this qualify as a sandwich? I DO NOT CARE.
Rose Grove, Iowa:
On the southbound trip, I was accompanied by Jerry Belich of Choosatron fame. This is Jerry, making me a sandwich…
…if, indeed, this qualifies a sandwich.

My Own Personal Hellmouth

If you’ve been watching the news, you may be aware that the Twin Cities metro area of Minnesota has been walloped with storms over the last week. Xcel Energy reported a record-breaking 505,000 power outages over the weekend, and an astonishing amount of people are still without power. I’ve seen hundreds of trees in the roads and on top of houses and otherwise in places they shouldn’t be.

Luckily, I don’t know anyone who was hurt. I know plenty of folks who had property damage, but no injuries. It seems that we’re used to crazy weather in Minnesota.

The biggest and most destructive of the storms hit on Friday night, when I was in a movie theater watching Pain & Gain. For a good 15 minutes, it sounded like someone had turned on a vacuum cleaner inside the theater; that was the sound of the wind creating its own soundtrack with the emergency exit door. By the time the movie was over and we walked out of the theater, the storm had passed… but the exterior world looked like every nearby plant had been torn asunder and strewn onto the parking lot.

My power was out when I got home, but otherwise there was no damage. Electricity returned sometime the following morning, so I was by far one of the lucky ones.

A far more interesting thing happened the next day.

The earth opened up and ate my street.

A sinkhole ate my street!

This, my friends, is a 60-foot-wide, 20-foot-deep sinkhole. This gaping maw is two blocks from my home.

A 36-inch water main broke, washing away the earth underneath the road. When civil engineers arrived to fix the main, they shut off the water, which caused the road to simply melt away. The footage on the local news actually captured some of the cave-in as it was happening. Surreal.

It’s great, though, that nobody was hurt when this happened. That’s a hole that could easily eat a car, a house, or a business. It could have been a tragedy. Instead, it is just an impressive curiosity and a payday for some road construction crews.

Offline and Online

I have been remiss on my blogging duties for the last couple weeks. While I’m pretty sure humanity can live without my daily online presence for a while, I keep feeling like I’ve been slacking on the job. Last year, I made an effort to post each weekday (which I met with some success), so I had something of a habit going; having long weeks where I don’t post at all feels a bit alien.

I have Reasons, of course. I came down with a cold on June 2nd, which progressed to pneumonia. I’m on the mend now, but I was out of the Day Job for almost two weeks straight, and despite having all that free time at home, I spent almost all of it sleeping. On top of that, June is always the month that vanishes each year, because CONvergence looms large on the horizon. My few waking hours at home have mostly been spent working on the convention instead of working online.

It’s been interesting being mostly offline, though, just to see what happens with the analytics. 

The traffic on my other big blog, The Sound and the Foley, mostly stopped dead the instant I stopped posting. I’m pretty sure that this is because it hasn’t been up for long. I started the site in mid-March, and there are currently only 26 posts. They’re 26 huge and detailed and informational posts, mind you, but still only 26 posts. Google only just started sending traffic my way. I suppose the lesson is that, in the blogging world, it’s not just the content. It’s also consistency.

In contrast, this blog continued to generate a small background level of traffic, even when I was absent for so long. It has been up for longer than a year, and contains many more posts than The Sound and the Foley (even if the content itself is more trivial). Much of that background traffic was generated by only a couple posts, which have been surprisingly sticky in Internet terms. (I’m currently amused by how many people find this site with the search terms “denis lavant penis” or some variant thereof.) That said, I’m sure my traffic would soon taper off to nothing if I stayed offline for longer.

The “create or languish” nature of the Internet isn’t a new concept by any means. I just found it interesting to watch it happen in my own sandboxes.

Thus, in an effort to keep things moving, here is a photo of a tiny frog I found last week:

Say hello to my little friend.

Ebertfest: Day 2a

I slept late this morning, so I don’t have time to write-up the films I saw yesterday. (And yes, I want to talk about a couple of them in-depth.) What I do have are some lovely photos of the restored Virginia Theatre for your consumption:

The Virginia Theatre

The Virginia Theatre

The Virginia Theatre

The Virginia Theatre

The Virginia Theatre

The Virginia Theatre

Self-portrait in the upstairs lobby

Success from a Failed Time Lapse

Yesterday morning, I drove from Minneapolis, MN to Champaign, IL, a trip that takes around 7-8 hours of nonstop driving.

Recently, I purchased a glass mount and a power cord for my Sony DSLR, in hopes that I could shoot more sophisticated time-lapse movies during my long road trips. Thus, before I left town, I mounted the camera to the windshield of the car and set it to take a photo every 12 seconds.

The project ultimately failed. My car’s power inverter died (possibly a blown fuse), so the camera was left to run off its own battery. The battery died about 6.5 hours in. It also monsoon-rained during much of the drive, which means the individual photos were blurred by water and marred by the occasional windshield wiper.

The good news, though, is that the camera occasionally shot an interesting image, made dreamy by the blur and glare of the rain.

Failed Time Lapse - 2013-04-1707-08-18

Eastbound 394, just outside Minneapolis.

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I-94 Tunnel, Minneapolis

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I-90/94, Wisconsin

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I-90/94, Wisconsin, at 11:45 in the morning.

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Exit between I-90 Eastbound and I-39 Southbound, near Rockford, IL.

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I-39 Southbound, IL

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I-39 Southbound, IL