Wednesday, March 31, 2004

In Praise of Suburbia

I'm quite fond of the photographic schools known as snapshot aesthetic and new topography. A couple of my favorites are Bill Owens, whose book Suburbia documents the suburban lifestyle of the 70s, and William Eggleston ,who pretty much defines snapshot aesthetic.

Here is my humble homage to them, taken at my Mother-in-law's garage sale in California's central valley...

Last Night I Saw the Strangest Thing

Bob Dylan, in his guise as Vincent Price, is pimping for Victoria Secret. An advertisement for La Victorias newest line of bras and panties features a cameo by Bobby Z to the tune of Love Sick, from the Time Out of Mind album.

Great song and I always enjoy seeing Dylan, but just struck me as more than odd.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

We are Devo... D*E*V*O

UC Berkeley's (Go Bears!) paleontology department has put up a site for teachers on how to combat the growing antipathy in schools to the teaching of evolution. Sad that this is necessary, but they've done a wonderful job of creating an entertaining and educational website.

My only complaint is that the cartoon illustration of Darwin looks like a Rabbi.

Understanding Evolution

[Link via SFGate]

Monday, March 29, 2004


This might be a first at Futurballa Blog, but I'm linking to Glenn Reynolds, but not in his guise as conservative blogger, Instapundit, but instead writing at Tech Central on our favorite subject, digital photography.

Mr. Reynolds makes some excellent points about why digital is changing the nature of the pictures we take.
Web photos have a number of limitations compared to prints, but those limitations may -- as limitations have done throughout its history -- shape the nature of photography for the medium. Back when photography was limited to black and white, lighting and shadows were the dominant theme (think of Edward Weston's famous studies of nudes and peppers, as collections of interlocking shapes). Web photos have different limitations, but the results will likely be similar. Web photography is limited in resolution -- since most monitors won't display more than 72 dots per inch, photos are either low in resolution or displayed as so huge that viewers can't see more than a fraction on-screen at any given time.
He goes on to explain how camera manufacturers are pushing the envelope in the opposite direction, making 8, 11 and even 14 megapixel cameras (not too mention digital backs for medium and large format cameras that can top 30 megapixel) that can produce high quality photographs which can only be truly appreciated in a large print.

Interestingly, I myself have found that my 4 megapixel point and shoot, downsizing the images in Photoshop CS, is my preferred device for photoblogging, while using high resolution digital slr's (borrowed still, but not for too much longer) or film for my "serious" photography.

Certainly the images I choose to display on the blog are different then the ones I create for my photo galleries at my other site, or offer for sale.

Read The Greatest Picture Show on Earth.

[Link via George]

Friday, March 26, 2004


Thanks to the fine folks at Haloscan, I've added comments and trackback capability to futurballa blog. Give it a try. If you dare!

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Kevin Smith

Not an auteur, certainly not a visual director, but one of the most legitimately funny guys around (at least to my juvenile sensibilities).

An amusing article from the Globe and Mail. Read it here

Favorite quote on why he cast Jennifer Lopez after seeing Gigli? Smith says, 'Because Ben was in love with her so he didn't have to act and you want Affleck to do as little acting as possible. . . .'"
I got nothing

What with work, a training class and a general empty-headedness today, I don't have too much to blog.

Couple of items worth quickly sharing...

Josh Marshall is Richard Clarke central this week, and if you are following the 911 hearings, Josh is definitely worth your time to visit.

Secondly, friend George took the bait and has a detailed history of The Two Noble Kinsmen over at Fool in the Forest. And remember, TNK can also refer to a Beatles cover by 801 Live.

Blogspot Irony number 1: What you criticize you will advertise.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Hotel De Anza

One of my favorite older buildings in downtown San Jose. Most of our downtown area was built in the era when office buildings conformed to the ugly gray box school of architecture, but the De Anza is a classic.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004


Here are some beautiful stills from the Dali/Disney short film, Destino.
Widely Reported

An entertaining piece on Jon Stewart and The Daily Show from the Chicago Tribune.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Random Thoughts

This is just kind of ironic, don't you think. He is risen, indeed.

Last night's The Simpsons featured a throwaway joke about Moe the bartender wiping up a spill with a lost Shakespeare play. It was The Two Noble Kinsmen. I have a peripheral connection to that play, but this blogger has a more than peripheral relationship. Perhaps he will expound.

I watched The Day the Earth Stood Still over the weekend. One thing that struck me was the scene in which two military doctors are discussing how Klaatu's advanced medical knowledge makes them feel like witch doctors, as they both light up a cigarette. My question is was this ironic back in 1951?

Starting with Terry Teachout's comments on Keaton vs. Chaplin, it is becoming the thing to comment on how un-funny the Little Tramp was (Aaron Haspel and George Hunka comment). I haven't watched much Chaplin since I was a child. I enjoyed him then, but will agree that what little I have seen in recent years has not particularly made me laugh. But honestly, I am not a big fan of Silent comedy in general. Terry poses the "two kinds of people" question in the Chaplin/Keaton debate. I'd update it slightly to talkies and ask the question of intellectual humor vs. slapstick in the Marx Brothers/Three Stooges dichotomy. My preference has always been the Marx Brothers over The Stooges, which puts me firmly in the camp of witty dialog over slapstick.

Representing the satiric wing of the Democratic Party. The New York Times has a lengthy profile of Al Franken. [Link via Kevin Drum]

Also via Terry Teachout, find out which classic novel you belong in. I will join Terry in The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Friday Phlogging

I've been admiring this classic Impala in the parking lot at work for a while, and following on yesterday's Pink Elvismobile and comments from friend Bridget about her love of old cars, I took a couple of shots this morning.


and now

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Photo Haiku

Wim Wenders has some very nice photography coupled with haikus on his site.

[Link courtesy of George]
You Mother What?

CNN reported this morning that Mercedes McCambridge has passed away. She won an Oscar as Willie Stark's secretary/mistress in All the King's Men and was nominated again for her role as Rock Hudson's sister in Giant, but she is perhaps best remembered as the voice of the demon in The Exorcist.

Perhaps in memory, but totally in jest, George Wallace at Fool in the Forest has a link to a very amusing Flash animation, featuring Bunnies... Demon Possessed Bunnies.
Odds and Phlogs

Life continues to be a bit busy so here are some images from my archive that I thought would be fun to Phlog. Hopefully we will have a bit more blogging time soon and perhaps even something interesting to write about.

Cherry Blossom Time

Lazy Susan

Elvis has left the building

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Political Animal

Update your blogrolls. Kevin Drum, formerly of Calpundit is moving to the

And note, "[] is a direct link to the blog. It will be right smack in the middle of their newly redesigned homepage."

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Buried Under Hardware

I spent yesterday setting up Windoze boxes and dealing with Software incompatibilities. Today looks to be a bit of the same plus catching up on the work I didn't get done yesterday, so I'm afraid that means another day of light blogging.

I would like to recommend you to an interesting post that touches on one of our main subjects here at Futurballa. Michael Blowhard has a new digital camera and got to talk to a Kodak tech who filled him in on some of the developments in digital cameras. Be sure to read through to the comments where Alan Little clears up a few issues for Michael. Alan makes many of the points that I would of had I the time yesterday.

Read it here.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Zero Sum

Hopefully back from hiatus, if a trend of one posting can be seen as a trend, Aaron Haspel discusses his political and cultural odyssey. I will not comment on Aaron's politics, nor will I venture to argue poetry with him. In the former we would have to agree to disagree, and in the latter I am too ignorant to participate in the conversation. But when Aaron discusses the music of the late 1970s and early 1980s, I can't resist but to chime in.
In high school I refused to listen to Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd: that shit was for the heads who wore cutoff jean jackets and smoked in the parking lot. I went in instead for Devo, Talking Heads, Sex Pistols, Clash, a few deservedly forgotten groups like the Fabulous Poodles ("Mirror Star" anyone?), and of course, as Professor Lee Roth would have predicted, Elvis Costello. Later on, when my ex-head friends sat me down with the headphones and forced me to listen carefully to Zep and Floyd, I was astonished to discover that it was good, really good, and that my own tastes at the time had held up spottily by comparison. The jean jacket boys were right, and I was wrong. It bothered me, as it would bother anyone. Only after several years of conscientious deprogramming could I listen to these bands without prejudice.
I fear that Aaron and I are "of an age", since I was in college when Elvis Costello and The Talking Heads first appeared. I saw Elvis on his first American tour, and was at the final Sex Pistols concert at Winterland shortly before their breakup and the eventual demise of Sid Vicious.

At the same time, I was listening to Floyd and a lot of British art rock, such as King Crimson, Roxy Music, and Brian Eno. It was not a zero sum game for me that required that I forsake the one for the other. I will admit that Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin were considered passe at the time, even though I had listened to them a bit in High School. I only came back to the classic metal bands later. Also listening to freeform rock radio in those years, embodied by KSAN in San Francisco and KROQ in LA, there was nothing odd about hearing Roxy Music or David Bowie and the Talking Heads or Blondie in the same set.

Having grown older and wiser, Aaron states that the jeans boys were right and Zep rules, and that Punk and New Wave hold up "spottily" in comparison. I would say that Elvis Costello, The Clash, Talking Heads, The Pretenders, to name a few, hold up quite well, thank you very much. There is plenty of 70s metal that is a bit spotty. Yes Zep is a lot better than Flock of Seagulls, but give me The Talking Heads over Rush any day!

Thursday, March 11, 2004

You Can't Believe Your Own Eyes


But we knew this already.
Dark Materials

One of my favorite literary writers, Michael Chabon, writing in he New York Review of Books, goes into great detail on young adult fantasy in general and Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy in particular.

An interesting point that Chabon makes is that most modern fantasy stems for the Norse and Celtic trappings of Tolkein, but that there is another tradition in fantasy, the Miltonian, and that Pullman's world of broken universes is more closely alligned with Milton.
Any list of the great British works of epic fantasy must begin with Paradise Lost, with its dark lord, cursed tree, invented cosmology and ringing battle scenes, its armored angelic cavalries shattered by demonic engines of war. But most typical works of contemporary epic fantasy have (consciously at least) followed Tolkien's model rather than Milton's, dressing in Norse armor and Celtic shadow the ache of Innocence Lost, and then, crucially, figuring it as a landscape, a broken fairyland where brazen experience has replaced the golden days of innocence; where, as in the Chronicles of Narnia, it is "always winter and never Christmas."

A recent exception to the Tolkienesque trend is Pullman's series of three novels, The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass (with a promised fourth, The Book of Dust), which reshuffle, reinterpret, and draw from Milton's epic both a portion of their strength and their collective title: His Dark Materials. Pullman, who was a student at Oxford in the 1960s, has just served up a new volume, a kind of tasty sherbet course in the ongoing banquet, entitled Lyra's Oxford.

Read the whole thing here.

[Link via Crooked Timber]

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

< irony> ;o)

From Crooked Timber a suggestion that blogger irony get its own pronunciato.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Those Crazy Masons

From the news of the weird department...

Man killed during Masonic initiation
I want my MTV

As I mentioned recently, I've had a bit of a horror story with getting satellite TV installed. Starting with the installer showing up and discovering that the box in his truck was empty and he didn't have an actual dish with him, to our dish being stolen off our roof, to finding out that the retailer had signed us up for a different contract than he had initially offered. The list goes on ad nauseum.

Yesterday evening the story had come to its long awaited conclusion. The stolen dish was replaced, the retailer finished the wiring, and the contract issues were resolved. But like Michael Myers, laying motionless and ostensibly broken on the lawn, by the time I run down stairs to confirm that he is dead, the body is gone. (Cue scary electronic music.)

Dish Network and Viacom are in a contract dispute with the result that on the very night I get my TV viewing back, my daughter is deprived of MTV (which matters to her), and I won't be able to see John Stewart or CSI (yes, liberal and middle-aged, that's me).

Murphy, why must you always be right?
Enemies List

Welcome to our visitors from Roger Ailes (not the evil one). Just a quick note about Futurballa Blog. It is an eclectic place, mostly devoted to photography, art and culture, but when things get too weird I can't control myself and will comment on politics and of course link to some of the excellent bloggers that you will find to your right in the blogrolls.

So take your time and have a look around, and I hope to see you again.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Loose Enz

Thanks to Roger Ailes (the good one) for adding Futurballa Blog to his blogroll. Be sure to pay Roger a visit.

This weekend included a trip to Mission San Juan Bautista for a photoshoot that will hopefully turn into a coherent project. I am so rarely coherent, I thought it might be a good idea.

Be sure to check in at Futurballa Photography to view galleries and get prints.

I also have horror stories relating to my switch from Cable to Sattelite, but I am by no means emotionally recovered from the entire affaire to blog on it.

Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans permalinks

I just spent too much time reading About Last Night. Terry and Our Girl treat us to a number of highly enjoyable postings, which lead me to link to the site in general instead of permalinks to individual postings.

ArtsJournal: About Last Night

A couple of highlights to look for...

Our Girl in Chicago shares her postcard from NY. My favorite line, "What a long, strange trip it's been - except for the long and the strange parts." She is like the Deadhead Dorothy Parker.

Terry offers up a letter from the then unpublished Flannery O'Connor to her would-be editor re Wiseblood.

Terry gets beaten to the proverbial punch by Blake Eskin of Nextbook on why Fiddler on the roof is the comfort food for the secular Jewish soul. And I concur.


Friday, March 05, 2004

Tom Hayden: Chickenhawks better duck

I actually worked for Tom's Campaign for Economic Democracy as a canvasser/fundraiser back in the early 80s. He has always been a smart thoughtful guy who sought to fight for change from within.

Writing in the Nation on the effect of the Vietnam era he shares his unique perspective on the current political scene.

Read the whole thing here.

[Link via Alertercation]
Friday Phlogging

A couple of San Francisco leftovers from my days at PhotoshopWorld.

Tracking Memes

A very interesting story this morning from

Blogs Can Be Infectious

I knew that.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Phlogging on Tuesday - SF Edition

I was in San Francisco yesterday (and will be again tomorrow) for PhotoshopWorld and took some pictures with the trusty digital. I thought them worth sharing.

They're broken it into a couple of sets. The first few have been processed in Photoshop to give an illustrative effect, the next set are contrasty black and whites, and the last one is just an interesting shot between the trains at the Caltrain station.

I want candy...

Oooooh, the colors

Monday, March 01, 2004

Signs of the Apocalypse

When I find something to agree about in editorials by both Christopher Hitchens (here) and William Safire (here).
Love the Trilogy? Reward the Installment!

Rating the Oscars is a bit of a standard blog practice (sbp) this morning, but I'll chime in with the Futurballa Meter. Billy Crystal has been better, but he was better than any alternative. Mitch and Mickey should have won. Glad to see LOTR so well rewarded, it was a truly magnificent achievement, but instead of virtually ignoring the first two, the academy chose to reward the entire trilogy by over-praising the third installment.

All in all a rather dull night of over long, dull acceptance speeches thanking attorneys (gads), agents, and New Zealander technicians. No real surprises. The only hotly contested category, best actor, went to the serious emotional performance, Sean Penn, instead of the dry, career defining performance, Bill Murray.

I actually like Rennee Zellweiger as an actress, but God help us from her being allowed to make a speech ever again.

And a note to Brian Micklethwait, who writes, " favorite (properly prepared I mean) performance was just Jack Black and a Very Tall Bloke singing a song called "You're Boring", the tune of which is apparently played at the end of every acceptance speech, but which, as they proved, also has lyrics." The very tall bloke is the great, and very funny, Will Ferrell.