I Write Because I Enjoy Writing

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I know what you’re thinking.

“I wonder what awesome feedback this guy gets from having written, fairly regularly, for five and a half years?”

It’s a good question, and I thank you for asking it!  I have an email address associated solely with this blog, and when someone posts a reply to any of my posts, I get the proverbial “Inbox (1)”.   It’s pretty awesome.  It always begins with “Anonymous has left a new comment...”

Let’s check out some of that public acclaim, shall we?

On my review of Inception:

“Very energetic article, I enjoyed that bit. Will there be a part 2?
Here is my web blog - Reviews On Burn The Fat Feed The Muscle”

On “Mafia Wars – Killin’ Time”

Sony and Nintendo, by releasing their own game console called Xbox 360.
So perform XBOX 360 in fasshion and comfort with Xbox 360 console Wireless Control.
Created by the mind the dreamed up Final Fantasy, Lost Odyssey
just never managed to sail into modern waters.
Check out my web blog ...

On “Challenge Nation: Atlanta 2012”

What's up friends, its enormous paragraph about tutoring and completely defined, keep it up all the time.
Also visit my blog post ...

On “Photographic Blog Fodder”

Its important to use a rimmed pan so the batter doesnt spill off.
For the mushrooms, simply heat a pan of a medium heat and cook the sliced mushrooms with the coconut oil for
3 to 4 minutes, until they are well-cooked.
Also visit my site ...

And, so it goes.  Those are just in the past week.  I think it goes to show that:

1)  “Word Verification” – the aggravating “type the word in the adjacent graphic so we know you’re not a computer posting a comment” – has gone the way of the clothes line (seen any lately?) or,

2) The people who somehow earn livings promoting whatever on social media must be really, really persistent.  They’re such wizards of poor grammar and misspelling, yet they get the stupid Word Verification right.

3) Google has an income stream from selling Word Verification bypass rights to mass spammers.  (Note: I just made that up, but a Google search shows that people have all sorts of hacks to get around these.  Dammit.).

Go figure.  I guess Paragraph Verification will be the next big thing, and then I can write without the distracting noise.

Still, 517 posts, 133,542 page views, and 37 followers.  I’m thankful for each and all.

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Red John – Poor John

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I’m not an avid fan of The Mentalist, but when I have time, I watch it.  And I’ve watched it long enough to be sick and tired of the whole “Red John” underpinnings of the Patrick Jane character.

Short version.  His wife and daughter were murdered.  He seeks vengeance, and uses his people reading and logic skills to deduce murder after murder.  Many of those murders were also victims of Red John.

Red John, it is revealed over time, is a cultish figure, able to recruit men and women to his cause and penetrating the layers of law enforcement agencies to kill anyone captured that might give a clue as to who he is.

If you had to put a picture to him, you might conjure this guy:

Casting thought so, too, and set him up as a cult leader of a Scientology knock off.  He looks creepy enough to leave this signature sign at a murder scene, right?

Only, compared with the abundance of other nitwits introduced over the years, Malcolm McDowell, aka Bret Stiles, he’s the ONLY character that possesses any semblance of, well, cultish ability.  Not to mention facial features that can arrange themselves to convey a seriously ill intent and a voice that carries gravitas.

Instead, we got the Sheriff.  In a ho-hum plot twist, the Sheriff, ie, Red John, returned from the dead, thought to have been the victim of an explosion that also took the life of our better suited cult leader (2nd from left).

Whatever.  I’m happy to see him dead.  Rather, I’m happy to see the plot line dead.  But I doubt any viewer, in the rare scenes with the Sheriff, ever thought he was a Manson or a Dahmer or a Berkowitz or a Jim Jones.  He’s just your average bad guy with a badge.

It’s almost as if the writers had to turn this story in with one week’s notice.  Wasn’t there someone looking over their shoulder to say, “Eh?  You’re really going to ask a mass murderer to walk up to a guy who hopes to kill him, and hold out his hand for a present?”   Really?  And this evil incarnate is actually going to indicate in his death scene that he regrets killing Jane’s family?  

Are you kidding me?  I think the writers were sick of this plot line, too, and at least they’re free to create some new ones after killing so many off.  Hopefully they’ll do better than some ridiculously stereotyped FBI agents as the “obstacle of the week” write-in.

There were two good points to this semi-finale.

1) Jane did anticipate and reason through the explosion to not only figure out that the person said to be Red John wasn’t, but also plan ahead to where he would be able to steer a meeting and have a gun ready.  Smart thinking, Jane, as we would expect from you.

2) They stuck to their guns, or pens rather, in allowing Jane to kill the killer as he always said he would.  They might have stopped short of that, fearful of fan responses who might have fallen in love with Jane and figured a “good guy” would never do that.  Well, he did it.  And it was, as far as non-verbal eloquence goes, extraordinary.   

We’ll see where the show goes from here.  There’s enough chemistry with Jane, Lisbon and Cho to keep things interesting, but the rest of the characters have run their course just as much as the current stable of writers. 

But, hey, there’s always Elementary.

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Reach Out and Touch... Something

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Why search for stuff on the web for cool stuff when people post it right in front of me on Facebook?

Personally, I think this opens some new ground in murder mysteries.

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Old Car City USA - White, GA

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I’ve been aware of Old Car City for a couple of years,first driving by it by happenstance and not knowing what it was, and later viewing photos posted by a photography group which I joined.  They revisited this past Spring (reportedly on a hot day with plentiful mosquitos), but the timing didn’t work out, so my wife and I returned on a beautiful Fall Saturday morning.

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The property, located northwest of Atlanta, consists of 34 acres of over 4,000 old cars essentially left to the forces of nature.  The oldest vehicles are located nearest the entrance, arranged in a relative spacious fashion as they tend to draw the most interest.  As the trails progress, the vehicles work up to the 1970’s, with less care and, in the farthest reaches, with significant overgrowth.

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And, it’s a “destination” for both amateur, professional, and teaching photographers.  Yes, it’s a junkyard, but people visit from all over the world, some spending several days. 

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If every aisle is travelled, it’s said to include 6.5 miles of cars.  To the naked eye, it’s an old junkyard with a generous path, but the vehicles are relatively plain, with faded color and lots of rust.

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But, for photographers, many vehicles have iconic value, from vehicle make and model logos to the coveted hood ornaments.  They’re also a study in texture, from rust, chipped paint, natural debris and icky green algae. 

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It’s easy to take hundreds of photographs – odd angles, macro shots, etc.  What takes longer is the post-processing, such as Photoshop or Lightroom, to bring out the existing colors or apply tones that aren’t there at all.  The above shot has some applied color, but the eyes are as shot.  Pretty creepy.

On the other hand, the light here was natural, with the sun illuminating the headlight (but with further processing applied).

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There’s a lot of fun and games to be had, in other words.

All vehicles are (disappointingly) domestic, and the owner has recently increased the price from $15 to $25.  It’s a little goldmine in the woods, I suppose, but it’s also interesting as well, to observe the effects of nature (rusted out roof, a grown tree that has grown through the hood, etc.) as well as the folk-art approach of signs through the property as well as paintings and inked Styrofoam cups created by the owner.  You’ve got to do something while people are on the property...

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My collection of photos can be viewed by clicking HERE.  My time here further verified my general inclination that every vehicle deserves a hood ornament

Even a Pacer.

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Midlake – Live at The EARL

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It’s been a bit over 6 years since I was last at the East Atlanta Restaurant and Lounge, otherwise known as The Earl.  That visit was to see a band I had taken an interest in, touring well outside their native Denton, TX.  My memories of the venue from that night didn’t exactly match my revisit for their return show at this venue.  It’s actually much better than I had recalled.  Maybe that’s because I’ve been to a number of poor venues since, or, maybe it was because smoking wasn’t allowed in the stage area.

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In any case, The EARL is a place I need to return to with more time, and perhaps sample a burger.  You go to a bar, you should get a burger.

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The opening act was Nicole Atkins, solo on electric guitar.  She’s compared with a female Roy Orbison, which I think is fair.  She covered “Crying,” but aside from that, she’s got a powerful voice used in the same mesmerizing fashion.  I’ll be listening to more.

That said, I wasn’t paying close attention when she introduced a sad song and said something about Puddles the Clown.

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Well, Puddles is by no means a short clown, and with lantern and briefcase in hand, he walked through the crowd as she sang, then joined her on stage...

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... and then sang beautifully, complementing Atkins perfectly.  Go figure.  “The Way it Is” and “The Tower” were highlights.

Midlake is one of my favorite bands.  I’ve finally decided there is no point in picking a favorite band, but this band makes music that, for lack of a better phrase, soothes my soul.  I had seen them three times previously, and my biggest frustration would have to be their infrequent releases of new material.

The band announced a new CD a couple of months ago, with an “oh, by the way, our lead singer and songwriter quit the band last year.”  That matters quite a bit.  But....  the band made the music, and I listen to music far more closely than I do lyrics.  Their former backup vocalist and guitarist is now singing lead, and they brought in a new lead guitarist.  Good plan.

I wasn’t gong to miss this band, even on a work night, because they’re tied for #1 on that non-existent favorite band list.  Midlake is a 6 piece group, also including drummer, bassist, guitarist/keyboardist, and a keyboardist/flautist.  Wherever they want to go with sound, they have that ability.

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But there is a price to be paid for not being visible (or, more literally, heard) for several years.  The crowd was smaller than when I had first seen them, but hopefully there were enough fans in attendance to keep Atlanta on their touring plans.  Until that happens, I certainly don’t mind the opportunity to stand in the front.

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Lead singer Eric Pulido led the band briskly through their set of songs.  There was a little banter, but none of the “this song is about” or “funny thing happened on the way here” type stories that I think many hope for (as long as it doesn’t shorten the set list).  Concerts are aural and visual, but even without celebrity status, people still want to get a sense of the person behind the mic.  Not bad, but I recall Pulido being more interactive on stage even when Smith was still in the band.  Maybe it was a Tuesday thing.

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Midlake, obviously, doesn’t sound exactly like Midlake anymore.   Except that they’re still Midlake.  Former singer Tim Smith had a soft, careful delivery, and the music made room for him to be heard.  Pulido sings more forcibly, even while his tone is similar.  And while the words of their older songs are familiar and are in the right places, they aren’t his.  They still sound fine, though, and the band changed a few things musically on several, if only to allow their new leader guitarist to shine.

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The band’s new songs were built around the current lineup, and the ones they selected played extremely well.  “Provider,” “The Old and the Young,” “Aurora Gong” – and particularly a rocking “It’s Going Down” were very enjoyable.

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Another treat was “Kingfish Pies,” off of their first full CD, the quirky Bamnan and Slivercork.  And without dismissing the contributions of other members,I really appreciate the drumming of McKenzie Smith.  If “appropriate percussion” is a style of drumming, it’s the stuff in which he specializes.  It keeps a certain flow that’s best appreciated over an entire CD... or concert.

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The band had a unique close as well.  Rather than leave the stage, wait for applause and return for the obligatory encore, Pulido suggested that they just stay and play two encore songs.  Kudos.  The closer, “Children of the Grounds,” was another rocking affair that let loose the lead guitar of Joey McClellan.

After which... the band grabbed beers, water and/or a smoke and hung out.  So... why not talk to them a bit?  Tied for #1 as they are...

Interesting bits.  I spoke mostly with bassist Paul Alexander.  Regarding Tim Smith, I guess I’d summarize his view as frustration with and admiration of their former leader.  Sadly, it seems that all the songs/takes that didn’t meet Smith’s vision were literally deleted, not just put aside.  And by inference, I gather that working style possibly precedes their more recent efforts following their last album together.

I sometimes wonder how bands make it financially, especially when members have spouses at home, travel costs, and crowds may not meet expectations.  It seems that Europe is feeding the band with a bigger following, and the bar they own in Texas helps a bit.  Releasing an album every three years risks losing an audience, and if bands can’t support themselves, there’s no new music for fans like, oh... me.

I also asked about Trials of Van Occupanther, and Alexander said (paraphrasing and the best as I can recall) that it resulted from Smith seeing a modern picture of a lady dressed in equestrian garb standing in a private library and wondering about how, in a particular slice of time in the past, that scene might somehow occur.    Interesting... and it certainly led to one of my favorite CDs ever.

After getting autographs and wishing them my best... well, yes.  it was late, but worth it.

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4 of 5 STARS

 

 

Set List (as listed)

pho2to

Set List (translated)

Young Bride
We Gathered in Spring
Antiphon
Provider
Rulers, Ruling All Things
Courage of Others
Kingfish Pies
It’s Going Down
Aurora Gone
The Old and The Young
Roscoe
Provider Reprise

non-Encore
Children of the Grounds
Head Home
(the band skipped Van Occupanther on the list above)

 

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It’s a Small World After All

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I’ve been very pleased with my iPhone 5s, a significant upgrade from the 4.  That’s the end of my product review.

Of course, I held more than a small amount of anticipation when I was first notified that “myPhone” had its own tracking number... which I peeked in on periodically.

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For whatever reason, I had assumed that Apple had regional warehouses stuffed with these things, awaiting on the addresses of the 9 million who purchased them on launch weekend.

Nope.  You can ship direct from China in two days. 

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Photographic Blog Fodder

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This post 1) at least has new content for my half dozen faithful readers, 2) allows me to empty my iPhone picture library by sharing them here, 3) is an interesting time capsule of where my phone has been, 4) shows off that the best camera is the one that you have with you, 5) includes photos taken with the Hipstamatic app, which applies colors, tones, etc. with options that are an homage to older lenses and films, and 6) pleases me that I bothered to take pictures and still enjoy them.

Hover above each for a description, if you’re interested.

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