My Front Porch

We didn’t get out for a walk yesterday until the sun was setting. It had been a crystal clear day and the snow was shiny. We were supposed to get three inches on Friday and a then a couple, possibly more Lake Effect snow, on Saturday. Well we live by the lake and we didn’t get any. So we walked in the woods rather than skiing. We headed up into Spring Valley and saw some footprints. We are usually the only ones up here We smelled deer and then saw some. We smelled deer again but couldn’t see them because it was just about dark. A animal, bigger than a squirrel but not as big as a possum slithered up a tree in front of us. We headed down in the valley and the near full moon was casting stark shadows in the snow.


Larry Towell, The Pear, Lambton County, Ontario, Canada. 1983

Back home we changed clothes and drove over to the George Eastman House for an opening of “Larry Towell: The World From My Front Porch”. I had never heard of him but I liked his photo of the three Amish guys in the paper. His photos are stunning. Whether Towell is framing Mennonites, the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, Katrina, destruction or rural Ontario, Canada his shots tell big, cinema graphic stories. It is tough enough taking in a show with the distractions of an opening but the show itself has included distractions like old magazines, posters, kids drawings and concrete blocks. And on top of that there were plaques with incidental information mounted near the photos and lit like they were the main attraction and electric red title type on the green and blue grey walls. Let me look at these beautiful photos for crying out loud. We plan to revisit this show.

At least we found the show. On Friday we went out to see Jim Mott’s painting show downtown. We got an email earlier in the day about the show at the Bausch & Lomb building. We were there at seven and we could not get in the building. Jim is a Rochester artist who moves his front porch around the country and paints what he sees. He trades paintings for hospitality and was featured on the Today show.

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Forbidden Fruit

I brought my MacBook to the Super Bowl party at my parents house and found a neighbor’s wifi connection to do my blog entry. I wasn’t really paying attention to the game but I gathered it was a good one. It seemed like a long string of commercials interrupted by short bursts of football. I prefer the English version, the beautiful game with no commercials for forty five minutes. I was looking forward to the Apple commercials but I didn’t see any. My niece said they aired one for the MacBook Air before the game started. I admit to being an Macophile but $1799 is too much for a laptop.

Our Apple stock has lost seventy dollars a share from its high but then our stockbroker (who talked us into selling a hundred shares when it was at 70) now says, “Hey, if I had told you seven months ago that Apple would be at 124 now, wouldn’t you want to buy some?” OK, so I am not upset about the stock slipping. I am upset that Apple has trashed its iMovie program. It has been completely rewritten. I never had to read the help forums while using the old iMovie HD. It was all drag and drop intuitive. The first time I used this upgrade I popped open a new project and was greeted with a black window with little boxes with round dashed borders and a prompt to “Drag Media Files Here”. Everything I tried to drag here bounced off. And not only that, they have removed features like the ability to mix multiple audio tracks. The only reason I can think of for why they would be trashing this program is that they are trying to get you to buy their more expensive editing software like Final Cut. But what do I know? My nephew has the scoop.

And now that I’m running Apple’s newest operating system I have “Time Machine” writing huge backup files to my external hard drive of all my botched movie experiments. Apple must have thought it had the Midas Touch.

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The Midas Touch

My father sets up next to me in painting class and last week Fred Lipp was making it clear to him that he will never get everything right in a painting. “No painting has everything right in it”. My ears were erect. At times I feel like I have everything wrong in a painting and then I will do something so right that the painting as a whole looks pretty good. But don’t the masters get it all right? “If you had everything right you would have the Midas touch and you don’t want that. I don’t want it and you don’t want it.” I kept painting but I was thinking I better get some clarification on this Midas bit. I thought it was a pretty cool thing.

I told Peggi about the discourse and she said, “Why don’t you ask him to follow up on it?” I looked “Midas Touch” up on Wikipedia and learned that the king’s food, wine and even his daughter turned to gold when he touched them and this was all kind of a drag. I think I may have known this story at one time.

This week I asked Fred why we wouldn’t want the Midas touch in our painting and he said, “If you assume that everything you touch is gold, you’re dead. Creativity is doubt and questioning”.

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Why Doesn’t This Person Explode?

Nod cd cover by Susan StantonAs we were leaving town to celebrate Peggi’s birthday on Friday we got an email about a a Nod show at Monty’s Krown. Nod shows are kind of rare these days and we were bummed that we would have to miss this one. Chris Schepp (see Chris’s fictional reviews of Pete LaBonne) is playing keyboards with them now and we haven’t seen him with the band yet. Frank De Blase interviewed Nod for “City Newspaper” this week and he asked them what they had that wasn’t being offered. Joe Sorriero (guitar and voacals) answered, “Just a lack of freedom. Sometimes you see music and wonder, “Why doesn’t this person explode in some manner now?” Or “Why isn’t there one part that’s just off-kilter or wacky before coming back to the song?”

These few sentences perfectly describe Nod’s indescribable music. They have released a few cds on Steve Shelley’s “Smells Like Records“. 4D did the scan of Sue Stanton’s needlework for the cover of the cd shown here. Joe and Sue got hitched this summer and Tim and and Brian (Nod’s bass player and drummer) did a Nod tune during the outdoor ceremony. I’m looking forward to hearing the whole threesome with keyboard next time.

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You Spelled Marketing Wrong

I called Jerome’s Ignition Service yesterday to make an appointment to get the oil changed in our Element. Igor answered the phone and let me pick a time that was good for me. I used to just drop the car off and walk back home but we moved so I sit and wait for them to service it. I read an article in Time about the Arctic ice cap melting and how it will open up shorter international shipping routes and then I did some work on my laptop. Ted was working on his computer and Alan was smoking cigarettes and paying bills. He put a stamp on an envelope to NY State for taxes but forgot to include the check. Ted opened the envelope to confirm it. They finished my oil change and I was paying my bill but we had to wait for a junk fax to come in before the printer could release my receipt. I told Ted that we threw our fax machine away and do most of that sort of thing by email. He said he would too if he knew how.

Jerome’s is the best. Sparky recommended these guys and we have been going there for twenty years. Sitting here with pictures of vintage cars on the wall, I was struck by how much these guys have had to keep up with over the years. I was probably more sympathetic because I had been wrestling with with my own web 2.0 issues. I’ve been trying to find a free, customizable RSS to HTML script for a website we’re working on.

Ted suggested I go to Sofia Collision to see what they thought about the damage to our car from the lady that backed into us. The owner, Steve, asked me how fussy I was. I said, “not very”. He estimated the damage at $400 and suggested I call the woman and settle for $200 cash and then not replace the part. I asked him what he got out of it and he said, “Well, that’s what I would do”. I plan to give her a call and see what happens.

I got back to 4D and Peggi told me a guy had called and asked to speak with the sales department. Peggi said, “You can talk to me”. The guy got pissed and told her he was going to give us some business but he wasn’t going to now. Then the creep emails us this message. “My partner and I called you this morning to inquire about your services and you were extremely rude and did not want to speak with us. We were interested in getting business cards, a logo designed, marketing materials, and possibly a website. I just wanted to let you know that we will not be interested in speaking with you again.”


Just Bead It

Northway Motel

We got a late start and left Rochester around noon on Peggi’s birthday. We stopped at Starbucks to pick up a paper and a woman backed into our car. We drove east to Syracuse and then up Route 81 to Watertown before turning right on Route 3. This road crosses the northern Adirondack Mountains and takes you by some of its highest peaks. There was about two feet of snow up here and the scenery was spectacular. We pulled into Lake Placid around sundown and found a motel at the eastern edge of town with reasonable rates and still within walking distance of town.

Lake Placid is a cute little town and they know it. The Winter Olympics were held here in 1980 and facilities for for all those wacky events are still standing. Canadian tour buses clog the streets. People walk around with their ski passes on. We had to wait for a seat at the Great Adirondack Steak & Seafood Restaurant and it was worth the wait. They brew their own beer so we had pint in the bar and watched a skiing show on their tubeless TV. We walked back to our motel behind three twenty year old underdressed girls who were smoking and laughing. We walked by shops with names like “Body & Sole”, “Cuppa Joe”, “Just Bead It”, “Pasta La Vista” and “Bowlwinkles”. We curled up in our room with our library books, Stephen King’s “Duma Key” and a book on Arthur Dove.

Pete and Shelley House
Click photo for enlargement. You might even be able to spot the solar panel.

We drove on to Pete and Shelley’s in the morning and went out skiing as soon as we got there. There were beaver tracks in the snow as we crossed the frozen marsh behind their house and headed up into the woods. It was absolutely beautiful. I wasn’t worried about freezing up here but I was worried about our new laptop freezing, so I didn’t bring it. We sat around the fire, talked, drank a bottle of their homemade dandelion wine and slept like babies.

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Dead Zone

Paul and Shelley by creek in Adirondacks

We are headed up to the Adirondacks for a few days to visit our friends Pete and Shelley. We have a habit of going up there every year around this time to hang out and celebrate Peggi’s birthday. We usually hike or ski and this year Shelley told us to bring our skates. They have a marsh out behind their new home. We are hoping for snow. They don’t have a phone up there so we’re taking our chances. The winter here in Rochester has been sort of sad. January was seven degrees above normal on average and we have only been skiing once since Christmas.

There have quite a few letters to the editor of our local paper about the so called dead zone on the Northway, or Route 87, the highway that connects New york City and Montreal. There is a stretch where there are no cell towers and a few stranded drivers, trapped in a storm, have died there in the last few years. So some people have been demanding that the state build towers. Pete and Shelley did not move here to be connected. They are off the grid, the power grid, the water grid and the phone grid.

Happy Birthday Peggi! I will not be entering posts here for a few days.


Some Kind Of Loop

We saw a show of Haitian Voodoo Art at the Fowler Museum in LA a few years ago and they were playing some pretty cool music while we wandered around the show. We stopped in the gift shop to buy the CD and the two elderly women working in there were trying to ring someone up. They were both huddled over the cash register computer and they explained that they were caught in “some kind of loop” and would be unable to cash us out. That phrase has stuck with us and comes to mind pretty frequently.

We have “The Incredibles” at the top of our NetFlix list and we received an email that said it would be here Tuesday. On Wednesday morning we got an email from NetFlix that said they had received “The Incredibles”. The mailman may have watched the movie but we never got it. Peggi called NetFlix and they described it as some sort of loop. They apologized and said they would send us the next movie on our list, which was “Kundun”, immediately. They made it sound like they were going to hand deliver it. In today’s mail we got “Kundun” and “The Incredibles”. We are on the plan that gives us one movie at a time but we may be one up on them now.

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Trade Secrets TM

Martin Edic emailed me an idea for my blog and I’m thinking, “Does it look like I’m desperate for ideas?”. He saw that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, described as the spiritual leader to the Beatles, not to mention Mia Farrow who I had a crush on, had passed away at 91. I had told Martin a long time ago that I thought I had the same same mantra as Peggi. Peggi and I signed up to learn transcendental meditation back in our Bloomington, Indiana days. It cost twenty five dollars or something and we were each given a mantra that we were supposed to keep secret. I suspected that Peggi had the same one and asked her a few questions about hers. I came away from that conversation thinking that we did share the same magic word and I guess I told Martin about this.

I have since learned that our mantras are different but they may share some of the same properties. This may be the TM formula. My word really does have some magical qualities. It has three syllables. The first is only one letter, a vowel. The second is three letters and begins with the same vowel but it is pronounced differently. The third syllable is two letters, first a consonant which happens to be the same as the last letter of the second consonant but the two consonants are pronounced differently.

I’m not going to give away my word but if I tried to construct a new word with his formula it would look something like this. ooarri. It looks ridiculous. No wonder you are supposed to keep it secret.


Slow Kids

My brother John stopped by yesterday with his laptop. He was looking for a few Photoshop tips. He makes beautiful furniture and sends out printed sheets with new pieces to his gallery reps and clients. We sat in the living room by the new coffee table that he made for us over the summer. It is thirteen inches high and has two levels for art books. He made it out of the redwood that was used on our old deck.
He told me he was really slow. He had just been to a design trade show in Miami that is is attended by the rich and famous. He did really well there last year but didn’t sell a thing this year. The other vendors were all slow as well. I was able to spend so much time with him because 4D is slow. This is something you don’t usually admit when you are in business. The perception is not good. But this is what blogs are for.

I had a fire going in our new insert and I told him about the plans we had to brick in the rest of old fireplace in. Actually we weren’t going to do it. My brother Fran, the mason, was going to do it. He does brick fireplaces, great room walls and interior work as well as brick fronts and commercial work. He has two crews and has been extremely busy during the housing boom but that has come to a standstill. He is slow and worried about keeping his guys working. It dawned on me that three of the seven Dodd siblings work for themselves and we are all slow.

John suggested building a brick inset for firewood next to our insert and he left us with a nice sketch. If you know anyone who needs some furniture, a fireplace or a website you can comment below.

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Obsessive Documentation

Rich Stim Copyright Test

I carry my camera in my pocket and grab shots everywhere. I take photos on the street, at concerts and even the TV set. I have some some photos of yesterday’s Super Bowl and I have a great shot of Bush announcing “Shock and Awe” on CNN. I don’t think much about the legal issues of this activity but Rich Stim does. Rich says that future sites will be able to block screenshots. He didn’t say anything about photographing the web page. I took the photo above of his screenshot.

I have a 2 gig Sony Memory Stick Pro card that just quit on me. I can’t see any of the photos on it or even re-format it. I know it’s not the camera because the small card that came with the camera still works. I called Sony and they told me that because it was a few months more than a year old it was not covered by warranty. They offered to sell me a refurbished one for $39. And why do you think they have a supply of refurbished memory sticks? I told the woman at the call center that I was going to switch to Canon. She thanked me for calling Sony.

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Shawn Irons RIP

Shawn Irons at Earring Records company picnic

The first thing I remember about Shawn Irons is him driving some sort of mobile home thing that he had rented for us to do a couple of out of town dates. We were on the New York State Thruway playing some sort game and laughing when he got pulled over. He was doing ninety and didn’t even know it. As the cop approached our vehicle, Shawn turned toward us and said, “I don’t have my license. Can someone let me borrow theirs?” There was total silence.

He printed up Personal Effects business cards with his name on them and then told us he wanted to manage the band. He had no managerial experience or managerial skills but he had a mischievous smile and lots of energy. Martin Edic described him as a “big character” and he was a ball to be around. We hear Shawn died in his sleep last week in San Jose.


Showroom Dummies

Larissa Cleveland photo

My hat goes off to whoever the person was that rekindled the First Friday gallery night concept. We did four last night and had a good time running into people and art. Peggi planned our route before we left the house so we knocked them off like the Griswalds in “European Vacation”. We started at the Hungerford Building with a video installation by Michael Frank. Turns out we were the video installation. The little peepholes that we at first thought were the art turned out to be cameras pointed at us. Too bad we had just finished dinner because there was a nice little spread courtesy of Palermo’s Market on Culver.

Next stop was Booksmart Studio, the nicest gallery place in town, for Larissa Cleveland’s photos of mannequins. The one above reminds me of someone who comes in and cleans our house every once in a while. On to the VSW Print Loft Gallery for an invitational photo exhibition. I got the impression that they were Visual Studies students that were invited. Our last stop was Rochester Contemporary. We did the logo for this place. Tanyo Smolinsky had some really beautiful ink, wax crayon and pencil work in the lab space but that wasn’t the main show. Michael Rogers and Jack Wax were. Bleu Cease, the gallery director, was on crutches after falling while snowboarding. We said hi to Anne Havens and wandered upstairs to the artist’s spaces where we saw this beautiful painting by Julianna Furlong Williams.


Big Wood and Brush

Gene Marshall Song Poems

“Big wood and brush. Big wood and brush. Do you know the difference between big wood and brush?”, “Jimmy Carter Says Yes!”, “Little Love Bug”. These songs, from a cassette tape that Chris Zajkowski from the Squires of the Subterrain gave us, have been stuck in our heads for twenty years. And we don’t even have a tape player anymore. The cassette was a collection of song poems, hand labeled, “Beat Of The Traps”, and I think he got it from someone in NRBQ. The songs were lyrics by anonymous people put to music by studios that advertised in the back of magazines. A couple hundred bucks and you had a box of 45’s with your song on it.

Our friend and neighbor, Monica, had just returned from Paris and so we had her and Rick over for dinner last night. We made barley mushroom soup from the Moosewood cookbook, chicken marinated in a lime juice vinaigrette and a green salad. Rick made a no cholesterol angel food cake for dessert and we ate that while watching “Off The Charts, The Song Poem Story”.

The charming Gene Marshall, who claims to have cranked out 10,000 songs, was responsible for “Big Wood and Brush” and “Jimmy Carter Says Yes” and he stole the show. He dominates his band and bulldozes arrangements on the fly while “sight singing” lyrics that have just been put in front of him. Improvisation is one thing but watching him try to keep a straight face and get through these songs in one take was thrilling.

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Get To The Point

In painting class at the Creative Workshop in Rochester, we go about our business while Fred walks around the room and looks at the work. He stops at each person’s work area and looks at what you have on the easel or table. As a long time student, you know when he is behind you looking at your work and you know not to try to engage him with conversation first or any discourse on what you are working on or trying to do. He wants to look first. “No sales talk”. This is in keeping with his method. Forget about your plan. Let the painting talk to you. Address the worst first and and stop and evaluate it each time you make a move. When you have addressed all the bad, all you have left is good and of course, you are done. Staying open to surprises is part of the creative adventure. Executing a plan is “just busy work”.

Fred’s stops could last a minute or half an hour and the rest of the class can listen in on his critique. Most of what he says applies to all of us regardless of the medium or subject matter we are tackling. Leo does watercolor landscapes and I listened in while Fred was helping him with something last night. Fred was emphasizing the importance of not losing sight of the subject of the painting by putting extraneous elements in here. He used the example of painting a portrait. My ears perked up. Of course you don’t paint every hair on their head. You exclude things to focus on the subject.

The Toronto doctors who were probing around some guy’s brain when they triggered 30 year old memories by hitting a particular spot said some of the biggest scientific discoveries have been made serendipitously.

Francis Bacon said “I think that realism must be reinvented. It has to be continuously reinvented. In one of his letters van Gogh speaks of the necessity of making changes in reality that become lies that are truer than the pure truth. That is the only way a painter can recreate the intensity of the reality he attempts to capture. I think that reality in art is something profoundly artificial and that it has to be created anew, otherwise it would be merely an illustration for some purpose and thus in fact hearsay”.

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Can I Comment On My Own Blog?

I got some flack for the photo of the dead mouse in my “b” log entry a few days ago. Frank told me he would kill a person before he killed an animal and then after our Margo gig tonight, Maureen told me her grade school students were a little freaked out by it. Am I the only one who wears leather shoes or eats Italian sausage? Our cats would have done the dirty work if we had let them in the crawl space and they would have had a good time doing it. They bring mice and moles and chipmunks to the door and just plop them there with puncture marks like a trophy. I’m using good peanut butter. I guess I could have called these guys. They claim to use humane and safe live-trapping.


Big TV

The local paper interviewed people about what they planned to do with their rebate checks and this one guy said he was going to buy a big screen TV. The question is, “Is now the time to buy one, before the Super Bowl, or will there be even better prices after the game?”

My father asked if I would go along with him and my mom to look at TVs because their picture tube is going. They have one of those wooden cabinets with doors that close. Their screen is 29 inches now so the salesman at Charlotte Appliance told us that the 32 inch sets would actually be smaller than what they are used with the new aspect ratio. So he recommended the next size up, a 40 inch set, and they had three Sony’s to choose from. We liked the 1080p resolution but we weren’t ready to buy.

Charlotte Appliance is in an old theatre so they have all these rooms on different levels. On the way out we looked at the big Lazy Boy style chairs in the furniture section and this one was so huge we just started laughing. I hopped up in it and my feet were well off the ground. All three us of could have fit in this chair. It was kind of like those Monster Trucks.

Next stop was Rowe Photographic. They had the same set for $100 less and they would match Circuit City or Best Buy but the sale prices only lasts until February 1st. My father went home and cut out some newspaper so it was the size of the new TV and he hung it on the front of their old cabinet. My mother thinks it is way to big for their living room. My father is ready for the big screen experience. It is a standstill.

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Who Needs A Better Mouse Trap?

Dead mouse in our basement

We have noticed faint scratching sounds coming from under the floor in our bedroom for a few weeks now. So Peggi picked up a couple of old fashioned mouse traps. (I guess they wouldn’t be “mice traps” unless each trap was intended to catch more than one mouse at a time.) They recommended peanut butter as bait so we gave them the good stuff, Wegmans Natural Chunky Peanut Butter. And wow did they take the bait! I set them before dinner (ours and the mice) and had two trapped when I checked after dinner. I loaded them up a second time and had two more by morning. I thought we would hear the traps snap when they went off but after I found this guy I realized the neck of the mice cushions the blow. This guy could use some teeth whitener.


Preparation ADAS

We recently watched Julie Christi in “Away from Her” and last night we saw local boy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, in “The Savages” so we’ve got picture of what it will be like if Peggi or I lose it before we kick it. I don’t remember a soundtrack in the austere “Away From Here” but “The Savages” opened with a beautiful Peggy Lee song (I Don’t Want To Play In Your Yard) and closed with a beautiful Velvet Underground song (I’m Stickin’ With You). I guess dementia won’t be so bad if the soundtrack is good.

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