Syne Language

A safe healthy happy riotous ribald cheeky sexy flirty inspiring notorious warm rousing peaceful tasty potbellied zipper of a night to all, and Better Letters to the Scrabble players among us — and may the 007 to come be James Bond to all of our creaky leftover supervillains.

Last year at this time I was just learning how to push all the little buttons on my new camera, and wasn’t I lucky to have Miss Harvest Moon to point it at along the way? Does wonders for a learning curve, if you know what I mean. And I know that you do.

Posted in General Musings | 2 Comments

A Tree Broods in Brooklyn

This is prime time for musing on where I am and where I’ll be, what with that New Year’s Thing coming up fast, but there’s sun outside — pale sun perhaps, but sun nevertheless — and I think it’s calling to me. Which is, pretty much, where I am and where I’ll be, if you’re looking later on.

Posted in General Musings | Leave a comment

2006: The Year of Tottering Duckly

Moving by degrees to the blank reach of 2007. I like it. Those ripe green ones that still have juice in them.

This year has been one of hysterical extremes; I’ve gone through more of what I like to call road learning (as opposed to “book learning,” and I forget who used to say that to me back when but it came up often, book larnin’, yep) than I expected. I’ll be glad to put it down at the last of December, look up, and whisper my goodbyes to the year that was.

(Lame duck. See? Tottering duckly? Hmm … more coffee might be just the thing, now that you mention it.)

Posted in General Musings | 4 Comments

Play it Again, Samhain

Have I mentioned that October is my favorite month? October is my favorite month. We’re at the tail end of it, but still. The heat breaks, the leaves change, the cold, even when it goes a bit overboard like last weekend thank you very much, is still refreshing and novel. I don’t swing my best in the heat — Temperate Man, I — and so these tweener seasons always set me ringing, like a wine glass tinged in toasting.

The going-back-to-work thing has had catastrophic effects on my writing: those three months of immersion in the book, every word a string within reach, were truly precious. Now, after my half-week of phone calls and typing and checking and summarizing and saying “whatever” under my breath, the arc of it is hard to see behind the trees; is obscured by clouds. I’ve written almost nothing this month, and most of what I do get down gets lifted and put in the “What Was I Thinking” file for future browsing. When the cold hits for real, I suspect the only way to move forward will be to spend a long stretch, like all of January and February, at home at all times. Linus isn’t all that handy at being a dull boy, but it may be time to practice.

This morning I couldn’t find my “This is my Costume” t-shirt, which calls into question the practicality of owning an item of clothing meant to be worn once a year (actually I do use it at the gym now and then). Because this is the day, this is its moment to shine, this is destiny calling. And where the hell is it? Damfino. So the Dr. Evil shirt is going in your place, wherever you are. Just so you know.

I’ve ridden a float in the Village Halloween Parade for the last few years, but this time out Chuck isn’t doing his float; instead I’m meeting a friend who charmingly thinks we’ll be able to amble over at 8:00 or so to get a good view. I’m thinking it’s not going to go that way, but as long as I don’t tell her the odds (didn’t Captain Kirk say something like that once?) maybe she’ll do that Magic Thing and get us gliding. I’m not sure if this is a Date or not — there are indications on both sides, I imagine — but we like hanging out, so.

Tonight’s a frenzy for photographers. I’ve been shooting up a storm in general, and I’m thinking I’ll lay off the camera and take a breather. Because the funny thing about Halloween pictures? They really are wonderful, for the most part, but you also kind of know what you’re going to get, and then you get it, and it’s a lot of hassle along the way. Of course I’ll have the camera. I wonder if I’ll ever go to a parade again without a camera nearby in case I need it. But I plan to be vague and ungoaled and wandery, which is working against type.

Posted in General Musings | 2 Comments

Thongwriting 101

Overheard at the bar of a well-known East Village venue.

Well-Known Local Songwriter #1: “What about motherfucker then?”

Well-Known Local Songwriter #2: “No, no that won’t work; it has four syllables, it won’t fit a classic meter. Cocksucker, on the other hand, it’s a waltz, it’s natural for a waltz.”

Posted in Music Theory | Leave a comment

Spoiling Buffy

For ups of 15 years I haven’t had a TV. Technically speaking I have one now, but since it’s friends only with the aging DVD player and does not actually receive television - I’m in a basement apartment, so that’s that for the airwaves, and I’ve resisted cable all these years on the assumption that otherwise I’ll be able to find some variant of Star Trek at any hour and will never get anything done - it’s pretty much like not having one at all.

This makes for endless entertainment. For example, I never understand anything anyone says until at least lunchtime the day after a popular show.

Person in the Office: No soup for you! Whoa ho ho ho!
Me: This is a bagel.
Person in the Office: Still.

For another, and I count this a blessing, Gawker is for the most part an incomprehensible wave of cheeky irrelevance, and since I have no idea what they’re ever talking about, I don’t have to read it.

When I do get TV obsessions they come via DVD’s, which in turn come from generous-lender friends of mine who occasionally get them back. My record so far for a season of 24 is just under four days. Yay Jack Bauer!

Since there isn’t any more Firefly coming - woe! woe! woe! - I get my necessary Joss Whedon fix via Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVD’s, which I borrow from the estimable Jess. Once I’m done with it there’s no more Buffy coming down the pike, so I try to amble through the series rather than racing. This worked fine with the first three pretty-good seasons, but Season Four was - how shall I put it? - so totally awesome that I sucked it down like a 24 cocktail.

Um, here there be spoilers. Just so you know. I’m pretty sure I’m the only guy in America who has only seen Buffy up to Season Four so far, but you never know.

So last night I’m laired on the sofa, a platter of take-out Chinese simmering in the belly, and I turn for dessert to the special features commentaries. Joss, writer Marti Noxon, and actor Seth Green are giggly and interesting as they talk their way through the Wild at Heart episode. If you’re a Buffy buff, you’ll recall that the Slayer is just getting over a bad experience with Parker (the bum!) at this point; Riley is making his first overtures; Oz and Willow are about to pile up on some sharp sharp relationship rocks, via a comely young werewolf bitch named Veruca (also there’s some business about saving the world, but who cares about that).

Joss: (blah blah blah, sex leads to trouble on my shows, just look at Willow and Oz - so peaceful, something has to happen, blah blah blah) …and then, of course, in Season Six when Buffy and Spike have sex -
Joss: Oops. I think I ruined someone’s year.

Posted in General Musings | 2 Comments

Try to Remember

The 2005 Tribute in Light, photographed from the Promenade in Brooklyn Heights. There is a gallery of my images of the silent 9/11 memorial here on Flickr.

Posted in General Musings | Leave a comment

Write of Way

Juliana Valentine McCourt was killed when the plane she was riding
crashed into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

If I have the rules right, this is where I say, “Hey wait, where did the summer go? It was here last time I looked.” Messrs. Chilly, Rainy, and ‘Tis the Season whipped us up a frothy gray start for the Labor Day Weekend, though Sunday recovered enough for a very pleasant Pimm’s party at Pete‘s, a few blocks away. Pete knows a bunch of cute techie girls, so that was particularly good fun.

By Monday we were neck deep in a warm change of seasons, and frankly a guy can do worse. Pierre and Seth and I went off to take in the DADA at MOMA exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art, which is beautifully put together. Is it art? Well, only their hairdressers know for sure, but it’s fun to see so much of it in one place — I especially enjoyed seeing some solid work by Man Ray; the narrator of my novel-in-progress is named Mandel Ray (because he’s a nut), which is close enough for government work, and it felt serendipitous to see such stuff in the show.

The book; the book. I’m a little shy of 15,000 words in, which is about a quarter of what I think I’ll need all together. That’s a lot, and a little. I have a few more weeks before the arid crinkle of the bank account — like the sound Windows makes when it empties the recycle bin — sends me back to the office, if there’s still a job for me there. After that I suppose I’ll need to learn to spend my time indoors, and finish the beast on nights and weekends.

Pointillist (working title) is the story of an Internet relationship that starts well and ends badly; it’s funnier than I thought it would be, which is a good thing, and it wanders widely so far. I write at it nearly every day for two hours, or four, or six, depending. There’s a bit of quantum theory in it, because I wanted to clear a few things up (“Schrod, Boston’s most ubiquitous seafood catch of the day, was named in honor of Schrödinger, who was variable and ubiquitous in his tastes as well” — hey, just because you read it in a book doesn’t mean it’s true). I’m pleased with where it’s all going, but I’m quite slow at it. Somehow it’s never as lively here at the desk as it is in the movies, with all that tap-tap-tap typing going on. But by bits and pieces and fits and starts, something is slouching on forward into the future, and that’s good fun, ain’t it.

The curve has been a tough clamber, and one of the things I’ve found along the way is that I really can’t do much else on the Net while I’m working like this; I had imagined that I’d have all this time for photography, time to write a few articles that are now long overdue, time to catch up on this and that. And, naturally, time to blog.

Nope. I’m online when I write, but that’s largely for research and Wiki browsing. Otherwise, I’ve been slipping toward hermitage by degrees. But hey: I can tell it was summer, because I never made it to the beach.

Posted in General Musings | 2 Comments

Boy in (and out of) a Bubble

June eases down into the cradle of Last Year’s News, day by day. In a week I have my last shift here at the office until fall or so, and I couldn’t be looking forward to it more. Seven shopping days until I don’t have a job, and no shopping days thereafter, I guess, ever again. With rent and health insurance and the gym and utilities and a modest allowance for food, the rest of my life will have to coast on faith. Faith and staying home on the weekends, those two things. It’s a good thing it’s summer. Good? It’s a grand thing it’s summer.

Really, these days are gloriously busy. Not the hair-still-wet hellacious busy of “whoops forgot the rent check, again, because I was late this morning, again,” but rambunctious Tom-Cruise-in-a-sofa-shop busy, minus the disturbing maniacal Tom Cruise part.

I’ve been out shooting pictures a lot, which has a nice tendency to make things happen: it’s a social activity at heart. A big weekly newspaper may be running one of my shots of the Bubble Battle from last Friday (more of that here on Flickr); I sent over pictures today, and we’ll know next week. I had to appreciate this because in my decade of trying to get their music section — which doesn’t work there any more — to review our records, I never once managed to get in touch with anyone of substance in their office. Now that they want my picture, I call up and ask for the Managing Editor, and get him. “So the mountain,” opines Pierre, “comes to Mohammed in the end.” Now if only the mountain wanted to pay for the shot … but hey, foot in the mountainy door, you know how it goes.

My three-day weekend goes down like this:

  • Friday there’s a noontime dance piece I want to shoot at North Cove, involving choreographer Stephan Koplowitz and a habit of pretty dancers performing in and out of the focal plane of a camera obscura he has set up outside the Winter Garden (a very cool installation).
  • Saturday is the annual Mermaid Parade at Coney Island (yes, of course I have pictures from last year, thanks for asking). I’ve also been asked to shoot, for myself and for charity, at the Mermaid Ball afterparty — or I think I have; they said to come and then I never heard back from them, which sounds like “Guest List” to me.
  • Sunday there’s a tentative shoot involving the Upper West Side, a yacht, a Hummer, and a ladle or two of scallywag actors for a show their cheeky chic company is doing later in the summer. We’re still waiting for details on that to shake into place. I’ve worked with one of the actresses before, and we had a great time, so I hope this comes off as planned.

And last weekend there was a long hot dusty portrait walk with the lovely Jess in Williamsburg: I haven’t had a free second yet to start chowing down on those pictures. Yep, June rounds third and is racing in hard to home. Me, I’ll be wandering somewhere vague in the outfield, where it’s roomy and fun and the grass is longer.

Posted in General Musings | 2 Comments

What I’ll Do on my Summer Vacation

Swimming Backward

I took the last two weeks of May off, to figure some things out and plug some holes where the rain comes in and nurse the broken heart that bled over these blog pages lately. (Watch where you step, some of the corners are still tacky.) I thought maybe I’d take a few swings at an idea for the, um, (whispering:) book I’ve been thinking about for the last couple of months. I always want to write books and historically never actually do, but this time I appear to have some plot and story arc and characters hovering around clearing their throats. So.

But the main thing I learned in my two weeks off was essentially this: Two weeks is not enough time off.

My genes don’t run toward leaving well enough alone, so I booked too much photo work during my two short wonderful weeks: some portrait stuff, an event shoot at the loopy cool Red Bull Ascension ’06 party, and a feature piece on summer sun and parks in New York. By the time my time ran — and two weeks run fast, even when you bookend them with weekends — I was just starting to relax, liking the happy feel of blue jeans every day, loving the new gym regimen (five days/week and six where six fit). And I was getting past the hysterical binge drinking, see broken heart, supra.

So two weeks. Like learning how to breathe all over, from scratch. I barely wrote a scrap of actual text, but I added a couple of characters, flipped over a theme, wrote a few bits to test-drive a voice or two. Added a road trip, which might come out later but feels native to the run. Spent a couple of days wearing no socks except in the gym, sat in the park with a book in my lap and listened to the air when I didn’t want to sit at home. Thought about cleaning up and didn’t. Thought that maybe one of the things we shouldn’t ever have given up is summer vacation. I remember as a kid being free until I got bored, and I wondered what that would feel like now. And then it was time to go back to the Job, and of course once I got in it was like I’d never left.

On Thursday, June 29th, I walk out of this office into a Leave of Absence until maybe September, maybe October. There might still be a place for me here at that point, but there might not. I should have the some body parts of a novel to show for it. For pretty much the first time since I graduated from college, I won’t have a job, and I already have no idea where I’m going. Can’t wait to get there.

There’s no real way I can afford this, but it’s one of those moments: if I don’t do this now, I won’t do it ever.

Safety nets are for wimps. Or is that angels? I always forget.

Posted in General Musings | 5 Comments