Friday, February 27, 2015

Suited to a Tea

I didn't grow up in the South.

When I went to school in Chicago, one guy referred to me as being "from the South," but everyone laughed at that. I was from south of there, but not the South. Growing up, I learned about the South in terms of Colonel Sanders and his white suit, picking cotton, the Mason Dixon Line, and them Duke Boys, who had a car named the General Lee for... some reason.

And after I left the childhood education of TV characters behind, I had a widening perspective of the various forces and entities that composed southern states. But even learning that the South encompassed a wider variety of cultures and ideas than I ever knew about, I was also aware that I wasn't "it," with my suburban St. Louis upbringing. I was, if anything, Mid-West, which has less claim to charming eccentricity and more to being a plain-speaking farmer.

But I want to address something I've noticed especially in the last decade or so. Something that marks me as "not Southern" as much as anything geographically or historically. And as with the history of our country, let's start with tea.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Veritography III: A Real Reality

"Veritography" was the word I coined for this series of posts about my experience of photography. I liked it because it sounded like an intensifier (VERY-tography) but also because it incorporated the Roman god of truth, Veritas (or, if you're under 25, a good Harry Potter word). The series was conceived as being about the "truths" of photography, as they came to light (heh!) in the course of taking pictures. Today's entry is also about TRUTH, in the capital-letter sense of establishing the pure, real, and essential nature of something.

In addition, I just launched my own photo gallery website. I borrowed the name of this series for that website, partially because I like the name, and also because it was available as a domain (that part is important). You can find my photography site at

Reality is a tricky subject with photography. Assuming one hasn't applied any after-exposure manipulation, each individual shot could be considered "real." If I take a picture of a dog, like Hannah (photo above) then I know that's a real dog. She looks like that. We were out for a walk in a park -- that part is also real.

One standard of reality is a basic acceptability test: this seems real, so we're willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. I'm showing a picture of a dog and saying that it's a dog. That makes it easy to use our innate senses to say, "Sure. I've never seen that dog, but that's definitely a dog... and it's not in front of the pyramids or anything, so I'll also stipulate to the fact Andy might know that dog. That's real."

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Valentine's Approacheth

Valentine's Day hasn't been the same since I stopped giving and receiving Transformers valentine cards.

Back then (and it was many years ago FYI), the valentine cards that were dutifully distributed to everyone's classroom desk were a fun little physical manifestation of being liked. Let's set aside the fact that it was largely compulsory. And that it didn't really have anything to do with being liked. To me, it *felt* like I was receiving Valentines from all my friends, even if that group consisted of everyone in Mister Jordan's fifth grade class, even the angry girl and the boy who smelled.

And it hasn't really ever been the same since. I've only spent one Valentine's Day actually in a relationship, and only two or three V-Days with women I was dating, but hadn't been dating long enough to make the day into a DAY. I've spent other fourteenths of February keeping my head down, largely ignorant of the fact (or pretending I was to myself), or lost in an existential hallucinatory haze. You know: as one does.