Some photos.

Just a random assortment of photos today.

night light
sun slur


Literally vs. Figuratively

Literally vs. Figuratively is very important. Back when I was a stick up kid I stole a bag off this dude on the train.

He told me I didn't want what was in the bag.

I told him fuck you and I have the gun.

He said if I opened that bag I would literally enter a world of hurt.

I left, found a quiet spot and opened the bag. It was a portal to hell and it sucked me in like magic.

That was a bad time. I'm only here to tell you about it because I'm so clever and resourceful. I found my way back out of hell again.

But it just goes to show, if somebody says "literally" you better know if they literally mean it.

Imogen Cunningham

It started when I stumbled over the iconic photo of Imogen Cunningham: Imogen and Twinka at Yosemite, yet again. It happens a lot. You've probably seen it many times too. That photo is by Judy Dater, and as beautiful as the nude Twinka is in that photo, the most interesting thing in it is Imogen.

Since finding out about Imogen's work, just a few hours ago admittedly, she has become my favorite photographer.

Imogen could capture depth where others could only capture surface. Take for instance the case of Joan Blondell. She was a Hollywood actress in the 30s. Do an image search for her. She was beautiful right, but in that Hollywood way where she almost didn't seem real. Now compare those stills and promotional photos to the photo below.

Joan Blondell, 1933

Here Joan is a real person, in a room with a light, a camera and Imogen. And she's more beautiful than a fleet of Hollywood producers ever managed.

But that's not the only thing to love. Imogen studied the chemistry of photography, and you can feel the process in her work. You can almost still smell the developing fluid on Gas Tanks even though it's just a jpeg.

Gas Tanks, 1927
Even very early she was playing around with process. I am in love with this pair of prints. They're obviously made from the same negative. The line between night and day is decided in the darkroom.

Morning Mist and Sunshine, 1911

In Moonlight, 1911

And this Magnolia Bud. Can you not just feel the room around it?
Magnolia Bud, 1920s

Most photographers would soften that light, to hide it's source. They wouldn't want you to think about the light, they'd want you to think about the Magnolia.

But Imogen lets it shine through. We still think about the magnolia, but then we do think about the light. Maybe it's a normal desk lamp, an anglepoise. From there we think about the room. The curtains are drawn so that lamp's voice will shine bright. A black cloth is draped behind the subject. Pointed at the table is the camera on it's heavy wooden tripod. And bustling around all of it, adjusting, checking and finally capturing the image is Imogen.

Like the portrait of Joan Blondell we can feel Imogen's presence in her photos, regardless of the subject. Most photographers try their best to remove themselves from their photos. Imogen has put more of herself in Magnolia Bud than most photographers ever manage in self portraits. And that's what makes her so special.

I'll leave you with some more of my favorites.

Edward Weston and Margrethe Mather 3, 1922

Her and Her Shadow, 1931

This portrait of Man Ray reminds me more of Nude Descending a Staircase than that Man Ray picture.

A Man Ray Version of Man Ray, 1960

Oil Tanks, 1940

The lady herself. One of many self portraits.
Self Portrait, 1933

The post to end all posts (not really)

Last week was somehow nuts without anything happening. No, that's not true. I watched some really good films (more below), lots of good tv (poor Chetna! poor Richard! OMG, Frank's soul! Henry Parish/Jeremy Crane/The Horseman of War is so mean! That was spoiler by the way, don't read that), broke my toe chasing after the cat, and had Chinese food delivered for the first time in the casa.

Hell yeah
It was proper Amero-Chinese takeaway and I don't know why we haven't gotten it before. Probably because we got burned so many times trying this in seattle.

Actually, to be honest, I've been a bit blocked by trying to write about La Dolce Vita. Watched it a week ago plus. And there's so much to say that it's going to have to wait a bit longer. I will just show you this as proof that it's worth talking about.

Consider this a preview

Then there's the forthcoming bluegrass post. Flatt & Scruggs are obviously top of the class, so maybe I shouldn't make the comparison. But recently I've added The Dillards (The Darlings from The Andy Griffith Show) first album to my lineup. They sound so dead. Why is that? Overproduced? Too technical minded? I need to listen to a wider range of their stuff maybe, before I can formulate a complete thought and/or extrapolate a life lesson from it.

Born Day

Yesterday, in celebration of the anniversary of my birth, rakka made for me a medieval feast. She's done a really good write up already, of course. But I'm gonna do that thing too. Mostly as pictures. Mostly the same ones.

Thanks for the card jrhyley!

Before the medieval thing started (this was actually a couple days ago), there was princess torte.  It only dates to, like, the 30s. And it's for princesses, which I'm not. But it was on bake off and we were intrigued.
Princess (peach) torte in all its glory
It's a really complicated cake. Three layers of cake, one of jam, two of custard, and a big pile of whipped cream on the top, then the green marzipan layer.
Inside the cake
It seems crazy but it's totally worth it. Each bite is like a journey through the layers. It starts with the cream, moves through the jam and finishes with the almond from the marzipan. So good. Also, did you know that fresh made marzipan actually tastes really good? Like almonds. Like concentrated almonds. This is new knowledge for me.

Now we start the medieval stuff.

zabarbada of fresh cheese and black bread

Spinach, fig and mushroom pies
Cod poached in wine and a green salad.

alows de beef

Braised apple and goat cheese
All of this stuff was incredibly good. Especially the apples. And the beef. And the mushroom pies. And the spinach ones. Oh, and the fig ones. Oh my god the fig ones. And the fish. And the cheese stuff.

Not pictured, a baked chicken. We were going to do it in front of the fire, rotating on a string. Proper roasting. It also was going to be cold and rainy, but it was like 75F. That's a little too hot to light a hot ass fire and have it burn for like a hundred hours. Seriously, the log was huge, it would have gone for days.

The games we play (I mean I. The games I play)

First, the random

So, as you might have noticed, it's Gilmore Girls day at casa rakkaleff. Because netflix just got rights and is streaming the whole thing starting today. The early years were nice but I'm not sure I'm that ready for a full steam rewatch. Everysince I realized that the dialog has the same cadence as that in Dragnet I just can't help think of all the parts being played by Jack Webb and that guy from M.A.S.H.

Aside: Why isn't there a British show about the Korean War called B.A.N.G.E.R.S.?

More stuff.
When I work from home, Ms Peel sometimes insists on playing Cat and Mouse

Larb Gai that rakka made for me. Just the right amount of fish sauce!
Aside: When eating things with fish sauce do you ever think about the relationship between Classical Rome and East Asia? Did garum travel on the silk road? If so, in which direction?

The Games

I've been wanting to talk about games. I go in phases with video games, and I've been in a fairly heavy phase this last few months. There are a lot of really neat games out there these days. Me, I've been playing a lot of early access stuff. Which can be frustrating, true, because they're all buggy. But it's also fun to watch them evolve. Anyway, here's a few screens.

Beautiful but deadly cold in The Long Dark

My actual town so far in Banished
I've been playing a shit ton of this game 7 Days to Die, which I like because you can easily build a house/fort/whatever. But it's in alpha and it hasn't gotten as far as letting you make stuff that can move.

Here's my roman villa (pretty old, the UI has moved on). It had a courtyard, of course.

Planet Explorers is in alpha too, but it has a 3d editor that lets you design vehicles and stuff (you can also make buildings but it's not quite as robust). In story mode you still have to acquire materiel to make the stuff or it wouldn't be a challenge. I needed an air vehicle but I didn't have much stuff.

LAV Flying Table MK1
LAV Flying Table MK1 in Planet Explorers
The Flying Table is practical early game when they give you a rotor but withhold landing gear and such. But it gave me an idea.
LAV Flying Banquet X1
LAV Flying Banquet X1 in Planet Explorers
The Flying Banquet is still in the prototype stage, but it seats seven and comes with an elegant silver table service.

A couple more random ones.

Detective Grimoire is short but fun
Lifeless Planet starts of really well. Creepy. But I got stuck on a bug and haven't been back.

I'm also playing the Half Lives. I never have, and the Orange Box was like five bucks on steam. No screenshots though. You've probably seen it already if you want to.