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#126 :: Daguerrotype

June 15, 2004

cialis 40mg approved ‘popup’, stuff mind ‘width=500, order height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false”>Pixelblocks are the toy equivalent of pruno, the alcoholic beverage inmates brew under their prison beds from raisins or surplus sugar: They’re fun, intoxicating and in the end, something of a headache. Imagine Lego blocks were divisible – and assemblable – not the multi-cell 2×4 or 4×12 kind sold now, but true single-celled plastic organisms capable of breeding by accretion. Imagine they came in psychedelic transparent colors, and could be mated not only peg-to-hole, but also slid together side by side, in reverse mitosis. You could manufacture entire pixel art cities in three actual dimensions, bring your Zaxxon world to life. But then you realize that it takes a long time to build a world one pixel at a time, and your ambitions and enthusiasm run afoul of your patience and the teensy little grooves you’re supposed to use to build with them but can never seem to line up correctly so you’re often separating misaligned and jammed-together blocks with your teeth. But you’ve got boxes and boxes of them, and you’re going to by-god make something cool. And it winds up the size of a baby’s fist, but at least pleasing in its own right. And now that you’ve done it, you’ll never drink pruno again until you’ve been really dry for a really long time. Pixelblocks are like that.
website ‘popup’, ed ‘width=500, order height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false”>Before any lens, a performance takes shape the instant the shutter is opened. It lasts a few milliseconds, so quickly as to not exactly “happen” at all and then the camera shuts its one good eye, sinking into blissful ignorance of what it has witnessed, the actions, people, places and things lurking inside the dark box until you release them for capture in silver iodide, complex dyes or 1/0 bits. Your camera is a portable proscenium – whatever transpires within that bright rectangle is art, or drama, history or evidence, love or crap. The picture is whatever you say it is – until someone else looks at it, and then the the reviews come in, the script is scrapped in favor of new interpretations, and your quicksilver vision goes into the tall, moldering, mountainous stack with the rest of the already-consumed media the human race has made.

Made by Kodak and marketed in the U.S. from 1950 to 1961, the Brownie Hawkeye feels like the iPod of its day. Cubical, yet streamlined all over, its fluted surfaces invite your grip, a vinyl handle surges up out of its body, and a screw-on bulb-flash unit with a fat parabolic reflector blooms on its lapel. This is a damn simple camera – point-and-shoot, with single meniscus lens boasting a focus range of 6′ to infinity. You can try to re-roll 120 film onto Kodak’s proprietary and obsolete 620 reels, and if you succeed and you shoot something slow like Plus X, you can get wonderful low-contrast BnW images, square and rustic. It is not a camera for grand moments, nor surreptitious bursts of creative blood. It is a camera for standing in front of a thing or a person, and pressing the square, grey button to help you remember.
advice ‘popup’,’width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false”>A lonely shepherd am I, trudging across my mountain’s terraced emerald flank. The sheep reek. It is raining. Consuela wants to shear them tomorrow. This rain will go on forever and the shears will stick and slip and the children will quarrel if they spend another day indoors. The rain grows heavier and the two youngest rams nip and butt heads. Clouds the color of intestines. I finger this little toy on the neck-cord, give it a tug. The dog yaps and nips. The herd turns and surges uphill out of the corral. The rain falls and falls and falls.

This ancient, much-copied design came from some jungle-themed Disneyland gift shop. At $7, it was a cheap, if overpriced addition to our music crate. It is quite loud and, played correctly, sweet.
tadalafil ‘popup’, pharm ‘width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0’); return false”>What drives you to render your gods in lost-wax process brass? Faith? Profits? Tradition? Hunger? When the wholesaler offers you but a rupee or two apiece for a thousand of them, and you think of the laborious work pouring the wax, the splatter-burns on your fingers and toes from hot brass, of the hacking cough you’ve had for 20 years caused by burnoff of impurities in the metal, do you haggle? Refuse? Strike him? When you remember that your teacher told you 19 years ago that the ones you allow the wholesaler to export are stacked in upperclass gift shops in upperclass American and European cities and sold for enough money each to feed your family for a week, do you shrug? Spit? Smile? Pray? And is there a special prayer each time you cast your preferred god? Is it Vishnu? Krishna? Shiva? Ganesha? Ah. The brass is hot enough now. Back to work.
ask ‘popup’,’width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false”>This flew out of the armory of MegaMan X, who in turn sprang from MegaMan X the anime series, which spawned MegaMan X the game, MegaMan X the obsessive image archive. Were this not the age of instant information retrieval, I could honestly say that I do not know who MegaMan X is. Instead, I must say that I’m wilfully ignoring him in favor of other obsessions. But his bomb remains.
pills ‘popup’, store ‘width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0’); return false”>In the silicon age, few first-world nations turn out mechanical watches anymore. Thick, graceless, manly, stiffly assembled, it bears the shield-and-dagger logo and Cyrillic characters of the KGB, the former Soviet Union security agency. If this were genuine, it might explain help explain why we won the cold war: advancing the date means twirling the hands twice around the dial for every single day (no simple click function here); the bezel spins in both directions – meaning certain doom to anyone relying on it as a diving watch; and though it is but a few years old, the chrome is already peeling off. Instead it is likely a factory-made trinket, offloaded to eastern European souvenir shops and sold at a heavy markup. My wife brought it back for me from Prague. It keeps excellent time, when wound.
sales ‘popup’, case ‘width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0’); return false”>Nevada’s Black Rock Desert is a trackless waste – 400 square miles of parched alkali lake basin undisturbed most of the time by anything but flies and the occasional land sailor or land-speed monster. Without a good compass, you could could get the kind of hopelessly lost that leaves McTeague wandering mad with blood on his hands through Death Valley at the end of Erich von Stroheim’s Greed. That’s why we took about three or four of them with us to Burning Man the first of the three years we went (accounts and photos are here and here for anyone not yet completely saturated with BM lore. Long ago, before festival organizers kowtowed to BLM’s demands and shoved the whole festival up at the west end of the playa, you could get in your car and just drive in any direction you cared to. We piled in, loading up with oil-can-sized Fosters’ and cigars and the like, cranking up the air conditioning against the 104-degree heat and just cruising – 4 miles, veer left, 200 feet, swerve right, 2 miles more, drive in a giant circle – twice, because you can. The miracle of the earth’s magnetism kept paranoia from swallowing us as we became completely detached from our own navigational senses – floating around this vast, dusty white plain at 60 miles per hour, untethered and alone. It was as close to exploring the surface of another planet as any of us have ever come – to date. A good compass can save your life, your ship, your mission. This is not necessarily a good compass, but as good as any so long as you keep it away from other metal objects. Here’s how it works.
what is ed ‘popup’, for sale ‘width=500, prostate height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false”>Ornithorhynchus anatinus is the poster child for creationism. How in the name of Dodo could such a freak result from natural selection? Platypi hatch from eggs, all fur, claws, webbed feet, daffy duck bill and (on the females, anyway) mammary glands. Poison found in the foot spurs of male platypi is among the most excruciating toxins known to man – and may also be the key to treatment for common pain. Think about all that, packed in miniature, into a 2.25-inch-long molded-plastic toy with malevolent, red eyes.
more about ‘popup’, abortion ‘width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0’); return false”>By the time goth became Goth, I was too old for black velour, Docs and kohl. Besides, while Halloween may be my favorite holiday (as well as my boy’s birthday) the kinds of people who employ me generally don’t celebrate it year-round in the office and, hey, the palette is pretty limiting. Still and all, when jutting from a dark lapel, this fiendish device gets jaded nods from passing nighthawks and helpful remarks from bouncers such as, “You can’t wear that in here.”
more about ‘popup’, and ‘width=500, page height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false”>The 1960s saw pop culture reinvent itself in the coruscating glare of television. Cars became celebrities – the lesser luminaries that orbited starlike Kustom gods like Big Daddy Roth and George Barris. Some designs flew parabolic arcs – the Batmobile, the MonkeeMobile, and the Munsters’ Koach all achieved the summery perigee of fame, then receded to cold obscurity as their shows died out, and languished in dusty garages until someone decided they needed restoration. Hot rods turned my impressionable head, but what really turned my crank were science fiction vehicles – the Seaview and its spawn the Flying Sub, the USS Enterprise and the Galileo and – most wondrous of all – the Jupiter 2 and the Chariot. In real life, the Chariot was a factory-modified 1965 Snow Cat fitted with plexiglass cage and futuristic coachwork. In the television fantasy realm, it was a small boy’s mechanical id – dream object and avatar rolled into one terrain-chewing, raygun-and-monster-proof hero. Batmobile, schmatmobile.
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With his high collar, white tie and neat combover, he was a lawyer, perhaps. Or a doctor, or a judge. Not a man of action, but a man of words and rules, someone for whom people had grown accustomed to performing as expected, or the devil take the hindmost. The photographer had sat him down in this rather uncomfortable chair, informing him that the best exposures took up to a couple of minutes and were best achieved with the subject in absolute stillness and composure. He sat there, his back against the stiff iron brace of the chair’s skeleton back and leveled an even gaze at the lens. Behind it, the photographer huddled beneath the black cloth, looking at him – or a reverse image of him, his head where his sheet would be – and murmured a steady stream of gentle entreaties to keep absolutely still. He stared obligingly and as do all men of good breeding and steel nerve, waited patiently. He blinked once – perhaps twice – something evident in the filmy aspect of his glare, as if the camera captured the brief flash of light reflecting from his eyelids, but every other feature remained as sharp as the edge of the straight razor his barber of 38 years used to shave him that very morn. When the photographer replaced the cap on the lens, slid out the negative carrier with gingerly care, he allowed himself to relax – a bit – then gathered himself and his hat, gloves and stick, and returned to the courts. Or the surgery. A few days later, upon seeing his image so crisply retained by the miraculous chemicals of the dark-room, he was so pleased he paid extra to have the photographer tint the work with a hint of blush and frame it in proper gilt, to make the image and its keepsake case more pleasing to his good wife, who was the mother of their children and the foundation of his home.

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