Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I Am Not An Artist

The past few weeks have been dedicated to expanding my Photoshop knowledge. To that end I've been studying several different books to beef up my abilities. Much, much to learn. Above is an assignment out of one of those books that took me about a week to complete. A real artist probably could have done it in an hour. Still, I got a lot out of the exercise. I am now on the third text that exceeds five hundred pages. I'm on page forty to be precise. And the clock is ticking loudly on the second play that I promised to have drafted by Memorial Day.

What's a camera?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor

I've never been one to publicly mourn the passing of a celebrity. That said, Elizabeth Taylor died yesterday and attention must be paid.

I can't say that I held her in much regard as an actress. She was all right, but no Davis or Hepburn, or even Monroe. With the exception of Virginia Woolf I always found her performances a little too self aware. My favorite performance is as Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Without a doubt a flawed performance, but still strong and she more than holds her own with Newman and Ives.

Her beauty is remarkable, but there have been others and will be more. Noting a woman because of her looks is demeaning. Elizabeth Taylor was so much more.

Elizabeth Taylor embodies power and strength. The Elizabeth Taylor story is one of incredible success. A product of the Hollywood studio system, she managed to bridge the gap from glamorous indentured servant to media tycoon. In a way that Marilyn Monroe never did, Elizabeth Taylor harnessed the energy of the public's desire for her and turned it into immeasurable power. She did it at a time that was less permissive in general and downright oppressive for women. Several times during her life she tried to sublimate her power in favor of conforming to societal norms for women, and always with disastrous results. But in her fifties she embraced, harnessed, and used her power, first by exploding her corporate presence and then directing her energies into philanthropy. And she did it as a lady. Without her there could be no Madonna or Hillary Rodham Clinton. Or Sarah Palin.

Elizabeth Taylor's strength is best told in the story of AIDS. In the 1980's, when no one -- no one -- was addressing the issue, Elizabeth Taylor stood up and dared to speak its name. She went before Congress and demanded funds for research, and when she found the official world response lacking she forged ahead and raised the funds for research herself. Long before there were red ribbons and walkathons and bikeathons, there was Elizabeth Taylor.

But on an even subtler level Elizabeth Taylor blazed the way for the general public to accepting the LGBT community. When Rock Hudson announced that he had AIDS, the real shock to American culture wasn't that he was sick and dying. It was that he was gay. Elizabeth Taylor didn't publicly embrace her friend in a demonstration of acceptance of his sexuality. By embracing her friend in response to his ailment, she helped the world set aside its petty labelizing and showed the world what was truly important. Love.

Elizabeth Taylor led by example in so many, many ways. We didn't just lose a celebrity, or an icon. We lost a great American.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


So the past month has been all about studying Photoshop. Exhausting. But much, much progress. And a new light! My first strobe, with a second on the way. The one I want is oh-so expensive, but is the workhorse that I read I need. Or I could go with a less expensive model and scrape by. Nope! I'm buying the good piece of equipment. Even if I have to wait a few more weeks to make it happen. Major investment, but in the end so worth it.

And this weekend, regardless of the weather, I will be making my first photo safari of the year. It's time to get my butt in gear and expand that portfolio. It seems like for every photo I put in, I pull out two. The eye is developing faster than the output.

And my play is languishing! But it's in there, just waiting for me to sit down and get to work.

Why are there only twenty-four hours in a day?