June 26, 2007

116: Zoo(m)

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Top left: the wary eye of an American flamingo. Top right: it's not what you think (aka the backside of a vulturine guineafowl). Bottom left: a roseate spoonbill gives the stink-eye. Bottom right: nobody knows the trouble this lemur has seen.

Our country's 140th birthday is upon us – and while Kerry and I celebrate by camping under the stars in the True North, I present to you this quartet of recent zoo images from my continued feeling-out of the new zoom lens. The zoo continues to be the perfect spot to shoot, for now, though I've tried my hand so far at capturing some slightly more, uh, wild animals both at work and at the lake. It'll be with me this weekend in case we see any bears, moose, beavers or hosers – but regrettably, the Rebel-with-zoom will be too large for carting into Monday night's White Stripes show. Have a great Canada Day, all!

Click here for a closer look at the flamingo.

Click here for a closer look at the guineafowl (and here to see it's face).

Click here for a closer look at the spoonbill, my submission for PhotoFortnight's theme of "red".

And click here for a better look at the weary lemur.

June 21, 2007

Escape From Winnipeg: The Soundtrack

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The making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do. You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don't wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules.

– Rob (John Cusack), High Fidelity

I remember this quote each time it comes to making my annual summer road trip CD. What began as a simple challenge between Kerry and I in 2004 has become a springtime ritual: a chance to string together a soundtrack for the all-too-brief season of weekend getaways.

But what road trip aficionados may find odd, is that only a few of the songs on the new disc touch on the ideas of travel, being on the road or even movement. But for me, content doesn't even matter ­ – it's all in the rhythm. What's more, these summer discs are never modeled for urban cruising. Instead, they're built for a very specific purpose: escape from the city. That's why this disc in particular was laid out as it is, starting off gruff and loud, eventually winding its way to a cruise-controlled series of softer, stress-free tracks (and the last one is bonus, kind of a just-when-you-thought-it-was-done sorta thing).

I've noticed already that my interest has faded in the CDs I made only a couple of years ago. Tastes change, and that's healthy. And because I was, and still am, a late bloomer to most music scenes, I should probably continue to expect this as I feel out new music as it now pours in ­ because as Jemina Pearl Abegg squeals in "Adventure": it's all cool kiddo, 'cuz we're like, adventurers.

The 2007 lineup

I'm Shipping Up To Boston - Dropkick Murphys, The Warrior's Code
Manifest - The Weakerthans, Reconstruction Site
*Adventure - Be Your Own Pet, Adventure
Wolfgang - Elliott Brood, Ambassador
American Pageant - The Sadies, In Concert Vol. 1
Outsiders - Franz Ferdinand, You Could Have It So Much Better
(Antichrist Television Blues) - Arcade Fire, Neon Bible
When Company Comes - The Feelies, The Good Earth
Cold Black Devil/14 Miles - Jackie Greene, American Myth
Corona - Calexico, Convict Pool
*Be Gentle With Me - The Boy Least Likely To, The Best Party Ever
*Snakes In The Grass - The Essex Green, Cannibal Sea
Monster Ballads - Josh Ritter, The Animal Years
We All Lose One Another - Jason Collett, Idols Of Exile
*When U Love Somebody - Fruit Bats, Mouthfuls
Coconut Skins - Damien Rice, 9
Trans Am - Nathan, Key Principles
*Baby I - Amy Millan, Honey From The Tombs
*Born Secular - Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins, Rabbit Fur Coat
Sugar Baby Love - The Rubettes, K-Tel's I Love Pop Music

* These tracks, either directly or indirectly, came to me courtesy of fellow Winnipegger Chris Pointon's awesome (but only occasionally updated) Pop 77 podcast mixes.

June 16, 2007

Swing High

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A shot of Kerry on the swings is almost an annual ritual for me. This vision, on the swing set at Half Moon Beach in Matlock, Manitoba, was taken in the summer of 2003 using my hand-me-down Minolta and slide film – and is my submission for Photo Friday's current theme of active (a similar 2006 swinging photo was used for Photofortnight's theme of transport, seen here). The original photo contained a strip of Lake Winnipeg horizon just below the bottom of the crop shown here, but was removed to heighten the illusion of ... well, height. A closer look at the detail can be had right over here.

June 12, 2007

115: The Blue Suited Booby

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Every girl's crazy for a sharp-dressed man ­ – so I hear, constantly, on the classic rock station shooting out of each Camaro here in town.

But there's substance to the argument; in the bird world, appearance is practically everything. While it can be said that approximately two out of every three ZZ Top band members are intensely bearded, the ratio of male bird species that rely on colourful, attractive or otherwise distinctive plumage to lure potential mates is much higher. Boiled down: the suit makes the man.

Some species that live in massive colonies made of birds appearing precisely the same ­ – like the blue-footed booby ­ – require other means to identify individuality. Brilliance of the feet is an asset, but the male also makes use of an elaborate courtship dance to attract attention.

Nonetheless, my submission for this week's Illustration Friday theme of suit suggests ­ – as ZZ Top will tell you ­ – that in the mating game, a nice suit goes a long way in seperating contenders from pretenders.

June 04, 2007

114: My Paradise...

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...does not include cankerworms.

My home town may profess to being the mosquito capital of the world, but it is the cankerworm that is currently the bane of our existence. Frankly, I would rather sit in a lawn chair and satisfyingly snuff out ten mosquitoes than encounter a single cankerworm dangling from a tree between my two crossed eyes. And it is only a matter of time before someone here in town riding his bike ­ – quite likely me ­ – meets a sudden demise by swerving into the path of an oncoming bus in order to avoid a fat, precarious cankerworm rappelling from a ravaged elm above. I may be a sufficient representative of modern man with the ability to think and such, but it is not beyond me to gag at the thought of a simple cankerworm finding its way somehow onto my person.

So thank you, Illustration Friday, for providing a pleasing enough word-of-the-week as paradise – only to have one of my few neuroses whole-heartedly take over.

Click here for access to a better look at the detail.

Addendum! The completed Flickr photo-set of our May vacation to New York City is now up. Stop by and have a peek.