Friday, May 31, 2013

Paris For The Day

I was back in Paris yesterday! My friends Katherine and Peter from New York were passing through and I decided to zip over on the Eurostar to spend the day with them. They're fellow street art enthusiasts who I met years ago through Flickr, and when I lived in New York we would meet up for photo walks every now and then. So this was a continuation of our old habits.

It was a wet spring day, with intermittent rain. In fact, we got a serious drenching in the late afternoon. But that's OK -- we just waited it out beneath an awning in front of a shop, and we had plenty of time for walking and photographing city life.

At one point, we popped into Le Cristal, a little neighborhood bar in the 13me arrondissement, and had coffees and/or drinks. (Peter had a coffee and a Ricard, which struck me as an unusual combination, but what do I know.) It was a shabby little place and I loved it. I wish I'd taken a photo.

Our real purpose for walking in that area was to find a series of new murals produced by street artists, such as the huge cat above, by the artist C215.

And there was this one by Portuguese artist Vhils, who I'm told uses a hammer and chisel to render his artwork. (These are legal walls, so I guess the owner was OK with it!)

And I found another grinning cat in the metro by Monsieur Le Chat. I photographed a few of his pieces on my previous visit last month.

It's great to have Paris just two hours away by train. I'm not sure I'll be going all that much, because it isn't exactly cheap, but hey -- you only live once, you know?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

This Is A Problem

It happened again.

I took Olga to a nearby neighborhood park yesterday during her walk and let her off the leash in the unfenced dog area. No sooner was she free than she tore across the lawn to where two toddlers and a woman were playing with a soccer ball. Olga grabbed that ball and it was hers.

For about ten minutes I futilely chased her around the yard yelling "Olga! No!" But she did not drop the ball. She thought it was a game. She was playing keep-away.

I apologized to the woman, who said it was no big deal. And indeed, for the most part, the four kids with her were amused or indifferent to Olga's destruction. (By now, Olga was gnawing the cover off the ball.)

One little boy, though, kept whining that he wanted the ball back -- quite justifiably, I must admit, even though he'd been on the swingset. "It's taking a long time!" he complained while I tried unsuccessfully to catch the dog. Once Olga got tired enough to slow down, I was finally able to wrest the ball away, but by then it was so tattered that even the boy rejected it.

I offered money for a new ball, but the woman declined. She seemed utterly unfazed, even laughing at the boy's whining, but I was mortified.

Olga walked home triumphantly holding her prize.

What I have deduced from this embarrassing episode is:

-- Olga can't be off-leash in a small park, where distractions are many and close at hand. She's better in Hyde Park, which is huge and spacious, or along the canal, where there are no balls.

-- Somehow we have to teach her to obey the command "NO!" even when her own instincts are in high gear. I am not a dog training expert so I'm a little stumped about this one. She knows the word and knows when she's in trouble, so it's not like she doesn't understand.

-- I need to carry a toy with me, so I can distract her when she wants to play with someone else's. I think if I had a Kong to throw her she would have dropped the ball. I think.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Dreaming in the Balcony

Thanks for the good wishes for my second job interview. As far as I can tell it went well, so we'll see what happens from here! You will certainly be kept posted.

Last night one of Dave's former students from Michigan, who is now a professional trumpet player, came to school to give a concert. (He's working with Dave's students all week.) It was a terrific performance, including pieces by Prokofiev, Scriabin and Debussy, and I sat up in a balcony trying to discreetly take some photos for the school web site. I was paranoid about the clap-clap noise from my camera shutter, but I asked a couple of people afterwards and no one heard it, so that's a relief. We all capped the night with dinner at the local pub.

As I sat up in the dark balcony listening to the Debussy piece, I thought about a trip I took to visit my grandmother in Hyattsville, Md., in 1978, when I was almost 12. (I went by myself, flying alone, which was pretty exciting!) One day, probably to give me something to do, Grandmother took me to the local library, and I checked out a book called "Claude Debussy: Master of Dreams." I'm not sure why I chose that book. My grandmother was a pianist, and I suspect that's how we wound up in the vicinity of the music shelves. I remember ultimately being disappointed, because I'd thought it was literally about some guy who mastered dreams and dreaming -- not some boring old musician! I don't think I read a single word. But the episode did teach me who Debussy was, which goes to show that even the mere act of going to the library can be educational.

Speaking of books, the one I'm reading now, "A Garden of Sand" by Earl Thompson, is turning out to be kind of gross. Thompson is a good writer, but this book about his midwestern upbringing is full of so many unsavory characters -- prostitutes and pimps, wife-beaters, deadbeats, drunks -- that it makes me want to take a shower. I remember as a teenager bringing home a copy of Erskine Caldwell's "Tobacco Road," which is populated by similar characters, and my mom saying, "That is a yucky book." That's exactly how I feel about "A Garden of Sand." Sordid is the word I would use. It's written well, though, I'll give it that.

(Photography: Construction in Notting Hill.)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Busy Morning

Our weather has changed for the better the last couple of days. Yesterday was so pleasant we took Olga to the park with her egg toy. She has figured out how to carry it around by the narrow end, which looks hilarious -- like she's burping up a big yellow balloon. As usual she attracted lots of attention from adoring passersby, including a trio of Japanese women who stopped to take her picture. "She's smiling!" they exclaimed. (She does sometimes look very smiley.)

This morning is job interview number two -- and of course I had four calls from teachers looking for subs today as well. When it rains, it pours!

I've been meaning to post this for some time. It's a link to a rare color film of London made in 1927 and recently restored by the British Film Institute. It's fascinating. The city itself is much less built-up, much less vertical than it is now, though many landmarks look almost exactly the same. Women are shown visiting the flower-encircled Cenotaph, London's monument to its war dead -- this was just ten years after World War I. There's something incredibly poignant about watching all the people just going about their lives, feeding birds in the park and walking the city streets, knowing that today they are surely almost all gone. Gather ye rosebuds!

(Photo: Morning on Turquoise Island, Westbourne Grove.)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Toy Oven

Olga and I stumbled onto a strange find while walking yesterday morning. On the street behind our local post office -- which has been closed as long as we've lived here -- someone abandoned this old wooden toy oven.

It's really a toy kitchenette, I suppose, since it's more than an oven. There's a fridge unit, a sink, and a stovetop with one remaining burner (above).

I'm thinking it's from the '60s or thereabouts. I mean, who makes anything from wood these days? The graphics definitely seem to date from the "Bewitched" era. Or maybe "The Brady Bunch."

The detailing was neat, like the red ring on the "hot water" knob on the wooden faucet. The cold water knob had a blue ring, naturally.

I toyed with the idea of carrying the whole thing home to try to rescue it.

But on the inside, the oven had been colonized by fungus. From the looks of it, I'd guess the entire unit had spent a few years sitting out in someone's back garden.

In the end, and no doubt to Dave's great relief, Olga and I left it sitting where it was.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Olga Takes a Plunge

Olga and I went for a long walk along the canal yesterday morning. We walked west, away from the city, and into an aging industrial area where there weren't many pedestrians. I spent part of the walk experimenting with HDR photography of the old brick buildings. HDR compiles multiple images taken at different exposures together to form one image with a much more extensive range of light. It allowed me to capture more color and detail in the buildings, water and sky.

Olga livened things up by falling into the water, head first. I'm not sure she'd ever been swimming before. She sank like a stone before instinct kicked in and she dog-paddled to the surface, a panicked look on her face. Meanwhile I shucked my shoes and camera in order to jump in and rescue her. I was able to lean over the seawall and grab her by the harness to pull her out.

Maybe she'll think twice now about getting too close to the edge. But probably not.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Few Selfies

When our neighbor Chris came over on Monday, he left me with a photography book that includes many self-portraits by famous photographers. I finally got a chance to look through the book yesterday, and it inspired me to try some selfies of my own.

So here I am, in portraits necessarily taken in the bathroom, because that's the location of the only decent-sized square mirror in the house.

We have a very uninteresting medicine cabinet -- mostly empty except for Dave's collection of expired nasal sprays and ear drops. (We really do need to throw those out.) I am fortunate enough, for now anyway, to take no pharmaceuticals, except the odd aspirin or Tums. I do have quite a stash of Tums, as you can see.

Then I got to thinking about that little round make-up mirror attached to the big one, and trying to use that in a self-portrait. I know, I look a little wild-eyed and Charles Manson-ish, but I promise I am not dangerous.

It was incredibly challenging to frame the image and focus the camera, while looking through the viewfinder, and then move myself to what I thought was the best position to be reflected back -- without moving the camera. Sheesh.

I probably won't wind up in a book of self-portraits anytime soon. But it was fun to make the attempt.

Hello, world!

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Chilly Campanulas

It's 43ºF out there this morning -- and it "feels like" 37ºF, whatever that means, according to the people at I got my winter jacket back out of the closet. Time to face facts. *sigh*

Despite the temperatures, the campanulas believe it to be spring, as you can see above. They're blooming wildly now. Except ours, which for some reason is a bit moribund. I wonder if bringing it indoors during the winter somehow dimmed its enthusiasm. Maybe it needs the wintry shock to set buds. (In which case it may be blooming just fine a few weeks from now, since it's out on the balcony enjoying our Arctic blast.)

The job interview went well yesterday, from what I can tell, and I've been asked to come back again early next week. So that's a good sign!

I walked Olga over to Latimer Road yesterday, where much to my surprise Mr. Styles' artwork is still unmolested. I guess others like it as much as I do.

I've also been plowing my way through several accumulated back issues of The New Yorker. More dreadful news from Syria -- but written in riveting style -- and a quirky article about "treadmill desks," where office workers can slowly walk while typing or on the phone in order to maintain physical fitness. I felt guilty for sitting on the couch while reading the article! I kind of like the idea of a treadmill desk, I must admit, though I do think at some point in life we all ought to be allowed to sit down.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Disney Rip-Offs and Back-Pocket Beers

This shop on Queensway cracks me up. It doesn't have much character, but look at that sign! Are the Walt Disney people aware of this place?

When I walked Olga this morning it was 45º F. I hope we're not destined to have another summer-that-wasn't. Last year we had a few nice days at the beginning of spring and then got socked with three or four months of cold and rain. Please, Lord -- I know I don't pray to you often -- but please deliver us from that.

Yesterday I took the tube down to South Bank to take some people photos. I got some OK shots wandering around Westminster Bridge and the London Eye, but nothing that really blew me away. Maybe I'll share a few of them sometime soon. On the way to the tube, this guy was walking in front of me in Notting Hill...

...with a full litre of Skol super-strong lager (alcohol 9 percent!) in his back pockets.  Now that is preparation. He was drinking a third can. It was approximately 1 p.m.

Today I have an interview for that full-time position at school I mentioned several weeks ago. Keep your fingers crossed!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Shock of the New

Flickr, the photo-sharing web site where I store and display all my photography, made some drastic changes yesterday and users are up in arms. The site has been completely redesigned, and I have yet to see any favorable comments. I suppose a certain amount of backlash is to be expected when any web site makes changes, but this seems especially fierce.

I'm trying to adapt, but the new site seems to de-emphasize community activities like commenting on photos, sharing them in groups and tracking view counts, in favor of bigger photo displays. The site also has less negative space, which I don't like. I think every photo needs air around it to be appreciated. And it has endlessly scrolling pages similar to Tumblr, which deprives users of a handy navigation tool -- paging through others' photos. Now you have to scroll, scroll, scroll to get to older content.

So, yeah, not thrilled about that.

But I suppose it's a tiny, minor problem compared to what people face in Moore, Oklahoma or in Syria. I've been reading an especially chilling New Yorker piece about Syria, where people fish dead bodies out of the local river by the dozens and snipers pick off civilians trying to get to work or school. Seriously, we all ought to be thankful we wake up in a secure place every morning. (And who's to say that will always be the case?)

In any natural disaster, photos and stories that involve pets seem to resonate with many people, and that's been true in Oklahoma too. That video of a woman finding her dog in the wreckage during a TV interview went viral yesterday, and the New York Times had a heartbreaking photo of a woman comforting an injured dog. I suppose we feel like people can take care of themselves, but pets really need us.

On a happier note, speaking of pets, I got some requests for a photo of Olga with her Jolly Egg. Here she is, trying her best to fit it into her mouth. Fierce!

(Top Photo: Near the Royal Oak tube stop in Westbourne Park.)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Gnawing on the Jolly Egg

More East London street art today -- this time by a guy who calls himself Paul Insect.

Interesting red, white and blue color scheme, which of course could be a reference to either Britain or America. (Or both! Or neither!) Is he suggesting something about Big Brother always watching us?

Speaking of street art, when I was playing GeoGuessr yesterday, I came across this humorous bit of street art from Google Street View in a small town in central Brazil. How cool is it that I can sit in London and walk virtually down a street in Brazil, enjoying the sights? It blows my mind.

Our neighbor Chris came over for tea yesterday. As is always the case with Chris, we wound up talking about World War II. But his real reason for stopping by was to lend me a book on photography (he's also a photography enthusiast). It looks pretty interesting. We compared notes on our recent picture-taking adventures.

Olga got a new dog toy in the mail! You may remember that back in December, I posted a photo of my dad's dog, Maybelline, enthusiastically playing with a toy plastic egg. I ordered a similar "Jolly Egg" for Olga, and we tried it out yesterday. She didn't know what to make of it at first; she crouched down and barked at it. (Olga never barks.) But eventually she got the hang of it and had fun knocking it around the courtyard. She's already worn deep grooves in it with her teeth -- and this toy is supposed to be pretty durable. We'll see!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Ram and Magpie

I've been calling this sculpture the "Satanic Goat" ever since I took this photo a couple of weeks ago -- even though it's a ram, not merely a goat, and the red eyes are clearly a vandal's afterthought. Turns out the sculpture by Paula Haughny is called "Ram and Magpie," from 1996. According to the web site Exploring East London:

This was one of the works which was commissioned under the Bethnal Green City Challenge. The sculpture, at Allen Gardens Playground, Buxton Street, was inspired by a pub by this name which had stood on this site in the early twentieth century. The block of stone was installed on the site and the sculptress carved it where it now stands. Buxton Street is named after Thomas Buxton (1786-1845), of the brewers Truman, Hanbury and Buxton, who became an MP who campaigned for Prison Reform and abolition of the slave trade.

Pretty interesting, right?

More interesting than what's going on around here at the moment, anyway. I am still tired and it doesn't help that the dog woke me up at 5 a.m. squirming to go outside.

Yesterday Dave and I spent the afternoon watching "Cloud Atlas," which I really liked. I'm surprised it didn't get more traction in theaters. It was much easier to follow than I feared it would be, given the complexity of the storyline, and visually it's a beautiful movie.

If you're at all interested in geography, landscapes and cultures, try this online game called GeoGuessr. I am not a video game person at all, but a blog pal turned me on to this game, and it's actually really fun. You're given a random Google Street View image from somewhere in the world and you have to guess the location. There are five rounds in each game, with points awarded depending on how close you get. I can almost always get the continent right, at the very least, and often I can get within a few hundred kilometers. Once I was within a single kilometer -- when GeoGuessr showed me the start of the Seven Mile Bridge in Marathon, Fla. Now that's a spot I know by heart!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Chopping, Slicing and Washing Up

This morning I feel like I need to prop my eyelids open with toothpicks. (Or maybe something softer. Q-tips?)

I am exhausted.

The school where Dave and I work had a fundraising auction a couple of months ago. You may remember that Dave, while a teacher during the day, is also a trained chef, and he offered a catered dinner party as an auction prize. Yesterday he, his coworker Gordon and I spent the day working in the shiny white kitchen of an upscale Marylebone apartment to prepare a seven-course meal for six people.

First, the apartment: It was huge by my standards -- two living rooms, a large central foyer where at one point the children in the family were kicking a ball around, and bedrooms and bathrooms off to the side. (I didn't see those.) I felt like I could wave to Madonna across the courtyard -- she owns a house in Marylebone. It's that kind of a 'hood.

Dave prepared an amuse bouche of breakfast radish with anchovy compound butter, followed by vichyssoise, eggs en cocotte, sauteed scallops with pureed parsnips and an orange reduction sauce, leg of spring lamb with potatoes and asparagus, a small salad, a cheese course, and lavender-vanilla creme brulee.

Gordon and I helped prepare the food as sous chefs, though to be honest I mostly washed dishes. That's probably my real talent in the kitchen! I've always enjoyed dishwashing at home, but last night I got a glimpse of how frustrating it would be to be a commercial dishwasher. The damn things just kept coming. I'd wash something and before I knew it, it would be back in front of me again, having been used by Dave or Gordon for some other kitchen task.

In the middle of all this, I had to run back home yesterday evening and walk the dog -- who of course had eaten lots of sticks on her recent outings to Hyde Park and the Grand Union Canal, and was thus having more digestive issues.

Never a dull moment, I'm telling you. But the dinner party seemed to turn out great, despite an oven with complicated knobs that we didn't quite know how to work, a torch for the creme brulee that ran out of fuel at the critical moment, and a strange cooktop that Dave described as "a piece of sh*t." (Surprising in that house, but I take his word for it.) The diners seemed thrilled, and that's what matters.

(Photo: A postman and a flowering bush -- big enough to require a wide-angle setting on the camera -- in Notting Hill.)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Revenge of the Raccoons

I watched the most peculiar movie yesterday. As I've mentioned before, I'm a fan of Studio Ghibli, the Japanese animation studio behind Hayao Miyazaki movies like "Spirited Away" and "My Neighbor Totoro." Well, one of the TV channels here recently aired a bunch of the Studio Ghibli films, and I recorded several I'd never seen. Yesterday I watched "Pom Poko."

A hallmark of Studio Ghibli, and particularly Miyazaki, is a reverence for the past. The movies seldom depict plastic and video games and modern technology, and never favorably. Instead they're inhabited by magical characters and creatures from Japanese folk tales, often in forest or agrarian settings. As a result, they can seem a little strange to those of us with a Western sensibility and no familiarity with Japanese mythology.

"Pom Poko," directed not by Miyazaki but by Isao Takahata, is a cautionary tale about preserving the wilderness. The main characters are raccoons (or more specifically, raccoon dogs, the creatures being surreptitiously turned into clothing in China). The gist of the story is that suburban development in Tokyo is paving all the forests where animals like the raccoons live. So they decide to do what they can to fight back against human intrusion.

Some of the raccoons can shape-shift, and present themselves as other animals or monsters or even humans. Shape-shifting takes a lot of energy, so they fuel themselves with high-energy foods. There's a humorous scene in the movie where two raccoons pretending to be human spot each other while guzzling energy drinks. (Now I understand why some people drink that stuff.)

I can't even begin to describe the strangeness of the scene where male raccoons fly into battle. Each one pulls his scrotum over his head and uses it first as a parachute, and then as a weapon. I am not making this up. (I was going to post a video so you could watch, but of course someone's already done that.)

Yes, it is all deeply odd, yet beautiful and touching in the end -- a film about a culture mourning its past and its connection to the earth. I hesitate to recommend it, because it is not everyone's cup of tea. But I found it fascinating and kind of mind-blowing.

(Photo: Cell-phone charms (I think?) for sale at the Portobello Road market.)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Off-Leash, On The Canal

I've found a great exercise spot for Olga -- the Grand Union Canal.

It's not new to us. I've taken her there many times. But only lately have I been letting her off-leash, which she loves, and she's been great. She plays with sticks and chases ducks and eats grass and rolls around and runs, runs, runs. And she happily comes back when I call her.

What a relief. I love setting her free. She has a lot more fun that way, and so do I.

She has a very good sense of what to do and not to do, and she plays well with the other dogs we encounter. Not to mention people -- she doesn't chase bicyclists or small children.

So while she zippers up and down the towpath, I can take pictures!

But here's the best thing about the canal, at least from Olga's point of view...


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Short Items

-- I did give serious consideration to posting my unedited Dr. Joyce Brothers article, as one reader requested. I looked yesterday to see if I still have it, and of course I do, tucked away in a yellowed manila folder. (I saved a printout along with the published clip.) But on rereading it I decided putting it on the blog is just a step too far. It reads well but it's a little long for this format and it quotes people who for all I know aren't even alive anymore. (Like Dr. Joyce Brothers!) Sometimes it's best to let old battles fade away, you know?

-- Anyone who reads my blog knows I am an Obama fan. But I'm disappointed by the recent revelations of the Justice Department investigations into reporters' phone records. Benghazi is not a legitimate scandal and the monkey business at the IRS seems clearly the result of some clueless lower-level person misapplying the rules. But Obama's administration has fostered a hostility towards internal news leaks that seems uncharacteristic of this president and his goals. (I disagreed with someone on Facebook about whether these latest issues are "Nixonian." I don't think they're as severe as anything Nixon did, certainly, but I think they stem from the same fears and concerns about criticism, and contribute to a "Nixonian" climate.) News leaks are an essential part of the checks and balances of Democracy.

-- I have been meaning to link to my photo sets on Flickr from Paris and Bucharest. It took me a while to get all the pictures uploaded, but they're there now, in case you want to browse beyond what I posted here.

-- I learned something new about collard greens. (Or simply greens, as they're known in England. Somehow the collard got lost on its way across the Atlantic.) They can be stir-fried! I guess this shouldn't be surprising, but I'd suspected they might be too leathery. Having grown up in the South, I always resorted to boiling them; in fact they're probably the only green vegetable I ever boil. I bought some the other day at Tesco, though, and the package advised stir-frying. I tried it, and it's yummy. Recommended!

-- I have not seen any of Pat's children in a week or so, especially after the windy rainstorms that passed through several days ago. I wonder if they've all been blown to the four corners of our housing estate? (I suppose that's what's supposed to happen, right?)

(Photo: Wisteria on Portobello Road, on Tuesday.)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Portobello People

Our nice spring weather has subsided, at least for the moment. It's 45º F out there right now, and windy as all get-out. Our plants have been taking a beating on the balcony.

I bet these folks are glad they got their Portobello Road shopping done a day or two ago, when it was relatively balmy.

I wish I had more to say, but yesterday Olga and I basically stayed inside while it rained and blew. I did venture out in the afternoon to buy copy paper so I could print some Eurostar tickets -- I'm going back to Paris later this month on a day trip to meet with my friend Katherine, who's visiting there from New York. Should be fun!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mr. Styles and Dr. Joyce Brothers

On rare occasions, when I walk Olga, I don't bring my camera. I feel about the camera sort of what I feel about the computer -- it's a great device but you have to back away now and then just to maintain your sanity and your perspective. You know?

Yesterday morning, Olga and I set out sans camera and walked in a wide circle to the west. We were passing near Latimer Road, a popular graffiti area, so I decided to look and see if anything new had appeared. Voila! A beautiful new piece by Mr. Styles, whose work I really like.

Of course that meant I had to walk back to Latimer Road yesterday afternoon, with the camera, to take some pictures. (A little more than two miles round-trip.) One thing I've learned -- if you see a nice piece of street art you better photograph it immediately, because it's likely to be covered with new tags in no time.

In other news, I see that Dr. Joyce Brothers died. Here's the story of my brush with Dr. Brothers.

Almost 25 years ago, when I was working as a reporter in Central Florida, an editor asked me to write a short article about the uplifting scent of springtime orange blossoms. (Newspapers had a lot of space in those days.) I was trying to find some experts to give this story a little punch, and I thought, why not call a psychologist to talk about how and why pleasant smells can elevate our mood?

So I called Dr. Joyce Brothers. She was very pleasant and gave me some answers about how smell receptors are close to the pleasure centers of the brain, and I dutifully included all this in my article.

I was dismayed when it came out in print the next day, though. Apparently what I turned in was too long for this particular editor, who took a hacksaw to the piece and cut it mercilessly, without regard for preserving transitions or flow. What ran was a tattered mess.

Dr. Brothers had asked me to send her a copy of the article, and I did so -- but in an uncharacteristic act of professional rebellion I also sent a printout of the unedited piece, to show what it was supposed to have looked like. I also complained to the senior editors, one of whom sent me a note praising my ingenuity and gave the hacksaw-wielding editor a little talk.

Victory is mine, sayeth the reporter!

Monday, May 13, 2013


Dave and I went with a friend to see the new "Star Trek" movie on Saturday. Dave had been eager to see it, but ultimately, I thought it was mediocre. Lots of action, and completely forgettable. Some parts were so close to parody that I couldn't tell whether we were supposed to take them seriously or not, and I heard uncertain laughter from others in the theater. And reimagining Khan from Ricardo Montalban to Benedict Cumberbatch? Overall, I predict outrage in the Trekkie world. (Apparently the movie opens later this week in the U.S.)

Afterwards the three of us came home, cracked a bottle of wine and watched a couple of episodes of the original series on DVD, just to recalibrate our Star Trek experience. No matter how many different incarnations this franchise goes through, none top the original series. I know those are fighting words for the Next Generation folks, but that's just the way it is.

Movie-wise, I much preferred the film we rented from iTunes last night: "North Sea Texas," a Belgian gay coming-of-age story. That might sound like cinematic agony to some, but it's an excellent movie.

Olga had quite a day in the park yesterday. We were out for a couple of hours, and she romped with other dogs and chased her Kong. She slept all afternoon. She's sleeping now, in fact. I think she's still recovering.

Otherwise, we had a routine weekend -- I compiled my weekly report for work and did all my usual household tasks. I also cleaned up the courtyard and parking lot, where someone allowed a trash bag to explode and the contents to be widely redistributed by the wind. We have trash bins that are located behind metal doors, and you'd be surprised (or maybe not) by how many people just can't bring themselves to open those doors and instead dump their trash on the sidewalk in front. Where foxes and other critters inevitably tear the bags open. *sigh*

(Photo: Near Mile End in East London, last week.)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Karma Kab

This car, the "Karma Kab," is often parked in our neighborhood. It must belong to someone around here. I've tried to photograph it a couple of times but until this morning I never felt satisfied with the results.

When I first walked past it with Olga, when she was brand new to us, she was terrified of these flower-covered bumpers. She put her tail between her legs, got low to the ground and stared at them. You could almost hear her frantic brain saying, "What ARE those?"

Apparently the car itself is from India. It's a vintage Hindustan Ambassador, known as a "definitive Indian car," according to Wikipedia. Hence the karmic connection.

The hood ornament, complete with its own bindi.

I'm not completely thrilled with my photos of the car's interior, but it's hard to shoot through car windows. As you can see, it is not a minimalist decor.

The upholstery is pretty amazing, too.

Apparently the Karma Kab is for hire, and according to the web site there's at least one more with a slightly different color scheme. Maybe I'll give them a call next time I need to arrive somewhere in style -- and with good karma.