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Save the Whale

There's nothing quite like the exhilaration of finding a new hairdresser that you really like. It's a rare combination of qualities—technically proficient, responsive to concerns, proactive with providing advice and explanation, friendly, skilled conversationalist (in approximate order of importance)—but when you find someone like this, their pampering is a shot of self-confidence in the arm. I didn't know how much I had missed this experience until I went to a proper hairdresser today after a couple of years of saving money with a family barbershop. While the good people at the barbershop were nice enough, I never knew what I would walk away with because I rarely had the same person twice. Not to mention that they were barely interested in what I wanted done beyond a couple of words. But tonight I am positively aglow because I have found a hairdresser and we have a vision of my hair's future and a detailed plan of how to get there.

What lies in store for my hair, you ask? A hairstyle that I have dubbed The Whale, after Jeff Daniels's character in the terrific yet tortuous film The Squid and the Whale. Don't get me wrong, there's almost nothing to admire about this character except his hair, but oh, what glorious hair it is (for those who haven't seen the film, the best images I could find are
here and here). You see, I've never had my hair longer than a couple of inches in my whole life and lately I'm feeling inspired to find out what it would be like. There are several reasons for this, some of which are too complex and even existential to get into here and others as simple as Garth Hudson and his sweet, sweet accordion.

So if you see me in the coming months and hear a sound as I approach, you will know what it is. The Whale will be preparing to surface.

July 25, 2006

Experiments in Light

"Like a flower!" Veronika says.

Veronika and I went to the local Fourth of July fireworks a few weeks back—her first time!—and although the look on her face was my main motivation for going, I also took the opportunity to set up the camera for a few fireworks shots. This article from my good friends at Nikon gave me a starting point, so I borrowed a tripod and set out. We ended up being pretty far away and the surrounding landscape wasn't at all interesting, so the pictures here are just experiments in long exposure. I was mostly shooting ISO 200 at f/11 with a shutter speed of between two and three seconds, for anyone that finds that kind of thing interesting.

If you're wondering where the pictures of Veronika in front of the fireworks are, don't bother asking because she takes care of that every time she sees the pictures:

Veronika: There's no pictures of Noni and fireworks?
Me: No, I'm sorry, baby.
Veronika: It was too dark?
Me: Yeah.
Veronika: (disappointed) Oh.

Enjoy: 4th of July Fireworks : 2006. July 21, 2006

Silence Down Below

(The following is an update of my progress through the Dylan catalog. Parental discretion should not be necessary.)

New Morning — The main impression I got from this album was a feeling of the kind of happiness and hope that sometimes follow a painful experience—like the rainbow after a thunderstorm or the first time you smile after some hardship, dried tears still stiff on your cheeks. There's no question that this is generally a bright album by Bob's standards, but I think the particular post-pain feel that I was picking up was because of the themes of renewal and new beginnings ("New Morning", etc.). In that context the more overt declarations of love start to sound a little deliberate, as if compensating for some recent emotional damage and trying to put it to rest.

I was ready to get onboard with an all-piano album from the get-go, but it took a while for me to get used to Dylan's playing; the constant triad plunking wears on the ears. Eventually he won me over, as always, with the sentiment of the songs (bittersweet musings on the passage of time, the joys and responsibilities of family life) and the uncharacteristically gruff voice delivering them. I would be remiss if I didn't say anything about "The Man In Me", an old favorite of mine from the Lebowski days of old. It will always hold a special place in my heart for its contribution to that film, but even after trying to listen to it in its original context with new ears, I still think it stands above the rest of the album—dense, orchestral, and emotionally raw. But, oh, what a wonderful feeling.

Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid — Instead of picking up this album, I listened to it in its intended form, as the soundtrack to the movie. Dylan's sound lends a certain easy country swagger and whimsy to the atmosphere that serves the film well. The problem I had was with this music being appropriated to Billy the Kid for purposes of romanticizing his story and building his mystique. I would like to think that I learned my lesson about that kind of legend-building/historical oversight with Che Guevara but I loved Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid so who knows. I blame Paul Newman and his dreamy eyes

Planet Waves — And I thought Bob's love talk was overt on New Morning. I've never heard him more emotionally direct than on this album. By "Never Say Goodbye", he's practically a troubadour; "The Wedding Song" rockets him into a love-fueled orbit. For as much as I like vague, cryptic, symbolic Bob, I'm more of a heart on my sleeve kind of guy myself, so when I say I'm with it, know what a strong place that comes from.

The sound is more distinctly 70s but The Band is rockin' here. The little instrumental touches make all the difference, like the accordion on "On a Night Like This" and the funk guitar riff on "Tough Mama". A couple of lines feel a little forced but anyone who rhymes "the hills of old Duluth" with "a long forgotten truth" gets a pass from me.

Note to future Ivan and Veronika: start preparing now to hear your father sing "Forever Young" to you, weeping shamelessly, at some milestone celebration in your future, be it confirmation, graduation, wedding, etc. I'll let you two argue over who gets the acoustic version and who gets electric.

Note to Dinka: start preparing now to hear your husband sing "Never Say Goodbye" or "The Wedding Song", again weeping shamelessly, at some celebration of our marriage in the future. Here are the downsides for you: "Never Say Goodbye" — extended guitar solo with band; "The Wedding Song" — harmonica.

Get ready, family.

July 11, 2006 | Comments (1)