Mildly Amusing Musings & Some Photographs

Quality

1956 Cadillac in Asbury Park

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I am guessing on the year.  Please feel free to comment with the correct year if this is not a 1956.  It is a Cadillac & it is beautiful.  It sits in front of the iconic Paramount Theatre & Convention Hall in Asbury Park.

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Self Portrait in chrome

Self Portrait in chrome

I could have shot this Cadillac all day. Besides my reflection, you can also see Asbury Park’s Paramount Theatre / Convention Hall.
Oh, how I miss chrome.


All your choices make you change your mind..

It is an absolutely beautiful summer day & yet I am sitting here watching video after video of camera comparisons, mainly between the Nikon D800 & the Canon 5D MkIII.  This is, of course, after all too long diversions into a series of “Where are they now” posts about child stars & subsequent readings of some of their blogs.

For the past four-ish years, I believed I needed the Canon 5d MkII mainly because of its amazing video quality.  It has also become abundantly clear to me that I need a camera that is better than either my Canon 10D or Nikon D70, especially in low light settings.  As a rough guess (because the inner workings have reset themselves), the D70 has over 130,000 shutter clicks & the 10D only slightly less. While I believe in making the best of what I have, editing subpar images has become tedious & way less fun than it used to be.  There are about 3000 RAW files lingering on the hard drive which brings me to another key issue – my computer.  My computer is the same one I used in college & has not been upgraded since 2005.  It is a PC with far less RAM than it should have for proper editing so I only use Photoshop Elements 5.0.  My card reader cannot read cards over 2Gb.  Obviously, an upgrade of camera will require a subsequent upgrade of computer, software & accessories.  SOOOOO, with the prospect of upgrading my camera a near reality, where do I start?

The 5D MkII was the original dream camera that I set my sights on but now the MkIII looks significantly better.  Then, there’s the Nikon D800.  It has more megapixels which has never been a concern of mine (my cameras have about 6 megapixels).  I have not amassed a collection of wonderful glass for either Nikon or Canon so I will need to get a great lens for either one.  Which lens would be best is another decision I am not even close to prepared to make.  I beat the crap out of my cameras so when I saw a test of the Pentax K5’s weather proofing, another spectrum was opened.  Ahhh, the Olympus is also good with wicked weather.  Then, there’s Sony.  These three brands don’t get nearly as much attention as Nikon or Canon but is it just because of brand-ism?  I need to do more research.  I don’t want to fall prey to iSyndrome (a brand new term I have just thought of… the belief that you need a certain product because everyone says it is cool & the best, a result of incredible marketing & a desire to be awesome).  I do desire to be awesome but I also want something that functions well at the best possible price.  Oh, audio. I will also need a whole audio set-up.  This sucks.  While the price of the camera is within reach, how long before I can afford the lenses, extra batteries, microphones, monitors, new computer/laptop or insane upgrades to this wonderful dinosaur, photo, audio & video software, card readers, high speed cards?

I am pretty much hinging my future on my ability to make beautiful, wonderful things with this next camera.

Advice, comments, personal experience stories are all welcome please 🙂

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“Steer as we drove through town…”

Whenever I write something good about Big Papi, he breaks.  The day after I posted about his newly tweaked transmission, his windshield was struck by a pebble & cracked for the third time. The first time I paid $11oo to have Mini change it.  The last time, in October, I had someone come to my house & it was less than $300.  I will now wait until October 2014 when he needs another inspection.  In the meantime, on Thursday, my power steering stopped working.

I had been hearing a whirring noise & thought one of my belts was wet.  With the music turned up, I could barely notice it.  Then, the whirring stopped in the middle of a turn & the wheel didn’t turn with ease.  Our old Dart (that I miss terribly every single day & can be seen in several quick shots of “Summer of Sam” & “The Hurricane”) was manual steering but there’s something about a power steering failure that is much more difficult than manual steering 🙂  I called Mini because the manual (ha, different manual) didn’t say where the power steering fluid was.  The service manager directed me and, when I saw it was low, I said “So, I could just go to Autozone & get some?”  “NOOOO!  You have to get the right kind.  Find a BMW dealership.”  Fortunately, I was less than two miles from the nearest one.  So, when I work, I don’t give a crap what I look like.  I have work boots, a big oversized blue, dirty trench coat, a pink “Hilfiger” thermal shirt that my sister in law prompted my mom to buy for me at an outlet one Christmas, no makeup, unkempt hair… & I had to go into BMW with the fancies & their polo shirts.  I told the “valet” (his job is to direct people.  That is all he seemingly does –  tell people where to go for what they need) that I needed to buy transmission fluid for my Mini.  I held up the post-it note with what kind I needed.  15 minutes later he comes back & says, yeah I finally found our guy who works on Minis.  You need to go to the parts desk & get it.  The parts desk, which was not labeled, was 20 feet away.  My only issue with the wait is that I need to finish working & I need to get my gross, ugly self away from the ostentatiously beautiful BMW’s all around me.  She goes to get it & it is $45.  I laughed.  Part of me expected it to be $100 (because it retails for about $25 & they deserve to make a profit) & the other part of me was really hoping my bank card went through.   I then hit up their “free” Starbucks coffee machine.  I leave the coffee in the car & open the hood.  Immediately, I drop the power steering cap under the hood.  It Plinkos down, almost getting stuck near the hot engine before plummeting to a stop under the car.  Dead center.  Because the Mini is so low, I had to get completely on the ground to reach under.  At this point, I am laughing uncontrollably.  What else could happen?  I open the special German fluid & I guess it is really full (which it should be for $45) & I must have squeezed it because the green oil explodes all over me.  I poured it in, tried to wipe off the excess with the non-absorbent paper towels from the Starbucks bar & wiped a hand on my pants so I could go back inside & wash up.  All of this occurred in front of that gorgeous $92,000 automobile.  I have no desire to own a Louis Vitton purse or other wearable eccentricities but I will always have yearnings for beautiful convertibles.

The whirring continued after I added the fluid so I decided to do some quick research on Mini’s & power steering.  Hurray!  Power steering failure is just another of the premature mechanical failures common to the earlier, new Mini Coopers.  The fan eventually stopped completely, along with the power steering.  VERY long story short, my arms had a good workout for the rest of the day.  K turns became triple W turns – 8 maneuvers minimum.  The Mini service manager never called me back so I did some research & contemplated removing the pump myself to clean it but then saw that it may be the rack & got concerned that I would fuck it all up.  I also considered continuing to drive it anyway because my arms are really fat & need a workout BUT that too could cause a bigger problem so I left Big Papi at the repair shop up the street this morning.  I can only imagine what this will cost. I also need two new tires & brakes really soon & a new windshield for the PT Cruiser.  Oh cars.  They were so much easier to deal with when my dad was alive.  As the manager of a body shop, favors were more easily traded & there was far less of a chance that my service would be compromised by the fact that I am female.

In other news, and as a plea for a new dad, I fixed the lawn mower today.  It wouldn’t start so I came inside to see if I could troubleshoot it online.  In each of the three discussions I found, what started as people asking questions about how to get their mowers started ended in lectures for and against using hand powered push mowers.  I am all for not polluting the environment but people who are asking for help repairing their mowers are probably doing so in an attempt to not buy another mower.  So, how did I fix it?  I sprayed a dab of WD-40 on it (which certainly did nothing) & tipped it over to look at the blades (to see if something was stuck).  When I returned it to upright position, gas started pouring out of the primer button.  This must have moved the stale, sat all winter gas out of the way & it started.  I should probably make sure it isn’t still leaking.  That would be bad.


“I’ll close my eyes & listen to you read the story…”

I keep not finishing any of the SXSW posts that I start writing because I am too lazy to upload the photos for the third time (they’re already on facebook & flickr) SO I am just going to post a bunch of highlights, starting with my most favorite moment.

During the BLURT Magazine/ Dogfish Head IPA party at The Ginger Man on Friday, March 16, 2012 at SXSW…

This is Jon Auer & Ken Stringfellow playing/singing “Solar Sister” about five feet away from me.   I am not able to post my own video of this event because someone (me) was screaming a bit too loudly.  I get excited. I can’t help it, especially when I’m in an open space & may have consumed a few glasses of wine.  You can see a great video of it here & be sure to listen up for a special name change in the middle.  When I heard it live, I thought it was just my imagination.  Actually, this whole night was nearly out of my imagination.

Earlier in the evening, Ken started his set with my most favorite of his songs, “Any Love (Cassandra et Lune)” & also played my second favorite, “One Morning” as well as a boatload of great new songs whose titles I don’t know.

Mmmmm… Gretsch.  I love Gretsch.

I have continued my trend of being too close to get good shots.  Luckily, I have great memories despite having a crappy memory.  I shot this with my newly acquired Sony Mavica CD-400.   When we stopped in Delaware on the way to Texas, my brother gave me it because he wasn’t using it anymore.  I had previously had the 300, 400 & 500.  As my dad upgraded, I would get the old one.  I would then find a way to crack the LCD screen.  One time it was because someone said they saw a snake & I fell while running away.  Motherfuckin’ snakes.   Unfortunately, we weren’t in any one place long enough to charge the batteries fully so I didn’t shoot too much with this.

This was also our first time seeing Jon Auer solo.  His “Burn & Shine” medley was particularly exceptional.  He didn’t break any strings though. This might be the first time we’ve seen him play & not break a string.

His open hand was begging for a glowing orb.

I know driving to Texas isn’t free, but did I mention this was a free show?  It was AND there was more greatness to follow when Jody Stephens joined in for some rollicking Big Star songs.

Many special guests came out, including some of the great “Third” singers/players, John Doe, the guy from Blitzen Trapper, Ian Moore & Peter Buck from R.E.M.  I kept thinking Peter Buck looked like Bill Murray so I couldn’t say hello because I kept laughing, expecting him to start reciting “Groundhog’s Day” lines (because I am sure that is what the real Bill Murray does when he isn’t loading Tia Carrere’s band van).

I should start taking notes of set lists or get a new battery for my video camera so I can at least have a poor recording to reference.  Suffice it to say that this only fed my frenzy of adoration for these guys.  Every time we see them together, I fear it will be the last time & I don’t ever want that to be the case.  I do want the next show to be somewhere where it is ok to dance though.  The sitters behind me weren’t too keen on my desire to dance to “September Gurls.”  I hate sitting down almost as much as I hate being quiet.

These guys are the greatest.  Induct them into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame now please (& don’t forget John Fry).


Must’ve put a spell on you baby, Must’ve kept on coming back

When I took this picture a year ago, I tried to find out the name of the guitarist/guitar tech on stage.  I eventually forgot to keep looking.  I didn’t make the connection when I heard about The Horrible Crowes, read the liner notes or met Ian Perkins right before the show.  It wasn’t until I was editing my less than stellar shots of the Horrible Crowes show that I realized, & I am about 90% sure, that this photo is my first photo of The Horrible Crowes. 

If you want a review of the show, please pick up the September 28, 2011 issue of The Aquarian Weekly.  Because I am horrible at being objective & putting into words why I like something if I really like it, it took me about seven hours to write.  One hour of that was trying to find out the name of the last song that Brian McGee (the opener) sang.  I left it as the unknown Plow United song.  Then, I started trying to make a comparison between The Horrible Crowes & The Rat Pack but it just didn’t work out right so I cut it.  I also had difficulty expressing just how much I loved Ian Perkins’ guitar.  It is very similar (the same?) as Chris Bell’s that Jon Auer played “I Am The Cosmos” on at the Big Star Levitt Shell show. 

Ian Perkins' Gibson ES-335

The lighting at the show was very low which sets a great tone but make my cameras very noisy.  It didn’t help that the Nikon is stuck at ISO200 (see previous blog) or that I left the better Canon battery (that holds a charge for more than 15 minutes) charging at home.  Also, I had to respect the first three songs photo policy which meant I missed the really cool shots of Brian & Ian.  Next time, I must remember to bring a point & shoot for such instances.  The following are some of my favorites:

Alex Rosamilia playing the Nord.  He also adopted a pitbull from Liberty Humane Society.  This almost makes me happier than the music 🙂

Ian Perkins playing the aforementioned Gibson ES-335.

For more, please visit my flickr & keep an eye on The Aquarian.


“I keep dreaming of a map of the world. I keep searching the sky. I keep seeing the traffic signals passing me by…”

Oh, The Posies.

So, as I write this, I am still teary eyed from reading the lyrics to “Take Care of Yourself” (reminded me of my dad).  One of the many exquisite aspects of The Posies’ music is the way in which the music hits me one way so completely & I feel as though nothing could make this any better but then I read the lyrics apart from the music & I am hit once again…  

On September 23, 2010 we attended The Posies “Blood/Candy” Record Release Party at The Rock Shop in Brooklyn.  Besides hearing early acoustic versions of a few of the songs & “The Glitter Prize,” I had 43 seconds of “Licenses to Hide” downloaded on my phone & I kept playing it from youtube.  Otherwise, I don’t really like to hear new songs until I have the real thing in my hand.   As a big proponent of making the first listen a special experience, I am not sure it could get any more special than hearing it LIVE!   Waiting outside, I heard “Licenses to Hide” & it is just a beautiful song totally unwarranting of Ken’s “Blow-hemian Crap-sody” description.  I do believe it has a Queen feel to it but it is far from crap.  Nice try, humble Ken.  I think it is my favorite.   I cannot stop stomping my foot along to the kick drum.  Outside, I got so into it that I bumped my head on the glass. 

In an atmosphere like this, only really knowing those two songs, I think a lesser band with a less great album could have lost the audience with the songs that had yet to be heard but song after song, they were all really great!  “So Caroline” really stuck out for me as did “For The Ashes” which at first listen seemed like a companion to “Everyone Moves Away” & “Cleopatra Street” was super groovy but the song that seemed to rock the hardest & move me the most (even before I knew the lyrics) was “Take Care of Yourself.”  The music just hit me.  I  cried (if you read alot of these, you know that if it makes me cry, I really like it) because it was such a big, beautiful piece of music.  Everything about it just clicked with me.   I knew The Posies would be great but I really was not prepared for them to be THIS great.  After the “Blood/Candy” set, they played a few older tracks including, “Sad To Be Aware” which made me very happy to be there.  I was standing on the bench at this point & nearly fell off with excitement, especially at the “His name is Michael row your boat ashore” line that always gets stuck in my head. 

the rock shop  posies (C) conn! conni freestone

the posies (C) conn! conni freestone

After seeing this show, I am further convinced that most music critics & concert reviewers have no fucking clue about what “rocks.”  The Posies ROCK!   Now that I have “Blood/Candy,” I expect the November shows to be even better when I can sing along (sorry, neighbors).  I really like that the album versions are beautiful but when you hear them live they’re beautiful AND dirty.  There’s a real GRRRRRRR to them.  (Sorry, I’m not a critic so I feel no need to turn any of those words into flowery bullshit.)   These pictures are really not that great.  The light was really low & I was, once again, a bit too close… Oh, & I was excited too.  I’ll be better prepared at The Highline & maybe Memphis if we can get the money to get down there.  If not, I think we’ll have to go to Philly too.  I can’t get enough.

the posies (C) conn! conni freestone

the posies (C) conn! conni freestone

the posies (C) conn! conni freestone\

the posies (C) conn! conni freestone

the posies (C) conn! conni freestone

the posies (C) conn! conni freestone

the posies (C) conn! conni freestone

the posies (C) conn! conni freestone

the posies (C) conn! conni freestone

the posies (C) conn! conni freestone

the posies (C) conn! conni freestone

the posies (C) conn! conni freestone

the posies (C) conn! conni freestone

the posies (C) conn! conni freestone

the posies (C) conn! conni freestone

the posies (C) conn! conni freestone

the posies (C) conn! conni freestone

So, after the show, I had to wait almost FIVE days to get the album.  Luckily, Jack’s Music in Red Bank (yes I will give them a plug because they are awesome) had it (or you can order it here where I ordered the LP).  The rainy weather held up just long enough for me to keep the top down for the entirety of my first listen. 

conn! conni freestone

Besides “Licenses to Hide” making me almost hit the car in front of me when I kept lifting my entire right foot off the brake pedal, the song that really got me was “For The Ashes.”  I would really like to say that it sounded like a cross between The Beatles & Queen but I think that takes away from the originality of The Posies so I suppose you should strike that remark from my record.  Much as “Take Care of Yourself” moved me in concert, the beauty of this track moved me to tears.  I wish it wasn’t so odd to admit things like that, but if something is so beautiful, shouldn’t it make you feel something?  I think people are losing their ability to feel.  My remedy for this – stop listening to whatever trendy band du’jour you read was cool & go out & listen to live music.  Keep listening until you find something that makes you feel.  Passion is a good thing.  Get some.  Oh, & buy “Blood/Candy” because I said so & that completely contradicts what I just said 🙂

  the posies (C) conn! conni freestone

 I have said it before & I will say it again – Jon Auer & Ken Stringfellow are not capable of making music that is anything less than great.  Darius & Matt certainly add to the rockin’ness of The Posies.  Go see them!  Buy their stuff!  Tell your friends!  

Photos (C) Conn! Please do not use them without permission unless you are The Posies in which case, maybe you want to wait until I take some better ones.