Alternate Take – January 8th-14th

This weeks alternate take comes out of my Holga and from very close to my home in Xindian.  Lately, I have seen this guy pretty often in Bitan, playing his saw, accompanied by canned music.  Two comments:  First, for a saw player, he is not bad at all.  Second, like with virtually every other musician I have seen who adds recorded music to his live performances, the recorded music takes away, it doesn’t add to the experience.  What does it mean about me that I prefer my saw music solo?

Alternate Take – January 1st – 7th

For 2011, I have decided to do a new series.  Once a week, I will be posting an “Alternate Take” photo.  Alternate Takes will basically be anything not taken with my DSLR.  Most of the time, this will mean my iPhone, but they will also include Holga shots, shots from a point and shoot I rarely use and who knows what else.  The focus here will be on fun, not on technical brilliance. For iPhone photos, the one stipulation will be that all the processing, save for resizing, will be done in the phone, not on the computer.

Sop, with that being said, here is the first installment.

This was from Sunday, January second and it shows the well loved Muddy Basin Ramblers warming up prior to a show.  If you haven’t seen them, get out and do so; they are a lot of fun.

A Shot and a Thought: Pretravel Malaise

Going Home

Been crazy busy with work and a few other things the past few weeks.  Sadly that has caused me to miss my goal of doing a Shot and a Thought weekly.  Also adding to the delay is that I am about to head back to Canada for seven weeks.

The upcoming trip leaves me in a blue funk that tends to take over just before going somewhere.  As much as I love traveling, the process of packing, arranging and flying are things I just can’t stand.  I am very much in the middle of these blahs right now.  I should be finishing my packing, calling friends back home, making plans and who knows what other type of productive activity.  Rather than doing those though, I sit in front of my computer and procrastinate.  I know I will get the stuff done, but I can’t get up the energy to take care of things and have the cloud lifted.

Even once the bags are packed, calls made and organizational details are taken care of, the worst is yet to come.  I hate airports.  I hate airplanes.  I hate changing planes.  I hate the grime that seems to cover my body after spending the better part of a day in transit.  I hate, I hate, I hate.  I should be able to focus on the great holiday that my family and I will have, but for now it is the doldrums before the event for me.

Like Joe Wash says, “I can’t complain, but sometimes I still do…”

My next post will almost certainly be of a much, much happier tone.  Once wheels are down in Vancouver, the malaise will be a thing of the past.  There is so much fun to be had and so much to look forward to.  See ya then.

A Shot and a Thought: Torture

This shot came to mind while I was on a bit of a photo walk in Taichung yesterday with David Reid, Mark Forman and Todd Alperovitz.  Both the photo and the thoughts are from a few years ago.

You see these paths in many of the parks here in Taipei. They are some rounded, smooth, blackish rock set into concrete. I believe the idea boils down to accupressure; when you walk on them, you stimulate certain nerves and it will cure what ails ya.

In theory, this is all very nice and good, healthy too. In practice, this amounts to a self induced torture. The stones are smooth, but they are sparse enough that they don’t support much of your foot, so when you step down, they put quite a lot of pressure on a small area. Being rocks, they are tough buggers too, nothing soft about their caress. It just hurts like bloody hell, I have never managed much more than about 10 meters before having to bail out. As an insult to my pride, I feel very awkward when walking on this little mounts of hell too. Even though they are laid out in an even height, once you get on them, balance seems to be out of the question. Hence, not only am I in pain, I embarass myself, staggering as though I have downed dozens of beers.

The oddest thing about these areas of torture is that there are actually people who seem to enjoy it. I watched this guy cover hundreds of meters, with far more grace and far less grimacing than I will ever be able to accomplish. I guess my western tootsies are just too tender.

A Shot and a Thought: Shop Dogs

Auto repair shops are quite different here in Taiwan than what I was used to in Canada.  They are much smaller and most importantly, most are centered around around motorcycle and scooter work, as opposed to cars and trucks.  Given the traffic make up of Taiwan, it makes perfect sense.

One shop is pretty much the same as the next.  In front will be a big drum for recycling oil, in and around the shop are enough petrochemicals to soil the environment for years to come.  They are staffed with mechanics with blackened hands and betel stains and there are tools strewn about.  What they all also seem to have in common is they are home to a shop dog.  These dogs are remarkably consistent as well.  Always large of mixed breed, they are, like their owners, covered in a film of lubricants.  Unlike most of though, these dogs are fat and lazy.  You will never see one which is fighting trim and you will rarely see one who will even give a visitor a passing glance; it is just too much work.  Certainly, they are not there for security, as that would require effort on the dogs part.  Mostly they are there for company I guess and to provide a bit of a mascot for the shop.  Being a bit big and lazy my own self, I have always felt a certain affinity to these passive mutts.

Here, I was lucky enough to catch one in action.  When walking past the shop, this fellow actually ambled over to give me a once over sniff.  He seemed curious enough about my camera as well and immediately after the shot was taken, his nose hit my lens, leaving a big smear of dog mucous.  This shot was taken years ago, when I lived in another neighbourhood; the dog was always there, usually sleeping.  Makes me think of making a trip to the old haunts to see if he is still around.