Comments feed

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I published, then pulled, then re-published a couple of posts, but have finally left them alone. Today is one of those days when no matter what I do, I feel vaguely dissatisfied.

At least if I’m going to have one of those days, I had it on the weekend.

There’s been discussion again about what should be in our RSS/Atom feeds. I was reading the comments in another weblog and hit not one, but two separate comments to the person about providing full feeds, rather than excerpts. The posts were about photographs. I don’t know why, but this annoys the heck out of me.

Well let’s see, first I’ll change my feeds so that it contains all the text, but you still won’t get the photos–I have hot link protection. So I remove this so that you can also get photos, and then you have something like my last essay, which is long, and full of photos. At that point, then we’ll hear about how we need to do these longer essays differently, so that our writing fits within the constraints of this environment. Put long essays in a separate place, and just do link and comment or tiny blurbs here.

But then, we should link to others, otherwise we’re a ‘dead end’, I heard one person refer to it. What’s a dead end blogger? Someone who writes without linking to others.

And why are we doing all of this? So that someone who is subscribed to a 1000 different feeds, doesn’t have to leave their aggregator.

Ah, no. Sorry. I guess I won’t become Bloglines top subscribed site.

However, I will compromise on the issue. I’ve provided a comments feed that contains the full transcript of the comments.

Healthcare Photography Writing

Listen to our bodies

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

After my cleaning frenzy last week, I woke up the next morning with hands that hurt so much I couldn’t use them. I then realized that by increasing measure, I’ve had aches and pains in my hands, my wrists, my feet, and recently my back and even my shoulders. Downing Tylenol and Advil and increasing my nightly drinking did not seem to be an effective way to deal with this problem.

The new doctor I have was very good about getting me in right away. When I met with her, I pointed out the possibility that the increasing pain in various parts of my body could be due to the tick bites I’ve suffered the last couple of years. Though Lyme Disease is rare here, there are Missouri-based variants that exhibit similar symptoms.

My doctor, a lovely young woman originally from India, gave me a gentle smile and nodded as I talked, no doubt thinking all the while about how the Internet is more trouble than it’s worth at times. She asked me several questions about other aspects of my health, took a close look in particular at my hands and wrists and then asked me if there was a history of arthritis in the family.

Well, my Dad has arthritis but that came with age as he got older. She asked if there was any rheumatoid arthritis in the family, and I told her not that I know of. I am familiar with rheumatoid arthritis because the uncle of my first husband suffered from an advanced case of it; his hands were very distorted and he could only wear slippers.

She had me undergo tests, yes even for tick diseases, but told me that from my po’me tale (not her words, my own editorial addition), and the appearance of my hands that I am most likely suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.

Well, in a way it’s nice to know that I’m not a hypochondriac assuming much with each slight pain, but I’m not sure how happy I was to give up my exotic illness. After all, it’s much more interesting to write about a disease picked up from treks through the wild woods of Missouri, then to write about a disease that happens because life dealt me the short straw in this instance.

She gave me some anti-inflammatory medicine to use, which does help, but only to a point. In addition to medicine and applying cold and warmth and wrapping the wrists and even fingers at times, she also told me that I will have to cut back on the amount of time on the keyboard.

Now, for a writer, this is a problem. I spend on an average 10-12 hours a day at the keyboard, either on my books or articles, or writing to this weblog. If I cut back, I’m going to have to restrict most of my keyboard time to work that brings in income, which means less time to the weblog. This was something I had to think about, give myself time to wrap my mind around the idea.

Ultimately, though, I think this is going to be a healthy thing for me. I do need to spend less time on the computer and more time ‘out there’. And my body has just decided to enforce this decision. However, this will mean changes.

For one thing, I won’t be able to sit at my computer and program for hours, like I used to a few years back. This might restrict some of the things I’ve been wanting to try, but I haven’t been in the mood to tech tweak for the longest time anyway, as demonstrated by the still non-existent Poetry Finder. (As noted in comments attached to Loren’s lovely post referencing Emily Dickinson’s use of the robin in her poetry. No worries about being reminded of the Poetry Finder, Loren. BTW, when did that ‘Vote for Bush” sticker start showing up on your weblog pages?)

I will be writing less online, but there are numerous advantages to writing less. One that springs instantly to mind is that I’ll have more time to think about what I’m writing, which means I probably won’t get into as much trouble. Perhaps “Burningbird” will become “Simmering Bird”. Maybe even “Thoughtful Bird”.

Additionally, there are alternatives to writing through a keyboard that I have been wanting to try for some time, such as using a recording device to record my thoughts while I’m out an about. With the new speeech recording software, the recordings can be converted into text and I can use this to help me create my weblog posts, or even to do my books. No reason I can’t use it to help write my books.

Even more interesting, I don’t have to convert the recording to text. Though sound files aren’t effective for all the devices people seem to use to read weblogs, and can be unfriendly to modems, still they are an alternative technique to typing into the computer. In fact, I recorded my first audio blog using the built-in mic on my computer, and shareware software I downloaded from the Internet. The post was a lark, just a ramble, and ended up being truncated at 3 minutes, but I had fun doing it. I just need to figure out how one can talk like one writes. There is no textual varation for pausals such as ‘uhm’. I’ve also found, with myself at least, that writing imposes form, which leads to coherency. I am concerned that all my audio posts will end up being blather.

On the bright side, though, I can actually record the sounds to go with the pictures I take.

Speaking of pictures, I’m also going to have to restrict my film camera photography because the cameras are heavy enough to cause a great deal of strain. Still, that removes the guilt from spending time with my digital camera–my lovely lightweight digital camera–even though the photos I take can’t be sold. Who cares if I can’t sell them, they’re fun.

Eventually, along with my audio recording device I’ll pick up a a digital SLR camera that’s lighter than my film cameras, and can take publication quality photos. But for now, I can write metaphorically through sound and sight. My only concern is for those who have audio impairments, but hopefully they have sound-to-text conversion software they can use. And I’ll still write. Have to shoot me to get to stop completely.

In the meantime, more flower photos from the Orchid Show currently happening at the Missouri Botanical Gardens, in St. Louis. You can see one posting with all the photos here.







Photography Plants

Magic of orchids

Did someone ask for a little color?






Media People

Agee on film: episode 1

I was introduced to James Agee with the book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men but became aware only recently that he was at one time a film critic, as well as a poet, and a screenwriter (he helped adapt The African Queen for the cinema).

I was also unaware that James Agee died so young, at 46. His accomplishments remind me of David Marr (author of Vision: A Computational Investigation into the Human Representation and Processing of Visual Information), another person who died far too young (at 35 from leukemia) but who still managed to make a lasting impact in his field.


At the library, I found a book, Agee on Film with a collection of reviews and articles from his tenure as movie reviewer for the Nation. The editor had promised him that he could review any film he wished, and write what he wanted; an offer too good for Agee, who had a passionate love of movies and unrestricted writing.

I’ve enjoyed reading through the book, not only because it’s fun to see a contemporary review of some of the movies we now consider classics; but also because Agee’s reviews were an art form themselves.

Deerslayer on the other hand, can be recommended to anyone who would not feel that an eight-year-old boy that gallops up howling “Wah-wah, I’m an Indian” needs to consult a psychiatrist. I don’t feel that most bad pictures are “bad enough to be funny”; they are bad enough to be fascinating, not to say depressing as hell. But this defenseless and disarming show is the purest dumb delight I have seen in a long time.

Agee wrote his reviews in the midst of World War II, and it is his commentary on the war that stands out for me because the words, though over half a century old, are still as fresh as the mind from which they sprang.

Even the Army Orientation films, through no fault intrinsic to them, carry their load of poison, of failure. You can hear from every sort of soldier from the simplest to the most intricate what a valuable job they are doing. But because they are doing it only for service men they serve inadvertently to widen the abyss between fighters and the civilians who need just as urgently to see them. Civilians, however, get very little chance to learn anything from moving pictures. We are not presumed to be brave enough. And the tragic thing is that after a couple of decades of Hollywood and radio, we are accepting such deprivations and insults quite docilely; often, indeed, we resent anyone who has the daring to try to treat us as if we were human beings.


For the time, when people in this country were more interested in escapism, Agee’s reviews would stand out for their uncompromising look at the movies. What I found particularly compelling about his writing, though, is that he recognized when his emotions were engaged by a movie, and in a couple of cases, actually held off on reviewing the movie until he had a chance to regain enough objectivity to review the movie effectively.

Recently I saw a moving picture so much worth talking about that I am still unable to review it. This was the Italian Open City. For the moment I can say only that I am at once extremely respectful and rather suspicious of it, and that I can recommend it very highly, with a warning, however, to those who are particularly sensitive to scenes of torture. I will probably be unable to report on the film in detail in the next three or four weeks.

Agee ended up reviewing the movie almost a month later, and was able to be critical as well as complimentary.

Agee’s reviews differed enormously in length. Some, like those for Open City went on for pages; others were just a sentence or two. However brief, though, his opinion always came through, loud and clear:

San Diego I love you is a coarse-weft, easygoing little farce about an inventor(Edward Everett Horton), his daughter (Louise Albritton), a girl-shy financier (Jon Hall), and some pleasant comics (notably Buster Keaton). I can’t exactly recommend it, but if you see it by accident if will cause no particular pain.

Tycoon. Several tons of dynamite are set off in this movie; none of it under the right people.

You Were Meant for Me. That’s what you think.

I wonder what Agee would think about our modern movies and movie goers, especially with movies that have caused some controversy. I noticed with Lost in Translation and in particular, Mel Gibson’s Passion that people’s views of the movies are, to a great extent, a reflection of their life experiences, their viewpoint of themselves, and the world around them. There seems to be little room left for appreciation of the movies as craft.

Or is that the ultimate measure of the success of a movie?

Lost in Translation. I haven’t seen it yet, though plan to from all I’ve read. According to reviews of the movies, I gather the story is about a has-been comic in Japan to make commercials, who meets up with another American staying at the same hotel. The movie focuses on them, and the possibility of a relationship between them, all surrounded by Japan: Japanese culture, people, and activities.

Some say that Lost in Translation is racist because of the stereotyping of the Japanese in the movie. Others say that the view of the Japanese in the movie reflects the alienation that the Americans feel, strangers in a strange land. One innovative person said that the movie really demonstrates Japanese stereotyping of American stereotyping of the Japanese–a circular reference I can’t help thinking that Agee would like, if his review of The Lost Weekend is anything to go by.

While I watched the movie, which Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett have made out of Charles Jackson’s story about alcoholism, The Lost Weekend, I was pretty consistently gratified and excited. When I began to try to review it, I could not forget what Eisenstein said, years ago, when he was asked what he thought of Lewis Milestone’s All Quiet on the Western Front. He said he thought it was a good Ph.D thesis. I am afraid that applies to The Lost Weekend, too. I don’t mean that it is stuffy: it is unusually hard, tense, cruel, intelligent, and straightforward. It is, rather, a skillful restatement, satisfying and easy to overrate in a time of general dereliction and fatuousness, of some sound basic commonplaces.

On that scale, of course, excellent things can be done.

Agee’s reviews were fun reading, but it was his award winning article on comedy in the movies that made me take a closer look at Passion.



Why I like Andrew Orlowski

I like Andrew Orlowksi, the infamous scourge of weblogging. I love it when he writes another article trashing weblogging. Now, you might think I’m biased because he once paid me a very nice compliment in comments to one of my weblog posts, but that’s only part of the reason. I like him because he makes fun of us. We need to be made fun of because we’re very silly and pretentious at times.

Now, if we were to make fun of ourselves more often, Andrew wouldn’t have much fuel for his fires. Instead of laughing at us, he’d be laughing with us. Jeneane Sessum understands this. Unfortunately, too many people do not.

But then, I take myself too seriously when I say we should laugh.