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Road kill

October 21st, 2017 by jomo

Out in the street this morning, beyond the curb was a squirrel corpse, much flattened. I called the city. They asked if it was impeding traffic. I said apparently not, and they said it would be taken care of. Of course I could take care of it – scoop it up and put it in the garbage can – but I didn’t want to mess with it.

Going outside for the mail in mid-afternoon, I saw some unusual movement outside of the front fence. I quietly walked out and looked over the fence. Three black vultures were working on the squirrel carcass. One of them, judging by the feathered neck, seemed to be immature. I wondered if it was a family preying together.

They weren’t much bothered by the occasional car going by.

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The eclipse: old news now

September 17th, 2017 by jomo

My sweetie and I flew up to Oregon, into the path of totality, and went with her sister’s family to view the event. And it (and the whole process of viewing it) was memorable. Then she and I in a rented car wandered around the Cascades for a few days.

Everything was rather closed in because of smoke from all of the wildfires burning in the mountains on all sides. The biggest disappointment was Crater Lake. The whole great bowl was filled with smoke so dense that nothing could be seen…a real “pea-souper.” But is was road-trip fun, tooling around with my honey giving me directions, and following some very seriously bad directions from an internet program – the calm voice says “In 800 feet turn left on Going up the Mountain Drive – ignore the ‘No Outlet’ sign.”

Getting back to Austin in the face of Hurricane Harvey led to some tense moments when it looked like all flights were being cancelled, or late, causing connections to be missed, but it all worked out.

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Audio book narration

July 24th, 2017 by jomo

I listen to a lot of audio books. They let me do things with my hands while listening to something besides music or news.

In a website review for an audio title which I had thoroughly enjoyed, the reviewer complained mightily about mispronounced words. I agree that mispronunciations are jarring, but they are not finally the fault of the narrator. Narrators shouldn’t be reading the text cold, and they have a producer reading along silently with them, controlling the recording machinery. At any mistake or unwanted sound the producer can stop the whole process, rewind the recording, and cue the narrator to record over the error. The next step in the process requires an editor to listen to the recording while following the text. Any errors are then corrected by insert editing, which can sometimes be heard in a published title because of a momentary shift in ambient, or background, sound and vocal quality/intonation.

So a narrator can mispronounce a word, but they are not alone in the fault: there are others also to blame.

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Hawk Migration

July 15th, 2017 by jomo

Vast numbers of large birds circle and soar in the sky, all drifting steadily north or south, depending on the season. They spiral in updrafts and thermals, gaining altitude: at some point they disengage from one upward conveyor and sail for another.

I have been privileged to see hawks migrating twice, both times in the Spring in Central Texas. It is truly awesome and thrilling.

I was in college the first time. Returning to my house just outside of town in the afternoon, I walked to the edge of a ravine and just stared mesmerized. Hawks filled the sky in all directions, both low and so high that they were only specks, all sliding north.

In a while, one of my housemates arrived and came to stand beside me. He too watched dumbfounded for a short time, and then said “I’ve gotta go get my gun!”

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July 13th, 2017 by jomo

It’s been about 37 months since I last posted anything on this blog. Two things motivated me to write something now.

The first was writing a letter to a friend of almost sixty years on her birthday. I didn’t really have anything to say: I just maundered on about buying a leaf blower and the health of a pet, but I found that I enjoyed doing it – I enjoyed the writing.

The second thing was the visit from an old friend of about fifty years. He has saved letters and ephimera (a good librarian word) through the years and has recently been curating his collection. He had a letter from me written in 1971 or 72, and he brought me a copy of it. It was written in a brown ink italic script and was nice to look at. I used an Osmiroid calligraphic pen and liked to write stuff just as a graphic exercise, much like drawing a picture. The text was nothing special: a little group of us had moved to the Missouri Ozarks and were living rather primitively – I passed on news and random observations. I told him a bit about our neighbors and some local history. And I know, from looking at it and reading it today, that I enjoyed doing it.

And I have enjoyed doing this. I hope that you have enjoyed reading it.

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“NYPD Blue” v. “The Shield”

June 17th, 2014 by jomo

What separates these two shows but the width of the continent? I didn’t watch either of them on a regular basis when they were aired, but now I have been streaming them on Amazon.

“NYPD Blue” has complex characters that develop as the season(s) progress. In fact, the crime stories that they are involved with become secondary to and supportive of the development of the principal characters.

“The Shield” plays as an effort to make a sociopath with a badge a sympathetic character. I see that it lasted for several seasons, and that puzzles me. I’m not a fan of horror movies, and this show, I feel, fits into that category.

So, I’ve finished with “The Shield” after 5+ episodes, but I’m into the 2nd season of “NYPD Blue.” However, I must say that they are both just TV shows (but at least there are now no ads on them).

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Moon towers

February 13th, 2014 by jomo

Online this AM was a story about Austin’s moon towers, and that reminded me of something.

Cactus Pryor was a very well-known media personality in Austin, working his whole life for KTBC radio and TV (he died in 2011). Among the various programs he did was one which dealt with his reminiscences of growing up in Austin.

As a guest on that program one day he had a fellow who had fallen from the moontower at 9th and Guadalupe and survived. The tower is about 150′ tall, and the boy had climbed it, but slipped and fell. He plunged down inside of the triangular lattice support structure, bouncing from side to side so that he never achieved the velocity that free fall would have produced. His whole body was bruised and bones were broken, but he survived.

That had happened in the early 1930s, and it quickly became a schoolyard legend for Cactus and his schoolmates. Decades later Cactus still remembered the story, did some research, found the fellow still living in Austin, and had him on the show.

As I recall, the fellow was rather reticent, and Cactus had to work to draw forth his memories of the event. But Cactus was at his best, because he was speaking to one of his childhood heroes.

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February 1st, 2014 by jomo

One of the things I did during my putting-meat-on-the-table life was film (and video) titles. In the 60s, 70s, less-in-the-80s and still-less-in-the-90s, productions required titles shot on film and transferred to video. The Chyron titler, a high-end device when it debuted, obviated the use of film, and titles could be produced directly to video…one of the early tollings of the bell for my profession…

While a not-inconsiderable portion of my business, I really didn’t like doing titles: it was exacting work and critics came out of the woodwork. The images were there, more-or-less static, for everyone’s squint-eyed consideration. One job I re-shot 3 times because the client kept insisting they were crooked – they were exactly the same everytime, but on the 3rd pass he was satisfied. I shot the titles for Tobe Hooper on “Chainsaw Massacre” but since he was blowing it up to 35mm and I shot the titles on a 16mm Bolex claw pulldown, I told him that he should get them reshot in pin-registered 35 – so he took my art and had them reshot. DuArt (I think) stripped their name in (crooked), in place of my credit, and shot the credits.

The title crawl for Bob Burns’ feature (the title of which I don’t recall) went along fine ’til about half-way through, when the words went a little wonky, distorting sideways and up, and then snapping back into place and all was well the rest of the way. Perplexed, I did a dry run of a re-shoot, and found that there was one place where a corner of the artwork negative was snagging on a little edge of hardware, and then breaking free.

What got me started on this was watching some show and thinking about the current fashion in titles: KIM – Keep It Moving. No longer are titles static, but they are in constant motion, zooming or panning. Not much in the tilt category because that might cause overlapping which is confusing. And the worst thing for titles to be is confusing.

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Double Deuce

January 30th, 2014 by jomo

The Hub City Movers were playing at the IL Club on E. 11th St. The small audience consisted of friends of the band and club regulars, I guess, who were all black since it was their part of town. I think that it was Jimmy Gilmore fronting, with Jerry Barnett on drums and Charley Sauer on bass…there was probably a lead guitar and maybe a sax player (Ed Vizard?) – about 50 years ago, things are a little foggy.

I went into the bathroom to take a leak and was standing at a urinal, staring at the wall, when the guy next to me said “small world, eh?” I looked at him and said “what?” He said “Here you are standing next to number twenty-two and you don’t even know it.”

I said “What do you mean?” “Number twenty-two, man! Double deuce! Bob Hayes!” he said.

Being a lapsed Cowboys fan in those days, the realization of what he was talking about was slow in coming. But after thinking about it a little, I decided he was just some guy shining a white fool on…but maybe not, eh?

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Roy Orbison

January 26th, 2014 by jomo

One of the good things about being a teenager who hadn’t grown
up there in Midland, Texas, in 1957 was Roy Orbison. Roy’s 1956
hit of Ooby Dooby on the Sun label, made him the local rock
and roll celebrity, although he was from out in the oil patch at
Wink, and was considered more of an Odessa-sort-of-guy. Since he
was not of the Midland oil-gentry, I felt a kindredship with him.

He had TV shows on both KMID-TV (Midland) and KOSA-TV (Odessa)
with his band, the Teen Kings: drummer, bassist, and saxophone,
with Roy on guitar. Both stations produced bland featureless sets,
with two camera setups, and TV standard shadowless lighting. Roy
hadn’t yet adopted his dark shades, and his coke bottle glasses
with the studio lights cast strange defractions of light on his
face. His throat, the source of his phenomenal range, was obviously
strange, flat and wide.

His band members were all skinny and frenetic. The drummer was a
constant blur in the background. The sax player up front was a
contortionist. But it was the bass player who balanced Roy for
focus. He was all over that upright – whacking it, humping
it, spinning it and dancing, his coattails flapping in the breeze.
(That bass player later worked for my Dad as a butcher in his
grocery store.)

I particularly remember one night (although I watched all of his
shows) over at a friend-named-Meadows’ house, as we tried to
break into his folks’ liquor stash.

Another night I was out with a fellow with music business
connections(Who Wears Short Shorts?) and we were lining our
empties up across the road and a Cadillac approached. It stopped
in front of our dead soldier barricade, reversed, did a 3-point
turnaround and left. Ray said that it was Roy. Maybe not, but we
cherish our brushes with greatness, no?

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