Saturday, August 09, 2008

Monroe Street Bistro's Saturday soft opening made a great impression. We'll be back for the entrees.

Previewing the New Monroe Street Bistro Saturday Night
What's the perfect chaser for the Duchesse de Bourgogne traditional Flemish red ale? Why, an "Absinthe Minded Martini," of course. As the drink list said, "After a brief government-sponsored hiatus, Absinthe is back! A drink you won't forget . . ."

The New Monroe Street Bistro Had Its Open House Saturday NightIt was a night we won't forget, either. We were at the Monroe Street Bistro's Open House Saturday night, featuring half price drinks and free appetizers. It was a great opportunity to sample the imported beer selection at the new gastropub -- and that absinthe martini. The aioli frites were addictive and the Cuban pork tenderloin slices were amazing -- juicy, succulent and spicy. The house was packed, the ambiance was warm and the vibes were great. We'll be back for the entrees (they open Monday night, Aug. 11). They'll offer locally sourced European-inspired cuisine along with Belgian beer, Wisconsin microbrews, a selection of wines and specialty drinks -- and late-night food until 1:30 a.m. A great addition to the neighborhood, just west of Michael's Frozen Custard.

He don't know much about geography, or much of anything else, for that matter

I love this picture of John McCain in front of the map he doesn't know very well, with something vaguely labeled Axis of Evil back there behind him, with the all too appropriate Sam Cooke words.

Neither the image or the words are mine. Words have failed me lately, and I haven't written much about politics when it comes to this dispiriting campaign season, filled with the media's inanities and their usual uncritical McCain love, not to mention the Democrats' quadrennial determination to snatch defeat from the jaw's of victory by "moving to the center." The way I feel these days, we don't need more words, spelling out the obvious over and over. We need better images.

This is brilliant. It's part of a whole Sam Cooke-John McCain "Don't Know Much About" series illustrating phrases from the song. It was created by a Flickr contact of mine who uploads his pictures under the name Gamma Infinity.

Not much else I can say. Go take a look, and share with your friends. Let's get something viral going. Current Democratic campaign strategy isn't working all that well, judging from Obama's shrinking margins. Maybe what's needed is laughter instead.

What were they thinking?

We Suggest Digital With a Lot of Memory and No Shutter Lag
We suggest digital with a big, fast memory card, a high-speed buffer and no shutter lag.

Cute headline on this tourism billboard -- for an earlier era, before technology swept through photography and left it forever changed. Even the image looks like an old-fashioned stock photo from awhile back, shot from the shore.

Actually, most stock photos these days are more dynamic. Maybe this was something that the Dells Boat Tours had kicking around in their files. A more creative treatment would be to have an in-your-face shot that frames excited faces with the kinetic spray of rushing water, with the cliffs of the Dells looming in the background -- if nothing else, someone could stand at the back of the boat, hold a tripod or monopod-mounted digital SLR with a WA lens out over the spray, aim it at the passengers and trigger it with a remote. But that would mean someone would have to actually pay a photographer to shoot it. Of course, that's if it's speed you want to go for, which come to think of it, is a little odd to begin with for such a meditative stretch of beautiful scenery.

Be that as it may, the weird thing is, the billboard is not a fading holdover from a decade ago. It only went up recently. What were they thinking? Are they really targeting a demographic so out of it that they don't know about digital? And if they were, would they even know what you were talking about when you mention high speed film?

Probably not. I'm guessing the problem is with a lazy creative director. There's very little originality in advertising and marketing to begin with, and probably even less in tourism advertising, which is often dealing with limited budgets, cheap clients, and the need to create something out of nothing -- quickly. Old ideas are brushed off, recycled and repurposed. Perhaps the creative director was thinking of an ad promoting Formula One racing twenty years ago, "We suggest high-speed film," and thought "Bingo, that'll work. Throw it on a stock photo and we're good to go." Well, not really.

Note to advertisers: Before engaging in the perfectly honorable tradition of ripping off old ads, make sure the technology hasn't changed while you were asleep.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Peace begins here, but it's a long way to the other side of the lagoon

Peace Begins Here, but It's a Long Way Across the Lagoon
First there's the mandatory inspection by the duck patrol, and then there's the long voyage across the deep, dark waters of Tenney Park Lagoon. We arrived late for this year's Lanterns for Peace event. We were waylaid by the beautiful sunset on Lake Mendota and didn't even notice how dark it was getting.

Peace Begins HereBy the time we launched the family flotilla, led by T's flagship HMS Peace Begins Here, the rest of the fleet had long since left the dock. They were far out in the lagoon, and most of the floating lanterns had already made their way to the other side, where they were greeted by a a welcoming throng. Still, aided by by a gentle breeze, our small family flotilla did its best to catch up.

Family Flotilla Endeavors to Catch Up with the Fleet

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Lanterns for Peace Tonight at Tenney Park

Lanterns for Peace Tonight
Thursday, August 7, 2008: I'm reposting this image from last year as a reminder that this year's Lanterns for Peace event starts tonight at the Tenney Park shelter at 7:00 p.m. with lantern-making for peace lovers of all ages. The lantern fleet embarks at dusk.

Western wildfires giving us some spectacular sunsets in Madison lately

Western Wildfires Helped Make This Sunset So Spectacular
I've gotta stop taking sunset pictures. This is getting repetitive. But first, just this one: Wingra Creek, where it widens into Gardner Marsh. Unbelievable. They say it's the western wildfires, both in Canada and the western U.S -- all that particulate matter in the stratosphere. It's not quite like the year Krakatoa blew up, but we're getting closer to that territory.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The expedition made a successful return from afar, but their exotic specimen died

The Expedition Was a Success, but the Specimen Died
Sort of a fable: After the expedition returned to much acclaim, the Giant Beast was sequestered in an old brick warehouse, behind a stout metal door. A thick glass window was installed for observation of the alien creature, and families came from from miles around. Parents told their children to treasure the moment and remember it always. For its part, the beast passed many hours pressed up against the glass, its great wings lifting slowly and listlessly from time to time. It seemed to be looking for something in the vast green landscape on the other side of the barrier, but apparently it was not to be found. After many months it perished, some said of a broken heart. The keepers said that was nonsense. They had provided every amenity the creature could possibly want. They reassured the public that the alien species was naturally short-lived.

Never Again

Never Again
A blinding flash of light, and then the devastation. Hiroshima: August 6, 1945.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Are these large scrap metal birds the most photographed sculptures in Madison?

The Most Photographed Sculpture in Madison?
"Dreamkeepers," these large birds sculpted out of scrap metal by area artist Tom Every, who calls himself Dr. Evermor, are irresistibly photogenic. If you're passing their location at 211 S. Paterson St. on the near east side, it's impossible not to stop and take pictures. And wherever you point your camera will work -- there are so many details, textures and good angles from which to view the metal birds. On a bike trip to Olbrich Gardens this weekend, I had to pull off the Capital City Bike Trail and take a few myself.

Several months ago Doug Moe wrote about Dr. Evermor in his Wisconsin State Journal column, which included these memorable lines -- a phone message left by the alarmed artist on a friend's answering machine:
"They're trying to steal the ... birds! Bring guns, money and whiskey -- whatever you've got and get over here now!"
Dr. Evermor's greatest masterpiece is the gigantic, sprawling 300-ton sculpture that dominates his sculpture park across from the old Badger Ordnance Works between Baraboo and Sauk City on Highway 12. He calls it the Forevertron, and you've never seen anything like it. I've taken photographs of the Forevertron, but they're tucked away with my unscanned analog photos. Someday I'll scan and post them, but until then, Tom Huesing has a really nice set on Flickr.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Why would anybody want to shoot this with anything other than a camera?

Mourning Dove
Mourning Dove at Olbrich Botanical Gardens. I never could understand why Wisconsin had to join the stampede of states to legalize hunting of this gentle bird with the lovely, plaintive call. There weren't enough creatures to legally kill?

The underbrush in Owen Park is so dense it's easy to imagine a tiger lurking in there

The Phantom Tiger of Owen Park
On a recent walk through Madison's Owen Conservation Park, I was struck -- between mosquito bites -- by how much the dense underbrush looked like the jungle in an Henri Rousseau jungle painting, if you just changed the scale a bit. I could imagine a tiger lurking in there. So I put one in.