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KIDS (permalink) 10.30.2013
he's got three speeds, they're all just the same
at parent-teacher conferences, alex's teacher said that one concern he had about alex dealt with the slow pace in which he did his work. he went on to say that in most cases it doesn't matter but it will in testing and as he progresses in years and the work becomes more complex. in turn, i told the teacher that were we to record alex leaving our house under three different circumstances, once on a normal no-hurry outing, another before trick-or-treating, and a third when the house was on fire and lives were in jeopardy, that he the teacher, nor marty, nor i, based on alex's pace, gait or countenance would be able to discern the difference between the three scenarios. there's just no rushing the boy. but, if he, the teacher, were able to find a trick to put a little giddy-up in the boy's tempo, there was a shiny five dollar bill and loaf of homemade banana bread in it for him.

KIDS (permalink) 10.29.2013
in many ways it sucks we have to grow up
if you distract anthony from his work or play, he will, in a very exasperated manner, turn and say
dad! stop it! you unconcentrated me! ahhhh!
and yes, there are waving arms involved.

VIDEO, HUMOR (permalink) 10.25.2013
i do love me a good life story
the story i'm after starts at the 28:10 mark (which the video should start at or close to).

KIDS (permalink) 10.24.2013
take four heroin-laced aspirin and call me in the morning
i'm a recentish convert to flossing. since drinking the lemonade—not that i would ever admit to drinking such a sugar-rich beverage where my dentist could see—i've been a consistent four-five times a week flosser. then i read an article by dr. oz where he likened skipping flossing to only wearing deodorant under one armpit. this visual seems to have been the missing bit of tutelage necessary to upgrade me from a four-to-fiver to a six-to-sevener.

as for why i still sometimes only hit the mark six times a week, the nights i miss i'm surely sprawled across my bed in a parenting coma. in such moments, not flossing is the least of my problems as in the past i've crashed with the milk still on the counter, water running on the lawn, and once with our home's front door standing open, yes, like all night.

parenting coma's prove more severe than food or real comas, reason being, when you come out of a parenting coma in the morning, the kids are still there.

PHOTO (permalink) 10.22.2013
a new GALLERY IMAGE was posted today.

PHOTO (permalink) 10.17.2013
a new GALLERY IMAGE was posted today.

FRIENDS, LIFE (permalink) 10.16.2013
it may be harder to move, but it's easier to act.
in partial regard to the book i posted about yesterday, i remember when my former boss and mentor turned fifty i asked her if there was a best part of hitting this lofty milestone. she had an answer ready and looked happy to share it. with more than a small hint of excitement in her voice she said it was the realization, finally, that everyone is not talking or thinking about you and that in the rare moments that they actually might be, knowing that it doesn't matter, that it doesn't matter one iota.

for her, this epiphany proved one of the most liberating and meaningful parcels of wisdom ever set before her. the fact that my boss and mentor was an african american, female executive in a wildly conservative banking environment should add some weight to this discovery. while not yet fully there, i can sense myself trending in this direction. i can also sense the saliva building around my mental jowls at the thought of biting into the philosophy whole.

QUOTES (permalink) 10.14.2013
a new TROYSCRIPT was posted today.

PHOTO, WEB (permalink) 10.11.2013
i somehow forgot to mention one of my favorite everyman moments. in 2011 i was contacted by a company looking to obtain rights for one of the from the attic entries. i sent the inquiry on to the original entrant and a few months later saw the image used in a chevy add during the 2011 world series. it's the image at the 40 second mark and was the 2008's 3rd place from the attic winner. never before was the mission of the everyman, to get images out there that otherwise weren't out there, ever more succintcly realized. pretty dang neat.

further, i've since found out it caused a bit of a stir as the commercial's creators were accused of lifting the concept from a website. Did Chevy Steal This Commercial Idea From a Popular Blog?. noting they used the everyman image in demostration.

WEB, PHOTO (permalink) 10.10.2013
the everyman story - part 4. the future
part three is over here

my dining room is collaged with photography from around the world. occasionally a visitor to our home will stroll through this room and exit asking wondrously if the same person took all of those photos. laughingly, we explain the source. i will then add that if a single eye captured that wildly diverse collection of imagery they would be one of the best regarded photographers of our time. sometimes at dinner we play a game where someone will say something like, "how many frogs?" or "how many airplanes" and without looking at the walls everyone at the table has to guess how many pictures containing the noted item are on display. after everyone guesses, a eye-scanning inventory is made. also, a for sure favorite for my kids is to point out all the naked people pictures to visiting kids.

truth is i now have enough photography i could cover virtually every bare space of my home. i've been trying to convince marty to let me do themes throughout the house, like, i'm dying to decopauge the bathroom with photos of bathrooms from around the world, wallpapering every inch of plastered space, including the ceiling with images of toilets and people using toilets (yep, i got 'em). she's held consistently resistant to this design direction over the years. i've promised her that were she to green light collaging the full home, we could be on our city's house tour and be known as 'that picture house'. this surprisingly holds zero appeal for her (i think she imagines the expense of replacing all the broken frames from the kids knocking them off their nails in their rough and tumble way of life). so instead of consuming the entire house, i continue to tweak the display in the dining room, the one room marty has given me full control over, adding more photos each year as well as rotating what is displayed from year to year, pulling new photos from boxes that hold the overflow.

given the laughable overstock of great imagery, around 30,000 images at this time, it has become a near annual tradition to contemplate winding the operation down. i mean is there really going to be a twentieth annual everyman? a thirtieth? each time i walk down this path i of course pull up the site and spin through its pages. this activity sucks me in like it has done to many a web tourist before. i marvel at the range and creativity and vividness of the images. the activity inevitably makes me remember the numerous random compliments i've received in my inbox many of which express their adoration of the everyman and how it is their favorite contest. my all-time favorite email came from a former student who was studying abroad. she said she was sitting in a cabin (somewhere in europe, i can't recall where) talking with other students from around the world. one of them told the group of this great photo contest they loved called the everyman. my student was giddy to share that she not only knew the creator but had seen 'the dining room' that showcased the imagery. and every now and again i recall what was probably the most significant email to ever appear in the everyman inbox. it came from a woman who described an office ritual where she and a group of co-workers gathered around a desk at lunchtime and looked through the entries. she explained that the next image in the gallery would be pulled up and the group would take it in and then make their comments about it, discussing the merits or weaknesses of the image and/or title. she said they protected the pace in which they moved only doing so many each day as to not run out of images for the next day, week, month. this email curiously arrived when i was closer than ever to ending the contest. i was dreading the amount of work and effort i was about to undertake in announcing another year. that one crazily-timed note saved the everyman that year (and thus every subsequent year). speaking of timing, i just received an email yesterday day while crafting this post asking if i ran any more photo contests because they liked this contest better than the others for amatuers they were finding and hoped that i ran or knew of others like it. so between the love of the imagery and the supportive audience, this annual ritual of contemplating ending the everyman becomes a more futile exercise with every passing year which i guess means there probably will be a twentieth and even thirtieth everyman. especially as long as i have viable candidates for the everyman spirit award.

but to be fully honest, the biggest reason to push on is the quiet faith i have that one year marty will break down and let me take over the bathroom.

WEB, PHOTO (permalink) 10.09.2013
the everyman story - part 3. the early years
part two is over here

every day i walked the bare, lifeless walls of my home. and every day i had more samples of curious photography i'd seen casually existing in other people's homes swimming through my brain's art gallery. unfortunately, the moment i decided to announce i was holding a photo contest is not very crisp in my mind. i just remember saying on my personal website that i was holding a photo contest. the contest parameters stated that whoever sent me the best picture, as judged by me and few friends, in the next sixty days would win a hundred dollars. and by entering, you retain ownership of your photo but allow me to hang it up in my home. those few sentences pretty well sum of the extent of the early definition.

the first year received forty-two entries. all coming from people who had eaten dinner in my home. i asked two friends if they would look at the photos and tell me their favorites. together, the three of us juried the entries and picked our favorites. i compiled the results and announced the winners. i sent the number one guy a hundred bucks and hung a dozen pictures up in my dining room.

a year later i received an email from someone asking if i would be holding the photo contest again. it hadn't even occurred to me to do it twice but in thinking on it for three minutes, thought why not and announced the 2nd annual everyman. this time i received 80 entries, almost a perfect doubling of the first year, and most excitingly, a few from folks who i didn't know, from far west as california and as far east as new york.

now this year, i did something that would forever change the everyman. i emailed a guy whose website i read. he occasionally posted photographs, some of which were quite spectacular by my eye and right in the wheelhouse of my modest affair. i didn't hear back from him but hours before the deadline, my inbox chimed with an email from him that contained two entries. i can't verbalize the quiet, fist-pumping thrill this produced in my dark, lonely office (oh internet!).

me and my two pals again evaluated the entries and i announced the results. the fella from new york, one jason kottke, took third place. later that day on his personal website he made a post that said, "Third place, woo!. the 2nd place entry is my favorite." the post included a link to my results page. before this link, my site on the day of the big reveal had 37 visitors. they next day saw more the 1,500. and the day after that more than 3,500. seven days after the link the everyman was on the front page of the usa today, named the site of the day. granted the by line with the honor said, "some crazy guy in st. louis is giving away his own money to collect art for his new home." not exactly how my mother would have written it up. the next year saw 1,200 hundred entries. and the next saw 2,000. this continued for awhile until i received an email from spain asking if they could enter. on that day the everyman went international and the entries continued to climb, peaking at 7,700 entries from 80 countries a few years later.

this volume proved too much work for me and my judges and i had to dial it back a bit. these days, the contest has a 2,000 entry cap which seems to be a happy number for all involved.

part 4. the future

WEB, PHOTO (permalink) 10.08.2013
the everyman story - part 2. conception
part one is over here

some months after buying my house, i stopped at a friend's place to pick him up. after being let in, he asked me to wait a few moments while he finished getting ready. we talked, loudly between the rooms we were in. during the several minutes we did this, i walked around the living room taking in the books and baubles in the space. after scanning the bookshelves and walls, a snapshot on the coffee table caught my eye. it showed a close-up shot of a guy taking a large bite out of a plum. much of what would usually be captured in such a composition was tightly cropped, removing most of the extraneous details. but the unusual photo possessed a surprising amount of mood and emotion. i envisioned it blown up, fifteen feet tall, thirty feet wide in an urban art gallery framed by a stark expanse of concrete wall, people with wine glasses milling before it, discussing the merits and gestalt of the photo.

hey. this is a great picture.

what? which one.

the one on the coffee table.


the guy eating the plum.

oh. that's a goof. we pulled it from the set to throw it out.

what?! you're throwing this out?

yes. it was an accident.

but it's a great shot.

you think so?

yeah i do.

well, you can have it. like i said we are just going to throw it out.

really? i can i have it?

this marks the moment the first two neurons joined and with help from complementary neurons sitting in the wings giving it mass is when the everyman truly first came into being. after this chance moment, the act of studying photography anywhere i went, whether properly framed, magneted to the fridge or messily strewn about a desk became an official pastime of mine. in little time i came to realize that great, or interesting at least, photography quietly existed everywhere, but was being seen virtually nowhere.

part 3. the early years

WEB, PHOTO (permalink) 10.07.2013
the everyman story - part 1. inception
over the years i've been asked a time or two about how the everyman photo contest got started. just about every time i've recounted the tale i've told a highly abbreviated version. now, as it's more than a decade mature and the memories are in peril of being handed their walking papers, i thought i should capture the history as i recall it before my brittle synapses lose the ability to recall it. so, this week, in honor of the 13th public opening of the galleries, i will recount how my 2nd most prized digital creation came into being. the first soil got turned ...

after marty and i moved from our apartment into our house. once settled, my single largest complaint about home ownership did not deal in lawn-care, failed wiring, or leaky faucets but with empty walls. the apartment we had just left had a ridiculous number of windows with essentially three of the four walls consisting of nothing but window after window, the only plastered wall in the 1920's structure being the one running down the middle of the building separating the side by side apartments. so after years of a windowed apartment, the unexpected sprawl of bland, soulless walls made our first home not warm and inviting as i'd hoped for but sad and bleak. when i asked marty about it, she gazed about as if seeing it for the first time and confessed she hadn't noticed, not one bit. at the time, i still possessed enough youthful marital optimism that i thought by simply raising the point i planted a seed of discontent in my wife but the green stalk never broke ground. even today, marty could care less if our walls and halls were as stark as they were in our first twenty four hours of possession. i reckon this adds to why marriage will always hold an element of unpredictability.

as you'd expect, just as my zeal did not move her, her lack of interest did not sway me from my vision (e.g. marital deadlock) so when i saw the flyer for an art fair in a nearby huey-huey suburb, i pitched it to marty as a way to get out on a nice day. after walking the tents on blocked-off streets, i brought marty back to my favorite display and began talking up the work. with her prior zeal she said the photos were 'nice'. sensing no love-affair on the horizon i told her i thought we should get a couple images for the house. being an understanding partner, she agreed. so i procured two large images for a startling sum of five hundred dollars and left feeling like i was about to repair the struggling mood of my house forever.

moments after walking through the door i set to finding the perfect spot for my grandiose exhibit. i found it and immediately moved to the framing and hanging and when complete stood back and took it in. the wall was spectacular, alive even. but as i turned and surveyed the surrounding space, which is another way of saying 'the rest of the house', the message stood every bit as bleak as before my renovation. as i walked the rooms and hallways and contemplated how much i just spent to cover the one little nook, and did the quick math of what it would take to cover all the other little nooks, the reality of my bland and boring house set in. unhealthy as the confession sounds, i found the situation surprisingly unsettling.

part 2. conception

KIDS (permalink) 10.04.2013
just one more reason parents always look tired.
you would think the message for kids to get dressed would be trivial, something like 'go get dressed' trivial. not so. in our house, we are required to use three different calls to robe oneself.

anfer. go get dressed. and please wear underwear this time.

aleo. go get dressed. and wear something you haven't worn in the last seven days please.

baya. go get dressed. and please don't leave your discarded clothes in the hallway.

KIDS, FILM (permalink) 10.03.2013
let's all go to the movies
late in the summer bella and i began a new father-daughter ritual. on saturday nights she and i, after the boys go to bed, stay up late and watch a movie. the original vision was to have them all be horror/suspense films, something bella holds ravenous interest in given her passion for writing scary stories. i'm sure i've previously commented on the great boon and surprise awaiting parents when their children get old enough to engage in more mature, globally entertaining activities. i sometimes had the sense i'd be stuck watching the buddies dog-movie franchise forever and ever. in a semi-related aside, a friend told me of a time he was parked on the couch watching tosh.0, a show that definitely falls outside of the sunday disney movie realm if you're not familiar, when his twelve year old daughter came in and asked if she could watch with him. he looked at her, then at the screen, then back at her and said, "you can watch until i get uncomfortable that you're watching, then you have to leave." there's a special beauty to honest answers that dancing around a reply can never match. but back to father-daughter movie night. thus far, we've watched:
  • poltergiest
  • the lost boys
  • the house at the end of the street
  • sixth sense
  • the others
  • getaway (seen in theater on our ms150 weekend)
  • in time
  • the little girl who lives down the lane
when bella was pushing for horror/suspense films, i agreed but said i got to set the initial tone as i didn't intend to dive directly into Saw or Paranormal Activity and wanted more of a natural buildup. so i chose what i thought was a safe but entertaining selection with poltergiest. bella did not like it pretty much from the moment the tree attacked the boy. it seems kids don't give much merciful latitude to dated-looking special effects. in my next pick i hedged with the 80's-boy-candy flick Lost Boys. it proved to not be much of a hedge because within minutes bella said, "vampires? really dad?". how exactly was i to know that vampires were so last generation? the cute boys bought me a bit of slack but not enough to save me from getting benched from picking our third movie. bella chose one she had watched with a girlfriend at a sleepover. my faith in a movie two sleep-deprived twelve year olds were giddy about was not high and i expected a totally re-done, predictable and second-rate tale. not only were my few "let me guess" predictions dead wrong, the movie had me tense and squirming like a tittering twelve year old at a sleepover. so in the end the score stood bella one, dad none. to restore my daughter's faith in my ability to select a movie i had to go to the big guns and pull out The Sixth Sense which, of course, completely blew her away (man is that movie masterfully done!). the next ones were nothing special until i stumbled upon this seventies film called the little girl who lives down the lane staring a thirteen year old jodie foster and youthful martin sheen. it was quite good but both bella and i had dropped jaws when jodie foster's character stripped naked and climbed into bed with her co-star. to bella's shocked face, i confessed i didn't know (1) there would be nudity from a child not much older than bella or (2) that it was even legal to show a child not much older than bella naked in a film in the first place. i believe bella's exact words were, "dad, i could see her little boobies bouncing when she walked. you made me watch that." re-benched.

obviously, if you know of any good, father-daughter (nudity-free!!!) suspense films we'd love the recommendations.

KIDS (permalink) 10.02.2013
to seek out new smells and berate their makers
the boys and i were watching star trek, the original, after dinner. we're slowly working our way through the franchise starting at the very beginning. we were piled up on my desk chair, me on the seat and the boys each sitting on an armrest leaning on me. during the show i passed some post-dinner gas. moments later a big fight broke out in the show. i commented on the suddenness of the melee to which anthony (7) said casually, "i think they're fighting because of your smelly fart".

WEB, PHOTO (permalink) 10.01.2013
some people's favorite day of the year

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