Random photos from yesterday

I’ve been super busy trying to keep up with midterms and paper grading this week while also mourning the death of my sister-in-law, so obviously no blog posts lately. But I took a few photos yesterday of things encountered as I moved through my Friday, so here they are.

The birds on the rooftop caught my eye because I liked the colors. Plus I thought it was kind of odd that so many gulls were flocking to that railing and facing in the same direction.

The giant snowball in the ice rink at Red Arrow Park is a leftover from a snowstorm Wednesday. On Thursday morning there were a couple inches of snow inside the rink, and it looked as though someone had started to build a snowman before abandoning it. By Friday that snowball just sat there looking rather lonely in a pool of water under the sun. (“I’ll be back again someday” 🙂 )

And the patchwork of filters below happened because I was trying to capture an image of the Grohmann Museum’s atrium staircase in the glass of the elevator shaft, and that reflection just wouldn’t show up on my phone. I tried out several filters, thinking one of them might help, which a few did, but not enough. So I gave up and walked away to go get my stuff from the printer in our main office, which is where I’d been headed in the first place. Then I noticed this image in my hand and realized I’d accidentally left the filter options up and camera on. Liking what I saw, I kept my hand in place to hold onto that oblique angle and took a screenshot.

Posted in Life, Milwaukee, Photography | 4 Comments

A Reminder: Count Your Blessings

Every time I drive past this burnt-out house, it serves as a stark reminder that bad things can happen to any of us at any time. It’s too easy to focus on what’s not going right in my life. Seeing this helps me think instead about what’s not going wrong!

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YouTube: In the Beginning

I’m teaching a mass media course this quarter, and while doing class prep recently, I needed to look at something in the internet archive, aka the “Wayback Machine.” (Wikipedia article here)

Have you used this super cool  site before? You can enter any URL, and the Wayback Machine will take you there . . . transported back in time to the way it was at some point in the past.

Anyway, because I’m also teaching my film studies course this term, I’ve been using YouTube a lot for film clips. And suddenly I wondered: What did YouTube look like when it started?

The answer: a lot like the old personal ads you used to find in those free tabloid-style newspapers on the giveaway racks near the front doors of hip businesses in happening areas of town. You know, “men seeking women,” “men seeking men,” etc.

It was an easy click to find the first-ever archived version of YouTube’s website. You can do it, too, with any website. Just go to the Wayback Machine and plug in the URL of the site you’re looking for, as if you were doing a Google search. And presto! You’re transported back in time to the cheesiness that was once a state-of-the-art website 🙂

Here is what YouTube looked like in the beginning, on April 28, 2005.

The first thing you were supposed to do once you got there was log in (or create an account) that was geared to set you up . . . with something that looks a lot like a date.

I am a Male/Female seeking Everyone/Males/Females between [ages] 18 and 99.

No videos on the landing page. Just these boxes/menus to log in and indicate your preferred sex and ages for online YouTube friends. Looks like YouTube also allowed you to save your “favorites” and check for “messages” from your new online friends, too.

And look at what happened when I hovered my cursor over the URL bar.

That little slogan, “YouTube – Broadcast Yourself,” intrigued me. I skimmed through the archived site to see how long it hung around. It remained in place for several years, but by the end of 2012 it was gone. I’m glad I noticed this because it helps me to understand why the site is named “YouTube.”

The logo itself clearly refers to television, right? TV was once known as “the tube” (still is) because of the vacuum tubes (that used to be) inside.

Affixing “You” to “Tube” turns the user into a broadcaster. It’s not two words (You + Tube) but one. “You Tube” as two words might have prompted associations with the derogatory “boob tube,” with “You” being an adjective similar to “boob” in describing “Tube.” But “YouTube” as one word becomes an entity in and of itself. And kind of a hip entity, at that, creating a compound word that keeps its separateness intact. Kind of like “iTunes” and “iPod” (no iPhone yet, though, LOL) and fitting right in with the new-media, new-millennium 2000s.

So isn’t it kind of interesting to see that in the beginning YouTube was trying to be a truly social network, like a Facebook or Myspace (which is still around, by the way, but now part of the People / Entertainment Weekly Network)? A place where you went to meet new friends online, yet also a creative space where you were encouraged to express yourself and “broadcast yourself” out over the internet airwaves?

I looked at some other snapshots of the YouTube site in 2005 and 2006, and indeed it looks like the main content is home-movie type videos that people are uploading primarily for their real-life friends but also for their online friends, and not to mention for the novelty of knowing their video might be seen by a worldwide audience.

Although I just randomly stumbled across all this by virtue of getting distracted while doing my actual work, I think I’ll take the time to work through more of the archived YouTube site, just to see how it’s changed over time. If I do, I’ll write about what I find here to keep you posted 🙂

Posted in Creativity, History, Learning, Life, Popular culture, Television | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The “Kicker”

I couldn’t think of a good title for this post (“Cement and Metal”???) until I circled back to the one detail that had caught my eye in the first place and made this a photo worth snapping.

Because I’m teaching the Film Studies course this quarter, all of the cinema-related vocabulary I know is near the surface of my brain right now. A “kicker” is a light placed behind the subject to add definition, often in the form of “edge” or “rim” lighting.

Below is an example of rim lighting from my fave campy film-noir movie, Sunset Boulevard. What do you think? Was “The ‘Kicker'”a good title? 🙂


Posted in Life, Milwaukee, Movies and film, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Man at Work (front entrance on a rainy day)

Came across this photo of the Grohmann Museum’s entrance (taken from just inside the front door on a rainy day) as I was going through my phone to find good pictures for a slideshow I’m putting together of the new Milwaukee Bucks arena’s construction over the past couple years. I liked this random pic from May 2017 and realized I’d never done anything with it, so thought I’d share in a blog post, even though it’s sunny in Milwaukee today and therefore sort of erroneous.

Oh well. I have a cool blog post coming tomorrow or Thursday, whenever I have time, so if posting an irrelevant picture is the worst thing I do this week, we can let that weather-related discrepancy slide 😄

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Nothing beside remains

I loved the gleam of evening sunlight along these overhead wires, so I snapped this picture and then went searching for a poem on power lines to see if I could find something more evocative than “Evening sunlight on power lines” to make a good title for this post.  All I could find were poems about “power,” though. So I went with a line from one of my faves 😄

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#jesuschristsuperstarlive OMG literally

They rocked the Easter story last night on NBC.

Everyone posting on Twitter during the show said they finally got the live musical thing right. Maybe because I’d never seen any of the other live efforts, I didn’t realize there was a danger that Jesus Christ Superstar was ever at risk of meeting a similar fate. I expected greatness and it was delivered. From the opening guitar solo (wow!) to the blinding light at the end (wow!), it was just about as perfectly staged and performed as it possibly could have been.

What amazed me most, though, was how many of the lyrics I remembered and could sing right along with the actors. It’s been almost fifty years since the album was released, but last night I could still hum the overture and segue right into Judas’s opening rumination. Funny how music helps to store and then (much) later retrieve memory.

It wasn’t just the music I remembered, though. Jesus Christ Superstar constitutes a distinct memory of childhood experience. About the time the album came out (1970) my parents belonged to some sort of ecumenical group, which I perceived to be rather avant-garde of them. My impression was that interfaith spiritual connection at that time was something not really done. So I felt sort of proud when my mom and dad invited people from the group over to our house to listen to the album.

Here is how they listened to it: Furniture arranged in a circle, with extra folding chairs usually reserved for bridge club brought in, our living room filled with Lutherans, Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists, etc., who sat with mimeographed copies of the libretto in their hands for like TWO HOURS listening to the music. With refreshments and discussion after.

I was also aware back then that Jesus Christ Superstar was considered scandalous, even blasphemous for some reason. I assumed it was because rock music was disrespectful to God. Plus even the name, the very idea of trivializing God by calling Jesus a “superstar.” However, after watching last night’s show, I think it more likely people were upset because in many ways Jesus Christ Superstar belongs to Judas. His is the show’s opening number, and his is the climactic closing number. Or rather, what the audience feels in the moment should be the show’s climactic closing number.

At the end of which we remember: oh yeah, the Crucifixion.

I thought last night’s production did that really well. We had the “BIG FINISH,” at which point many audience members probably felt an urge to give a standing ovation (similar to that almost irresistable impulse to applaud during the moment of silence near the end of the “Hallelujah” chorus), but then all the cast members silently turned their gazes and bodies toward where Jesus was going up on the cross.

That contrast really hits us in the gut. Our attention is drawn to the loud, shiny secular stuff until, in the unlooked-for quietness, we realize we’ve forgotten what we should have been paying attention to all along.

And they nailed the Crucifixion last night. (I know, I know. Truly, no pun is intended. I just can’t think of a better way to say it.) The staging was incredibly beautiful. Simple, symbolic, pure.

I was going to talk a lot more about everyone’s performances, but I don’t really feel in a theater-critic mood right now. Plus it seems really churlish to nitpick such a brilliant production. Let me just say that a certain high note was not hit, and in my opinion it was a crucial high note. Everything important to know about the character who sings it is captured in that one note. That raw, anguished high note so impossibly out of range and so infused with despair. And it didn’t happen, at least not in the way I believe it needed to, which was a disappointment.

So there, I said it but didn’t exactly say it. If you agree with me, you’ll feel validated in your own reaction, and if you don’t, you can pause a moment to wonder what the heck I’m talking about and then just brush it off and go on with your day 🙂

Posted in Life, Music, Popular culture, Television | Tagged , , | 5 Comments