Photo Fun Friday: Community Coffee House

Other than being re-sized for posting, this photo is completely unaltered in any way:

A rarity, indeed, denizens. Typically, I always do something to my photos before posting them, whether it be something simple like cropping it in a certain way or tweaking the color levels, or something…a bit more dramatic.

I can’t help myself. I am a PhotoShop devotee, to the very depth of my CMYK/RGB soul.

That being said, the moment I saw this photo, I loved it just as it was, without one plea. We’d gone out walking early on Sunday morning, our last full day in New Orleans (in case you were wondering, that’s part of the reason I barely made it to the lair in April…prep work followed by onsite support for a conference in the Big Easy, after which I played tourist for a few days).

It was already in the mid-70s and the sun was just reaching the point where it could cast its light down into the magnificent maze of the French Quarter. We were already heading to a place for breakfast, but I couldn’t resist stopping and filling my lungs with the scent of coffee wafting from this corner Community Coffee House.

As I stood, watching the light cast shadows of street lamps and signage against the wall, I was struck by how so many of the aspects of New Orleans that I love were right there in front of me: the cast-iron quaintness of the lamp posts; the bilingual street signs, each pointing us deeper into the tangle of delights that the Quarter willingly offers up to everyone who wanders through; the local brew house, churning out yet another delicious aroma to cancel out Bourbon Street’s unseemlier smells; the strong glow of sunlight, pouring down on it all, bright and bounteous.

The entire tableau made me so happy that I couldn’t resist snapping a shot before moving along to our breakfast destination. I didn’t even review the shot after taking it…simply slung the camera back over my shoulder and ambled on down the Rue Royale, thoughts of coffee and fried green tomatoes and biscuits and gravy taking precedence once more.

Imagine my surprise when I finally saw the shot.

True, the longer I look at it, the more ideas flood my mind regarding what I could do with it in PhotoShop…age it, fade it, bolster the color, crack it, rip it…the temptation is engulfing. However, for this post, I give it to you in its simplest, truest form.

Welcome Home, Discovery

Something extraordinary just happened, denizens. I’ve been driving people crazy all morning about it. The Space Shuttle Discovery has come to her new home.

She left Kennedy Space Center early this morning; I heard her departure during my commute into work. I had wanted to take the morning off, join the rest of my geek peepz down at the Udvar-Hazy to watch her arrival, but I’ve got too much going on at work right now for that to be feasible.

Welcome to the Digital Age.

I still got to watch her arrival, thanks to a streaming video provided by NASA. Here are some screen captures, in case you missed the video:

Even better? My cousin was able to snap this shot of Discovery on her fly-by up the Potomac River:

Want better still? I got to see her on her fly-by. Totally unexpected. I didn’t think that my office would be anywhere near her flight plan. As I was waiting for the coverage video to start back up, I heard a group of my coworkers running around the corner toward our conference room. I swiveled around in my chair…and there she was, gliding across the cloud-dappled sky on the back of her chaperone.

AMAZING.

I have no photo of this moment…she was there for but a moment before streaking off into the ether…but I can still see it, replaying in my mind.

Silly as it might sound, this has made my morning.

Such bittersweet emotions right now. She shouldn’t be moth-balled for museum fodder, but I’m so thankful that I live in an area lucky enough to have been selected to give one of these beautiful shuttles a new home. I can’t wait for Udvar-Hazy to reveal her glorious debut. I’ll miss the Enterprise, but now it’s time for others to enjoy her.

Welcome home, Discovery.

Commemorative poster designed for Smithsonion National Air & Space Museum

I Don’t Give a Damn ‘Bout My Bad Doppelg

I warned you, denizens. There was a reason for my last Flashback Friday choice.

Truth be told, Joan Jett’s 1988 release Up Your Alley is my favorite album, holistically speaking. This probably stems from the fact that this was my first taste. However, I can find something enjoyable from all of her Blackhearts releases. I can even dip back into her Runaways years and find stuff to make those long commutes at least audibly enjoyable. All I have to do, though, is just see the cover art for Up Your Alley, and the Loba Happy-O-Meter is cranked to 11.

None more black, indeed.

This was quintessential Jett in many ways, especially in visual style: teased black rocker hair, black leather all around, kohled eyes, “come here if you dare” stare. However, I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for the cover of her 1983 release, Album. Atrocious jaundiced background aside, this has always struck me as one of her most “fun” covers:

Nothing better than a Jett in flight, eh? I’ve always loved this pose…so much so that I’ve considered getting the silhouette on a T-shirt. Plus, she’s decked in her trademark black, including the leather pants, but she’s still holding onto her punkier Runaways style with her red Chucks, that bandanna thing she kept going for quite a while, and some badass black leather-studded accoutrements.

I love this version of Jett so much that this is the photo I chose as the inspiration for my own Joan Jett costume for a rock-themed party this weekend:

Close enough for government work, right? I was pretty pleased with the overall look (although I’m sure there was more makeup on my pasty face that night than on an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race). I thought about taking my Guitar Hero controller with me for effect (after covering the Aerosmith logo, of course), but decided that I didn’t want to run the risk of spilling anything on it. And there was much to be spilled. Open bars make awesome parties.

Most people immediately twigged to who I was supposed to be. One couple, however, did ask if I was Jack White.

Damn young people. Learn your rock history!

Of course, I did have a disturbing epiphany when I finally stumbled back home that night and caught a quick glimpse of myself in the foyer mirror. With my mullety hair and my thickly lined blue eyes? I looked a little less like an 80s rock star and more like a motorcycle-riding graduate of Eastland Prep…

Loba as Joan Jett Totally Looks Like Nancy McKeon as Jo Polniaczek

Take the good. Take the bad. Take ’em both and there you have just a part of Mi Vida Loba…

Reflections on a Golden Gate

As touristy and predictable as it is, whenever I go to San Francisco, I always end up taking an excessive number of photos of the Golden Gate Bridge. I simply can’t help myself. It’s stunning, no matter what time of day or what type of weather surrounds it. I’ve seen it damasked by fog, gilded by moon glow, and shimmering in the brilliant sunlight, and I’ve yet to tire of its beauty.

This past trip, I decided that I needed to mix it up a little bit…get a different perspective. I also wanted to visit yet another filming location from Vertigo, one of my favorite Hitchcock films. I ended up at Fort Point, right beneath the bridge and just as the sun was reaching a prime position in the sky for some gorgeous Golden Gate glow.

I would have liked to have gotten even further under the bridge or closer to the water’s edge for some of these shots. Unfortunately, the fort was closed and surrounded by a pesky security fence. Oh well. Perhaps next time.

Here, then, are my favorite shots, including one of a drippy-billed seagull who seemed quite amused by my impromptu photo shoot…

And, finally, here’s my favorite shot, which I took specifically as an homage to Vertigo. It came out so exactly as I had hoped it would that I couldn’t resist taking it into PhotoShop and turning it into my own “poster” for this movie:

Penning the End and Beginning the New

Happy New Year, denizens!

There. I was remiss before. Now, I’m…unremiss.

I wandered away from the lair for some end-of-season celebrating. Penn’s sylvan city of brotherly love played surprise host to the festivities. I haven’t been to Philadelphia since a high school field trip my Senior year, so it was interesting to see it from an adult perspective…and for more than a quick day trip.

Plus, they do seem to enjoy the New Year party mentality. There were fireworks twice: once at 6 p.m. Saturday evening and again at the midnight hour. There was also a dazzling number of people roaming the streets, adorned with all variety of flashing and flickering gaudiness, enjoying the various vice-fueled buzzes that would carry them into the new year. I was disappointed, however, that, yet again, no one tried to ring that big famous bell, giant crack be damned. Honestly, why no one’s tried to patch that thing up yet eludes me.

Let me in there…I’ll have her good as new in no time.

Actually, we didn’t engage in any Americana worship at all this trip (although we did walk past the Liberty Bell twice). This was more of a food extravaganza journey. The prime destination on New Year’s Eve was a tapas restaurant, Amada. They offered a special New Year’s Eve menu, which consisted of what seemed like a never-ending arrival of little plates containing all manner of decadence. It was an experience that shames any previous concept of the phrase “food coma.” The rest of the evening is honestly a bit of a glorious blur. All I know is that fireworks occurred again. Indeed.

Did you know that Philly holds a pretty much all-day parade on New Year’s Day? It’s called the Mummers Parade and it’s this insane blending of all sorts of traditions from all sorts of ethnic influences. Basically, it’s a day-long party parade that represents the blended ethnic motif of the city itself.

Not really being parade people, we avoided most of the Mummers festivities…although at some point we did get to witness drunken douchebaggery dressed in flamboyant Mardi Gras jester attire. Apparently, drinking starts early at the Mummers Parade and doesn’t stop until well after dark. Neither, unfortunately, does the douchebaggery. Needless to say, I was not expecting to encounter the aforementioned merry band of miscreants who, for several uncomfortable blocks, serenaded any woman within their visual range with the visceral chant for them to “reveal their endowments.” Oh, the shear poetry of it all.

However, inebriated revelry was nowhere to be found at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. There was, however, an abundance of lovely art…and a lot of furniture. There was also an entire section devoted to armor and weaponry, which I found surprisingly fascinating. I think it was the horse armor. How do you not love horse armor?

Afterward, we roamed the city, allowing its culinary redolence to lead us through its grid of diverse neighborhoods. Unfortunately, it being New Year’s Day and all, a lot of places were closed, including the place we wanted to go for what many have rated one of Philly’s best cheese steaks. The more touristy places, Pat’s and Geno’s, were both open, with lines that curled in on themselves like ravenous M

Stop Lion…

Some of you might remember that the last time I visited San Francisco, I made a pilgrimage to that greatest of live animal tourist traps, Pier 39, to commune with the bellicose residents there.

As I have previously mentioned, I returned recently to Frisco…and subsequently returned to those beautiful, belligerent beasts. I can’t help myself sometimes.

Here, then, are the latest favorites to make the cut from Sea-Lion-a-Looza 2011…

Don’t Bogart That Roach

She might not have come from the awesome Silver Snail, but Debbie Stevens is finally a part of my collection. Along with all the Freddy K. movies and the awesome Never Sleep Again documentary that Heather Langenkamp did on the Nightmare on Elm Street series.

Can you tell that I’m getting ready for my most favorite holiday of them all? Winter may be coming for some, but Halloween is coming for Loba…