accozzaglia: (colourful little heptagonal star)
It is now for real. The Kodachrome system no longer exists:!/KodachromeTO/status/27449976699228160!/NWAPhoto/status/27458871702323200
Would we hate Toronto's high-rise condos any less if we could remember them by name?

That is, if they actually kept a permanent, highly visible name for decades to come?

In a recent dream I experienced just before waking up, there was a summery scene right before sunset in what could have easily been eastern North York or western Scarborough. In a relatively low-density area which clearly looked as if all its development was less than three years old, I saw a couple of new high-rise condo buildings. So I went to have a look.

The one condo which stood out was thematically far-fetched, but were it were to exist anywhere, I couldn't think of anywhere else but the GTA where this could feasibly happen. The building was clad in a 1970s modernist style of vertical stone and glass much like First Canadian Place's sister tower in Chicago: the AON Center. This condo was different in that the stone used was like the polished grey granite one might typically ascribe to tombstones. The glass in between each thin stone column was opaque black — almost like Vitrolite.

Around the side, the condo's parking garage entry was a lot like One Bedford at Bloor's cavernous new portal. High-end cars from new residents were parked within view from the street. Each was either black or a deep ruddy burgundy verging on reddish-black. All had dark-tinted windows.

Then I looked back to the condo's street-facing entrance and saw something totally novel, even if absurd: )
After seminar this evening, Ben, visiting from Toronto, and I joined my classmates at the pub for beers.

During our conversation, the Albertan at our table brought up her childhood experience of seeing a tornado nearby her home. Depending on how long you've known me, you've probably heard the St. Peter EF3 tornado epic at least once. For unfortunate souls like [ profile] svairini, [ profile] maatnofret, and [ profile] saraewing, they've heard it at least a dozen times. Tonight took on a chilling twist.Read more... )

It nearly goes beyond words to unearth this almost thirteen years later and see that it mirrors verbatim what I saw. But even this is tamer than the moment when everything went completely mad. Now I really want to know in which car the credited photographer was sitting. If he was driving that white car, then he has some explaining to do.
accozzaglia: (colourful little heptagonal star)
I have no words for how it went, but even with only two encores (we're still too polite), it was too short. Still, being just five metres from him with nothing between him and I — except part of the baby grand — sort of made up for it. Front row is tremendous.

Selected tracks performed:

"Amore" / "Undo #1 / Undo #4" (variations on the same song) [1989]
"Bibō No Aozora / 美貌の青空" (translates to "Beautiful Blue Sky") [1995]
"Aqua" [1996]
"Tango" [1995]
"Tacones Lejanos" (translates to "High Heels," from the Almodovar film of same title) [1992]
"Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence / Forbidden Colours" (variations on the same song) [1983]
"The Last Emperor" [1987]
"Behind the Mask" [1979]
"Thousand Knives" [1978]
"Tibetan Dance" [1984]

Those I swear he played, but my memory gets mixed with what my iPod has been circulating lately, might have included "Funeral" [2005] and "Energy Flow" [1996].

I wanted to see/hear "Tong Poo" from the conjoined baby grands (he programmed a duet with himself, much like seen above in "Bibō No Aozora / 美貌の青空"), but it didn't happen.

I cried. A lot. The joyous kind. I stayed dead silent, but my face was drenched for most of the middle third (namely, with the two songs above with links). I have never felt my body and mind feel that way before, and I may never feel that way again.

From memory, I can count about nine different CD issues and re-issues since Island Records produced CID126 for West Germany in 1985. CID126 was the only correct edition, in my opinion, and I've listened to my long-out-of-print CD ever since I found it still in an import bin in early 1991. All the re-issues since — Japanese CD edition 1986, Island-Polygram 1990, ZTT 1994, Island-Universal 1997/8, Repertoire 1999, the CD + DVD limited edition of 2003, the SACD 2004 re-issue — they were all wrong, all detracting from the original content, either through remixed editions prepared at around the same time for alternate markets (North American) or for packaging limitations (vinyl LP). Each re-issue came with that terrible letdown of "Why did you clowns bother?"

But this week, thanks to a tip from my friend in the forever awesome music group LMP, a proper 25th anniversary release of my all-time favourite album ever made, Propaganda's A Secret Wish, was announced and just put to sale.

At long last, hallelujah: THEY GOT IT RIGHT. Buy this as if your life depended on it.

By this, the original 9-track CD album (the fabled CID126 — that is, a product number — edition) has been restored for the first time since 1985. This was technically referred to as the "analogue recording." And oh my lord, it sounds astounding. It sounds like things that words haven't yet been made to describe. It is so much improved that I can still hear new elements within the music that I have never heard before in a thousand listenings. It is so good that you can undoubtedly make out synthesizer oscillations! I'll explain how and why in the mini-review )

So it's a dual-disc edition, and I'm obviously ordering a copy for my library. If a limited edition, audiophile quality vinyl production of this is made available, I will buy that, too, as probable as there will continue to be oxygen on this planet.

In the meantime, I'm listening to a "preview" from the internets, and it is truly without peer, oh my god. I haven't smoked in seven years, but once this ends, I'll be looking for a cigarette. It is truly that much better — even to ears that have heard this album north of a thousand times since the first time a co-worker friend in October 1990 lent me a copy of the 90288-2 U.S. Island CD version to preview. This was back when I was raving on end about Propaganda's 1990 reformation LP called 1234 that most Propaganda obsessives won't even dignify with their precious breath (mostly because Claudia Brücken had long since moved on to Act and to her solo work, while Ralf Dörper and Susanne Freytag only made brief cameos, leaving Michael Mertens to his own devices to assemble a "new" Propaganda with ex-members of Simple Minds and vocalist Betsi Miller. It was a critical and commercial disaster, though I still like it). My friend thought I could use a shakeup and made me listen to ASW.

Good move, Eric — wherever you are now.

As I sent to [ profile] heinousbitca's Blackberry:

General Mills Canada confirm it isn't marketed here, but bizarrely,
Wheaties now are. I've yet to see them in Canada at all.

Must remind myself: good poutine, good bannock, good street meat . . . good
poutine, good bannock, good street meat . . .


From where this originated, how come now, and why at all, is this morning's insatiable mystery. Either plain or in milk, I don't really give a shit. I guess next time I visit the 50 48 below the 49th, I'll buy a complete box of the stuff — like the kind they use to deliver to the supermarkets.

"Let There Be Music"

accozzaglia: (colourful little heptagonal star)
This film, called Ektachrome 320T EPJ — the "T" for tungsten lighting, like your old-skool incandescents — is no longer made, and no tungsten light-balanced film this fast is made any longer. My rolls expired in 2005. I had these processed at about the same time, and likewise are recent to my flickr page. Fast films are such because they can capture low light better.

The trade-off with fast films — tungsten- or daylight-balanced — is that they are grainier than slow, daylight films (like my Kodachromes). But I'm one of those photographers who considers graininess a big plus. For one, it allows you to avoid needing a tripod in low light (all the shots in this post were hand-held). It's a quality absent to digital imaging. Try using your digital camera in low light, and you'll get a lot of "noise". With film, it's just grainier. It adds a special dimension I really love.

I should let you decide to continue on and see what these look like. )
accozzaglia: (colourful little heptagonal star)
The results are in. My favourite two three are here. There rest are on my flickr page.

[Keep in mind: I was fortunate to even have had this sitting in my freezer for the last couple of years and managed to buy it for about 40% off regular price (of about $27) two years ago — so about $18. The going price for these on the pleaBay lately is $90. And mind you, they're all expired, and they have to be in the freezer all the time (up to 2-3 days at cool ambient temps is usually acceptable) or they'll spoil.]
accozzaglia: (colourful little heptagonal star)
I am 31 exposures into my first shot roll of Kodak Ektachrome EIR film, which was loaded yesterday in the complete darkness of a camera changing bag after some friends and I watched a Mexican wrestling event at Harbourfront Centre (colourful and great burlesque theatre, and at no cost!). Since starting on this Kodachrome stretch of shooting, I vowed that all colour film going through my 35mm cameras for the next 17 months will be nothing but Kodachrome notwithstanding (we love to make use of the annoying notwithstanding clause here) Ektachrome EIR.

So what's the big deal here?

Ektachrome EIR is probably one of the strangest colour films ever put on sale. )

In any case, I finally felt that yesterday was the day that I'd pull out one of my three remaining rolls and shoot it as an experiment. I need to get through the roll fairly quickly, but I also want the quality of what gets shot to be fairly worthwhile. Aside from taking pictures of some friends (and letting one take a picture of me, so to see how purple-dyed hair looks), I've shot a few familiar scenes — including the most unexpected coincidence today.

A year ago this week — 363 days, to be exact — I was walking beside the railway line near my home when I saw this guy reading a book in a somewhat precarious, but neat perch: atop an electrical box for switching the railway track routing. So I asked then if I could shoot a frame of him, and he said sure. Today, at about the same time of day, I saw him for the first time since. I like to walk that stretch regularly, but had not seen him again before today. We talked a bit this time, introduced ourselves, and I shared that the photo of him reading a book turned out well (and gave him the link to view it). He allowed me to shoot him with Ektachrome EIR today, and I expect it, along with the rest, to look positively surreal. The difference this time is he was looking at me, semi-posed on his perch, so it should prove to be an interesting shot.

So that's pretty much the boring dope on why I'm excited to shoot this film. I know I'm a nerd, but I'm amongst company here, right (please say yes please say yes please say yes)? :)

p.s.: If anyone's interested, I'll post some of the better results (touch wood!) in a future posting.
After spending the last three days of just listening to my entire Prefab Sprout library on repeat (inclusive, about 23 hours worth of content), I finally came to an answer that dogged me for nineteen years: "What's your favourite Prefab Sprout song?" It's a vexing question, because I could only say, "They're my favourite band. There are just too many to choose from."

But that wasn't the total truth. )

So I guess that settles it. All the old, unanswered questions of life are starting to really dwindle in number as they no longer remain a mystery.
Prefab Sprout's Let's Change the World with Music, released 7 September 2009
A photog geek who's been shooting for decades stopped using his Kodachrome years ago. Today, he pretty much unloaded onto me his entire three dozen roll stash for a pittance. These are the Kodachrome rolls that come with pre-paid processing, which are illegal in the U.S. (the processing part, not the film itself), so all I have to do is slap a stamp on them and wait for them to get back to me without paying a penny further. I was paying CAD$13 a roll for processing using American-market Kodachrome, which are in a black metal cartridge (as nearly all 35mm films are). The pre-paids are in red metal cartridges.

I cannot even begin to express how ecstatic I am. I will be shooting Kodachrome like I'm on crystal meth. :D

(This means probably nothing to anybody who reads this anyway — do they read this anyway? — but to me, this is the jackpot as the clock runs down to zero on 30 November 2010.)
What with Monday's termination announcement of Kodak's oldest colour film (as well as the world's first and oldest colour film dating back to 1935), it is something sad, but not unexpected to hear. It was a complex, 14-step development process which could never be done at your local corner photo lab. And unlike every other colour film ever made by anyone, it was actually a triple-layer black and white film sensitized to red, green, and blue. The complementing three hues were added to the film during the development process. All other colour films, by contrast, have the colour dyes put in when the film is made, and those dyes are what react with light when the picture is taken. That triple-layer feature of Kodachrome is why it was able to give special definition to certain colours — particularly reds, browns, blues, and yellows. It was particularly forgiving to all skin hues and was probably best known for the 1985 National Geographic magazine cover featuring an Afghan girl who was refugeed during the war between the Soviets and the Afghani mujahideen.

The other great thing about Kodachrome is its ability to not fade over time. Kodachromes shot in the early 1940s still look like they were shot last week. Each snapshot, like those shot in 1942, becomes an ineffable time capsule.

I only began shooting Kodachrome in 2008, although my dad shot a lot of it when I was little. I came to know Kodachrome from the Kodak Carousel slide shows we'd look through as a family when I was about 8 or so. I think the last time we did one of those after-dinner summertime slide shows was a year or two after we went to Colorado on a road trip (which was July 1980 during the epic heat wave that killed nearly everything). But my own introduction to Kodachrome was delayed by about ten years: in 1997 and early 1998, when I started shooting, the local camera shop where I bought my camera tried to steer me away from Kodachrome (and succeeded), because they said it took time to develop (they mailed it out) and was "difficult to work with". So I believed them and stayed away from it. In other words, I went ahead and started shooting mostly colour slide film from about April 1998 anyway, even though they tried to get me to use colour negative film (which I quickly came to dislike).

So when I realized how endangered Kodachrome was (only one place in the world was processing it) and saw the way it reproduced colour, I started buying rolls of it in batches from auctions online. I am continually amazed by the way it renders colour in the way my eye actually saw that colour. It is a rendering that I cannot replicate with any other film, and certainly not with any digital camera. It also has what is called a high acutance — or sharpness at the edges of objects — that is not seen with digital imaging (which, being a traditionalist, is not "photography" as there is no "graph"). Looking at the film itself, such as in front of a light, is a treat that cannot be described adequately in words.

So here are a few of my faves that were shot between March 2008 and August 2008. I have several, but I'll keep it to a handful or so. I have other shots going right up through yesterday, the day Kodak announced the end of Kodachrome, but they have yet to be either processed or scanned. Incidentally, 45-year-old rangefinder camera was loaded with Kodachrome when I walked at convocation last week; my dad, who flew here to see it, was using a camera, too: a Kodak digital point-and-shoot.

Oh, how the mighty had fallen.

Kodachromic )
accozzaglia: (colourful little heptagonal star)
From this point forward, everyone gets to guess what cities these are. I will be throwing a few curves along the way. Pay particular attention to colour temperatures, grids, clusters, and overall luminosity and albedo (surface reflectivity). Also pay notice to what isn't there.

[Image in the public domain, courtesy ISS]
accozzaglia: (colourful little heptagonal star)
You can learn a lot about a city's history and its urban form by studying its light footprint: )

[Images in the public domain, courtesy ISS]
I was invited on a guest membership to come to the 10th CONvergence, my first since 2002 (I was at the first four, so I guess that makes me a founding member, even though it's been so long). I never wanted to break the tradition, but hey, moving far away sorta does that. But wanting to come to the tenth CONvergence was in the making since 1999. And I still want to go to Chernobyl in 2011!

So the hard part is covered. Now the easy part, which is harder than the hard part: finding a way to travel to Bloomington from Toronto. That costs money, you know. Maybe if they stuff me into a suitcase and hold me in freight.

I'm almost half-contemplating launching one of those PayPal donate buttons, hahaha. As if. :)
Sent to me by my oldest friend, who is now a teaching assistant at university and encumbered with marking frosh term papers. She didn't come across this one, but apparently someone else was endowed with that distinction. And they ran with it by making a Flash movie out of it a la Stick Figure Theatre.

I dedicate this to everyone in my life who has dealt with malignancy and are giving the finger to cancer at every step of the way, and to my aunt, who died of breast cancer in 2000:

Subject: FW: What it's like reading, or listening to me complain about reading, freshman comp papers
Date: Fri, 03 Mar 2006 18:03:36 -0600
To: salinworld@krn7yoqa3.ct

Wylie forwarded this to me after a friend sent it to him. I second his original subject line, although I pointed out to him that this student may be a non-native speaker, whereas our students produce the same quality of work without that excuse. (And yes, I really do get papers this bad. Not all of them, of course. But some.)

Here's the original paper:

And here's where some clever person animated it:

That second link requires sound (and possibly some sort of animation plug-in, ie flash, but I'm not sure about that) and lasts several minutes. But it's quite funny--especially the conclusion.
I will never, ever understand the meaning of the lyrics for Modern English's "I Melt with You".
I will never, ever understand why it ever became popular or anthemic.
I will never, ever understand why people are still drawn to it like a bug to a zapper.
I will never, ever understand why 4AD, legendary for intrepid artists, signed them in the first place. They're neither intrepid nor artistic.
I will never, ever understand why they re-recorded the song verbatim eight years later in 1990, making it indistinguishable to about 93% of listeners (I'm in the other 7%). That's imaginative.
I will never, ever understand wtf "You've seen the difference, and it's getting better all the time" is supposed to mean. Less domestic violence? Learning how to toilet train?

(Actually, I do understand why they re-recorded. I just don't understand why.)

January 2011

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