Special thanks to photographers! Click on the pics to see more of their work.
Monday, April 27, 2009
One time in Cincinnati, I shared an apartment with a Vietnamese tailor. He was a nervous little man, as frail and bony as a ninety-year old. Specializing in impossibly-elaborate Vietnamese wedding gowns, he was probably one of the most industrious people I have ever met. With brittle strawberry colored hair and over-sized T-shirts and a crumpled smile-frown, he was a kind of curiosity of the apartment building, like a real-life gnome.
The smells of his cooking, a building filled with the aroma of boiled fish and cabbage, tended to push the limited tolerance of a multi-cultural society. The worst part of it was that, although the smell of the food could possibly have fumigated a urban slum, the end result was generally nothing more than a pale watery soup with a forlorn potato. Shrimp-flavored rain water.
One evening, after pulling a twelve-hour shift in the mall, I arrived home and was intercepted in the corridor by the building manager. Willard was the type of man that any mildly talented cartoonist could render with a few bold strokes. Scratching his belly, he looked at me, with a rather amused and sheepish expression. "I oughta tell you something before you go inside," he began, mysteriously.
"Your roommate came to us. He was screaming and acted like a nut. He kept saying something but we couldn't understand what the hell he was talking about. Murder, he was shouting. Blood."
I unlocked the door. "What?"
The apartment was dark but the air was moist and creepy. My dog, Sheba, emerged from the blackness, wide-eyed, jumpy and clearly relieved at my homecoming. My roommate was no where to be be seen.
"The people upstairs. She was emptying her water bed into the bath tub. With a hose. Then, she up and decides to leave. Go out shopping. The hose pops out and floods the whole place."
"Ah, geeze." I turned on the light and immediately saw a wide oval of dark red across the ceiling, where the water had evidently leaked through her rust-colored carpet. It loomed over me like some immense crimson fingerprint.
I could imagine the scene. My roommate is busily trying to fit the zipper into the back of some satin dress. He looks up and sees, to his horror, a widening scarlet circle above his head and supposes some kind of massacre has just occurred in the apartment above. Then he escapes, grabbing whatever was at hand in a blind panic, just as he had fled his home country years before.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Reproduction (clam worm) first discovered
Clam worms usually crawl through the ooze on the ocean bed and don’t do much else. But when they start feeling sexy, they change into swimming worms so different in appearance that for a long time, they were thought to be an entirely different species. In 1860, a Gottingen naturalist recognized that there heteronereids were sexual forms of the ooze-dwelling nereids. The males even dance about- often at new moon and high tide- during which they emit sperm and hormones released from the clouds of sperm stimulate the females to lay eggs.
A typical Friday evening in any major city is about the same.
Check this and quadrillions of other image challenge entries at B3TA: http://www.b3ta.com/challenge/wrongstructions/page9
Monday, April 20, 2009
My parents used to tell me a peculiar local story about a widow that had once lived not too far from them. The events occurred during the closing year of the Second World War. The widow’s son, like many Arkansas farm boys, had gone off to fight in Europe. His letters faithfully arrived every few weeks, a marvel to his worried mother with tales of wonder and accounts of the mundane events of war life. One day, the letters stopped. A silence of weeks followed. And then, much to his mother’s fear, a letter from the United States Army arrived. The type-written official letter grimly explained that her son had fallen somewhere in Italy in an unreported battle. Due to the circumstances of his death, there was apparently no possibility of sending his remains home.
Being her only son, she was quite naturally devastated by the news and her neighbors, her church congregation, and her relatives provided what solace they could.
However, much to the astonishment of everyone in the small town, a new letter from the dead son arrived in his mother’s post box. Initial shock faded when it was widely supposed that the son had evidently written this final letter before his death and the letter had been delayed. However, the letter told the mother to ignore the news of his death, that there had been a mix-up and he was still quite alive and unhurt and would be explaining everything in due course.
What a miracle it must have seemed. After the months of worry, the shock of the news of her son’s death and the grief of his loss. And then to hear that it had all been a mistake.
And yet, in a final twist, his mother heard nothing more from her resurrected son. Weeks passed into months. The Germans surrendered and the war in Europe was ended. “We all thought that as soon as the war was over, they’d all be coming home,”my mother once told me,”Of course, that wasn’t how it turned out at all.”
Years passed and the mother heard nothing more from her missing son and spent the next twenty years of her life waiting for some kind of explanation. The townspeople tended to avoid the widow, unable to decide what exactly to think about the events and how to react.
This hilarious book immortalizes the craze that began while DJ Carl Morris was having a bit of fun in a Wales bar. Here is how Sleevefacing works: You find an old-school vinyl record sleeve with a nice head-shot of your musical icon (Elvis or David Bowie or Debbie Harry will do nicely), put the sleeve in front of your face, and strike a pose. Now get someone to snap your photo.Sleeveface
Let me be the first to ask: What the hell is Naturama? Looking the woman- a so-called juvenile- I can’t really understand whether she is being attacked or whether she is bumping and grinding with the kind assistance of the groin of the man behind her. “Jet-propelled gang”? Must have been the lentils.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
I wrote this letter to my parents about a week after I arrived in Turkey. It was in fact the first letter I wrote after I decided to stay. I was attempting to explain my reasons. Is it still true? I am not so sure, some things have changed here perhaps. I was living in a small town back then and maybe that was a factor. I don't know. Anyway, here is a copy of the original.
Dear Mother and Dad,
It was good to hear your voice when I called and really, your reaction to my news made me so proud. Everyone could clearly see on my face how happy you made me. The decision to stay here was a difficult one to make as you can understand, and it took a lot of time and thinking to be sure. There were many things to consider.
But sometimes, I believe, it is impossible to realize how unhappy you are until you something, some other life, to compare. When I came to Turkey, it was obvious to me.
As I told you on the phone, all the rules you taught me since I was a child- the rules of social conduct- just didn't seem to work out so well for me. They always seemed a bit impractical and naive, given all I had seen, felt and done.
But I firmly believe that your rule are correct. I mean, maybe people should behave that way, but I couldn't find so many that actually did. People I met and knew, usually found it easier to behave in a way, not exactly bad but without any sort of rule whatsoever. Certainly living like that, following rules is a way that the world no longer seems to recognize. I always seemed about to lose hope or to join in with that way of thinking.
But somehow I never quite surrendered that faith you taught me. You have seen the pain I went through over the years. I never really knew how much you gave me and how much I learned from you until I began to travel. Those rules you ingrained in me work so much better here. They seemed to be practiced as a matter of course. You can observe them in daily action in Turkey.
Not long after I arrived here, I was told a story along these lines. It's supposed to be true and it sounds plausible enough. There was a fruit seller on the street. While he was working, he heard the call for prayer and since the mosque was nearby, he left his station and went to pray. Meanwhile, in his absence, the customers came and went. The man was kept longer than he had anticipated and when he finally returned, there was pile of kurus near the fruit from each customer.
This sort of thing would be unbelievable nowadays in the USA. But I have seen things like this in Turkey. The rules of behavior- the most important lessons any parent can teach their children- are old-fashioned where I came from. They have vanished but they somehow remain here for the moment in Turkey.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Unless you live under a rock, you know about the Scottish woman who has taken the industrialized World by storm: Susan Boyle.
Ms. Boyle, who appeared on a reality TV show called "Britains' Got Talent" last Saturday, April 11th and wowed a cynical audience and the judges, including the irascible Simon Cowell (also of American Idol) with her powerful performance of "I Dream A Dream" from Les Miserable has took the World by Internet storm.
What surprised millions - and does not make a great statement about our World industrial culture but is a great example of the power of online video distribution as the video has been seen over 15.9 million times on YouTube (I counted over 10 videos with over 200,000 views) as of this writing - is that someone who looks like her could sing like that. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/abraham/detail?entry_id=38580
The Color Blue
Of ten thousand things of azure hue,
I've composed a limited sample,
Being these, the ample purest few,
To derive a new meaning from example.
The general shade of a cloudless sky,
The darkest overhead
And often said, the loveliest of eyes,
If not green or brown instead.
Bodies of water, when clean, deep in day,
Fire, gas-inspired, without smoke or ash,
Humid summer air, seen from faraway,
And night-time at a lightning flash.
Musicians, for want of a better word,
call the blues, music of depression,
But to consider the skies,
The seas, your eyes, and a flame,
Blue has yet to give me this impression.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Check out this and hundreds of entries in the image challenge section of B3TA at: http://www.b3ta.com/challenge/wrongstructions/page9
So, then the Tax man came. What was this a regular inspection or..?
I doubt it. All I know is this guy suddenly appears and everybody goes nuts. Some old guy like Boris Karloff. Cheap polyester suit. Brown. With stripes. gray mustache and smelled like the cheapest brand of cigarettes.
Actually I wasn't all that scared. I didn't think I personally had anything to worry about. Everything I had signed was legit as far as I could tell.
What exactly was he looking for?
It didn't matter. Knowing Penguin and his wife, he was bound to find something. Anyway, those guys can always find something. It's their job. Penguin just made it real easy.
The first thing the Tax man said was that I shouldn't be in the office. I was a foreigner and I wasn't allowed to work.
But.. you were a partner in the company, right?
You were not allowed to work at a company you were a partner in?
Shocking isn't it? As a matter of fact, his report didn't actually say I was working. I was merely in the office and suspected of working. But if you had asked me, I would have said that I was working. I thought.. I mean, I was told that it was all perfectly legal. Why would I lie about it?
Let me see if I got this right. You were allowed to be a partner. You are allowed to invest your own money in a company. But you are not allowed to come to the office?
According to what he said. But that's the funny thing about Turkey. There are no laws. Nothing is fixed. It changes depending on who you speak to. Today it is like THIS. Tomorrow you learn it was not like THIS.. who told you that? It is really like THAT.
So what did you do about the tax man?
According to what he said, I would have to pay a fine. I mean two fines. One for me personally. And one for the company. Since the company had hired me illegally.
Your company you mean?
I was plenty upset. Penguin and his wife were upset. In the end, Penguin paid the fines. After all, it was his mistake. Or the lawyer's, I mean. I was told over and over that I was legit. I wasn't a lawyer, I wasn't an expert in Turkish law. How could I know?
If Penguin paid the fines, then what was the problem? Was that the end of it?
Not quite. a month later, the foreigner's office called me. The police, I mean. They said I was to report to them the next morning.
They didn't say. They wouldn't tell me. But I asked Penguin.
And he said..?
Well I asked him if he knew why they might be calling. And his answer was, "No, not really." I just looked at him. Not really? Either you know or you don't.
So you think he must have known?
Of course. Also he kept making excuses why he couldn't pay my full monthly salary. He could only manage half. So I guess he knew something was about to happen. For me, it came out of the blue. And that was when my problems REALLY began.
Part 5 continues next week.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
Thursday, April 9, 2009
The TV show, LOST, has been going on now for five and a half seasons now. Suffice to say, it is a very involved and complicated show. For the first three seasons, the writers have built question upon question and left the readers to speculate. Now the mysteries are unraveling and long-time viewers are getting their long awaited payoff. However, viewers joining the show late will obviously never catch up. Here is what it sounds like when a veteran LOST viewer sits down to watch an episode with a late arrival.
Ben. Ben Linus.
Is he Lost too?
What? No. He is an Other, I think.
Oh. Is the guy with the beard another other?
No. That's Faraday'.. a physicist.
Who is Faraday?
He is one of the people that came on the ship.
A bad guy?
I am not sure. No, probably not.
And the woman with the white hair is...?
Is Faraday's mother Another Other?
No. Maybe. Shhh.
What’s THAT mean?
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
There was always something suspicious about Batman and Robin. I think this is conclusive evidence. If nothing else, Freud would have had a field day with the imagery here. I am, in fact, mystified. What is it trying to show, discounting the perviness?
HA HA. Superman is so strong that he can- without any effort -suspend poor Batman and Robin in the air. That isn’t strength. It simply suggests he has a heavy butt. And besides, he should be watching the girl in the swing who is dare-deviling her way into a broken arm and the “week’s best video” on Akilla TV.
Great Scott! you can find more hilarious comic book covers at http://www.lileks.com/institute/funny/07/1.html
Monday, April 6, 2009
This is the third part of the interview with Vincent Shaw who is relating his experiences with a Turkish company. Vince agreed to the interview on condition I did not use his real name.
I’d like to go back a bit. Now you had had problems with obtaining working permission, is that correct?
When I first started at this company, I kept asking the owners and the company lawyer whether they were sure it could be arranged. I told them that from my understanding, it is not exactly easy for a foreigner to get working permission unless under special circumstances.
The lawyer was a real clown. A round man with fat face that was always sweaty. When he did the Turkish kiss thing, it was like somebody pressing a cold slab of meat on your face. Let’s call him, Blimpo. He kept assuring me that this was a minor problem. I wasn’t a lawyer so what could I say, but I remember having my doubts. I even asked him, how sure he was.. out of a hundred percent.
And he said?
In the end?
It never happened. Blimpo came back and said it couldn’t be done. There were new labor laws- a lie- and this made everything harder.
So that was when I made a counter offer. I asked the lawyer if I were a partner, say 2% share, would that make any difference. To my surprise, the owners thought this was a good idea too. So this is the way it went.
And when was this?
This was much earlier. I think it was in that first summer. I was only there for a year. Started in January of 2007. The time I am speaking about is around July of 2007.
Got it. So you became a partner in the company?
No. Not exactly. I guess Cat woman, Penguin’s wife, objected to it. Penguin came to me the next morning and suggested that we could start a new company. The strangest thing. I never had to put any money into at all. Penguin arranged the start up money.
So you were now a partner in a company.
Well, only 10 percent. He had told me that the company was a real one.. meaning, a profit making enterprise. But whenever I suggested ways of trying to make profit, he would change the subject or agree and nothing would happen.
So, like, what was the point? Besides giving you the right to work.
I think he used the company as a kind of tax dodge. Something slightly shady, I guess. Or maybe he was billing the client to his main company for services we were supposed to be giving his main company. I do know the one time I was able to see the books, I found a lot of things he would have trouble explaining to the tax man. Curtains and home furnishings. Of course, he kept the books under lock and key most of the time. I kept asking for a copy of my contract and an itemized list of expenditures and profits. But he would always make up some excuse. You have to remember he and his wife, Cat Woman, were never there. Or she would be there and he would be gone or the other way around.
But then, how did the company function?
It didn't. The employees were generally allowed to do whatever they wanted. I did my best but it was like playing chess with about 7 people at the same time. It was crazy. The worst employees were always given special treatment.
Example, this was a small to middle-sized company and yet he had company cars for four of the employees. He had bought them and they were allowed to drive them as personal cars. Taking them home every night and he even paid for gas. I asked him if it wouldn't be better to lease a car or maybe two and have them share the car when needed. He said, no. This is normal for a company. It makes the employees happy. He was always interested in making people happy. It was like our company mission.
One time he even made a bar on the roof of the building. It was really surreal.
Indeed. But how did he afford it?
Credit. Everything was put on credit. He had this stack of maybe 50 credit cards that he would flip through every time he bought anything. It made you dizzy to watch.
So let me get the time line straight. You started giving classes. Then you became the Human Resources Officer but as a partner in a completely different company. How did that work?
I was called a consultant. So the main company hired me as a Human Resource Consultant. But even that didn't make much sense. He had printed out business cards with the main companies name. I was also Business Development Officer too. I liked that a lot. But then he would lie to every potential client and badly.
What was his problem, do you think?
Well, he couldn't tell the truth. He would lie to his wife, he would lie to employees, to his girlfriend, to his client. Many times, it wasn't even necessary. He just liked to lie. It was some kind of ego thing, I guess.
Why? Weren't you ever suspicious?
I was. Of course, I was. But then he told me his lies and so, for some stupid reason, I thought he was not lying to me. Also, he and his wife took so little interest in the company, I supposed that I had some kind of importance at the company.
By the end of that year, what with the stupidity of management position, the sliminess of his business practices and his hostile wife, I was definitely ready to give my notice. I was fed up and stressed out. Not sleeping at night and waking up angry every morning. I just wanted to walk out.
But then the tax man came.
The next installment- Part 4- of this interview continues next week. http://nomadicjoe.blogspot.com/2009/04/interview-with-vincent-part-four.html
Sunday, April 5, 2009
LOOK AT ME is a collection of found photos.
These photos were either lost, forgotten, or thrown away. The images now are nameless, without connection to the people they show, or the photographer who took them. Maybe someone died and a relative threw away their photographs; maybe someone thought they were trash.
Some of the photos were found on the street. Some were stacked in a box, bought cheap at a flea market. Showing off or embarrassed, smug, sometimes happy, the people in these photos are strangers to us. They can't help but be interesting, as stories with only an introduction.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
by Bob Mondello
NPR.org, April 3, 2009 · Turkey was in the middle of an election campaign when I vacationed there three weeks ago, and two days into my stay, a new candidate seemed to have become an instant front-runner: Everywhere you looked, gazing back at you from a pop-art poster was President Obama.
Only instead of being pictured in shades of red and blue — as in Shepard Fairey's iconic "HOPE" poster — he's in shades of green. And the word "hope" has been replaced by numbers: 1.19 percent.
It's a bank ad — for Turkey's Garanti Bank. It's a weird ad, too, since in the U.S., the president's been sounding sort of cranky about the banking industry. (to continue reading ..)
One day a Turk decides to kill himself by jumping in front of the train. He also has a piece of bread in his hand. A guy walks up and asks, “What are you doing?” He says: “I am going to kill myself.” The other guy asks, “Why do you have bread in your hand? “He says, “What happens if the train doesn’t come, you want me to starve to death?”
A Turk who was carpenter was working with his son, suddenly the electric saw breaks and chops his ear off, after a few minutes searching his son founds an ear and says to his dad, “ Is this your ear?” The father looks at the ear and says “No, mine had a pencil behind it.”
Friday, April 3, 2009
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Here is a presentation I made using PowerPoint. It is much easier to read if you use the full screen mode. If you found this material,helpful or useful, all I ask is that you give me feedback or comment or simply a thanks. ADJ ed ing
This is probably the real reason phone booths were discontinued in the USA. By the way, I have done some checking online and there really is a division of the police emergency squad specially trained in prying loose fat ladies from tight places. No kidding!
I figure the poor people at the Chinese spy center must work some long hours, so I can throw in this knee-slapper in case they have had a hard day at the mystery office, reading other people’s email and such. By the way, I read the translation for this joke and it wasn’t all that funny. But if they ARE listening, I wish they would send me a lot of new visitors to my blog!