Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wet paint

Please click on this link, and enjoy. Before you do, make sure you have some free time ahead of you.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Paint me a Birmingham

As intoned by the title, I spent the weekend in the Magic City. (Why is Birmingham, of all cities, "the magic city?" I mean, granted, it is a nice city. But magical? That seems like a stretch.) It's so fun to be in a place where so many friends from college are all constantly around.

Friday evening, after my arrival, Tapley, Dobbs, David, Brad and myself went to Sol Azteca, a popular hangout for Auburn people in Bham, as evidenced by the vast amount of Auburn alumni we saw while dining there. We then went to check out David, Brad, and Chase's new house, which is very neat, with lots of windows and a very creepy basement. David's room has a full wall of mirrors, like a dance studio, and Chase's features a four wall mural illustrating Dr. Seuss' One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. Both of these upgrades were inherent to the rooms upon arrival. Feeling that his seemingly normal room was lacking in fancy features like these, Brad installed a very large mounted deer head which stares with it's shiny glass eyes directly at his bed. When questioned about whether or not this creeped him out, Brad insists that the positioning on the wall was intentional, and that the deer "watches over him." And the She-trout (a human-sized, trout-shaped pillow.)

We were soon joined there by Walker, just in from a business trip in Jackson (yeah, we're grown-ups now. Or at least he is.) Chase, just in from a long day taking care of the infirm at the hospital, and Reed, just in from cooking some deer meat on his green egg. Reed regaled us with many amusing tales, as only Reed can do, including the tale of the time he may or may not have impersonated an officer. I would attempt to retell it here, but only he can tell it the right way.

He also shared that the deer meat he had recently cooked left a little to be desired, and so he did not want it for himself. However, he had decided he wanted to take some to the homeless of Birmingham in an act of generosity. We thought he was probably joking, until we realized that he had already bagged the meat individually and it was waiting in his truck. Deciding this was something we did not want to miss, Dobbs and I joined Reed and David on their mission. Not moments after we arrived downtown, we came across a man who looked down on his luck. David asked if he was hungry, and the man said yes, and was handed a bag of food. He asked if we had some water also, which we did not, and we all felt extremely bad that we couldn't help him with his thirst. After actually seeing someone in real need, the task lost any amusement factor it may have had, and I think everyone hoped we would be able to help a few more hungry people like the man we'd just seen. To the credit of Birmingham and I suppose their homeless shelters, we only ran across three more homeless people in the downtown district, all of whom said they were not hungry. We then wished we had given the first man more food.

At this point, a disappointed Reed (who had hoped to share his wealth of food with many, and still had several bags left) saw some [clearly not homeless] bar-goers crossing a street, and queried a young man decked out in necklaces, rings, and one of those hats with the flat bill and the sticker on it, whether he and his two [very dolled-up] lady friends might be hungry. "Huh?" said the young man, and Reed clarified "would you like some cooked deer meat?" The young man, clearly insulted, replied "man, do we LOOK like we hungry for some COOKED DEER MEAT??" Reed, nonplused, said "well I thought so, but I guess not," and drove away. We then went to an establishment in possibly Mountain Brook [?] and then returned home. I will include some photos despite how amazingly unflattering they are of yours truly.

Me and Dobbs

David and Myself

Self, Dobbs, Reed, and Kacey Eoff

Saturday, Tap and I enjoyed a lazy day of television and perhaps a little shopping, then a pleasant evening of pizza and the Miss America pageant (alternated with the Senior Bowl, to help the males not feel bad for watching the pageant) along with Walker, Dobbs, David, Brad, and Will and Jana Flinkow. It was a nice college flash-back, although Claire, Krisha, and Krisan were notably missing in the Commune line-up. Sunday was church and of course CSI: Miami, which Tapley thankfully tivos, and on to Atlanta where Jason made pizzas from scratch! After such an eventful, college-esque weekend, it's tricky to come back to the real world, although I am attempting by tallying up timesheets.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Under the wire

Just realized that I haven't written yet this week, nearly breaking one of my most-kept new year resolutions!

First, let me say that I am currently listening to the third person today walking down the hall whistling circus music. Weird. Where were they when all the craziness was going on last week?

Second, let me say that the t-shirt at that has a picture of the earth sweating and says "this is why i'm hot" is hilarious. As is the one that has an outline of the country Syria and says "why so Syria?"

Third, Oscars people, come on, get serious. I love Scott Fitzgerald more than many, and was super excited that "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" was being made into a film. wasn't good. It was depressing. And about 45 minutes too long. Brad and Cate, awesome as they may be (Cate especially, she's fantastic), had zero chemistry. There was no development of the love story, and it felt completely flat. And Brad gets a best actor nomination? He had like 7 lines total, most of which were along the lines of "I'm Freezing." Keanu Reeves could do that.

Fourth, Lookouts baseball is only 80 days away!! The Lookouts are rarely actually good, but going to their games is one of my favorite things about Chattanooga. Also, baseball beginning means adios to winter, a farewell I am definitely ready for.

Ok, that's all I've got. Lamest post ever, apologies! I'll do better next week. Now, on to Birmingham!! If you're there, call me. I'd like to see as many of you as possible!!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Don't judge me...

Professional model cum fashion editor for the magazine, Kim, was just here. In addition to being gorgeous, she is also an extremely nice person, so it is always fun when she stops by to bestow some of her niceness and glamour on us. She was wearing an enormous fur coat, and although I have never in my life had any interest in anything made of fur, she looked so classy and Russian and warm that I had a real Gollum moment ("we wants it, the precious! gollum, gollum...") I think that this sudden interest in pelts probably had a lot to do with the fact that it "feels like 13 degrees" in Chattanooga, according to, so there you have it. One more reason why winter needs to move on; it encourages poaching.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

This day was bananas, b-a-n-a-n-a-s

This post is where I'm hiding while the calendar events I'm supposed to be writing look for me. They were making me batty so I had to have a break from them.

So, yesterday was the craziest day ever.

It was recently (read: two days ago) decided that I should be the one arranging and coordinating all the photo shoots for this issue, and those shoots had to happen this week. Now, I am not good with logistics. I mean, logic games are the reason I didn't ace the LSAT. You know, "Joanie can sit by Peter, but she can't sit by Marshall. Marshall can sit by Tina, Belinda or Chris. Chris can't sit by someone in an orange sweater. George is a martian. Louise can only sit in between two girls. Joyce doesn't give a crap where she sits as long as she's in a chair. What order are they sitting in on the church pew?" Given my non-penchant for these things, the arranging of all the photo shoots, which was eerily similar to those games, was zero fun.

So yesterday, I come in and immediately start making calls and directing subjects and photographers places. I also have a [virtual, via email] stack of pieces to edit. I am also supposed to write the calendar and finish writing some short pieces. As I am doing all these things, an "old-time" musician is playing his banjo in the photo studio next door. I decided we should always have live music in the office.

It's getting close to lunch time, we're all slammed with stuff to do, so the boss says "order three pizzas," which I do. Shortly after pizzas are ordered, photographer arrives to set up his equipment. We decide to use the conference room because it's got some cool exposed brick that would be a nice background, and wood floors. So the photographer and I herd all 20 of the rolling chairs into a corner, shove the giant conference table against the wall, and take down all of the newspaper pages that are hung as decoration because they're in the shot.

It is then that I realize that I failed to ask the person in charge of booking the conference room if anyone will be using it for conferences that afternoon. Yikes. My phone rings telling me to come collect my model in the lobby downstairs. I had originally asked her to be on the cover, but for business-y reasons, the boss had to put someone else there, so I was going to have to break this news to her (she was very nice about it.)

I trot down the hall and stop to ask about the conference room, which fortunately, was not booked by anyone else. I escort my model, who is a yoga instructor, to the photographer, then receive a call saying the pizza has arrived, so I go back downstairs and fetch it. My boss and I drag a table into the hall and set the pizzas out on it,prompting the IT director to say "Ken's having a pizza party!"

I begin some more editing, when the photographer finishes with the yoga girl, whom I have to interview. So she and I sit down at my desk and she starts telling me all this stuff about yoga, and as she's educating me on the spiritual benefits of meditation, someone starts playing a saxophone in the photo studio next door. So she and I are semi-listening, semi-interviewing, when the other person who is now on the cover shows up and asks where her photo shoot is. She is a "fitness coach" and And well-acquainted with the tanning bed. And the nail salon. And feathered hair. And low necklines. And pink lipgloss. Her arrival was very awkward, as the yoga girl is sitting right there, taking it all in. I show them where to go, apologize profusely to cute yoga girl and get back to the interview.

The boss then comes out to see what's going on, given the amount of noise and craziness due to saxophones, models, ad people, photographers, etc. in the hall. I introduce him to yoga girl, and he tells her a long story about how one of his best friends is in the royal family of Hawaii, and if the royals hadn't abdicated, he'd be King, so they call him King. The King used to hang glide with boss, but now does yoga instead, which the boss is baffled by. Yoga girl was amused by his tale and offered him a free yoga class, which I told him he should accept and write about. Meanwhile the creative director and the editor are walking around looking for each other and eating pizza, and talking to the graphics guys. Then the cartoonist comes up to pick up his check while I'm trying to finish the interview with yoga girl, who says "Wow! This is what I always imagined a newsroom to be like!"

I said "I promise this has never happened before." And now I have to go finish the calendar.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Chris Thile, you know you want to talk to me

This is just a brief post in effort to get my courage up to call his fancy publicist in New York ("New York City!!" to quote the old salsa commercials.) You see, Chris and his [relatively] new band the Punch Brothers are coming to Chattanooga on March 30. Given the fact that Chattanooga is (as previously mentioned in conversation with Ali) practically synonymous with the mandolin (as practically as a city can be synonymous with a stringed instrument), I think that an article about Chris and the band would be perfect as a "culture" piece for the magazine for March (right? plus, I really want to meet him.) They will be in Birmingham on January 31, so my plan is that I could go down there and do the interview, Jason could take some pictures and bond with Chris and the band re: musical instruments, then we are best friends with them and hang out all the time. Perfecto. But first I have to call the scary publicist and see if she'll grant me an audience with the wizard.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

To Russia, with love

Russia. That cold eastern giant, looming like a grey cloud above Europe, covered in ice and drifting snow and men wearing really furry hats. What I'd like to know is, what's their problem? In my opinion, it is lame of them to pick on little Ukraine.

From what I can tell through my vast research, Russia is ginormous. As a matter of fact, Russia is 16,995,800 square kilometers in size, with a population of almost 150 million people. In comparison, the Ukraine is about 600,000 square kilometers, with a population of barely 46 million people. (Please ignore the metric measurements, I don't know how to convert. Focus on the numbers, Russia is way bigger.)

Over the past ten years, Russia has charged Ukraine and some other small eastern European countries a subsidized amount for the gas that fuels and heats their societies, of which Russia has vast reservoirs. In the last couple of years, Russia has begun demanding that the small countries pay a market price instead of a subsidized price for the fuel. Now, I am all about market economics, but Ukraine paid $179.50 per thousand cubic meters of fuel last year, and now Russia demands $450 per tcm for 2009. If my calculations are correct (I admit, you may want to check them yourself),that's an increase of more than 150 % in one year. Call me crazy, but that's just crazy.

Ukraine is currently in the worst recession they've seen in a decade, which probably isn't saying a lot considering they're a former Soviet-bloc country. However, the LGR (looming global recession) has severely reduced demand for their two major exports, steel and chemicals. Clearly, this hasn't helped their economic situation. Huge sectors of the population are unemployed, and the Ukranian currency lost half its value in December (read: that is bad.) They took out a $4.5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund in November to combat that particular problem. The trick with IMF loans is that they come with a lot of conditions, not the least of which are a requirement for a deficit free budget(read: no debts.)

All this to say that it appears that they simply can't afford to pay $270 more per tcm for fuel. To do this, they would either have to create a budget deficit (which they aren't supposed to do) or cut a lot of social programs, which the unemployed and struggling population would really not appreciate. So they said "we just can't afford it." Russia's reaction to this situation? Turn off the gas. In eastern Europe, in the winter. Real classy guys.

But now it appears that they are stepping the bullying up to a new level. Gas has stopped flowing all across Europe, even in France, Germany, and Italy. The larger countries have reserves of fuel, but smaller countries like poor little Bulgaria are declaring a state of emergency, shutting down factories, with whole neighborhoods going unheated. It's freakin' cold in Bulgaria! Not cool, Russia! AND to top it off, they're blaming Ukraine! They're telling the world that the Ukrainians are siphoning off gas for their own use and keeping it from Europe. The Ukranians are trying to pass on some of their reserves to the rest of Europe to help, but let's remember their tiny size and dwindling economy.

I guess it's possible that the Ukranians are lying, that they just don't want to pay for gas, and that they really are stealing fuel from the rest of Europe for their own benefit. But really, who's believing Russia? They've been bullying people around (remember good old Joe Stalin?) for hundreds of years. I don't trust 'em any further than I could throw them, and considering I haven't started pilates yet, that's not far.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy new year!

Well, it's 2009. Although I will probably break these resolutions before I learn to remember to write "2009" instead of "2008" when I'm writing the date down, here are my resolutions for the year:

1. Try to at least get some exercise.

How? I have purchased a set of pilates classes. Having run into a girl I went to high school with over the break, and marveled at the fact that she looks like an entirely different person due to her current training to be a pilates instructor, I decided that perhaps this would be something helpful to try. Supposedly it's what all the models do, and supposedly it makes you "longer and leaner," two adjectives I am certainly interested in, particularly the "longer" part. Next time you see me I might be like six feet tall. Also it's supposed to be kind of fun, and I am hoping that the fact that I paid for the classes and that someone besides me will notice if I don't show up will provide motivation.

2. Try to pay attention to a somewhat balanced diet.

How? I have already begun attempting to attend to the recommended dietary business by having a V8. I know, I know, Claire has already lambasted the gross-ness of my new vegetable source. Call me crazy, but I happen to like the stuff. Plus, it's like more than half of my daily vegetable requirement, which I think is impressive.

3. Try not to neglect my poor, pitiful savings account.

How? My stepdad helped me figure out a reasonable amount to deduct from my paycheck automatically each week, and hopefully I can stick to it! So far, so good. Given the fact that all the money I am forced to put into Social Security is going to be looong gone by the time I might need it, I think it's important to build some savings. One time this financial lady came to GPS and showed us how if we saved like $2,000 a year starting when we were like 21, we could have a million dollars by the time we were sixty, or something. I don't remember exactly, but I do remember the point was that the earlier you start, the better, even if you don't put a lot in at first.

4. Be better at calling people back

How? Although I still hate voicemails, I will attempt to respond to missed calls in a timely manner. Argh.

5. Write more often

How? Will attempt to post at a weekly minimum. This might be the trickiest one to stick to.

And that's it, the five resolutions of '09. I'll report back on progress, which perhaps will make it easier to meet resolution number five. Happy 2009!