More photergrafs

•January 27, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Since I posted some film pictures I took the other day, I decided I’ll do a little series of pictures (that way, it gives me time to get loose ends tied together before I make the Space Burrito Grande Announcement!). Today’s photos are some of the first pictures that I ever snapped with my old digital camera (Nikon Coolpix L110).

Next post will be pictures from when I traveled to Great Britain back in 2011; the post after that will be my New York City trip from last January.

This phone used to be in the lobby of my dorm.

This is in the lobby of the dorm I used to live in.

I've lost these sunglasses since I took this.

I miss these sunglasses. They were the best pair I’ve ever owned.

I was actually trying to figure out how to shoot with my camera in the dark. This is what I got.

I was trying to figure out how to shoot in the dark. This was the result.

I found this graffiti at one of the local parks where I live.

I found this graffiti at my local park.

My dad owns a Pharmacy with a Soda Shoppe in the front. These are some old machines in the store's basement.

My dad owns a Pharmacy with a Soda Shoppe in the front. These are the old pop machines in the basement.

I think I got this light-up T-Rex keychain as a stocking stuffer one year.

I think that I got this light-up T-rex keychain in my stocking one year.

Same goes for this one.

Same for this fella.

This was a really lucky shot.

Not to toot my own horn, but, this is one of my favorite pictures I’ve ever taken.

As you can kind of see, I mostly used that L110 for close-up shots.

I’ve been told it’s just a phase.

Photography Class

•January 25, 2013 • 1 Comment

I’ve been alluding to taking a photography class in some past posts and it dawned on me:  I hadn’t shown the film pictures on Space Burrito. So, I picked out the best ones that I took and…well, here you go!

These were all shot with a ~1974 Canon TLb and a standard 50mm lens. I also have about 10 copies of Buick. It took so many tries to dodge and burn each section of the picture. The best one I took is currently at my mother’s house.

Most of these are shots are 5×4, but I do have one 10×8 of This is not a Duck and I don’t remember how big the final Buick is…I know it’s as big as Duck or even bigger.

Portait of Amy

I took this of my girlfriend right after she did a really hard workout. Initially, she hated this photo.

Buick

My hometown is super small and super boring. So, when I went back for Christmas, I was mostly outside taking pictures. This is my neighbor’s Buick that he restored.

Duck

This is a duck.

Announcement (coming soon)!

•January 24, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Hey, four people who still actively look at my blog!

It’s been a while, yeah?

I’ve been finishing up my last year of college. After building four theatre sets since August, working on two of my senior projects, and preparing for my college’s upcoming prodution of RENT next Friday (the first and second), it’s hard to find time to blow my nose, let alone use my so called “free time.”

Excuses aside!

I’ve been trying to think of a way to really shimmy up my blog. Me thinks I’ve found a pretty nifty way to do that. Coming next week, I’ll be starting a pretty big project. Like, bigger than any I’ve ever really done. Not HUGE or anything, but a pretty decent chunk of work for me to do.

In the meantime, enjoy this blackmail material picture of me when I played Benjamin Cohen in my college’s production of The Underpants, the Steve Martin adaptation of Carl Sternheim’s old script.

undapants

Walkers, Sitters, and Feeders

•June 11, 2012 • Leave a Comment
This assignment from my Advanced Expository Class was called the Place Essay. I worked at a hospital for a few years and while I used some of that experience as inspiration, I would like to point out that this is a work of fiction

The tires on my car crunched the dirt as it lulled to a stop. The back parking lot was littered with a dozen vehicles: some right off the lot and some that had missing paint flecks and dents in the panels. Two people smoked stoically on a bench by the overflowing dumpster. A pasture with a few cows lazily grazing was next to the parking lot. I walked to the heavy rusted iron door and thumbed in my code on the plastic number box: 9734. The sound of metal scraping let me know the nursing home was unlocked.

Once inside, the smell of bleach and urine wafted into my nostrils. The walls were off-white and had Holiday Inn art hanging on them. The door at the end of the hall was my stop, and through it I could hear the pulse of water jets in the dish machine ring out from the kitchen.

After I finished the usual routine of setting up the dining room, dozens of half-conscious elderly residents where wheeled into their specified seats at the dining tables.

In the cafeteria, we had three sections of residents. In the back, we had the “walkers,” who were coherent, of sound mind, and  able to feed themselves without much supervision.

The next category of residents, seated in the middle, where the “sitters.” These were the folks who, by and large, were mostly able to feed themselves without guidance. Sometimes, though, they became crazed by things that happened fifty years ago, so a close eye was needed. One gal became hysterical because she thought her parents got lost on a boat while coming to visit her – The Santa Maria.

The closest group to the food servers were the “feeders.” These were the people who couldn’t feed themselves, whether that was because they were crippled with age or they mentally could not understand how to eat.

There was a silence that hung over the dining room, once the walkers, feeders, and sitters where in their places. The only sound was the soft clank of silverware or the low hum of an oxygen machine. They looked like ghosts wrapped in old cracked leather sitting in their wheelchairs.

Every so often, a resident would start to cough violently. At that point, like clockwork, a nurse would slowly stand up and shuffle over to the resident. They would lazily pat the patien’s back and ask them if they were okay. Once the resident would choke down pureed turkey, the nurse would shuffle back to her seat.

After a few moments, my job would be to go around and ask the residents if they needed anything else. Most of the time no one would respond, or if they did it would be with a quiet grunt. However, there was one woman whom I always loved to talk to.

She was a diabetic who loved food. The only thing she ever wanted, when I would talk to her, was two slices of bacon. The nurses had told me many times before that she was not allowed bacon, because that would interfere with her medication. I never saw the logic in prohibiting a ninety-eight year old slice of bacon; I’m sure she was well aware of the risks. I feel that, at ninety-eight, if you want a piece of bacon, you should have the right to have one.

Every now and then, I would slide a few slices of the fried pork to her. Her boney fingers gingerly grabbed the greasy bacon and she would shove it all in her mouth at once. Drool would slide out of the corners of her mouth, and she would pick up her plate and lick the salt that remained.

Walking back to my serving table I would then smell the faint odor of feces. The nursing staff apparently did not notice, and after a few minutes, the scent became so strong that the head cook walked up to the head nurse and whispered something in her ear.

The nurse would then leisurely walk about the dining area, sniffing the air above the resident’s heads like a hunting dog. After a while, she found the person who was responsible for the fragrance. The head nurse waved a nurse’s assistant down and whispered something in her ear. The resident was then wheeled out.

The head nurse then wheeled in a giant cart. It was the size of a bail of hay and had a dozen drawers with labels. Without looking, she would then reach into a drawer and pull out a small cup with colorful pills. Then, she would walk around like a giant, placing cups after cups of tablets in front of every resident’s seat. Her eyes were predatory, as she’d make sure that every plastic-coated capsule had been consumed.

Chances are a few residents would either have forgotten to take their pills or refused to. Some of the more clever ones would sneak their capsules in their shirts or under their tongue. When the head nurse would come back around to check if they took them, the residents would grin and nod politely.

Once the residents left, it was my job to make sure no tablets had been left behind. I would usually find one or two, so I had to put them in a cup and walk to the nurse’s station. There, they would ask me whose it was; often I had no idea.

I continued cleaning the dining room. Plates were heaped with overcooked vegetables and half-drunk glasses of thickened grape juice. A blue slop bucket was next to me and I scraped every plate. Many times there would be so much food left over, I would have to dump the bucket out a few times into the sink to get enough room to finish my job.

Once the dishes were cleaned, I’d poke my head into the resident’s social living room. A big screen TV with Jeopardy! sang to no one, a glass case full of small birds were picking their feathers out was by the wall, and a small dusty piano sat in the back corner, like a child who was scolded. In the middle of this room, ten residents were in wheel chairs and automatic recliners. Some stared off into space, some slept, and some wanted to find a person to talk to.

The heavy iron door at the end of the hall always had one resident trying to get out. I would have to tell her someone was looking for her, but she would not buy what I was selling.

“Please…please let me out! They are trying to kill me!”

I was warned that she would say this; she made this a habit almost daily. Taking the handles on her wheelchair, I would slowly take her to the resident’s social living room.

“It’s okay, ma’am, they aren’t trying to hurt you,” I would sigh. She would start to cry quietly, but she did every day. Alzheimer’s disease gave her the opportunity to be this terrified and come morning everything would be forgotten – only to be repeated daily, until she passed.

After the Alzheimer’s patient was back under Big Brother’s eye, I slowly walked back to the clock-out machine. The clock-out machine was replaced with a computer that never worked right and had a layer of a sticky substance all over the keyboard. When I’ve officially clocked out, I cannot, under penalty of expulsion, do anymore work. I head for the door.

The plastic number box on the inside was worn down, and I’d have to press my code to get out extra hard. Outside, two other people sat smoking in silence.

My car’s engine would turn over and I’d go out of the parking lot. The cows mooing were the only goodbye.

Being Dead for Six Minutes

•June 9, 2012 • Leave a Comment

This assignment from my Advanced Expository Writing class was a basic memoir  paper. I decided to write about the first time I had sleep paralysis. 

 

There was black fog encasing me. It sucked out all of the air from the room while leaving a static fume. This cloud crawls into my veins and creeps into my spine. Leisurely curling around my heart, it begins to squeeze this muscle until my chest sings with pain. It’s not allowing me to move, yell, or think coherently.

I am dead.

My mother was in the living room that was not even ten feet away from where I lie. I could hear her watching the opening of Walker: Texas Ranger. She’s probably eating lunch; a sandwich, potato chips, and a diet soda. Every now and then she laughs. Why does she not come in and ask if I’m hungry?

There is a crunchy blues guitar playing from the basement. My brother is in his own world, alive, improvising with an old beat-up six string. I can feel a vibrating pulse every time he hits a low E note. Why doesn’t he come in and ask me if I want to play?

My neighbor is mowing his lawn next to our house. My open window faces his yard, and I can smell the fresh cut grass and gasoline. I’m listening to him mow at one end of his backyard and work to the other side. Why doesn’t he come in and ask me for help?

At this point my heart starts pounding. I can feel it in my fingertips and my toes. The more worried I become, the harder my heart beats. I become relieved. I realize that I am not actually dead. Not “in the ground” dead, at least.

I start to wonder what the rest of my life is going to be like. I’m assuming my mother will come in sooner or later, asking me if I am going to get up. She’ll gently nudge my body and call my name. After she realizes I’m not responding, I’ll hear her scream. Or maybe she’ll softly say: “Oh my God…” I’m not sure.

“Zane!” will bounce off every wall in the house. My brother will come racing up the stairs, skipping two at a time. He’ll stop in my room and pant. Between his gasps of air, he’ll ask my mother “What’s wrong?”

She’ll tell him I won’t wake up. Zane will call 911 and I’ll be rushed to the town’s hospital. Once I go to the ER, they will stab my arms with needles, drawing blood and giving me IVs.

After the doctors realize I won’t wake up, they would tell my family that I’m a vegetable. I’d spend the rest of my life with a couple of hoses down my throat; one for oxygen and one for food. My mother would shave my face every other day and my brother would talk to me like I could hear him. I’d constantly be receiving flowers with notes and Facebook messages from friends that I can’t read.

After a month or two, people would forget about me. I’d be lying in a hospital bed, peaceful looking, until I die. That’s how I’d spend the rest of my life, until they decided to pull the plug.

But that isn’t happening and it won’t happen. I won’t spend the rest of my life eating from a tube. I promise myself I will eat greasy cheeseburgers, salty fries, and sugary sodas once more. I’m getting out of this for the burgers. The only problem is: how exactly do I get out?

I begin to yell as loud as I can. Shrieking at the top of my lungs, I know that someone will hear me. But, no matter how hard and loud I scream, I only hear my cries in my head.

The snake is clenching my chest tighter, as if warning me to not struggle. He laughs at me. Maybe this is what being dead feels like.

I’ve had a few friends and acquaintances that have almost died. One of my friends got flown from his car almost fifteen feet after hitting a deer. Another friend was on a motorcycle and wrecked on concrete; he lost so much blood they thought he wouldn’t make it. One friend was skiing and tumbled down the side of a mountain; he was flown out of the ski resort.

I realize that I envy them. In their moments of the accident, when they think they are dying, they have a chance to tell their story. They could let people know their thoughts. They would tell their girlfriends that they love them, their moms not to worry, and they could try to joke with their dads.

I skipped that part. I went straight to dead. I would have loved to be flying through a windshield thinking “Oh shit!” At least I would have died an exciting way. Dying in your sleep is for the elderly.

My tear ducts should be working right now. Tears should be falling from my face, but my body won’t even let me do that. This is one of the only times I wish I could cry. Blubbering like a drunk might alert someone.

Telling myself to calm down, I begin to breath slower. After a few moments, I began to feel the snake loosen his grip. It dawned on me that if I can still control my stomach for breathing, surely I could move other muscles.

Pushing my thoughts from my mind, I focus all of my energy on my right hand. My brain sends the neuron signals to clench my fingers. My brain fires these signals over and over, refusing to let my hand remain stagnant. Nothing happens.

I begin to chuckle in my mind as a thought clanks around: “So what?”

I don’t know why I find this so funny, but I laugh so loud, I’m sure that my mother can hear it. Of course she can’t. Some times I used to think that my mom could read my mind.

I tell my right hand to only move its index finger. That is simpler. While my brain is telling my dead nerves to move in my finger, my skull begins to rattle with my silent laughter. I forget that I’m comatose for a moment.

All of the sudden, I feel the fabric of my sheets on my fingertip. It is slight, but there. It’s cold to the touch, and my finger barely moves across it.

The snake releases its grip, and my body unlocks. My eyes flick open. A sharp breath fills my lungs and I sit upright. I’m groggy, but I can move. I guess I am alive.

Putting my glasses on, I slowly open the door and look into the living room. Walker: Texas Ranger hasn’t even reached its first commercial break. After I stand in my doorway with my mouth wide open, my mom looks my way and asks me a simple question:

“Are you hungry?”

Le Bal Masqué

•June 7, 2012 • 1 Comment

So, since I havent been on in quite a while, I’m gonna try and get back in the swing of things. Here is a little memoir that I wrote last semester. I’ll upload a few more from that class in a day or two.

Also, this assignment was called an Odd Object Essay. Which, basically, is what it sounds like. I chose to write about masks.  

It was the color of a well-done steak with pink blemishes. A long crooked nose with a giant crack at the tip sat in the middle of its face. Flaming carrot-hued hair grew, matted and mangled, on the top of the head. Warts, bumps, and scars crisscrossed every inch of the moth-eaten skin, like a map of a subway station. Eyeless holes sink above a silent, shrieking mouth. It lived in the dusty corner of a closet in my basement; it was the boogeyman.

As a child, this mask terrified me. Several times I raced down the basement stairs, skipping steps, to fling the closet door open and steal a look at the lifeless latex. My heart felt like an old shoe in a dryer as I stood frozen. It’s grin would stare back at me saying: “I’m going to eat you.”

I believed it.

***

“Okay, move a little to your left,” the mechanical click vibrated my fingertip. As he lifted the pig mask off of his head, I heard a sharp inhale. “Man, can’t hardly breathe in this thing!” I grinned and he slid the sweaty mask back on his face and struck a pose.

I was asked to take some photographs by a friend of mine, Pat, to model his brand new masks; he is a fanatical admirer of a band who performs in facades.

In Mushroomhead, a few of the members hand-make every mask. A mold is prepared and then cast with latex, and Pat tells me each mask is hand painted, sometimes by the band. A waiting list of hundreds makes the delay time for the masks to be created, sold and shipped months long. These disguises can cost more than five hundred dollars.

Pat takes me in his house and shows off his collection. They sit on his television stand on empty beer bottles. Each mask has a baby-eating grin as it stares blankly ahead. He points to each mask and tells me the back-story of every one.

“I got this one signed by the band,” he proudly says when he shows me the mask of a doll’s head with sharpie scribbles. There was a mask of a bloody butcher, a mouthless man with two giant “X”s on his cheeks, and a bright orange pumpkin shaped head. “I had to buy some burlap and sew it on the back so I could wear it,” Pat puts on the scarecrow mask, “I got a pretty big dome!”

***

There was a point in my early childhood when I began to become less terrified with monsters and more worried about getting homework done. One day, I remembered the red-haired boogeyman that lived in my basement. Part of me wondered if he still caused worms to slither in my spine, so I decided to find out.

My breath quickened and my pulse became heavy when I walked down the basement stairs like a teenager trying to sneak out past curfew. Silence was of the essence; any noise could wake the demon. I carried my mother’s good kitchen knife to protect me.

The closet had trash bags stuffed inside, each with different holiday decorations in them. After swimming past nutcrackers, Easter eggs, and plastic Jack-o’-lanterns, I saw a dusty tuft of ginger hair in the corner of the floor, lying lifeless. With a trembling hand, I grabbed the knotted hair and ran to my room, leaving the holiday decorations littered across the basement floor.

***

We pulled up to the Muse Ballroom in Salina, Kansas. The doors hadn’t opened yet, but one hundred people were waiting outside. All of them adorned in piercings, tattoos, and Mushroomhead masks. One lady wore black and white face paint, leather pants with chains dangling, and a bright green Mohawk. Another man had so many piercings, I wondered if he fell face first into a tacklebox.

“Dude! This is going to be sick!” Pat shouted as he grabbed his doll mask and rushed out of the car. He was covered from head to toe in a costume for night’s show: a leather trench coat, combat boots, and daisy dukes were his choice attire. I was wearing blue jeans, a black shirt, and my old hat. I was a bird of paradise in a flock of pigeons.

Once they herded the crowd into the concert hall, Pat and I got close enough to the stage and waited for the band to come out. The whole time, Pat was explaining other concertgoer’s masks to me.

“Oh! That one there! Do you see it?” his arm pointed past my face. “That one was a mess-up that Mushroomhead gave to the band Dope to paint,” his grin widened. “What I would give to get a hold of that one!”

“And, and that one! That one was a practical joke they were gonna give the drummer! That’s why it’s painted bubblegum pink!”

The lights went down and the slow hiss of a fog machine filled the building. Suddenly eight giant creatures stepped in the light and silently looked across the crowd while the audience screamed.

A deafening roar filled my body when the band went into full swing. For the next hour and a half, I was watching a horror movie in real time. Except instead of scaring everyone, they were singing to them.

As I looked at the crowd, I saw that almost every other person was wearing a handmade, hand-painted Mushroomhead mask. They were all headbanging on the same beat and screaming the same lyrics. When one guy moshed too hard, the other would pick him up and set him on his feet. These were people who didn’t know each other, but knew what their masks meant.

When the show was over, Pat took off his doll mask and sweat gleamed all over his face and head. We walked to the car humming the songs we just heard. He told me he never wore the same mask to a show twice in a row. I asked him if he wore a mask every time he saw Mushroomhead. He smiled so big, I could barely make out his eyes.

“Every time.”

***

I sat cross-legged on my bed with the boogeyman on a chair in front of me. The latex bunched and folded and made the face look deflated; his eyes looked heavy and the shrieking grin was a frown.

The bumps on his face felt hard under my fingertips. A thin layer of dust had settled on his face, so I wiped it off with a damp cloth. I knew there was one thing left to do.

I grabbed the mask with my fist and walked slowly into the bathroom. The mirror was in front of me, and I looked down at the ball of red fur in my hands. Steadily, I brought the mask to my face.

It stank inside. The smell of my grandparent’s basement filled my nose. It was a smell not unlike that of old books, if the books happened to be a little moldy. As I breathed into the mask my glasses fogged up and I thought I sounded like Darth Vader. I began to laugh and laugh until my belly ached.

With my fist full of its hair, I raced down the basement stairs, skipping steps, and flung the mask back into the closet. I put the nutcrackers, Easter eggs and Jack-o’-lanterns back in their place and the closet door shut.

About a year ago, I went into my basement on a visit from college to find this mask. It was nowhere. I called my mother and father on separate occasions and I asked each of them if they remembered a certain mask that was in the basement. They both vaguely remembered what I was talking about, but couldn’t remember where it came from or how it got there.

All I know is the boogeyman is gone.

Hugo and Pudge!

•January 18, 2012 • 2 Comments

Hey everyone!

This whole week I’ve been pretty busy with finishing up tech week for James and the Giant Peach. Yesterday was our first performance to around 200 kindergarteners – 4th graders. Tomorrow through Friday we will be doing one matinee, with Friday evening and Saturday evening being the public shows. It was so much fun performing for the kids! And it gave me a chance to use my puppets!

Here is a shark puppet I made (minus the fin that I added later). I've affectionately started to call him "Hugo." I'll make a post soon about how I made Hugo and a few other puppets.

Since I probably won’t be posting a whole lot for a while (on Sunday I leave for NYC for a week), I wanted to at least give you guys a heads up.

In the mean time, you should check out this website called Deep Fried Pudge! Its zany, quirky, and my kind of humor. You can even buy some of her artwork! This artist also submitted a comic at Potluck Comics and has a chance to win some money if it receives enough likes and page views and all that jazz.

So, until I return, you should check out this video by British singer/songwriter Frank Turner. It’s so catchy…

Stay tuned!

 
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