August, 2012 Archives

Old School Photography

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August 26th, 2012

I found this old camera in my basement storage. I found the old film in the basement fridge. Together they made, well, old pictures.It’s been years since I used a camera that required film. Hipsters and funksters still love shooting pictures with film; I was happy to see the technology pass into obscurity like record […]

http://www.readthespirit.com/rodney-curtis/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2013/03/wpid-rcLeicaFilm.jpgI found this old camera in my basement storage. I found the old film in the basement fridge. Together they made, well, old pictures.
It’s been years since I used a camera that required film. Hipsters and funksters still love shooting pictures with film; I was happy to see the technology pass into obscurity like record players, typewriters and trickle down economics. I’d heard people still liked the old-school feel of manual focus cameras and loved the pictures they record on their medium. But I didn’t realize there was still a market for these things.

I’m glad I opened my mind. Downstairs in our cluttered basement sat a clear plastic bag with an old Leica camera and lens. Useless, discarded, forgotten. In my wanderings around the web one recent day, I decided to see if things like this mattered to anyone anymore.

I guess they do. You can still use the optically precise lenses on current Leicas. Camera buffs eat these things up.  The gentleman in Missouri who found my listing on eBay, paid us exactly what we paid for the camera 20 years ago, used. Not bad for something old, discarded and completely useless to our modern lifestyle.

Still, maybe I was being silly. Maybe I should think twice about discarding a precious relic from our past. It didn’t take up that much basement space; maybe I’ll use it again. To prove to our buyer that the camera still functioned, and to prove to myself it was time to let go, I decided to run an old, expired roll of film through it.

Easier said than done. After futzing around for about 10 minutes with the camera and some film found in the basement fridge, I sighed mightily and went to YouTube. There, I met modern technology explaining how to operate antique equipment. The dichotomy wasn’t lost on me (and yes, I was loading it right; I was just all fumbly-bumbly).

So here’s my exhalation of relief. Here’s my happy, heavy sigh. The pictures sucked.

Now, I’m not saying I put tons of effort in — I just snapped shots around the house. And we have to allow for the film being wildly outdated. But the difficulty loading the film was matched almost minute-for-minute by the troubles I had retrieving the film. Then there was the lag time between shooting the pictures, driving to Costco, waiting for them to be processed, burned to a disk and then loading them into the computer.

All that for results that seemed, well, “meh” as the kids say. They were scratchy and grainy with color that looked like it belonged in the 50s. The best I could do was convert them to black and white. Sure, they had an artsy, sort of mysterious quality to them and there’s no denying the retro feel. But for .99 cents, I have the same function on my iPhone Hipstamatic app, and the results are instantaneous.

I talked a little bit about this with friends on social media and we fell into a jag about all the nasty chemistry we had to use to get these results. Not only did we develop the film in poison, we printed endless series of darkroom prints in poison as well. Don’t forget all the wasted 8 X 10 chemical-drenched paper thrown into the trash when the key touchdown at the local high school game needed to “pop.” Several years ago a student did an experiment using Lake Ontario water sampled near the Kodak plant. Even though it took many hours, the researcher actually developed pictures using plain lake water.

I don’t even want to think about the insane toxins seeping into our bodies throughout the years. So yeah, I kissed the camera and the past goodbye.

And I welcomed, with a hug, my presently swelling PayPal account.

http://www.readthespirit.com/rodney-curtis/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2013/03/wpid-rcLeica2.jpgI call this creation “Bored willow and majestic Taylor.” Wait, reverse that.

 http://www.readthespirit.com/rodney-curtis/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2013/03/wpid-rcLeica1.jpgSkye’s blue dress along with the blue background normally would’ve looked, uh, blue.

The Girl In The Cafe

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August 17th, 2012

Bill Nighy and Kelly Macdonald star in The Girl In The Cafe. Everyone knows I love movies and that I also love sharing the ones I become enamored with. When a friend from my past pointed me toward The Girl In The Cafe, I was surprised I hadn’t heard of the film before. Surprised, because […]

http://www.readthespirit.com/rodney-curtis/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2013/03/wpid-rcgirlinthecafe.jpgBill Nighy and Kelly Macdonald star in The Girl In The Cafe.

Everyone knows I love movies and that I also love sharing the ones I become enamored with.

When a friend from my past pointed me toward The Girl In The Cafe, I was surprised I hadn’t heard of the film before. Surprised, because it was written by Richard Curtis, whose films I’ve grown quite fond of (Love Actually, Notting Hill, etc.). Surprised because I dig Bill Nighy’s range of kinetic motion on screen and hilarious, yet subtle gymnastics. And surprised because I have a tiny, little crush on Kelly Macdonald.

Then I came to find out why I hadn’t heard of it; The Girl In The Cafe wasn’t released in theatres. It was a TV movie, made for the BBC and HBO in 2005. We’ve never subscribed to HBO and have missed a lot of good shows. I still don’t know what all the fuss is over The Larry Sanders Show and I never saw the documentary series about four New York women entitled Sex and the City.

The movie slowly, quietly unfolds a story about two very shy, understated people coming together and trying to affect world change. It’s both a serious film and one that’s poignantly funny, romantic and inspiring. Much of it takes place in barren Rykjavik, Iceland — a remote place where, we’re told, everybody in the world knows one fact about.

I’ve seen it a couple times now over the past year; Netflix and the local library both have copies. In each instance I was struck with the actor’s deliberate, stunted speech and mannerisms. It was as impressive as it was endearing. Don’t confuse this movie — like Google wants to — with those other “The Girl Who/With” movies. Absolutely no similarities exist between them.

Nighy and Macdonald were both nominated for Golden Globes and the movie (as well as the lovely Kelly) won Emmys. If you have 94 minutes to spare and are looking for something pleasant and provocative to watch, this is a strong film. As an added bonus, on the DVD there are extras including a trailer that ties in with the movie.

Where To Hear Me Yap

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August 10th, 2012

Here’s the link to the Michigan Radio Living with Cancer piece. I talk in Part Three: Do Something About It. You can tell it’s me because I’m talking about pee-pee. That’s all I can “leak” for now.

Here’s the link to the Michigan Radio Living with Cancer piece. I talk in Part Three: Do Something About It. You can tell it’s me because I’m talking about pee-pee. That’s all I can “leak” for now.

More Javelins & Shuttlecocks, Preferably Combined!

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August 9th, 2012

Don’t get me wrong; it’s not like I mind watching women in bikinis rolling around in the sand. But it seems as though there’s so much more to see during these Olympics. Yes, I realize this is the XXX Olympiad, but that’s probably not why we’re tuning in. I wish they would have broadcast those […]

Don’t get me wrong; it’s not like I mind watching women in bikinis rolling around in the sand. But it seems as though there’s so much more to see during these Olympics. Yes, I realize this is the XXX Olympiad, but that’s probably not why we’re tuning in.

I wish they would have broadcast those badminton players throwing their matches or the high drama of that fencer who refused to leave the fencing … stage? floor? runway? Maybe if they showed more of the obscure sports, I’d know how to sound erudite when I speak of such things.

http://www.readthespirit.com/rodney-curtis/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2013/03/wpid-rcOlympicsLogo.jpgWe got to watch about four seconds of white water kayaking and that was pretty cool. When it comes to boating events, I loved the sheer power and even the name of the sculling competition, until I saw the bicyclists lazily pedaling along the river banks in perfect unison with the rowers.

In the early hours of the 2012 games there was a ping pong sneak peek, during the day, probably on Canadian TV. It looked like the guys were sometimes letting the ball bounce off their heads while serving. But again, without Bob Costas or Ryan Seacrest explaining it to us, how were we to know?

Apparently they play rugby, which has gotta be more interesting than soccer. Show a little of that. And shooting guns — which I think is the only sport done in both summer and winter games — would be sort of fun to view for a few.

Did you know there are four different cycling events including BMX, velodrome, road and mountain biking? Even handball would hold my interest through one or two commercial breaks.

Now, Olympic sailing or equestrian events don’t thrill me, per say, but I’d at least like to see five minutes of it and judge for myself. Golf though, (yes, it’s really an Olympic sport), can stay off the airwaves.

Look, I’m not a curmudgeon — yet (get back to me when I turn 50). I’m thrilled by Gabby’s story and success; Phelps winning a zillion medals is cool and that South African dude who runs without legs is awesome. I just wish the network would concentrate a bit less on all the high-glitz sports.

I’ll bet if they combined some of the events, NBC would pay a little more prime time attention. Sadly, Beach Fencing, Archery vs. Judo or Greco-Roman Equestrian Wrestling probably won’t happen in my lifetime. Although that, most certainly, would be Must See TV.

And for 2016, The Hunger Games!