By the barometer of "I think I have seasonal affective disorder, and I deeply, deeply, deeply long for the sun to come out", February has been a shockingly lovely month. There have simply been more sunny days than I would have imagined, even if its end has been marked with frigid temperatures and dustings of snow.
Fortunately, I've had other reasons to be loving this month, though it has not been without its frustrations.
Read on to hear about how quickly this short month has gone by!
Best of the Month
The Lunar New Year Celebration in the International District was a helluva good time! I was there along with Chelsea & Mr. Love, and I think we all really enjoyed the performances, and the unfortunately rare sight of the ID overflowing with happy visitors. (Usually, it's rather empty in comparison.)
Of the performances, the absolute highlight was the lion dance, performed by an internationally recognized local troupe. It was pretty fantastic to watch them hop on tables, and move so fluidly and naturally, and with so much character and humor. The point of the lion dance is to scare off evil spirits and shake off ills of the past year. And I think they acheived that perfectly. Lots of folks petted the lions for good luck.
Afterwards, the lion made its way to local businesses to bless them as well, and Chelsea and I made our way to a stand selling Vietnamese avocado desserts, which I had never tasted before and found totally delicious. It was a beautiful way to spend an afternoon, and the joy of the community more than made up for the drizzly, gray day.
Chelsea & I spent President's Day Weekend in the San Juan Islands, and we were both absolutely blown away by the natural beauty -- and a lot more sunshine than either of us would have expected!
You'll have to wait just a little while longer for a full write-up, of course. But in the meantime, here's a teaser image and one of my first attempts at infared photography.
My classes have been going nicely, though they've also kept me extra busy. It has been tremendously fun to participate in Ash's latest iteration of her experimental creative workshop On Time. There will be a livestreamed performance, soliciting donations to benefit earthquake relief in Turkey, and I will share the details when I have them. In the meantime, if you're interested, you can check out a workshop submission, "Who Says You Can't", a combination of sound and photography. All but one of these pictures, taken this month, are not duplicated in this blog post.
I've also been enjoying starting my scrambling class I'm looking forwards to field trips, which will start next month.
It's a lot to balance with everything else I've got going on, though!
And, I think I've already mentioned the sunshine, but can I just add some nice sunrises, sunsets, mountain views, and sky blue hues?
Worst of the Month
Certainly, I cannot start writing about bad things that happened without touching upon the tragic earthquakes that have struck Turkey and Syria. I wrote an earlier post sharing my thoughts and advocating that readers consider donating to earthquake relief efforts. There have been more than 40,000 deaths.
Google, because they took quite a long while to return my phone to me after repairing it. But moreso, because after that, my phone had updated, and Google Maps was broken for a long while afterwards. The issue was known and unfixed for a shockingly long time considering the potential safety implications of having one's map freeze or spin randomly while one is referencing it to navigate a moving motor vehicle.
I'm especially impressed that this issue seemed to only affect user's of the company's own phone. Frankly, not a good look, and one that serves to erode a large amount of the goodwill that I would have otherwise had for Google, their apps, and their devices.
The cost of photographic film is continuing to increase, with Kodak set to hike prices dramatically at the beginning of March, and Ilford following suit. Meanwhile, the cost of chemicals for development, and consequently the cost of getting film developed has also increased literally everywhere.
I sure am glad I started shooting film last Autumn, eh?
What I'm Enjoying
Right after I mentioned the idea of "playlist" last month, the universe went ahead and yanked Yellow Magic Orchestra's back catalog from Spotify. This only lasted for a few days, but it was long enough that I decided I had good reason to listens to some of their material that was never on Spotify in the first place, namely their 2008 live shows.
They're something like a "reunion" for the group, except that's not quite true, because the three of them had been collaborating in various projects, sometimes as a trio in the time leading up to it. They're interesting shows, in part because of how little material from their "hits" are included, and how much is drawn from more recent collaborations and solo projects. But also, like, they have a really nice kind of calm, glitchy sound to them.
|1. Yellow Magic Orchestra - "War & Peace (Live in London, 2008)" (2008)|
I include their rendition of "War and Peace," originally a Ryuichi Sakamoto solo track because I found it absolutely beautiful and moving.
Rooo is a favorite (contemporary) artist of mine, and the track they dropped for a compilation is a righteous piece of photoshopcore bubbly hyperpop.
|2. ROOO - "Bubble Design" (2023)|
The track was released on Bandcamp, as part of a compilation to benefit SODAA, a "community developing a decentralised governance model for a music & arts venue in London." There's a lot of other interesting work on the compilation.
And lastly, I've still been spending a lot of time in the car listening to KNKX. First of all, I still didn't have a working phone for a lot of the month, but secondly, I find that I really enjoy hearing a lot of the music they play. It's nice to have commercial free radio, and songs that aren't chosen by a sinister algorithm.
One of the standout tracks for me was "Your Mind is On Vacation" by Mose Allison, a jazzy, blusey piano diss track originally recorded in the '60s.
|3. Mose Allison - "Your Mind is On Vacation" (1962)|
|Check out the playlist page for all the songs I've highlighted in one place!|
SIFF did a screening of City of God, a 2002 Brazilian film that my friend showed me years back. It was fantastic to see it on the big screen. Throughout the film, the use of larger focal lengths, and the occasional blown out highlights did catch my attention -- so I had to look up what it was shot on. 16mm film.
And, out of things I watched outside of the theater, I did greatly enjoy Sullivan's Travels, another of Preston Sturges' written-and-directed '40s comedy films. This one exists to argue that pure comedy films serve a social roll by allowing people an escape from depressing realities by showing a screenwriter who endeavors to learn how hard it is to be poor, and who does rather a bad job of it for much of the film's running length. It manages to have its cake and eat it too, and what a delicious cake it is.
During the last month, I finished two recently published novels from Archipelago Press, both of them really, really good -- they will get written up in their own post shortly. I had literally been waiting years to read one of them, so I'm glad it was worth the hype -- for me, at least.
Meanwhile, I've been loving this volume of Ara Güler's photographs of İstanbul that I've been paging through, along with James Hoffman's The World Atlas of Coffee.
I didn't quite get to do quite as much hiking as I'd have liked this month, but I absolutely loved checking out Franklin Falls.
|Name||Keechelus Lake Snowshoe (Palouse to Cascades Trail)|
|Type||out and back|
|Location||Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest|
|Check out the trails index for information on more trails!|
Mid-month, I also got a primer in snowshoeing from a friend of mine. Together, three of us meandered along the Palouse to Cascades / Iron Horse / John Wayne rail trail from near the Hyek Sno-Park to Kechealis Lake.
Snowshoeing is fun! A. likened it to "duck-walking" and I think that's about accurate. Much of the snow around the Pacific Northwest is wet and frequently compacted, so snowshoes are not often needed, but being able to "float" atop fluffy snow was a lot of fun. Snowshoes also make it a lot easier for you to kick steps into snow.
I had hoped to get more snowshoeing in this month, but it's just not something I got to.
Articles of Note
We'll start off, as we should, with a piece from the Onion's Editorial Board who offer a simple thesis: It Is Journalism’s Sacred Duty To Endanger The Lives Of As Many Trans People As Possible.
This is a tour de force, a piece that absolutely nails its critique of common coverage of trans people, doing so with humor and panache.
"Good journalism is about finding those stories, even when they don’t exist. It’s about asking the tough questions and ignoring the answers you don’t like, then offering misleading evidence in service of preordained editorial conclusions. In our case, endangering trans people is the lodestar that shapes our coverage. Frankly, if our work isn’t putting trans people further at risk of trauma and violence, we consider it a failure."
It once again helps me reach the disheartening conclusion that so much important journalism seems to only come out under the umbrealla of satire and comedy.
Do give it a read.
Nat Henry asks, "is Seattle a 15-minute city? That is, a place where residents can walk or bike to have their basic needs met in trips under fifteen minutes. You should absolutely check out the article and analysis, which has fantastic and accurate visualizations. The answer, is that most of the city fails at this, and it comes as absolutely no surprise to me -- it's one of the main things I dislike about Seattle.
Quoth the piece:
Despite Seattle’s high rankings on conventional walking metrics, only 44% of Seattleites can walk to basic city amenities. Seattle as a whole would need major changes to fulfill the vision of a 15-minute city. Of the 89 neighborhoods considered, only nine are “15-minute neighborhoods” walkable for 90% or more of their residents. On the other end of the spectrum, 27 neighborhoods—including large portions of West Seattle, Delridge, and Northeast Seattle—are extremely unwalkable, with less than 10% of their residents able to walk to basic amenities.
At the same time that folks are pointing out deficiencies in residents' ability to meet basic needs without a car, Sound Transit has been mulling... not actually connecting up their new train lines with one another, an incredibly stupid idea.
At Esquire, Jeff Vandermeer asks, "What would a Ron DeSantis Presidency look like?" The Tallahassee-based novelist and political activist can only provide a bleak prognosis.
And lastly, technical writer and superb short story author Ted Chiang, has written about ChatGPT over in the New Yorker, calling it "a blurry JPEG of the web." Read on here.
Is it a perfect overview of how the technology works? No, but it's a useful analogy, and one with some explanatory value and limited hype.
5. Black & White
I've taken a lot of black and white photos this month, some of them on film. I haven't gotten around to scanning all the negatives, though, and I certainly wasn't prepared to try to create an image on film in a one-week turnaround. Instead, I looked through my black and white digital images, and settled upon this one, a relatively "safe" choice of an image.
As I wrote at the time:
A view of a ferry & downtown taken from the West Seattle Watertaxi.
There are so many different kinds of black and white. Soft, contrasty, crunchy, and so many ways in which the form can serve to emphasize shapes, and to create a dynamic result. This is towards the softer, smoother side.
6. Shallow Depth of Field
I feel like shallow depth of field is chased by some photographers, many internet pundits, and cellphone companies as the end all and be all to a good image, when this is simply not true. Beyond a certain point, shallow depth of field removes clarity. But, it can also be a fun and useful effect.
One of my favorite ways to achieve it is by using a longer focal length, which will reduce depth of field. The Olympus 75mm lens is one that I've really enjoyed using for street photography on occasion (most notably, say in the shots on the bridge from my Sheepshead Bay post.)
I wanted to see what I could capture by taking it on a walk around my neighborhood, something I had been meaning to get around to.
As I wrote at the time:
“ 🥰&🐮 ”
A poignant scene shot during a sunny walk. Cropped to 16:9 in post. Using a telephoto lens = very shallow depth of field due to the focal length. I love the cow bag, and I love the handholding.
This shot is a little blurry, probably because I was holding the camera at a crazy angle -- there are subsequent sharper ones, but I prefer the framing + emotion of this shot. Who says sharpness is important?
This challenge is one I felt less inspired by, so I submitted a quick snap taken while doing time class from my car in Harborview Park, Everett, WA.
8. Line from a Song
This is another one of those challenges that doesn't resonate with me personally. I just don't turn to song lyrics for photographic inspiration. So, this was definitely a case of looking through pictures I had recently taken, choosing one, and arbitrarily finding a lyric to fit.
I went with this image:
and these words, from "Flash Delerium" by MGMT, off their seminal sophomore album Congratulations:
"The hot dog's getting cold And you'll never be as good as the Rolling Stones"
- Flash Delerium, MGMT
My main wish here is a technical one. I wish I had thought about how much light was being put out by the hotdog stand and stopped my lens down for a sharper final result. The image is something of a quick snap, but one that I find representative of late night sustenance in Capitol Hill. Those hotdogs are damn tasty!
At the end of last month's post, I promised I'd write about recent nice hikes. I've done that. I'm almost up-to-date with books now. But, I'm still behind on writing about the rest of my visit to Haida Gwaii and other out of town trips since then. That's okay, good things take time.
All of that is still in the pipeline, along with an updated take on coffee (maybe not until April), as well as everything else I've promised.
All of the Eurovision songs have traditionally been out by some date in March, so you can expect to see a first impressions post for Eurovision 2023. Yippee!
I'm very tempted to start writing my recollections of visits to various cities across Southeastern Turkey, including areas affected by the earthquake, so let me know if you want more of those flashback-style posts, akin to the recent Valentine's Day special on Tbilisi.
This post was part of the following series(es):
|Previous Post||See All Posts||Next Post|
|Wishing & Wandering||March 2023 in Review|
|2022 & January 2023 In Review||Birthdays, Pizza, and Bushwacking|
Thanks for reading!
If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy these 5 similar posts:
- 2023-07-30 —A Look Back at April 2023 - Belatedly A.F.
- 2022-12-31 —December 2022 - The Month In Review
- 2023-01-31 —Wishing & Wandering - 2022 & January 2023 In Review
- 2023-08-05 —In Health And In Sickness - May 2023 in Review
- 2022-03-21 —Eurovision 2022: First Impressions (feat. Chelsea)