Wednesday, June 25, 2008

How Bored Am I? Bored Enough To Write This

While sitting at my desk pondering the best way to prove Einstein by forcefully speeding up time three hours to quitting time, I suddenly had remembered a web blurb about the hysterical customer reviews on concerning the Bic ballpoint pen. For those who need a quick refresher, Amazon created the site to act as a virtual mall, and a massive one at that. Nearly any commercial product that has ever been produced can be purchased with just a few clicks of a mouse from this online warehouse. The browsing experience can be quite rewarding as well because not only can a stock photo of the item be viewed, but each item has its own outline of specifications, descriptions, user photos, technical details, promotions and referrals. The product site can also be somewhat interactive: registered users can offer product reviews as well as provide photos of the product themselves. Since all the products listed follow a similar web template, each product gets the same treatment.

Even the ubiquitous ballpoint pen.

But let's be real. Who wants to make or read a freaking review of a ballpoint pen? It's a pen! And therein lays the joke, because people will make reviews, if just for the sake of making a mockery out of the whole system.

Yeah, good times =)

All the reviews were creative and unique in their own right, though some were more creative and unique than others. They ranged from the My-god-I-think-this-review-was-actually-serious...

All right by me !!!

It seems as if I've always used these very good black ink pens by Bic; I remember writing many a paper for college using pens like these before computers came along. Bic calls these pens "medium point" but the ink is quite clear on the page. The black ink lasts for months--unless you write a lot with these every day in which case they will last a shorter amount of time.

The pens are compact and easy to carry with you; this makes them easy to carry because they are so lightweight. The pens are made of plastic with a see through ink tube inside them. The advantage of the see through ink tube is that you can tell when the pen is running low on ink--a great feature!

As nerdy as it sounds, gentlemen can easily carry one or two in their shirt pockets. I would keep the cap on, of course.

Actually, I would keep the cap on at all times when not using this pen. The ink still inside the pen can dry out rather quickly without the cap being on them. Moreover, you don't want ink to leak out of the pen and make nasty ink stains.

Overall, if you want an inexpensive pen that still gives you high quality writing ink, you can't go wrong with these pens by Bic. I have used them for decades with great satisfaction.

I highly recommend these pens for anyone wanting an inexpensive but good quality black ink pen.

~ Matthew G. Sherwin the I-think-this-girl-was-totally-up-in-smoke-when-she-wrote-this.

Carried me across the universe and back

When I decided to run away from home and catch a ride on a falling star, I never knew how handy my BIC Pen would come in. I landed somewhere near the Puonfain Distric in the Saund Galaxy, and without the proper currency I had to get a job.

I filled out the application with my pen, worked for several months until I met a local delivery man. He gave me a ride on his star cruiser to another planet, which I happily explored.

I spent the next 5 years traveling across the universe, hitchhiking, bumming rides off Gorlocks and Pinds, and writing about my adventures with my handy BIC pen.

I also used my pen on occasion to defend myself against attackers, pry open circuit breakers and other obstacles, fix a few things, and amaze a Loiukian who had never seen a pen before.

Then, I fell in love. A kind Murgol with sandy blonde hair stole my heart, and I used my pen to write him a long love letter. He worked hard to save enough money for us to get married, and we both used the pen to write our nuptials and sign our names on the Gorgin Wedding Certificate.

After my 6 year journey, I am pleased to say I am back home on Earth with my Husband, and am expecting my first child. I've published my book, Memoirs of a Celestial BIC Pen, and it's a big seller.

Thanks to this pen, I was able to write my book, several job applications, a few minor notes, some misc. writings, and best of all, it never ran out of ink. Thanks BIC, and my Husband says, in his language, "Bo' Du "Hava Locing." (Goodbye, and thanks for all the fish)

~ E. Jackson

And from the eloquent...


Sunlight dancing off crystal angles.
Protective cap glistens, silky, substantial.

Black ink flows to paper
As Medium Point ball glides effortlessly.

Remaining box of eleven rest, haunted,
Awaiting their destiny.

~Jeffrey D. Bowman the crass.

3 to 5 and still alive!

I've been in and out of prison most of my life and I specialize the in fine art of prison tattooing. Now, I've tried many types of pens, Pilots, Sanfords, Paper Mates, and others. But for the sheer consistency of color, permeability, and aesthetic character, I use only BIC(R) Cristal(R) Ballpoint Pens.

When you try to get the ink to adhere to a sharpened paper clip, you instantly can tell the difference in workability with a Bic. The fine line work required in realistically rendering a flaming serpent wrapping the bare breasts of a nymph straddling a crucifix would be nearly impossible with any other pen.

Clients can be picky. So when I aim to please I trust on BIC(R) Cristal(R) Ballpoint Pens.

~Ralph A.

Complete with another user's comment!

It appears this review is actually about the quality of the ink in the BIC(R) Pen and not the pen itself. While ink quality is certainly important, I would have liked to hear more about other vital pen characteristics. For instance, how difficult is it to make a "shiv" or sharpened knife-like instrument used in prison fights with the plastic barrel of the pen? Does the "Cristal" pen barrel lend itself to sharpening without breaking? How well does it penetrate flesh once it has been fashioned into a man-killing weapon? Is it difficult to hide this pen in your rectum during the all-too-frequent prison strip searches? Although the description of the bare-breasted nymphomaniac was shall we say, interesting, it would have been nice to see a more comprehensive review of the use of the BIC(R) Pen in our correctional institutions.

~Mark Morris

Now, you might be thinking, "Don, you're at work. Shouldn't you be working instead of reading fake reviews about ballpoint pens?" and yes, you may have a point. But I would like to tell you, my reader, that in the few moments I had experienced reading and writing this blog, time had just jumped ahead one hour, thereby proving Einstein! This must be how Hiro must have felt!* And if proving one of the greatest minds in a scientific institution isn't cause for a pat on the back, then I don't know what is.

By the way, this is only a third of the reviews on the site, so if you would like to read more about how a Bic pen can be mistaken for a thermometer, a weapon, or a PC, please click here.

*For an explanation of this pop reference, please consult your local "Heroes" nut.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Diptych - First Attempt

A few weeks ago, I was reading about a photography technique called the triptych. A triptych, and the subsequent diptych and polyptych, is a form of art that utilizes multiple frames and panels to create one piece of art. The individual frames are often related to one subject matter, however, they don't necessarily have to follow a common template. The number of frames in the picture determine the prefix of the -tych: diptych contains two frames and a triptych contains three frames and four or more panels are designated a polyptych.

Polyptychical art has its roots in ancient tradition with the movement still being used in the modern age. Traditional polyptich art was typically a wood or an ivory carving with each panel connected with a hinge for connectivity and ease of transport, but with the arrival of pigment and the canvas medium, the painted polyptych became more and more popular. Many different types of polyptychs have emerged over the years, some achieving a very popular or cult-like status. During the Renaissance, many polyptychs were created, oftentimes with a religious subject. In the Chinese culture, multiple examples of the polyptych can be seen in their ancient art. In the 1960s, the artist Andy Warhol created the Marilyn Diptych. Polyptychs can even be found by turning to the comic section of any daily newspaper.

With such a longstanding and colorful history, I decided to give this form or art a try, and here's what I came up with

Clarity After The Rain

This picture is a diptych taken from paneling one large picture. To capture the image, I had used a Canon EOS 40D with the EF 50mm f1.8 lens. Digital editing was done using Photoshop CS3. I had used four layers, one editing layer, one background layer, and the two color layers on the left and on the right.

This form of the diptych was not of the traditional sense. I'm hoping to create more of these things with a different composition and layout, but for now, I'm pretty happy with how this thing turned out.

Monday, June 16, 2008

On Da Scene Wid Da LVB

One of the perks for having Chicago as my back yard is that I have access to all the city has to offer without having to actually deal with the city itself. For me, going downtown is almost like having a little vacation, and with the summer mounted and ready to get into full swing, my little city will turn into quite the prime vacation spot. People from all walks of life, some wearing as little clothing as possible, will make their way to the streets of Chicago to bathe in the glass, iron and concrete that has been hidden behind the walls of winter snow.

Like Cancun but with less sand; more rocks.

June 11 marked the start of the Grant Park Concert series that will run until some time in August. The series features performances at various locations at both Millennium and Grant Park, though the biggest performances are usually reserved for the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. The "house band" is the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus with the Grant Park Jazz Orchestra making their debut later on. The series also features verious orchestral and vocal soloists as well as a smorgasbord of different styles of music from all over the world. And each performance is free.

For a cheapskate like me, that's music to my ears.

Last Saturday, my family and I decided to attend one of the first concerts of this year. The selection for the day was Ludwig Van Beethoven's Missa Solemnis performed by the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus with soloists Erin Wall, Soprano; Anita Krause, Mezzo Soprano; James Taylor, Tenor; Nathan Berg, Bass. The program said it was his crowning achievement, and seeing as how Beethoven has written some of the best work to come out of the classical period, this opus has got to have some bad assery from another level.

Apparently, hundreds of other people had the same idea.

The pavilion was packed by the time my family and I got there. The prime seats were all taken as well as nearly every square inch of the lawn. The crowd had even spilled over to the surrounding railings and lawns around the pavilion. The only places left to sit were these concrete steps separating the seats from the picnic lawn, and because I didn't feel like standing after traveling forty or so minutes to get here, I quickly planted myself on one of the steps. So, Beethoven's opus mass began, and even though I could not see, my auditory sense was set liberated. The orchestral melodies combined with the soloists who were accompanied by the mass choir created a cacophony of incredible sound that was only amplified by the grandeur of the open park. The music hung in the air and surrounded me in an embrace that permeated my entire being to warm my heart and to touch my very soul.

Now, if I could only get rid of all the people walking around in front of me and figure out where that ubiquitous smell of mustard was coming from...

Needless to say, my family and I didn't stay for the whole thing. We were unprepared. Unlike the veterans who took full advantage of this event and took the time to plan in advance, my family and I found ourselves shuffling out early to grab a bite to eat. If only we were like the couple who brought lawn chairs, a table, candles, wine and Pepperidge Farm cookies or this group of well dressed socialites who brought miniature cross tables covered with table cloth, wine, hors d' oeuvres, and a patio umbrella complete with pink lanterns. Or even the other couple who had brought a simple blanket to lay out in. No. My family and I had chosen speed over substance and all we had brought was a bottle of tepid water.

Luckily, we were in the City of Broad Shoulders and sustenance wasn't very far away. For dinner, we decided to check out the Park Grill where I had heard, from my friend Zab, had one of the best burgers in town.

Damn, was he right.

This bad boy was a half pound of choice beef, spiced and grilled to absolute perfection, covered in white cheddar, onions, lettuce and tomato, sandwiched between an incredibly soft sesame and poppy seed bun. We all ordered the same burger. Yes, even my family-history-of-heart-disease-and-diabetic dad ordered a burger and Sprite. I had to admit, that was a very good move, because if it was my last meal, I would've died with a big, beefy smile on my face.

So good, in fact, that I didn't even bother taking a picture, I was too busy eating.

And that ended our day in Chicago. I had fun. My sister and my dad had fun. And even though my mom got stuck paying for parking and the food, I'm pretty sure she had fun too.






The Land Of Giants And Broad Shoulders





Monday, June 9, 2008

Black To Basics

A few years ago, a highly controversial movie titled "Eyes Wide Shut" was released to the public. The movie was co-written, directed and produced by Stanly Kubrick and starred the then couple, Tom Cruise and Nichole Kidman in a matrimonial role. Although the couple shared twin billing of the lead, the focus of the movie was centered around Tom's character, Dr. William "Bill" Harford over Nichole's character, Alice Harford. In the movie, Bill's wife Alice admits to her husband that she nearly had an affair with a Naval officer while the couple was vacationing. This sets off a series of events where Bill roams the night, constantly dealing with the mental anguish of this revelation, all the while fighting the temptations that push him into almost having an affair himself. One of the places that the night took him was to a jazz club where his friend was working as the piano player. While on a break, Bill's friend reveals to him a side job that he had accepted where he would play the organ during an event hosted by some members of the upper echelon of society. The musician persuades Bill to accompany him to the party later that night and even finds a way for him to sneak in and blend with all the guests.

As it turns out, the event was held in a very large mansion just outside of New York City. It was a very formal event and every person (that had clothes on) was dressed formally sharing the common uniform of a cape and Venetian-esque carnival mask. The sights and sounds of that event were quite unlike anything that would ever be seen on a daily basis and reveries of all manner were performed for everyone else to see. Through all the affluence and decorousness there was a raw and uncut primal atmosphere, and though Bill was dressed and looked like everyone else, he still appeared very much like an outsider that had somehow infiltrated their ranks.

Life, for me, imitated art last Saturday night.

My friend Caleb approached me that afternoon and asked if I wanted to accompany him to a photography shoot he was doing that night. The job was to go to this event and shoot pictures for about six hours, and he offered to take me along as his "assistant." I could even bring my camera and shoot pictures if I wanted to. He said it was a formal event and that it was going to be held at McCormic Place. So, I packed all my camera gear and made sure to dress to impress. He picked me up and we arrived at McCormic at around 5:30PM. The event was called Black To Basics and as it turned out, the event was organized by the Chicago chapter of the Design Industries Foundation Fighting Aids (DIFFA), and this was their annual fundraising gala. DIFFA is a non-profit organization that is involved in fundraising and the sequential distribution of the fund to various HIV/AIDS agencies that are involved in things like AIDS research, prevention and education. Coincidentally, it was their twentieth gala. Some of the top designers in the city were present that night including some executive heads whose companies happen to be sponsoring the gala and the foundation.

The entire place was decorated to the highest standards. The guests that came early were ushered to an upper floor balcony for cocktails and drinks. After a certain time, the guests were then ushered to the main hall which was actually split into two because of a curtain. The first room contained another social area. Here, the guests could participate in a very expensive silent auction as well as treat themselves to the open bar. Along one wall was the display table for the auction while the bar was placed in the center of the room. The whole hall was basically blacked out with lights at strategic points. Along with lighting the auction table, there were large, cubic lights that filled the four corners of the bar counter. Each corner had a lone dancer, silently moving his or her (mostly his) body to the music pouring out of the loudspeakers. After a certain time, the curtain separating the room was pulled aside, opening up the main stage and the dining area. Dinner was already set and waiting on the tables, and while they ate, the guests could listen to the various speeches and watch the dance shows that were done on the main stage. Later on, there would be a live auction complete with a fast talking auctioneer. The night ended with dancing and another round of open bar.

My friend's job that night was to take a pictures of the centerpieces and the decorated room. He was also given a list of certain points of the night that needed to be captured. Since I was a guest of my friend, I decided to help him out by taking pictures that night. It wasn't going to be easy because the lighting was extremely dim, and as the night wore on, spotlights became the preferential source of illumination. I took some room shots with his camera, but once those were done, I decided to work the room and take some candids. I also took pictures of the things that were happening on stage and the random groups of people who would tap me on the shoulder to ask me to take pictures of them. By the end of it all, I was hot, sticky and nursing a pressure headache with no dinner in my belly except for a couple of cupcakes I took from the dessert table.

Needless to say, it was an amazing night. My friend commented me during the gala that he loves doing these things because it always attracts beautiful people.

He was right.

It might have been the dim light or the haze produced by the fog machine, but everywhere you would look and everyone that would pass you by looked very good. Not only that, but everyone there seemed to have this aura of class and tres chic to them while the room itself was permeated by the aroma of big money. It was like living a few hours on the set of Sex and the City.

Then again, I probably shouldn't have expected less from an event hosted by the design industry.

This is really the first gala that I have attended. My parents have been to a few, but you cannot really know what it is like until you actually attend one yourself. But even though I was pretty much working the night, and technically I was a crasher, I still had a pretty good experience on what it's like to live that life.

Anyways, here are a few pictures.




















The last line of the formal web announcement to the event asked the question, "Who do you know to get in?" Well, I knew one of the photographers so big thanks to Caleb for letting me tag along.


A few more pictures can be found by clicking here

DIFFA Chicago website

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Kristine's High School Graduation

Last weekend marked the end of an era for my sister's academic career. For her, her high school graduation was the slow jam to a thirteen-year dance that started when she first enrolled in preschool. Now, she's about to turn the page to a new chapter in her life, and come this September, will be the first one in my house to move out.

But that's another entry for another time.

For now, I'll talk about the graduation weekend.

That's right, weekend. The graduation exercises started Friday, May 30, 2008 at 7PM and ended Sunday, June 1, 2008 at around 1PM. The first ceremony was an almost three hour sweat fest called the Consecration Ceremony. The ceremony was held at the Hinsdale Fil-Am SDA Church and was supposed to be the introductory ceremony highlighted by the students' thank yous to their respective parents and family members. It was a bit warm and muggy that night and over a hundred warm bodies packed to standing room didn't make things any easier. Though, I was glad I didn't have to have an additional graduation robe to contend with.

Saturday morning, after the Sabbath School led out by this year's junior class, the second event was held and this one was called the Baccalaureate. Essentially, it was a Divine Worship service that included the graduates, complete with an outside speaker that was chosen by the graduating class. The students entered the church in their robes, preceded by the junior class. Basically, it was a graduation ceremony without the hassle of actually handing out diplomas.

Saturday night was class night. Class night used to have more flair to it, it used to be more of a show. However, during the past few years, class night has essentially been distilled into its most essential of components, the presentation of awards and scholarships. This is the event where the graduates got decked out in the customary bling. Here is where they find out how much of an initial scholarship they can get to a particular college and who can get bragging rights for who gets the most honor.

Finally, Sunday morning saw the advent of the Commencement Ceremony. Here is where the graduates can come out in full regalia to finally get their diplomas. Afterwards, some of them get leid and everywhere you look, you can see a flash going off. But of course, the whole weekend can't be complete without a reception complete with nibblets such as quarter sandwiches filled with cream cheese and olives.

Overall, it was a very exhausting weekend, one that I haven't been so much a part of for six years. So much time and preparation went into making sure this thing went off well. Of course, there were a few tears and some invitations didn't make it out on time, but I'm pretty sure everyone involved was pretty happy with the outcome. The first thing my family and I did once we got home last Sunday from the reception? Nap.

So congratulations to my sister!














Fun With Textures

...and some of her friends









More pictures can be seen here