Saturday, September 17, 2005


I went to watch my cousin Rick get married recently. In forwarding pictures of the nuptials to my brother, I wrote with perverse satisfaction that our cousins on our mother's side were so screwed up that we appeared to be the stable ones of the family. He replied:
The stable side of (Mother's) family is akin to hanging off the side of the mountain by your fingertips and saying, "at least we're not on the snow covered side."
That might be something to keep in mind if you read any more of my scribblings.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Ma and Pa

I played golf badly, which is to say that I played it like I always do. I made par on two holes, bogey on a couple others and on the rest it was easiest to keep my score by counting how many golf balls I lost.

I played with my father, who is good at it. He often shoots in the 70s. He wanted me to become a lawyer and a golfer and if he had to choose one he might have preferred golf. Instead I became neither.

I suppose it's not too late. With lessons and practice I could learn to play competently just as with preparation I might score high enough on the LSAT to overcome my mediocre college grades and qualify for law school. My only acedemic bragging rights are that I finished college in four years with no summer school and I never cheated. My GPA was nothing to write home about, though it was something my father sometimes wrote to me about.

If my father's passion is golf, my mother's tri-pastimes are smoking, reading romance novels and listening to right-wing talk radio, preferably simultaneously. Understand: if she is addicted to cigarettes it is only a byproduct of her enjoyment of them. She does not want to quit.

The company for which she worked before she retired went smoke free and offered to pay for smoking cessation programs for any employees who smoked. My mother took the course, successfully quit, then a year later decided that she missed it and started again. She took lunch breaks in her car so she could puff undisturbed.

On the rare occasions she is stirred to move, she mows the lawn. It is her lone physical activity and it says all you need to know about my mother that she interrupts her exercise for smoke breaks.

You think I'm kidding. I assure you I am not.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

I made this page to show off my video creations. But, as you may know, I also dabble in music. I offer a few selections from the John McQuiston songbook here. It's not a book, really, more like a pamphlet.

White Car*
Go On*
The Sea*
Step Up

* Song contains vocals. You've been warned.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

"He was very conscious of his standing in society," my mother said of her father. Besides the maid and the new car every two years, my maternal grandfather's effort to keep up with the Joneses included owning a color movie camera.

Although I would like to go back in time to teach him how to use it, I was no less thrilled to discover a videotape made from those old films, no matter how shaky and wobbly its images.

For her birthday this year, I edited a montage of those films with family photographs. Her reaction to seeing herself as a little girl so many years later shocked her as much as it did me. What also amazed me about her reaction was how it sparked her memory. My mother, bless her heart, forgets clothes in the washer yet she could remember the exact circumstances of a scene shown on 50-year-old film.

Click here to see why the ending choked her up. As always, you need a Quicktime player and a broadband connection to see it.

My father's parents evidently never failed to purchase the school portraits. They also appear to have taken no photos of their own. Good thing Dad did a lot of school activities and saved his yearbooks.

His parents disdain for cameras passed down to him. My parents' marriage has lasted more than 44 years yet the wedding ceremony that marked its beginning was so humble that no one bothered to photograph it. Only in the last five years did they take pictures of the church in Yanceyville, North Carolina where they married.

I try not to fume too much that early pictures of their eldest son (and your humble correspondent) are black and white. Then again, as you will see, so were my dad's.

This is a music montage of pictures bracketed by two shots of Dad hitting golf shots (his favorite pastime). I edited it for their 44th wedding anniversary this past March. Click here to watch it. You will need a Quicktime player and a broadband connection to see it.

If you are not related to me, this one will probably bore you. It's a five-minute film in which I follow my parents to a day at the local horse racing track in Oldsmar, Florida. It will serve as the introduction to a documentary I'm doing about their lives. Rather than begin with their baby pictures, I wanted the project to start with moving pictures of them doing something. Here we get a small sense at least of who they are before I re-trace who they were.

No horses were harmed in the making of this motion picture. Click here to watch it. (If for some reason it won't work, try here instead.) You'll need a Quicktime player and a broadband connection to see it.

I worked in Cincinnati when periodical cicadas made their once-every-17-year visit to parts of the midwest and east. TV stations hyped their pending arrival so mercilessly I wondered how they could ever live up to their billing.

Yet for all the talk, the cicada invasion was still incredible. It took only the short walk from your front door to the car in your driveway for half a dozen of the large black insects to stick to you. And if you had to stand outside for any length of time, forget it. You were covered.

In between the endless string of stories I reported for the station for which I worked, I took my own camera out to capture one of nature's wonders. It turned out well, I think, and I wasn't the only one to hold that opinion. A local film society called Underneath Cincinnati chose it as one of its best films of 2004. Not bad for a one-person-production, if that one person does say so himself.

Click here to watch it on your Quicktime player.

As I learned more about my camera and computer editing, I wanted to tackle more topics. Sports was one. I had offered to cover stories for WCPO's sports department on my own time with my own equipment. If it's a story you'd like to have but not one you'd be able to cover otherwise, let me know, I told them. Nothing ever came up.

So I found something. A local high school official had organized a combine workout like the one the NFL holds for college players each year. The players run the 40 yard dash, test how many repetitions they can do bench pressing 225 pounds and undergo other measurements of their physical size and skills.

Only this one was for high school kids hoping to catch the attention of college teams. WCPO sports director John Popovich said that if I did a story, he would make room for it in a weekly high school sports show the station runs.

That gave me the pretext to ask the combine's organizer to let me do a story about the event. I would do a version for my own portfolio and then edit it to fit whatever length John wanted for his show. The original ran about 4:00. The station's show aired the whole thing.

Click here to watch it on your QuickTime movie player.

I noticed a CD on a co-worker's desk one night and noticed it was the work of a local band. I e-mailed the record label, which was co-owned by the bass player and drummer of the band, and explained what I wanted to do. I did not want to charge them money. I already owned all the equipment I needed. All it would cost is a few hours of their time.

They agreed. And the result was a nearly eleven minute long documentary The Light Wires. Click here to watch it on your QuickTime movie player.

When I worked in Cincinnati I lived across the Ohio River in northern Kentucky. Not far from me was a place called Rabbit Hash. Not even a town, really, it served as a great little getaway place for people winding their way through rural roads in the area.

On an unusually warm November Sunday, I took my camera there looking for a story. I didn't have any idea what I'd find but I wasn't worried. I always find someting. Besides, it didn't have to be anything profound; I just wanted practice shooting with the camera and editing on my computer.

It turned into a clever story lasting about five minutes. Click here to watch it. It's a Quicktime Movie file and you will need a broadband connection to stream the video.

You've probably seen or at least heard about a musical one-man-band. This guy sings, plays guitar, flaps his arms to hit a drum strapped to his back and picks at a bass lying on the floor with his toes.

I don't know what you'd consider this piece. Not only did I shoot and edit all of it, I set it to music that I composed, performed and recorded.

Music and video -- one stop shopping!

When I first got my camera, I did a few projects like this. I'd go somewhere, shoot some video and edit it to music just for the practice. I hope it does not feel too much like exercise if you decide to watch. Click here to do so. You'll need a QuickTime movie player and a broadband connection to see it.