kokopelle: Frank n Furter (frank_n_furter)
“Psychology question. Why is it that the mysterious is so fascinating? Just as an abstract concept. Humans wanting to explore new places and new things. Curiosity, mystery…why?”

The terrible secret is that the mysterious is not fascinating to most people. It is an abstract concept, the frightening plunge outside their lair. These secrets terrify them, pushing them back into pockets of comfortable familiarity. The exceptional humans are the ones that explore new places and new things. The actual mystery is that we’ve stepped outside the cave at all.
kokopelle: Frank n Furter (Frank-n-Furter)
On Father’s Day I have the memories of my still-borne daughter Grace. This is the sorrow, but it is an old sorrow. My current joy, on this day, is to embrace the role of a senior in the dance community. Beyond this, for some, I am a pseudo-father figure.

What am I asked to do in this role? It seems that it’s equal parts providing a voice of reason, guilting (towards relative rightness), providing (in)sanity checks, and providing congratulations when they are richly deserved. Along the way I am challenged to act as a role model, though this is scary as heck given some of the aspects of my life I struggle with.

And what do I get out of this? I feel better about the overall state of humanity, as it’s pretty dark if you follow the news. Connections are made to a wider world, and this is a good thing for a person who seeks escape too often. Lastly, I make a positive impact on the future, that time when I will be passed and my “children” continue on.
kokopelle: Black Cat (Cat - Black)
Seduction is sexy. People want to be wooed, told they are sexy, and that a person wants them badly. It’s human nature!

I also feel dirty, needing a bath, after hearing Corey Gray's cover of "Scream". Why? As alternative as I am, the song disturbs me. Is Corey really that much of a pleasure troubadour? Granted, while Corey sings the song, it's not implied that the song's speaker is singer. It more probable that Corey is describing a hot-to-trot guy dropping his pick-up lines on a target.

What if a person received this invitation? Would it be appreciated? Perhaps, again, who wouldn't want to feel sexy? With that said, these lines reek of being used a few hundred (thousand) times over. How sexy is it to be the hundredth (thousandth) companion of the speaker? Oh... and the whole hunting thing is a turn-off for me. So many sexy "gonna get you" songs have a predatory feel to them, pushing non-consensual contact while having a stalking vibe. That’s my probably true unease, but that’s another story, and my opinion.

"Kill the lights, shut 'em off
You're electric
Devil eyes telling me come and get it
I have you like ooh
Baby baby ooh baby baby
Ah-ooh baby baby ooh baby baby
Girl tonight you're the prey
I'm the hunter
Take you here, take you there
Take you wonder
Imagine me whispering in your ear
Then I wanna, take off your clothes and put something on ya"
kokopelle: (Cat - Bunny Love)
I’m really proud of the dance communities I’m associated with. I would put these groups in the social dance end of the spectrum, distant from the competitive / performance dance world.

Why am I proud? They follow the group inclusion suggestions I found in the article “59 Percent of Millennials Raised in a Church Have Dropped Out—And They’re Trying to Tell Us Why”. These are:

** Create authentic communities with a shared purpose centered around service (dance).
** Create and train a team of CONNECT people whose purpose is to seek out the outliers on Sunday mornings (at dances) or during other events. Explicitly teach people these skills as they do not come naturally to most of the population.
** Stop placing blame on individuals who struggle to get connected. For some people, especially those that are shy or struggle with anxiety, putting yourself out there even just once might be an overwhelming task. We have to find ways to bridge that gap.
kokopelle: Frank n Furter (frank_n_furter)
Answers to a tag regarding my Tumblr poetry blog http://poetryaccident.tumblr.com/

1. Why do you have this blog? What is the purpose of this blog?

I wanted to post my poetry in a location that was poetry-friendly and had a well-established pool of users. I considered starting a WordPress site. A friend pointed me to Tumblr. I uploaded ALL of my poems there and I’ve been updating it on a daily basis since then. I also post opinion blogs, short stories, and “sexy dips” picture sets.

2. What is your opinion of therapy and poetry/writing as a therapeutic tool?

I find poetry to be incredibly therapeutic for myself. I am able to put out the feelings I am having. The obtuse and opaque quality of poetry allows it to be incredibly explicit to myself while being vague to an audience. I also write poetry to tell others that they are not alone. I do this by using phrases and keywords that my target audience should pick up on. Others walk by, mystified at the mad ramblings of the poet.

3. What kind of poetry do you like?

For content, I enjoy when people write from their life experiences. For composition, I am in the lyrical camp. I enjoy a poem that flows well.

4. What do you think is the purpose of poetry?

Poetry is a tool for expressing emotions and thoughts. The words can be focused or blunt. The message can be direct or circumspect. In the end the poet knows the intent, and this is put out to the world.

5. What subject matter would you like to see covered by poetry?

Anything and everything is fair game for subject matter. A poet will tend to write from their life experience. The most impacting works are pulled from their emotional wells. I would love to see poets be brave enough to go there with their poems.

6. What is the purpose of Tumblr?

Tumblr itself can be a meeting place for like-minded people. They can share and see what others are sharing. I write a poem a day. Some days I don’t have an idea at the tip of my pen. My go-to fix is to browse my Tumblr feed and I’ll find inspiration in something a friend posted. It’s also neat to see the “other” side of my friends.
kokopelle: Frank n Furter (frank_n_furter)
College Stripper Journals – The Audition (Plan ADQ)

Some people think the world of the college stripper is fun, games, and eager paying customers. I wish this was the case. Aside from being hard work and long hours, there are difficult clients that took advantage of the struggling artist that has nothing to bring to the table but himself. Rusty and I faced this when a particularly powerful customer demanded free product in the form of auditions. We responded as only the truly emancipated artist can, with colorful cats and blond wigs.

Consider that in the 80s there was no internet. A college town in the Deep South did not have an alternative paper with the “adult entertainment” section. Maybe in Hotlanta you could advertise in “male exotic dancers” sections. That was such a laugh. We didn’t have funds to spend on a collection of Village People outfits. Besides, my housemates would wonder why I had a police officer outfit with rip-away pants in the closet. How I got the rent money was my business! So, aside from a bit of seasonal stage propping, what you saw was what you got, and what we had was advertised by word of mouth.

One of the most productively vocal client bases was also the most problematic. The Greek Houses, fraternities and sororities, were collectively known as “the greeks”. These fine institutions kept us busy between the pre-marriage parties and risque birthday bashes. The greeks’ money was green and the biz was steady. Some greeks were great to work with and others, well, were a necessary evil if the word of mouth was to continue. A particular greek insisted on auditions for their events.

If you think “casting couch” you’re close to the truth. This greedy client basically wanted it for free, complete with show and shake. We usually put in a half-hearted effort and let the gig go to somebody else, usually one of the chip groups. Chip is short for “Chippendale wanna-be”. Damn beefcakes. One year we really needed the money. The next quarter was coming up and there were books to buy! We found out that the greeks were abusing their privilege, and our good nature, by having two chip groups audition along with us two skinny white guys. We had to find a way to prevail without giving away all the goods. Rusty reached way back into his closet to implement our ace card, plan ADQ.

Two blond wigs later, cut to shoulder length, we arrived at the audition dressed in tall white boots, cat imprinted shirts, and white short-shorts. One of the chip groups strutted their stuff, flexing and posing while showing off their loined graces. Like I said, any other time we would have gone through the paces, cutting it short of the big reveal, and then just gone home. This time was different. We were there to take it all, standing side-by-side on as our song’s intro led to “You can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life”. The hair bobbed in a way that would make Scandinavians everywhere proud. What followed was a motion-by-motion mimic of a taped video straight off of MTV. We put hands in the air, swayed side-to-side, lip syncing to the infectious lyrics “You are the dancing queen, young and sweet, only seventeen, dancing queen”. Fun fact, neither Rusty nor I looked like we were seventeen, though I was closer than Rusty given his dark shaggy beard and fake blond hair. We spun around and teased our audience with some hot bun action as we finished the act, “Having the time of your life, ooh, see that girl, watch that scene, dig that dancing queen”.

Did we get the job? Sadly, no. The second chips group did have Village People outfits. Nobody can resist as muscled hunks spell out “Y M C A” while shaking what nature gave them after the outfits had hit the floor. We hung our heads in defeat. Either the chips had much more expensive textbooks or they had gotten wind of our flanking Abba Dancing Queen (ADQ) attack plan. The effort wasn’t entirely wasted. Word got around about our effort and we got steady booking dancing as a show-it-all Abba tribute group. “You’re a teaser, you turn ‘em on, leave ‘em burning and then you’re gone”. You know it baby, with the help of ADQ.
kokopelle: Frank n Furter (frank_n_furter)
College Stripper Journals – Golden Boys (All That Glitters)

Rusty’s affinity for effects sometimes got us in trouble, though at times one does suffer for their craft. I’ll be clear here. There is such a thing as artistic suffering and then there is a humiliation that calls a show short. More on that later, but first you should understand why Rusty went to these lengths to fully satisfy our clients.

The college stripping scene was opening up in the middle 80s. Consider the time. MTV was established with a flamboyant worldview available on the small screen. The astronaut on the moon had given way to a mix of music gravitating between the titillation of Queen to the over the top “fashions” of Headbangers Ball. George Michael had made it OK for guys to be sexy while Prince gave permission for sexual ambiguity. This sounds like peaches and cream, but remember that I was located in the Deep South. The biz was more open than veterans reported in their tales of past woe, but there was still incredible pressure to be incredibly discrete while going big, big, big.

Against this background, and before I reveal our humiliation, I want to put to rest a trope of stripping seen in the movies. The pressure felt on the college stripping scene pushed together teams of strippers. Rusty and I were one such duo. We were somewhere between Queen and Headbangers, leaning to Duckie in Pretty in Pink. Yeah, skinny white guys, no matter the equipment, did not have the visual impact of the muscled “chips”. No, not the guys with motorcycles in California, though Ponch and Jon would have made a good duo. We meant the over muscled dancers seemingly straight out of Chippendales male revue show. The local chips worked in smaller groups, usually no more than three, and mostly consisted of the jocks muscling in, pun intended, on the biz of hard-working amateurs. You have to find humor where you can, damn natural talent. Anyway, I’ve digressed.

My point is that most stripping events were performed by two or more dancers. Why was stripping performed by two or more, with two the optimal number for splitting the proceeds: distribution of labors! I was a few years past nineteen, the supposed height of my sexual drive. Rusty was a little further along given his collegiate career, but with advanced age comes knowledge. He explained life was all about polarities. Remember, he was the philosophical English major. “With the hard comes the soft, with the long comes the short”. My translation: there are good nights and bad nights. The distribution of labors increases the odds that somebody would be on their A game. Both of us is a golden night with many appreciative customers. One of us, well, it was still a good night. The problems developed when we were, in Rusty’s sage words, soft and short. This occurred one New Years Eve week.

We were both under the weather after a grueling week of prior engagements. We considered calling in a chip to help out, but Rusty, being the theatrical type, decided to try out a prop he had been holding back for just an occasion. He figured that it would dazzle the customers and perhaps cheer us onto the hard and long. He had gotten his hands some golden craft glitter. It almost looked like spice, but Rusty explained to me that it was the real thing ready for “the show”. I don’t want to bore you with particulars here given that I’m still vague on the long past incredibly embarrassing topic, but the craft glitter is plastic and not the higher grade polyester. It does not respond well to moisture as it tends to run and clump. With all of this precursor hinting of doom explained, Rusty and I broke out the golden powder for a show.

Before we got to the party we liberally applied the glitter with helping amounts of lube. Our costumes, fitting the time of the year, were Father Time and Baby New Year. Rusty, of course, was the former given his flowing beard. We had a whole “out with the old, in with the new” show planned. Yeah, dazzle them with effects if the plot isn’t fully there. We had to present. Disaster struck after I did my “I am here to relieve you of your place” line with Rusty proudly responding “does it look like I’m spent?”. The great “reveal” had our equipment looking like it was struck with sores placed there by a Midas touch. In addition to that, the golden color had rubbed off all over. It was a gilded horror show. The enthusiasm we had managed to collect in anticipation of the unveiling quickly vanished. I don’t want to share the humiliating attempt we made to recover from this, but suffice to say, the night ended early.

There was an upside. Every cloud has a metallic lining. The incredibly fine nature of the glitter made it very difficult to fully remove even with vigorous rubbing. That led to an interesting challenge for all involved, and several did try. For a few months, our folly made our names shine that much brighter on the stripping scene. The chips may have had their abs, but we had gone through the craft fires to come out brighter on the other side. Fame recouped our spirits and the team was fully at bat. All that glitters is not gold, but we lived it large as the Golden Boys for long enough.
kokopelle: Frank n Furter (frank_n_furter)
College Stripper Journals – Seasonal Allergies (Don’t Ho Ho the Mistletoe)

In the dog-eat-dog world of the college stripping it’s useful to have a kitsch that the clients appreciate. Any Tom, Dick, or Harry can get brave enough to remove a few clothes to reveal what Mother Nature graced them with. That’s not enough to keep the work coming in regular. It’s not that people are shallow when it comes to stripping. Well, that may be an oxymoron. Entertainment by strippers could the height of contradictory terms, but who’s to complain if it’s consensual and money is on the table, or at the least, in the armband. Rusty, my stallion endowed partner in dancing, had his kitsch established before I met him and I was more than willing to ride that pony. His thing was holiday-themed dances.

It seems obvious that holidays should be fully exploited for their money earning potential. This was true at the mall and it was doubly so for us. Before I get into the particulars, and specifically how things can go terribly wrong when pursuing the festive path, I have to say something about the times. It was the middle 80s. There was no internet and Amazon Prime was still decades in the future. Grand ideas were hatched in our fevered minds with the associated the props were sourced locally. The prior year we had done the whole “Santa and his horny elf” gig. You can guess who the elf was. Rusty already had the beard and I, well, was the sprite in pointy shoes and little else. We needed a new idea.

Rusty, the long time English major, was well read, but this didn’t stop him from indulged in pop culture, leading to a fascination with the animated movie “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”. He got a chuckle out of the whole “the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day!”. Yeah, our gig had a preoccupation with such things. Rusty pointed out that we couldn’t stage a Whoville scenario to set up the gag, but then he remembered the part about Grinch stealing the mistletoe, and what if when it was brought back the enlargement was triggered? OK. That was an idea. Rusty could recycle the prior year’s outfit with zero funds outlaid. The only thing we needed was mistletoe.

This was in pre-Hobby Lobby years and we were poor college students. Yeah, we could have purchased fake mistletoe at a florist shop, but who would do that when the real thing grew in trees? Fast forward past two skinny dudes, a rickety ladder, and a near death experience. Mistletoe picking is NOT for the faint of heart. Little did we know that the almost fatal, or at the least wound inflicting, narrowly avoided mishap was karmically waiting in Rusty’s near future. Greenery with berries in hand, we were ready for our event.

Before I tell you what happened I have to explain something that Rusty did for the much appreciative clients. He enjoyed hanging things from his junk. The elf’s fearless leader of year prior featured stockings hung with care. That went over big. On that cherished theme Rusty thought it would be great if he hung the mistletoe above the heads of our clients. I was tasked with celebratory participation underneath. It worked for me given that I was not the “Rod the Mod” of the duo. With seasonal shrubbery in hand we worked the first of what we hoped were several appreciative holiday events.

The mistletoe was featured only once. After a few days recovery Rusty hustled us back to the Santa and elf personas. It wasn’t voluntary mind you. Rusty loved working his plans. The first signs that “mice and men” were in trouble came when Rusty complained of itching around the draped member. I was too busy to pay his comment much mind, but when he went bright red, almost matching his festive hat, I was worried. He began to sweat for no reason, and that was strange given that I was the one doing all the hard work at the time. Then the rash began. Rusty cast off the offending plant as if he was on fire. The night was over. Sadly we hadn’t brought backup stockings, and it was just as well because the clients acted like we had just splashed them with cold water. Yes, we sometimes did that as part of the act, but it was thrown on ourselves and not the paying customers.

Rusty was a philosopher at heart. You have to be if you’re a near-career college student in the liberal arts. He noted that it’s not wise to fool with Mother Nature. The near-fatality with the ladder, razor sharp garden shears, and standing on the rung that’s NOT a step did not bode well for the future. Perhaps it was meant to be. Live and learn. Hang and blister. Darn oils. Some final words, Rusty had a flair for exits. Big reveals lead to these. His final words that night, as he drove away in this Pinto sleigh, was that he would never again ho ho the mistletoe.
kokopelle: Frank n Furter (Frank-n-Furter)
College Stripper Journals – Truly Tease (The Beginning)

When people find out I was a stripper in college they have questions. Yes, I was a male dancer hired to “entertain”. The most forward queries lead to the shortest conversations, such as “do you still strip?”. I’m sure they mean it in jest, given that it’s been quite a few years since those days. It’s time to share, and the best place to start is at the beginning and not the end.

I prefer that we start the inquisition with how I began in the trade. It seems like yesterday even though it was twenty-five plus years ago. Funds were stretched and I had very little time on my hands in between studying for classes like radar theory and numerical analysis. The need to study ruled out typical part-time jobs of grocery bagging or fast-food “would you like fries with that burger?”. I’d tried my hand at immersive oil frying the summer prior to college and did not relish the return to the crispy battered burns. Besides, physics textbooks were difficult to juggle while cleaning grease out of fume hoods. My search for money to spend on something more than ramen noodles was answered by my buddy Rusty who never seemed to lack for a pocket change.

First, let me tell you about Rusty. He was a long lingering English major who should have graduated years before. The college had become the warm womb that my friend relished even while the rest of us wished to leave its embrace. He was tall, skinny, and had more facial hair than the average student. Was he handsome? Perhaps, but only in a Shaggy of Scooby Doo kind of way. We met through mutual friends and became fast buds. Rusty was my mentor and inspiration. I won’t claim to be his Scooby, but I definitely played second fiddle during my collegiate performing years. This rang true in several ways. While I was a little more buff, not by much mind you given I was coming off of years of running competitions, I was downright bulky compared to my friend. He was skinny with big hair, like Tommy Chong of Cheek & Chong. This didn’t matter. Rusty’s fame was the tool of the trade combined with words of wisdom that have rung down through the years. His maxims, jingles for the dancing gigolos, allowed me to prosper even as I wished I had more, down there.

His most memorable instructed me how to carry myself with decorum. This is a fancy word for working a crowd to pile up the tips. Here’s the scoop on the money. You didn’t get much up front and still don’t. The pockets are filled, well, when you have pockets available afterward, by the tipping of appreciative customers. Rusty had looked me over and told me that I had to fully embrace his rule #3, “tease to please”. He explained that it wasn’t about what I brought to the show. It was instead about how I used it during the show. “Imply everything, they create the story”. Well, that’s an English major for you. He explained it was like a paragraph: beginning sentence, the body of the paragraph, closing sentence. The audience handled the middle if I set the mood and road it to the ending, figuratively mind you.

“It’s all about the middle” he would say. That was easy for him to say, but his sage words about the framing of the happy trail ending were gold. “Shave it to show it, shake it to make it” became the outwardly manifesting mantra that I still embrace. When I got tired of the maintenance Rusty would exclaim “don’t hide it under a bush”. Too true! The shaking seemed so much more dramatic with an unobstructed view. The clear-cut was a good combination with my Paul Simon like baby-face. Rusty and I became a compare and contrast duo with something for everyone. I was the bouncy bunny to Rusty’s steady stallion. Not surprisingly this led to my stage name, a persistent shadow that is never shaken no matter how much you do.

I can’t give out Rusty’s stage name. He’s still working the senior circuit. My nickname came from my “making it” motions. I had always been a fan of the movie Bambi, and in particular, its sassy little rabbit. It didn’t take me long to decide to use Thumper, or more often, “Lil’ Thumper” when compared to my partner in crime. To each, their own name, to each their tools. I made the most of the situation, often second fiddle, but somebody’s got to be on the bottom and somebody’s got to be on top.

That’s how I got my start, a few words about my inspiring partner, and a bit about my modus operandi, long for the short of “how I strutted it”. Rusty and I had some good times, made a few bucks, and those years launched me into a realm beyond the bright lights of the conventional world. Ramen noodles were left behind while I discovered how to truly tease.
kokopelle: Frank n Furter (frank_n_furter)
I had an insightful thought while going through the Spring 2016 LEAF photos. I realized why I am so drawn to swing, aside from the creative challenge I have as a lead.

I dance swing like some people dance contra. I don't know why I can't make that kind of energetic connections in "normal" contra. It's not from a lack of trying given that I've been dancing contra for sixteen years. Techno contra is another animal, closer to what I experience in swing. The bottom line is that while It is magical to see a room full of people connecting, It is more magical to do it yourself.
kokopelle: (Professor Chaos - Evil)
“I wish that I could be like the cool kids
'Cause all the cool kids, they seem to fit in
I wish that I could be like the cool kids
Like the cool kids”
– Cool Kids by Echosmith

One of the great things about being fifty one is that there is no pressure to be one of the cool kids. Why? Because I manage to fit in while being a thing incompatible to the cool structure.

Doing what I do, social dance, and being who I am, the old white guy, I inhabit a niche inhabited by very few people. There are a few of us, the older white guys who social dance with the younger crowd. We are kind of like Bigfoot, interesting to discover and a bit scary at the same time. We’d better know how to dance because beyond that there are no redeeming qualities. Dance transforms us from probable letches to acceptable partners. The full social side of dance is limited, if only because we could be fathers to many of the dancers. Dad is the one that drops off the dancers, not the one that hangs out under dim lights to strut the night away. Knowing how to dance is our salvation, a get-out-of-jail card for hanging outside the oldster social group.

I personally add to that the personal vocation, that is to say hobby, of dance photography. I become Bigfoot with a camera, the one that can get that next profile picture of you if the planets align. The scary side is partially ignored because of my obvious utility. So I don’t fit in, only being spotted in the deep woods of Maine, but darn I can get that next dip picture of you. Gold. I’m allowed to be present and accounted for as long as I am snapping pictures. That, and dancing well enough to excuse my attendance.

There is one more way that I’ve managed to fit in while being a singular quality. I write poetry about my life. I write about the ups and downs, the joy of dancing, the insecurities of relationships, and the angst of existence. My ongoing flirtation with the madness of depression is given center state from time-to-time. People walk past these with the same acknowledgment given to a carcass in the road: Blessed Be. These poetic musings are intensely personal while others touch upon a larger shared reality. My relationship with the world of dance becomes the bridge to the shared reality. Expressing the magic of social dance provides a link between myself and other generational worlds as I show that I “get it”.

In the end I hang with the cool kids, and if I squint really hard, I can almost believe I am one of them. At the same time I cannot be one of them, and in this the pressure is relieved. But wait, that may not be truth in Echosmith’s definition. I do fit in, being the person I am, so perhaps I can be an honorary cool kid in the end.
kokopelle: Frank n Furter (frank_n_furter)
I had a gut check on my photographing capabilities. A dance event featured multiple photographers doing their own style of work across the breadth of the weekend. The output of each photographer came out of the weekend, and I found myself second guessing the quality of my work. In the end I overcame this slight angst, happy with the work I had done.

Before I go into the details I must share some observations on dance photography. There are several contrasting techniques that can be used. The first determines if the emphasis of the photo is up close or pulled back. The latter captures the entire dance movement, with the viewer being asked to find an area of interest. The former takes the viewer to specific aspects of the dance while it cuts out peripheral details. I tend to do the big picture photos, trying to not cut off body parts. The second technique is the flash method: direct or indirect. The direct flash puts lots of light onto the objects closest to the camera. They are emphasized while the background is still in relative darkness. The contrast between these parts of the picture can be extreme. An indirect flash requires the light to bounce off of surfaces before illuminating the target. When done properly the room can be filled with light, with contrast between the foreground and background being lessened. I tend to use indirect flash lighting in order to have a “smoother” light treatment of my big picture photos. There are pros and cons to each technique. None are better than the other on the whole. They all require equipment suited for the task and proper application of photography methods during picture taking and after.

Back to my story! One of the venues featured a fairly tall and very dark ceiling. My usual technique of indirect flash was challenged. I still wanted to get the big picture photos. To achieve photos that were not too dark I had to up the ISO setting. I was still getting dark photos, but this could be compensated for in post production work. The focus was not spot on given the depth of field challenge. The depth of field was reduced, leading to photos that were not super crisp. One of the toughest parts of dance photography is maintaining a crisp focus while people move all over the place. I did what I could with the situation, hoping for the best.

Another photographer focused on direct flash and close-up photos in the same venue. Their photos were posted first and my heart dropped. I had done some of mine and the results were not stellar. I had to really work the contrast and brightness to get post-able results. My photos were washed out and blurry compared to the other photographer’s output. I wondered if the organizers had made a mistake in paying me to do the gig. I plodded on.

My confidence returned when I did the second night’s worth of photos at the same flash unfriendly venue. I had used the walls to bounce more light and the photos were better. I also better understood the way Lindy dancers move. These shots better captured the motions of Lindy dancing. Taking a dance photograph is more about taking a picture where the dancers will be instead of where they are now. This means that a dance is a set of sequenced moves. A follows B. Each dance style has its own sequence, and I was better understanding the probable sequence of Lindy. I was much happier with these photos.

The late night photos were even better. I was in my element finally. The first room had a ceiling friendly to indirect flash photography. This compounded with my better understanding of the movement. The second room was flashing dance lights and bodies in motion. This is a very comfortable place for me as I’ve done lots of dance photography under similar conditions. The photos came out very nice, on par with those of other photographer working the location.

In the end I came to peace with the difference in outputs at a location that did not favor my usual photographing technique. An artist cannot excel all the time, under all conditions. Artists have their strengths and their weaknesses, be theses because of preferred styles of working, training, equipment, or all of the above. I was super impressed with the output of my fellow photographer. I am also at peace with the work that I achieved.
kokopelle: (Cat - Noir)
It is ironic that I’ve been meaning to write on the topic of procrastination, and one possible source of this affliction. I had an epiphany of why I delay doing things, and while this does not give me the means to overcome the root of the cause, it does give me a place of consideration.

I attended the 2016 Spring LEAF (Lake Eden Art’s Festival) event. I took lots of good pictures during the Friday and Saturday day and on Friday night. I captured on video the contra flash mob next to the main stage. The photo and video documentation I got would thrill many people. Posting it would honor the dance and arts I seek to promote. I’ve also not done anything with this material yet. Why?

The shadow side of the event was the overwhelming pain I found myself in. Old(er) age has left me with back issues, and these flared up and out across my body. By late Saturday afternoon the only parts of me that didn’t hurt were my head and my forearms. Moving hurt. Sitting hurt. Holding the camera to take pictures hurt. I could dance in short spurts, with adrenaline, joy, and muscle memory pulling me through, but the on the other side I was in that much more pain. I only had low dosage aspirin on me, no “vitamin I”. I took the aspirin with no visible impact. Sadly I did not think to reach out to my friends for something (much) stronger. My bad.

The weekend ended late Saturday afternoon when I packed up the van and made my way home. At the house I took stronger medications and the pain eased. This detour caused me to miss the Saturday night dances and events on Sunday. I don’t regret the choice in retrospect given how much I was hurting, and the exiting allowed me to recover, but I wouldn’t want to do it again.

What does this tale of woe have to do with procrastination? As I mentioned before, I took lots of pictures and video at the event. These were dutifully copied to a hard-drive to await processing. Time has come and gone, with the files not yet attended to. When I consider working with them I meet an invisible wall of resistance, something almost physical that pushes me to another task. Believe me, I always have some photo / video project waiting for attention. The LEAF work should be at the top of the list given the quality and magic of the material, but it takes backseat to less worthy efforts.

The answer to the question of “why procrastinate” came to me one day. The reply was “PAIN”. There is so much pain tied up in the material. The photos / video are joyful, but my experience during the capturing of them was a story of waking distress. The resistance I feel is purely psychological as I am not claiming that I will actually be in physical pain while I work with the material. In fact, I can’t truly “remember” the pain on a conscious level, but there seems to be some “stove hot” reluctance to approach the work. Some part of me is convinced, at an irrational level, that I will hurt again if I go there.

This was an epiphany to me because there are other areas of my life that procrastinate on. They involve cleaning up past situations that were painful, messy, and complicated in a tormenting way. Life would be better if I attacked them head on, but to do so is incredibly difficult. I’d rather end my life than take some of them on, and this is about as irrational as you can get, as well as being life threatening. The phantom pain feels like a wave that would overwhelm me, and to run is the only (in)sane choice I have.

I’m not being paid to put the LEAF photos and videos out. Their publication is based on my willingness. There is no outside prodding by interested parties. The same goes for the big things I procrastinate against. The world seems content to let the pain lay while rot sets in. This is irrational because there are almost always interested parties. Hundreds of people would love to see the LEAF material. I would be a minor hero to some. Yet this is not enough now, as I write this. The imagined wound, the implied suffering, out weighs these very real factors.

In the end I learn from the LEAF experience. It is the tip of the iceberg that threatens my life deep down. I still don’t know how to overcome this, but at least I am aware of the monster I face.
kokopelle: (Dark God)
I wrote the poem "Cute in Diversity" before I realized the full extent of the Orlando nightclub shooting. Diversity, especially in realizing the lifestyle most comfortable to people, is important to me.

The aftermath of the shooting is unfolding. What I see is both sobering, compassionate, disgusting, and tragically human. The sobering part is that the message restated that lbgt people are still persecuted by hate crimes, no matter what a larger (in control) populace would like to think. The compassionate is introduced in the outpouring of sentiments for the victims and their families.

The disgusted appears when the likes of Donald Trump use this for political feed, when too many of his followers secretly praise the gunman for taking this terrible action. It is tragically human, in the most sad way, to know that some number of my fellow humans are inwardly rejoicing while expressing dread at what happened. I pray everyone can see that we are all one hate crime away from being killed. It just takes a person with a moral imperative to do the harm.
kokopelle: (Cat - Bunny Love)
I listen to 1930's waltz music and literally cry with tears in the eyes. A past life connection? I feel such a strong affinity to the underlying sentiment, somehow feeling them deeper than other genres of generational music. Fast forward to modern music, it is little surprise that I am also drawn to the "Deep Dark Indie" channel on Spotify. Emotional response aside, I enjoy dancing to the slower tempo of the music with its opening to languid yet passionate dancing.
kokopelle: Frank n Furter (Frank-n-Furter)
After over six hundred days of poetry I'm finally becoming comfortable with writing free form poetry. The prose form that some people come to naturally has blossomed after I've written nearly seven hundred poems. Why? What is this delay? Why was practice practice practice necessary for me?

The explanation for this is that I came from blogging origins. I originally sought to put my poems into modified sentence form as if they were a mutated paragraph. In time I moved to a lyrical format that approximated free form, but still it wasn't quite there. The time wasn't wasted though! Through poems written day after day I learned about rhythm and rhyming. I learned about when the rules should be followed and when they could be broken with poetic license.

Time passed, the poems continued day after day, and the commas and periods dropped away. Now I am writing, when I chose to, in a free form format. I've rose above my stilted beginnings and backed into a more “professional” presentation through repetition of effort. While this may seem to be a surface transition, so much more has been learned. Perhaps it is more than commas and periods, an end only achieved by practice.
kokopelle: (Cool Mai)
Memorial Day is more than a reason for many to not go to work. Getting beyond this surface impact is aided by a reminder of what is being memorialized. I have my lovely wife, a career Navy veteran, and the benefits of this relationship extend beyond this holiday.

My philosophical leanings are liberal all-and-all. My life tends to be on the alternative side even thought I represent the patriarchal bastion on the surface: white, male, old(er), and (somewhat) affluent. I went the college path and have worked in industry since leaving the ivy halls of Auburn. My spiritual path has strayed from my Catholic roots. I've known my share of really interesting people as my world view was expanded. The total sum could have been a person who aligned with anti-military sentiment. This has not been the case and I would like to share why.

I've never been in the military myself. My grandfather was an artillery officer during WWII. He spoke little of his time in Germany. My father and uncle were in college during Vietnam. I have childhood memories of casualty reports being read by Walter Cronkite. My exposure to details of warfare was limited to the paperbacks of the genre I read during my high school years. The end result was a person who was comfortable about war fare, but still ripe for the anti-military sentiment so prevalent in the liberal world I lived.

My support of the Gulf War (I and II) was suffered due to the conservative plight on policy and the blatant pandering to oil interests. The neoconservative winds scared the heck out of me, but that's a story for another time. In the end I was neutral to slightly negative regarding military actions of the day.

This all changed when I met my aforementioned lovely wife. She has her own liberal leanings, but could be better described as a liberal leaning conservative. As the ying to my yang, my wife shared her many experiences in the Navy. Her career path took her through an arc that started as a Vietnam corpsman to an ending of Naval Reserves administration. During that time she met all kinds of people while both thriving and suffering in an ancient bureaucracy. While she was not in direct combat, she has the reminders of injuries sustained during her career, including helicopter crashes, car crashes, and indirect chemical warfare. She became my touchstone to the military experience, putting a human face on the faceless machine.

I've never been a left-wing liberal. I could have gone there, but perhaps my WASC origins slowed the progression. My spiritual leanings, while alternative, were neutral in respect to my destination. They made me fearful of ultraconservative head winds, but this again is a story for another time. All and all I was a middle of the road liberal, easy pickings for a pull to anti-war sentiments.

This brings me to the point of this blog, the value that my wife brought to my life. The indirect exposure to the military life made me appreciate those things my wife did in defense of her and my country. She is not a faceless aggressor or an evil industrial-military confederation. She shared the struggles experienced by those held accountable to protecting my nation. I became the conservative leaning liberal, complimenting my liberal leaning conservative spouse. My appreciation grew for the sacrifices made by our military branches. The far left wing talk of dissolving the military in order to rain benefits on everyone did not ring true to my ears. I remained a liberal while seeing value to the other side of the line.

I believe everyone would find value in putting a human face on the military. I have my wife. She is willing to speak of her career. Sadly many people cannot by choice. This does noncombatants lesser good than the witnesses believe. It becomes easier to assume that a standing military is evil and wrong. A human face put to Memorial Day allows consideration of life beyond the cookie-cutter memes and dogmatic political sentiments. Find a reason to honor Memorial Day by letting an active solider or veteran know that you appreciate them for their efforts and sacrifice.
kokopelle: (Comment - Vampire Like You)
I love to blog and to comment on other people’s blogs. I’ve been doing it for years, and right now I am blogging at least once daily. Sometimes I struggle with other people’s blogs, and sometimes I am a bad blogger myself. I’ve thought about the this and offer some observations on the challenges of blogging.

** Blogs are too short for the topics presented
There are some topics in the world th...at are VERY complicated, with lots of viewpoints and “facts” floating around. These topics stir emotions, and it is no surprise that people choose to blog on the topics. Unfortunately a blog cannot present or address all the viewpoints of a complex, controversial topic. The comments on such a blog will be diverse, and often off topic relative to the blogger’s preferences.

** Blogs are emotional
Don’t be surprised if blog comments get ugly fast. A commentary blog will draw opinions that either support the blog’s position, fight the blog’s position, use the blog’s position to talk about something similar but different (straw man), or use the blog’s position as an excuse to poke people in the eye.

** Blogs are biased, get a second (or third) opinion!
Blogs are biased because they are a reflection of the bloggers who write them. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but this does puts reader in the position to do a sanity check the information presented. I recently ran into this. There were several blogs about communication. I sensed a biased view, one that was smaller than the big topic being presented, but did not have a fully vetted frame of reference to say much. I had to check my priviledge! I ended up asking two people who had fully informed frames of reference, and found out that I was mostly correct in my reading of the blog.

** Blogs preach to the choir
Blogs are sometimes meant for a very select audience, one that agrees with the blogger. Blogs can be written to speak to a specific culture or sub-group. This works well when the blog is on a personal blogging site, and people who see it are those who frequent the site and share an opinioin base. In this day and age a blog is often blog is set free amongst the believers and unbelievers. A blog written for the “choir” is often short, emotional and biased. These blogs assume the audience knows the facts and agrees with the sentiment. These blogs are challenging to talk around because the frame work does not support good discussion.

** Blogs can be dead wrong
A blog’s “Facts” and statistics can be dead wrong, or wrong enough to invalidate them from meaningful conversation. Remember that there are three kinds of liars: liars, outrageous liars, and experts (credited to Robert Griffin). Most of the time bloggers don’t mean to be a liar. It does happen, especially when facts and statistics are borrowed from other sources. Other times blogger cherry-pick their facts. They aren’t wrong, but they don’t represent the big world. If you are reacting to a blog, and question the facts presented, than by all means check them out. You may find that there are three sides to the argument: theirs, yours, and the larger truth.

** Blogs can be traps – beware!
My lovely wife preaches this one. Some blogs are out-and-out trolling traps set to snare the unwary. Other blogs are there to feed the ego of the blogger. Treasure the sincere blogs and be very wary of the blogs that help no one, except perhaps the blogger!

** A shared blog is problematic – the original poster is missing from the conversation
This is a personal sore point for me. I’ve shared blogs before. A person says something I agree with and I want to share it with like minded people. This becomes problematic when the blog has one of the shortcomings I’ve already shared. The shared blog may be too short, biased, have questionable facts, or so on. The original blogger is not available to answer questions or clear up what is being said what / where / when. This can stop a good commenting conversation in its tracks when a critical point can only be addressed by the original blogger.

** A meme is not a blog
This is another personal sore point for me. A meme, a picture that presents a position / statement, embodies all the possible pitfalls of blogging: too short, often emotional, preaching to the choir, biased, questionable facts, BIG TRAPS, and the original meme creator is often, far far away from the resulting fire storm.
kokopelle: (Shake - That's What it Does)
Background (From internet sources)

Following a whirlwind of controversy and a few weeks in the headlines, Brendan Eich is resigning as Mozilla's chief executive officer. Eich had only been chief of the company behind popular web browser Firefox for a very brief term. Mozilla had been searching for a new CEO since Gary Kovacs, who came on-board in 2010, departed almost a year ago. But it soon came to light, or rather resurfaced, that Eich had made a $1,000 donation to the campaign supporting Proposition 8 amid the 2008 Presidential election. Prop. 8 sought to ban same-sex marriage in California. Although he initially rebuffed criticism about his donations and politics, Eich soon expressed sorrow "at having caused pain" to Firefox users offended by his donation. Those sentiments weren't nearly enough for Internet users and even Mozilla's board members alike -- three of whom were initially reported to have jumped ship over Eich's appointment. According to Firefox's memo on Thursday, Eich has chosen to leave the company on his own versus being fired.

This situation has drawn a lot of comments from all sides. Cries of “leftist anti-free speech” have gone up. There has been a backlash against QLBTQ groups for pursuing persecution of Brendan. On the other hand there has been righteous anger directed at Brendan for helping finance one of the most polically bitter attacks on gay rights. That’s the big picture.

The small picture is one of tribal contracts. I found this summed up very nice in a blog comment I saw:

There are lots of companies where a guy who opposes marriage equality can get a CEO gig, it's just that Mozilla is not one of them. The fact is that the high-tech industry has an inordinate number of LGBT people working in it, and I'd go so far to say that the "open source community" has an even higher per capita percentage. If your CEO is so against a core-issue of that community that he's willing to contribute a grand to outlaw it, you've got a problem. PETA would never hire a factory farmer as CEO, nor McDonalds would ever hire a vegan. This guy walked into the job having alienated a core, vocal component of his users, and so his position was untenable.

Dig deep into this story and you’ll find that the Mozilla employees waged a coordinated Twitter attack on their CEO. The above comment hit the nail on the head when it speaks of a company's CEO needing to be in sync with the employees. Do have otherwise is to promote dissention in the ranks. Normally the bad apple is the minion employee. This time the CEO was not aligned with the values of the organization. Rules that work for a large group break down at the tribal level, and visa versa. An important thing to remember!
kokopelle: (ATHF - Shake)
I went out today and got some books on Wordpress. I have plans to take my blogging quasi-professional. I'll still post here, with the cream of the crop going to the wordpress site. And... it is good knowledge to have in this social media mad world.


kokopelle: Horse Totem (Default)

September 2017

      1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
1718 19 20212223


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 21st, 2017 10:42 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios