Saturday, May 31, 2014

Tenor, Baritone, Bass

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I can't verify that these singers at the Ren Faire represent these specific ranges of the male voice - I was making photographs, not video - but, hey, I got home really late yesterday and I needed a quick post.                     

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Friday, May 30, 2014

Third Eye

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We had a different fire eater yesterday. This man is a metal craftsman. He and his crew make these chain-mail juggling balls. They will make you a sword if you want them to.

The caption was chosen partly because the second comedy bit on yesterday's link was The Adventures of Nick Danger, Third Eye. Audio sample here.

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Firesign Theatre

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Is anybody out there old and wacky enough to remember Firesign Theatre, the brilliant, surrealist comedy group from the 60s and 70s? That's what this image from the Ren Faire made me think of. Their deeply-layered, complex audio recordings rearranged my synapses and changed my life. Really. I will never forget the first time I heard them, on a cassette riding around Passaic, New Jersey, with my sister's boyfriend. (That was weird enough.) If you want to know what I'm babbling about listen to this. Two productions, the second of which starts at 28:12.

But I digress. The association carried me away. These are better fire eater pictures than the ones I got at the Shakespeare In The Park green show. Great light, more dramatic. I forgot that I had a polarizing filter on my telephoto lens. Probably wouldn't have put it on if I thought about it but I'm glad it was there.           

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

My Next Career

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If I ever get to retire (there is some discussion but it's not imminent) I might supplement my savings with a photographic specialty: portraitist of eccentrics, crackpots and the genuinely weird. They are so interesting and I can talk to them so easily. (Those of you who know my job can guess why.) Plus, I owe a lot of this to my high regard for Diane Arbus

More often than not, eccentrics love to pose. They delight in the attention. All you have to do is be interested in them. You probably figured out that this young lady was at the Renaissance Faire. Not much to do with 15th and 16th Century Europe but then there's no history exam.                  

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014


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What can you say?

I mean, you round a bend in a trail and there, face to face with you, is a two-legged horse wearing a hoodie. And his friend.

Must mean it's the season for the St. Louis Renaissance Faire and its associated silliness. Even Madeleine was dressed up as a fairy.

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Monday, May 26, 2014


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Kids, don't try this at home. Leave it to Juggling Jeff.                                

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Madeleine Monday
First trip to the St. Louis Art Museum.

Madeleine vs Rothko

Madeleine vs. Mark Rothko

Madeleine vs Judd

Madeleine vs. Donald Judd

Score: 0 - 0

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Danger In The Glen

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A peaceful evening in the park? Not necessarily. Juggling Jeff warms up his solo act with brutal knives. Not everyone reacts with fear.

This is the only Jeff picture I've had time to edit so far. More tomorrow, I hope.              

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Fire Eater

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Josh Routh, one of the entertainers in yesterday's post, showing some of his many talents. I suppose (I hope) someone has to teach you to do this. It's hard to imagine what it's like the first time you try it yourself. Not much room for error.

I had a heck of a time getting that guy with the point-n-shoot in the first picture out of the frame. It occurred to me to form a group, the National Association of People Who Walk Into My Photos, or NATWIMP, invite them all on a free cruise, get them on a ship and leave them there until they find a friendly port in Paraguay.                       

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Friday, May 23, 2014

Jeff And Josh

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Juggling Jeff and Josh Routh of Circus Kaput (just love that name) are fixtures at the pre-Shakespeare green show and, in fact, at events all over town. Jeff also juggles knives and skips rope (not at the same time) while standing on a big ball. Josh is a fire eater. Both of them put on fake English accents and banter with with the crowd, sometimes to the point of very funny harassment. They know me well. As I took the second photo, Jeff shouted in a sarcastic tone, "well, did you get it?" Yes.

We will have a bit of each of them individually. The best pic I ever took of them together is this one.                                          

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Thursday Arch Series

Arch Is Open

These billboards have appeared on all the major highways as you approach downtown. Why? The Arch has been open since 1966. I think the reason is that the streets around the monument are a complete mess while the huge renovations of the area are in progress. Some of the ideas are great and some are breathtakingly idiotic. Access on and off the highways to the river side of downtown is much more difficult. Evening rush hour traffic is awful when the Cardinals have a night game because you have to drive right by the stadium to get to most of the entrance ramps. People may believe that you can't get there from here. Bad planning and execution.                      

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Bard of Avon vs. Drummer of Tokyo

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We think of Shakespeare as so very English. Entertainment in this nation of immigrants comes from all over the world. So it's not surprising that part of the green show diversions was Japanese.

Osuwa Taiko is the local troupe performing a traditional Nihongo art. It's hard to sit or stand still when they perform (except for the fact that I am the clumsiest person you may ever meet). The rhythms are as complex as any you may hear in Africa or Brazil. The energy is - well - above my current capacity.

The drummers bellow Japanese words at peak moments. Now, my Japanese is more than nothing but less than something. I once introduced myself to a rural hotel clerk in reasonably correct Japanese, a very simple thing to do. He bellowed at me: sugoi!  Which means amazing! Even though I couldn't understand a damn thing he said after that the connection felt so good.

Apologies for so few comments this week. When we start law school in the US they teach a bunch of old English legal aphorisms. One of them says that the law is a jealous mistress. She's really biting my ass this week.                          

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Variety Show

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The green show before the performance of Henry IV was eclectic, as always. This one featured the high school kids seen yesterday playing spin the bard; some of their friends doing a twenty minute staged synopsis of the show; belly dancers; Japanese taiko drummers; plus Josh Routh of Circus Kaput and Juggling Jeff, seen here many times before, both separately and together. They will all stop by here.

The belly dancers tried to get the little girl in the pink jacket to swing and sway with them. She either didn't get it or wasn't having any. There's time.                              

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Monday, May 19, 2014


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It was quite pleasant at Shakespeare Glen in Forest Park before the sun went down Saturday night. Ninety minutes before the start of the performance the company puts on what is called the Green Show, a variety of entertainment to warm up the audience while they enjoy their picnic suppers. I have tried to find the origin of the term green show without success. Thespians, any help?

Readers outside the US may not get the reference in today's title. Wheel Of Fortune is a very long-running, very popular and completely inane TV game show. The version in the park delivers something better than washer-dryers and trips to Hawaii. This group of students stopped in front of the woman sitting next to Mrs. C while I was off shooting the taiko drummers (more about which later). You could spin the wheel or make a request. The contestant got tragedy. The young lady in the glasses recited something lugubrious from King Lear. My wife wanted to ask for a sample of A Midsummer Night's Dream to lighten the mood but the teens were off to their next stop.                          

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Sunday, May 18, 2014

The More I Think About It . . .

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Late post today. We were out last night at opening night of our Shakespeare In The Park festival. Great production of Henry IV (they're doing Henry V, too) but it was so cold that we left at intermission. When we got home I started to prepare this but fell asleep over my laptop. It gets harder to keep the batteries charged, doesn't it? 

This is more of the light show in Union Station. The good news is that it's likely to pull people in and spend some money. The shopping/dining area under the train shed adjacent to the main building has been a flop. Not enough traffic. it was never enough to be a destination. Most of the original tenants left and what remains is tawdry. The display on the barrel vault might help.

On the other hand, it wrecks the grandeur of the space. If you look at the link in yesterday's post, you see something nearly perfect. The red chairs and elegant club-head lamps are gone. The new seating is gray. There is a column at each end of the hall holding light projectors. They often block the view of the ends of the barrel vault, so beautiful in their symmetry. For comparison, think about the effect of such a show in other grand interior spaces, like the dome of the U. S. Capitol or inside the spiral of the Guggenheim Museum.

So money and mass taste win again, but without the money the building would never have been restored in the first place.
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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Light Show

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Take a look at this post about Union Station from three years ago. Just a stunning space. The hotel got a new owner a couple of years ago that made another large investment in the property. The Great Hall has been redecorated - not for the better IMHO - with a big, unexpected addition. For 4 or 5 minutes at every hour a light show is projected onto the barrel vault. It was somewhere between spectacular and cheesy. I admit to being fascinated but afterward if felt very inappropriate to the dignified grandeur of the room.

I'll be running with this a little further. You can form your own opinion.

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Friday, May 16, 2014


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We move inside Union Station. It was the world's largest and busiest passenger rail station when it opened in 1894. (Not any more! Ever been to Sinjuku in Tokyo?) This stained glass window is over the main street entrance. It is an allegory of the American railways with San Francisco on the laft, New York on the right and St. Louis in the middle. 

The Great Hall has been transformed in a recent renovation (not that it was bad before). More about that tomorrow.

I got some time to walk around downtown Indy at lunchtime today and I was impressed. Modern, attractive and with many facilities. It's the center of Indiana state government and that seems to provide a steady economic anchor.                                 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

In Your Face

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Hello from Indianapolis. It is a city in our region, four hours drive away, which is modest by Midwestern standards. It's someplace I have driven through many times going back east but not a place I really know. Downtown, where my conference is, is less derelict than central St. Louis, but has little interesting architecture, less spunk, no Arch and no Mississippi River. It's nice and plain.

So this is another image from Train Day at Union Station. I don't understand juggling, being the least coordinated person I know. Their art is magical to me.                 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Do Not Text While Standing On Railroad Tracks

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Our old railway terminal, Union Station, is one of the grandest buildings in the US, IMHO. It's been on the blog a number of times. They had an event last Saturday they called Train Day, marking the centennial of the driving of the Golden Spike, joining railroad lines from the east and west coasts. A transcontinental network was created.

Among other things, they had lots of train cars and locomotives you could climb through. The Missouri Highway Patrol was there, promoting safety at street-railroad crossings. The banner in the top photo is a bit over the top. Anyone who meets her end while standing on railroad tracks, back to the direction of travel, oblivious to the roar of an oncoming engine while texting should be nominated for the Darwin Awards.

I have to drive to Indianapolis on this cold, wet morning  There is a professional conference in my legal specialty through the rest of the week. Might cut into my posting and comment time.                            

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Icons Of Cherokee Street

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Seen on the walls and windows of Cherokee Street during the parade and festival. The portrait of Nelson Mandela is new since I last stopped by, possibly put up after his death. So beaming, so charming for a man who faced such harsh challenges.

The second image is harder to understand. It's the window of a home. What's the relation between the word Jesus and the elegantly dressed boy?  Is it a heartbreaking memorial or just two things important to the homeowner? We'll never know.                                

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Madeleine Whatever Day I Get Around To It

Not quite ready for yesterday's wrestling matches.

Monday, May 12, 2014


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As I understand it, state and federal law prohibits mass entertainment in the form of death matches between gladiators and wild animals. So, America has to improvise. We came up with so-called professional wrestling, which gives viewers a similar thrill without any real danger to the participants. This is a down-scale version but you get the idea.

That's not to say, though, that we don't have some spectacles with real risk of horrifying injury. Think of Joan Rivers' plastic surgery, the National Football League and riding motorcycles.
Love that inflatable "alien" in the right rear of some of these shots. Welcome to our world.                          
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