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Monday, 18 January 2010


My previous favorite Favre moment was when (the insane) John Randle jumped on him well after a play was over. (*tweet* 15 yards) But that was mostly because I had been screaming "Someone hit him!" for about 2 quarters.

Oh, and picked up this yesterday ...

favre cupcake

We (U.K.)have a TV show called "Grumpy Old Men" Don't know if you get it over there but I think you qualify.

Paul Mc Cann

Thanks for the sad news about Dennis Stock, Mike. I'm going to go and spend some time withy my still slip-covered copy of "Flower Show". Given the saturated colors, I'm not sure it's your cup of tea, but it was responsible for my purchase of a 500mm mirror Zuiko back in the day.

- Tim

I haven't watched a football game since the Ice Bowl in 1967. It was the quintessential game, and everything since has been derivative. And who came up with the term "play action"? That's what used to be called a "fake."

31 days until pitchers and catchers report.


I think your story on the Bruce Rogers 'Montaigne' gave me chest pain. I'd love to own that particular item; it's exactly the kind of book I collect.

My collecting has always involved serendipity, mostly meandering through dusty 'used & rare' bookstores in rural towns where the occasional treasure was to be found, a few decades ago. Back then, book collecting rewarded diligence and knowledge more than wealth. If you were willing to scour the groaning back corner shelves of small shops run by elderly proprietors in remote locations, and if you knew your books, you could pick up really nice collectible volumes for peanuts. Sort of an intellectual sport; the dollar value was basically secondary.

Things have changed, unfortunately. Now every bookstore's high-end goods are listed on the Internet, where they go to the highest dollar. All four of the excellent but small 'used & rare' bookstores in my area are effectively gone. The best closed when its elderly owner got sick; two were taken over by their owners' children, who promptly sold off everything worthwile on-line, leaving only Readers' Digest editions. The last was reconstituted by the founder's son as an exclusively Internet-based dealer; the biggest wallet wins.


Re: Football: Yuh, me too. I think I'm outgrowing my football fanship with a little help from my local, languid Chicago Bears. The only game I watched this past playoff weekend was also the Cowboys-Vikings game. My emotions were solidly behind the Vikings partly because I wanted to see that old man ring the bell one more time, partly because the Vikes are in our division, but mostly to see that deadpan expression on Jerry Jones's face as he stands on the sidelines realizing that his $1.1 billion investment fell short of buying a championship this year. Fox Sports graciously provided that shot with 10 seconds on the clock.

Re: Dennis Stock: Don't feel bad for not being more aware of his work. Unlike, say, Bill Claxton (who also died recently), Dennis Stock seemed to keep his name much further in the background. Being a film buff (with similar gusto as you are a bookworm -- I typically watch over 700 films each year) I became somewhat aware of Mr. Stock's wonderful work through his Hollywood imagery, I believe that his image of Miles Davis (which I was delighted to find on the NYT tribute gallery) is the best jazz image I've ever seen. (Although when I first saw it I was not aware of the photographer's name.) I think Dennis Stock was just a talented, skilled workman of photojournalism who preferred to keep his subjects, rather than himself, in focus. Magnum's membership has actually been populated by more Dennis Stocks than the loud, ambitious egotists that it's become more renowned for today.

Dennis Stock's last words in "Flower Show": "Via the camera, I enjoy life a great deal."

- Tim

I knew Dennis Stock a little when I was a kid, although I didn't know much about him. He lived in the town I grew up in and was very politically active, as I was then. I thought he was really cool, but I realize now that he was also very abrasive. Fearless in calling out people he thought were hypocrites, some might say tactless. Perhaps he'd have been more well known if he'd been less 'difficult', more 'effective'. He might also have been less true to himself. I don't know - there's a lot of food for thought there.

Vikings. Bwwwaaaahahahahahaha. Wonder what Favre could have done if he'd played with a decent team all those years? Fact: too much cheese slows you down.

No, football *is* a subtle game. Television broadcasters aren't subtle. What would you prefer, soccer?

I tried those slideable camera straps. They're wonderful. I no longer use them, and went back to the Upstrap on everything.

JC from St. Paul (at least until the New Orleans game. Then I may be from Pasadena.)

Actually, there were rumors that if Jay wasn't given the 10 pm show he was going to take over Kimmel's late night spot and if Jay wasn't given the 11:30 spot he probably would've gone after Kimmel's timeslot.

I'm with CoCo.

Mike I couldn't agree with you more on the camera strap. I Just want one more thing, nothing hard mind you, just a quick release UpStrap that doesn't leave anything on the camera body when taken off. Those dangly plastic pieces are more than I can stand, forever in my way. I know, it's always something.

Not that you have the time for a movie, but there is a nice 1986 film titled "84 Charring Cross Road" starring Anthony Hopkins and Anne Bancroft. She is a NY collector of used books and he plays a London dealer just after the end of WWII. The film centers around their correspondence over several years and is a true story. You might like the many references and insights about book collecting.

and what is up with UNPhotographical? just stupid?

Kimmel's remark about having a family to feed was most probably a mocking reference to NBA player Latrell Sprewell's comment during a rant about his contract, he blurted out that he had a family to feed. His salary that year was $14.6 million. Since then it has become the tongue in cheek quote toward any rich entertainer (sports figures are also entertainers) that begins to whine about their situation.

The Sun-Sniper seems a remarkable piece of equipment--by the look of the pictures on the website it appears to be able to transform users from middle-aged men of girth into slender young women. Speaking as a MAMOG getting tired of his identity, I would be very pleased with this and ordered one immediately.

If I may add another thought and a rant on a Monday evening...

I saw a European photo competition asking for photos of people. Well, I've got a couple and the competition looked good enough so I decided to enter. As usual with such things, it was difficult to choose the photos. But it was not a problem.

After I uploaded the photos, the site crashed. I have no idea if the photos were uploaded. A couple of acquaintances had the same problem, with different browsers, so it's not just me. But it's not a problem.

The problem is this: after the possibly failed upload, I took a closer look at the photo requirements. I obviously skimmed them the first time, but now a closer look revealed they ask for a "written consent from any individuals depicted in the photographs submitted".

I thought it funny when Jeremy Clarkson ranted about "nanny state" in Top Gear, but this is utterly, utterly ridiculous.

Do they really expect every photographer to carry a sheaf of consent forms and run to every person after he or she takes a photo, to get the form signed?

Or do they really expect me to track down somebody I photographed three years ago in Istanbul and get him to sign a consent form?

I found out today that European Court of Human Rights had a case where they judged privacy was breached just by taking a photograph, before any publication, but that was about an infant in a hospital, not about adult people in public spaces. Nevertheless, it appears they decided the Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights as well as Directive 95/46/EC refer to somebody's image, too.

If that's true and if they decide to uphold the directive strictly, we can all go hang ourselves, as my grandmother used to say. There is nothing we can do. There is no more street photography. There is no more documentary films and videos. Possibly even the news photography is in danger. You won't be able to take a photo of your family outside because you might need to get a consent form from somebody who stood behind them.

In fifty years, nobody will know what the everyday life looked today, unlike us who know what life looked 50 years ago. We have the old street photographs. They won't.

Don't mind the earth trembling. It's just all those dead famous street photographers spinning in their graves.

I did like the pictures on the Sun Sniper website - one fellow pictured has a beer gut almost as big as mine. The have a range called "straps for girls" but they seem reluctant actually to name the other range as "straps for fat ba****ds". Oh well...

I just wish a touchdown was actually a touchdown. Otherwise, why not just call it 'breaking the plane?'

"Suggesting that people read Montaigne is like telling kids to eat their spinach."

Well, I eventually got to enjoy my spinach and, some fifteen years and as many notebooks after first writing down and underlining "Read Montaigne", I finally pushed the button. Thanks for the nudge. I was just thinking that if books (like Taleb's The Black Swan—which manages to be excellent despite very weak editing) had little Amazon links in them, I'd have hit the Montaigne button a long time ago; it can't be long till the Kindle and the forthcoming Apple whatsit remove one more barrier to instant gratification with inline links. Frightening but inevitable, I suppose.


What Jimmy Kimmel said about having a family to feed?

That was what's known as a "joke". He's a comedian. The audience knows that neither his nor Conan's families are in any danger of starving. That's kind of the point.

Kimmel's comments might have come as a surprise to you, but probably not to Leno. They're the kind of jokes that are fairly typical of a Friar's Club roast -- but tamer. Leno presumably knew he was setting Kimmel up with questions like "what show would you like to host?" Comedy comes from aggression, and Leno is no exception. He has made any number of jokes in the past week about Letterman (a sworn enemy) having sex with his interns.

As for Conan's "greedy play" -- well, a deal is a deal.

>And finally, You can find anything on the web: Michael David Murphy's UNphotographable blog. We all have some things like this in our heads, I'm sure, but this is ridiculous!

Actually, this is a clever bit of creative writing by an astute observer of daily life. It's really more about seeing than photographing. I found it to be a very entertaining and thoughtful read.

Ah, football. I don't know whether it's that over the years I've become more concerned with other aspects of life or that the games have gotten less interesting in general, but now it seems that an exciting football game is about as common as a double rainbow. What makes it worse, and what makes me just about swear off football altogether, is that the league forces the networks to play their pre-assigned games, even if that game is a 44-3 blowout in the second quarter.

That said, what do you expect of a game where these massive physical specimens slam into each other for 59 minutes, and who wins or loses is then decided by whether the puny little guy can kick the ball straight for 50 yards?

"It's really more about seeing than photographing. I found it to be a very entertaining and thoughtful read."

Me, too.


Have to disagree with your view on Conan. After years of paying his dues, he decided he should ask if/when he might get a promotion. Seems like a fair question to me. He wasn't going to be second banana forever, and so if NBC wasn't going to eventually give him a promotion he was going to leave at the end of his contract for greener pastures. Again, seems fair to me. He was told arrangements would be made, they were, and eventually gone back upon. That part doesn't seem so fair.

You say that the whole late night mess is Conan's fault. Well, I suppose you could fault him for asking NBC to give him the show he's dreamed of hosting all of his comedic, talk-show life. Oh wait, I think that's called ambition.

Don't forget, Jay AGREED to let Conan take the Tonight Show. The reason people are upset with Jay is because he isn't holding to that agreement.

"Don't forget, Jay AGREED to let Conan take the Tonight Show."

But I don't think he did. I think he was told by his employers that that was the way it was going to be.



Frankly, I think you are presuming that he only said what his employers told him to. You and I will never really know.

What I do know is what he actually said:

Jay's 2004 Announcement About Conan

Still enjoy football, but the "analysts" try my patience. Besides hearing most of them say "Team A can't defense their goal from Team B" (whatever happened to "defend"?) and such like, I actually heard one of them -- I think it was Boomer -- refer to those unfortunate people in Hatia (Hay'-shuh). You know, where Haitians come from.

Related to the above, and to your earlier post about reading, you might enjoy http://johnemcintyre.blogspot.com/2010/01/bliss-of-ignorance.html. His posts are usually both erudite and entertaining.

As for reading 50 books a year, where do you find the time? My day job keeps me busy an inordinate number of hours/days/weeks per year. Seriously gets in the way of my passions (all things natural-history related, followed closely by photography and jazz). And in my case, it occurs to me, reading is less a passion than an adjunct to my passions. When I have time to read, it's great natural-history writing for me. Agree with Thoreau and with Aldo Leopold. Edward Abbey is always entertaining, insightful, and thought-provoking. But my hands-down favorite contemporary essayist -- and writer in general -- is David Quammen. Try some of his essays in the various compilations, such as Wild Thoughts from Wild Places and Natural Acts: A Sidelong View of Science and Nature. His very best work to date in my opinion is Song of the Dodo (not a collection of essays, but a masterpeice of the genre).

Regarding sliding camera straps: If you really want to be cool, check out Gordy's Sling Straps:


Unlike the Sun Sniper site, Gordy is careful to point out that the camera is not included with the strap. Although, Sun Sniper may have mentioned that, but my German isn't that proficient!



Keep mentioning books - I for one *love* spinach.

Fault line: if people were more understandable in their behavior and loves and hates, perhaps it would make sense, but it seems that the more trivial a thing is, then the more excitable people can become on the importance of it when it is only trivial and only entertainment and has no real lasting value.


Football commentary has always been inane. A certain well-known football commentator (who regularly sounds as though he were drunk when calling the Super Bowl) began his pre-game analysis for the Super Bowl a few years back by saying, "OK. What you're going to see today are some running plays and some passing plays." I should have turned off the TV right then. For what it's worth, though, I miss football. Not so much professional football, which I never cared about all that much, but college football. It has lost some of its lustre as it has become more professional and as certain schools have come to dominate, but it still captivates the heart and the imagination. College football is the only sport I really miss over here in the UK...

I use the Sun-Sniper, and I think it is great. It lets me move freely and keep both hands free (a necessity when pushing a twin baby carriage) without my neck or shoulder getting tired. But I have to admit that I have doubts about their claim that it was "inspired" by the US Cavalry Carbine 1885 Sling. I may be mistaken, but I believe California Sunbounce used to be a distributor for the Black Rapid R-strap (http://www.blackrapid.com/). I'll let you come to your own conclusions as to the source of their inspiration.


The Internet is angry at Jay for one main reason: Very few young people like Jay Leno at all, and young people are the angriest people on the Internet.

Maybe it's my youth, but I also side with Conan. Setting aside that the Tonight Show under Leno was a cultural trainwreck*, NBC, in a position of strength, agreed to move Conan to the earlier time slot. And when ratings slipped, they didn't stick by him like they stuck with, say, Leno when he was losing to Letterman in the early '90s.

*Leno may have been #1 in ratings, but popularity doesn't mean you're good. Hee-haw ran for over 20 years and there were [at least] five Police Academy sequels.

"Leno may have been #1 in ratings, but popularity doesn't mean you're good."

What you say is borne out in my household. My son (about to turn 17) doesn't like Leno or Letterman at all. And, truth be told, I guess I only like Letterman because I remember his show from the '80s. He's a guy who should have retired long ago.

As far as I can tell the only hosts that do actual monologues are Craig Ferguson and Ellen Degeneres on her daytime show. The rest of them stand there and recite lame and predictable jokes without even pretending that they're thinking them up as they speak.

You know what I miss? Talk shows. Talk shows took a nosedive in quality when big conglomerates that also own movie studios took over the networks, so that now all we get are a ceaseless parade of actors hawking their latest movies. ACTORS ARE DULL PEOPLE. Yes, there are exceptions, but most of them don't have a damn thing interesting to say. I'd almost rather watch interviews with people pulled at random off the street; at least you'd encounter some surprises that way, occasionally.

In the old days talk shows used to bring on all sorts of people, from all walks of life, with every sort of expertise, not excluding people who were simply the host's real friends. It wasn't always successful but when it was, it could be lively and entertaining. And there was variety, something for everybody. And hosts actually listened to what their guests had to say. Now all we get are dull actors and hosts who have to act manic and inject their own schtick into everything in order to keep any sort of pulse in the proceedings. (This is Conan's only real skill.) I'd love it if there were just ONE talk show that just brought on interesting guests and to hell with the promotional tie-ins from movie studios.


re. Football: As a lifetime Cowboys fan (mostly against my will these last 20 years), I promise you this: Jerry Jones is the Devil.

re. Camera Straps: I sure miss the old skinny leather Leica straps that worked equally well on a IIIF or a Nikon F.

"You know what I miss? Talk shows. Talk shows took a nosedive in quality when big conglomerates that also own movie studios took over the networks, so that now all we get are a ceaseless parade of actors hawking their latest movies. ACTORS ARE DULL PEOPLE. Yes, there are exceptions, but most of them don't have a damn thing interesting to say. I'd almost rather watch interviews with people pulled at random off the street; at least you'd encounter some surprises that way, occasionally."

Hear, hear, Mike! Precisely my thoughts and feelings on the subject. There was a time when there were actors who were far from dull, limited people and who were very interesting to watch. But those days are past. Our best acting talents rarely agree to appear on talk shows...they don't need to. Plus, even the best of today's acting talents are pretty dull compared to those of yesterday.

Don't defer any activities waiting for a new Dick Cavett Show. (Although he does still write occasional wonderful essays, often memoirs of his notable shows, in the New York Times!)

Never heard of a team called Cowboys.
Is it comparable to Football Club Barcelona, Real Madrid, River Plate, Sparta, Olympique? Or does it play in minor leagues?

O: )


I stopped using a neck strap. In studio, a strap gets in the way. Outdoors, the camera is either in my hand, secured with a hand strap, or in my messenger bag. I don't like to have the camera bounce around on my belly.

If I have to use a strap, I like the skinny one that Pentax used to include with the K1000. My second choice is Domke's strap, which I used for a decade.

Conan is more popular with the younger set but I don't think it helps him in his new slot because NBC will probably never let him do the weird things he did in the 90's and David Letterman did in the 80's. I could be wrong but I won't find out because I don't care to watch talk shows. I don't think the youth care about talk shows either which will hurt Conan. Like you said, these days it's all just movie companies planting there actors on the show to publicize plonk. In my formative years I watched Conan occasionally so he's got a place in my heart. He also wrote for the Simpsons back when it was actually funny and he wrote what I consider the greatest episode of the Simpsons ever: the monorail episode.

When Jay was asking to come back before his 10 deal, my wife saw an interview of Jay him conducted by Brian Williams in which she says Jay was irritating and egotistical claiming that any network would give him millions of dollars to host a talk show. Yet he kept repeating that he was humble because he still drove the same car he grew up with. Apparently Brian Williams had had enough and when the interview was over and Jay's mic was cut off Brian Williams said, "That was Jay Leno who still drives the same 57 cars he grew up with."

I side with Leno and O'Brien and Kimmel ... Kimmel's segment, clearly not improvised, hence Leno was in on the joke beforehand, was funny. Contrary to many, many others I like Leno's humour, though he isn't as good as he was 10 or 15 years ago, I also think he's a nice man from what few glimpses of the private Leno I caught. He is known as one of, if not the, foremost car and motorcycle collectors with an airplane hangar for his collection. Why not make this the point of a joke, Mike?

Interesting to see how many people fall for the skimpy PR job of NBC execs. I mean, it was them suits effing up big time, not Leno, not Conan, who are both victim to very bad decisions on the top floor. And then Huffington Post [or whoever started this nonsens] came up with 'siding' - as in Colbert's running gag 'Egg white or egg yellow*, pick a side - we are at war.' Sorry, no, there's no war, there's some entertainment kerfuffle.

*Can't remember he actually took this example already, if not he's welcome to use it.

Last Fri. in the Wall St Journal Weekend section they had a feature on their analysis of four NFL games this season. The average amount of actual live action was.........11 minutes. For a three hour game!!! This was an average, so some were even less!!! Last weekend's 12 hours of playoffs contained 44 min. of action...... That leaves an awful lot of commercials, ref watching, huddles and re-plays.
Give me Arsenal and the English soccer league any day!!

"He also wrote for the Simpsons back when it was actually funny and he wrote what I consider the greatest episode of the Simpsons ever: the monorail episode." - JonA

Puhleeze! It was a fine episode but nowhere near the level of "Last Exit to Springfield" - the homer as strike leader episode. Even so it is probably Conan's finest work.

Adam Carola has some nice comments about Leno on his Podcast. Worth listening to.

Your football comment really hit home. This has been a pet peeve of mine for years.

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