Friday, February 28, 2014

365 Project - February Review

Winter is still here. If there isn't snow on the ground, it's brown and dead looking. So... for my photo project, I decided to do a month of black and white photos (which just happens to be my favorite type of photography) with flashes of red. I had to throw a little bit of color in the mix. Plus... There were two significant red days for February: National Wear Red Day and Valentine's Day. Red seemed like the appropriate color.

Near the end of this month, I was running out of inspiration quite frankly. Thought I love black and white  photos, it's difficult to post everything void of color (except for the occasional red). So I went looking for ideas... and decided to find hidden letters in ordinary objects. Posting hidden letters in black and white sometimes makes it easier to see the letters. It was the end of the month, and I had six days remaining. Why not spell out a six letter word? Can you see it???

Celebrating 175 years of Mizzou!

MIZZOU! I really love the results and hope you do too. Definitely going to revisit the hidden letters later on this year.

Overall, I think it was a great month. The contrast of black and white during winter can be pretty powerful. I love the trees, the snowflakes, the silhouettes, and definitely the flashes of red. Here's my video recap made with Flipagram:

For March, I think I'll work on portraits, macros, flashes of green, and more indoor objects. Winter storms are in the forecast for this weekend. And though I think snow is pretty, I'm really getting tired of it. But you'll probably see more snow photos too.

Until then... live in the moment and capture those memories.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

New Tunes Tuesday - Eric Church

Eric Church holds nothing back. He tells you straight up like it is on the very first track. "They're the in-crowd, we're the other ones / It's a different kind of cloth that we're cut from." If you've been to one of his shows, you know he does things his own way and makes no apologies for it. And if you haven't seen him perform, check out "Caught in the Act: Live." It's the perfect transitional album from "Chief" to "The Outsiders." 

But only a true insider could produce an album like this and make it work. This collection of songs is full of heavy metal riffs and guitar solos complete with a Nashville-bashing diatribe spoken by Church. This is ultimate outlaw country. Not many can make a track like "That's Damn Rock & Roll" and "Devil, Devil" on a country record. And no, not many would want to, but that's who Eric Church wants to be. 

After the fist pumping anthem "The Outsiders," he slows it way down on track 2. "A Man Who Was Gonna Die Young" is a lovely ballad that ponders thoughts like how in the heck has he outlived Hank or Jesus despite his reckless ways. It's stripped down and draws you in. He attributes his calming down to his spouse who has always loved him (like Jesus does) and been there for him. At one point in his life he thought he'd die young, but now he wants to live forever with the love of his life. He admits in "Dark Side" that if he were to ever let this side see the light of day, "there'd be hell to pay." I think this song describes exactly who Eric Church is not only as a person but as an artist as well. It might be my favorite on the album. 

There are plenty of catchy songs too. He sings the nostalgic "Give Me Back My Hometown" with a hint of annoyance and regret. He's unable to enjoy his hometown because he's haunted by his ex. "Cold One" laments the girl who not only broke his heart but took his beer too (left him one short of a twelve pack)! He lost two cold ones in this story.... The irresistible beat of "Broke Record" about an unhealthy obsession with a woman is bound to get stuck in your head. "Talladega" is a made-for-radio tune about a road trip in a Winnebago with his buddies."Here's to turn it up, slowin' down and cars that go real fast." I hope he releases this one as a single.

There are so many layers to this album that you could dissect it again and again. It's not all country, it's not all rock, but it's all soul. It's a wild ride through the mind of Eric Church - a musical adventure from start to finish.

Grade:  B+

Monday, February 17, 2014

Take Time to Smell the Roses

Flowers don't last very long. They're not a practical gift at all. I hardly ever receive them because I hardly ever ask for them. I'm a practical person, and they're just not very practical.

But they are beautiful. So every once in a while (okay, maybe once a year), I will indulge. Valentine's Day seems like the perfect time. It's my least favorite of holidays, but at least there are roses (and chocolate). And since my husband is even more practical than me, I bought myself a dozen roses at the grocery store. Yep, bought them myself. I would never ask him to buy me flowers, especially since the only reason I wanted some was because I wanted to take some photos of them. I knew he would laugh. So... I didn't ask, I just bought them myself.

My theme this month for my 365 project is black and white with flashes of red. Throwing in some photos of red roses would be perfect! And I got the opportunity to mess around with some editing apps.

Here's the original....

And some edits with PicsArt and Repix.
They look ceramic here.

Kind of like a poster.

Another original....

And then cropped....

They are starting to turn dark now. Their life span sure is short. But that's why I take photographs - to capture moments before they disappear. So take time to smell the roses.... and don't forget to photograph them too.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

New Tunes Tuesday - Joe Nichols

It's been a while since I've reviewed some music here. It doesn't mean I haven't stopped listening; I just haven't found anything worth writing about until now. I have been playing the latest album by Joe Nichols, Crickets, on repeat lately. It's been out a few months, so I know I'm certainly late on getting this written. But better late than never. This one is definitely worth checking out.

One of my favorite tracks, and his first single, is "Sunny and 75." Welcome to the endless summer! You'll be dreaming of beaches and palm trees as you listen to this track. "You and me on a beach chair / Yeah, I'm so there every time I look in your eyes / Kissing you in the salt air / I can taste it, I swear / Sunny and 75."

Another favorite of mine is "Smile On Mine." He's been pulling out all of the stops for another kiss. "Don't play hard to get / Girl it just ain't fair / Don't you remember that night / There was magic in the air." Have you ever wished for just one more kiss?

If you want to get your redneck on, then "Open Up a Can" is for you. If you've had a bad day, or a long week, there's only so much you can take before you open up a can. I can relate. I can picture hands in the air swaying back and forth at his next concert to this song.

I love "Old School Country Song." He fits current times into classic country emotions. The steel guitar weeps as he sings... "Breakin’ up is still a mess / It don’t make a heart hurt less / Cause you text it from a mobile phone / All you’ve really done you see / Is modernize the melody / But it still sounds like an old school country song." This song was a great lead into a familiar country song... his cover of Merle Haggard's "Footlights." He gives it a soulful and heartfelt touch.

Crickets is aptly named because it's a laid back, chill by the river bank kinda record from start to finish. And he throws in the sounds of crickets chirping every now and then just for effect. It's a traditional country sounding album with very few skip over tracks. Enjoy.

Grade: B

Happy Birthday, Mizzou!

Today marks the 175th anniversary of the University of Missouri’s founding on Feb. 11, 1839. MU was the first public university west of the Mississippi River and the first state university in Thomas Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase territory. This wonderful timeline highlights other significant events in Mizzou's history.

One of my favorite bits of MU's history surrounds the Civil War. The war forced the university to close in 1862. The residents of Columbia formed a home militia and stood ready to defend the city and university. They were given the nickname "Fighting Tigers of Columbia." In 1890, the football team took on the nickname "Tigers" after the Civil War militia. We've been the Mizzou Tigers ever since.

Another poignant piece of history occurred after a fire consumed Academic Hall on Jan. 9, 1892. Board of Curators President G.F. Rothwell wrote these immortal words: 
 “… Let these columns stand. Let them stand a thousand years… a memorial to [those] who in their magnificent presence learned what life and duty are… to live the one and do the other. They will be a rallying point of future devotion and service to the university ….”
Indeed. The beloved columns are the most recognizable feature of our university and a subject I love to photograph. I'm very grateful to Mizzou as it has played a huge part of who I am today.  So, "here's a health to thee," Old Missouri. "Thy high fame shall last!"

Friday, February 7, 2014

Say It Ain't Snow

Alarm goes off like any other Monday morning, and I roll out of bed. I wake up my son for school, and we grudgingly go about our morning routine. Then the phone rings. The phone never rings at 6:00 a.m. unless it's terrible news. Who in the heck is calling us this early? It's Columbia Public Schools. No school! Really? We had received some ice over the weekend, but I thought the roads were somewhat passable. Nevertheless, no school today. So I let my son know and he promptly returns to bed. I walk into my daughter's room; she's still asleep. I whisper the news in her ear. Her eyes flutter awake and she smiles while rolling over to go back to sleep. Sounds like a good idea. I also head back to bed. I emailed work later that morning to let them know I'd be checking email at home. I had some things to get done because a huge snowstorm was on it's way. An extended weekend was sounding pretty good.

That evening we received texts and emails that just about everything in town would be closed on Tuesday. MU even closed the campus at 8:00 pm Monday night before a single snowflake fell. That's never happened. I thought to myself, "What if they're jumping the gun? What if this monster snow storm never reaches us?" Doesn't matter because I don't have to go to work the next day! So my husband and I open up a bottle of Westmalle Trappist Ale. Good stuff.

Well.... the snow storm reaches us.... in full force! It snowed for almost 24 hours. I set out my famous "snow gauge" to measure the snow. I bought some Mirror Pond Ale for the Super Bowl, so that was the snow gauge of choice. After a few hours of watching it blow and drift, I decided to increase the size of the snow gauge (the larger 750 ml bottle is the empty Westmalle from the night before). I'm glad I did because you couldn't even see the smaller bottle on Wednesday morning.

Needless to say, everything was closed on Wednesday too. I personally was happy to have an extra day to get the driveway clear. I wouldn't have been able to make it to work anyway. They closed school on Thursday as well because of the road conditions and extreme cold. The enthusiasm for my kids is now starting to wane. My daughter was calling it the longest weekend ever (indeed). Thursday night we started wondering if they would have school on Friday. Part of me thought what's the use of sending them to school for just one day? Let's just start fresh on Monday. 

Our suspicions were confirmed later Thursday night. No school again! After my kids heard the news they responded back with "No! Will we have to go to school in July?!?" Not quite. But I know we'll all be complaining about keeping the school schedule after Memorial Day. June 5th is the last day of school as it stands now. And winter isn't over yet, folks.

So please, Mr. Weatherman, I'm begging you. The next time you report the forecast...say it ain't snow!


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