Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My Blog-New and Improved!

Big Dave's Blog . . . now with digital photos.

I've always enjoyed looking at pictures while browsing blogs. There are a couple blogs where I lurk JUST to see what wonderful pictures are going to appear next. Now I'll be honest--I can't take beautiful pictures. But sometimes I know a picture would be a nice illustration for whatever I'm talking about. Hence, I bought a digital camera as my old Nikon SLR just doesn't cut it for instant website gratification.

Now what to photograph? If anyone recalls last week's blog, I was searching for Drew Barrymore's production office. And I did find it eventually. Even peeked in an office window though there wasn't much to see besides a collection of eight-by-ten glossies of actors/actresses tacked to a wall. Could have hung around and maybe snapped a quick photo of Drew herself or another star of the upcoming movie Whip It she is directing.

But I found a better subject. Check it out. Can you see it? A quarter that has been run over so many times in this parking lot that it has cemented itself to become one with the asphalt. I think it's a neat picture: "Quarter in Asphalt." Maybe my digital camera will win me a booth in the Ann Arbor Art Fair next year.

And the quarter itself? Oh, it will be mine some day. It will join all the other coins in my "found-on-the-ground-fund" cannister that my son's fiancé constructed for me some time ago. As of yet, the coin has resisted so far my feeble attempts to pry it loose. I'm sure a jackhammer would do the trick but I don't own one and I imagine they're expensive to buy or rent. Besides, this is a public school parking lot and I'm sure any desconstruction of their parking lot would draw the attention of the local constabulary. I must be discreet.

I took a second photo of some of my found-on-the-ground fund as it stands thus far. See the dollar bills? Found them at a local park. Of course, detractors of my hobby claim they were probably lost by two young children whose mother gave them the dollars to be spent on candy at a nearby store. Then they lost them as they played inthe park. Too bad. Candy causes cavities anyway.

Propped up next to the cannister is one of my latest finds--a rupee! Big Dave's found-on-the-ground fund has gone international. I'll have to check it out. I may be able to exchange the rupee into American dollars and retire already.

Speaking of international, it appears from my sitemeter that I have some regular visitors from overseas: Italy, Ireland, etc. Can I come visit? Don't let the moniker "Big Dave" scare you. I eat light. Now that I have a decent digital camera, I need to find some better digs to photograph. I've heard it's pretty in Ireland and Italy. Who knows? I might come up with a better picture than a quarter in asphalt.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

On Star Alert

No, I'm not going to discuss GM's vehicle navigation aid. I'm referring to my eagerness to do some star-spotting within my own community. Drew Barrymore's studio has set up shop near Ann Arbor, reportedly within a reasonable bike ride from my home. Ordinarily I'm not a movie star aficionado, but having celebrities suddenly amongst us can send a ripple of excitement through even average folk like myself.

The movie that Drew has chosen for her directorial debut is Whip It, a movie about a young woman's foray into the roller derby world. The cast includes Drew, Ellen Page (from Juno fame), and Juliette Lewis among the more recognizable names. They will be filming around southeast Michigan over the next month or so. Already I hear rumors of one or another actor/actress being spotted at various local restaurants.

Yesterday I took a bike ride around a couple commercial areas but didn't spot any signs for Flower Films, the name of Drew's production company. Of course, I really didn't expect to see any either. Movie moguls don't often publicize the location of their production offices and shooting locations, I imagine to avoid the local paparazzi and curious would-be gawkers, uh, like myself I guess. I do have some clues including some on-line pictures reportedly taken outside her office here. So I'm on it. My bike tires are pumped up and I need the exercise anyway.

I guess I could just apply to become one of the thousands of extras they expect to use in the film. But in the casting call that initially appeared in our local newspaper, they said they were looking for young, punk-rocker types--like those with spiked or pink hair, tattoos, or multiple piercings. Makes me wonder why they set up shop in the genteel Ann Arbor area when they could have moved across the state towards Michigan State University in East Lansing and be awash with those kind of characters.

Then this week, another call went out. They're looking for a balding, older roller blader who can sign. Hmmmmm, now we're talking. I'm older. Not exactly balding I am, but I could borrow my wife's razor (I don't think my electric would do the job). Anybody know how quickly I could learn American sign language? I've never roller-bladed either but how hard can that be.

My name in lights? I'm starting to picture it already.

P.S. Thanks to Terri for choosing my blog for the Brillante Weblog award as one of her favorite blogs. I tried to import the icon to my sidebar here, but failed. I'll never win any awards for my internet proficiency.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Lindsay is my oldest son's fiancé who turns 24 today. I thought I'd wish her a happy birthday here. Though she's probably not my biggest blogging fan, she occasionally refers to me as "Blogger!" Becoming more comfortable with our nuclear family this year, she got me a "Nerd" t-shirt for my birthday. So I thought I should get her something to open today herself after the cake and the candles and stuff.

Coincidentally, the Ann Arbor Art Fair began its annual four-day run yesterday. And I had a couple hours to kill. Why not go?

I browsed about 100 or so booths, all brightly decorated with a veritable cornucopia of baubles, ceramics and wall hangings. Tempted on a slender ceramic vase adorned with a painted palm tree which you could hang from a hook on a wall. Also tempted on a tiny metal sculpture of a bug-like creature who held a sign that said, "I live for weekends." However I moved on to browse more.

Then I saw the booth I was looking for. Beer bottle artistry. The middle-aged, long-haired proprietor from Key West, Florida appeared to be doing brisk business with customers admiring his collection of recycled beer, wine and liquor bottles which had been melted in a kiln, then their label re-applied and cemented with lacquer.

"What is this one for?" an art shopper asked, eyeing a beer bottle that had been molded into a type of bowl.

"You can use that as an ash tray. Or you can throw your keys in it, or your jewelry. It's anything you want it to be." the artist replied.

Wow! Not only was it art, but it was useful art. What modern-day woman wouldn't want a Budweiser bottle bowl as a spoon-rest for her gourmet kitchen, or maybe to serve as a earring depository in her boudoir. I mean, any glass blower can create a fancy bottle or bowl to put on a shelf. But to take something ordinary and re-make it into a work of art for everyday use. That is way too cool.

And reading the artist's website, I discovered that he and his artist partner actually drink the beverage before recycling it into art. That would be akin to Leonardo DaVinci quaffing a bottle of wine, then creating a masterpiece on the empty jug. Not only would the purchaser get a work of art and a empty jug, they might even have a little dried slobber from the master himself.

No reason to browse any more. I picked out a Red Stripe bottle melted and crafted into a spoon-rest (or whatever)-- Red Stripe being the beer brewed and sold in Jamaica. And Greg and Lindsay went to Jamaica for Lindsay's sister's wedding last year. So it should bring back fond memories of the tropics as well.

What do you think? I think I've set the bar pretty high for Christmas myself.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Who Let The Cat Out?

Some weeks ago my wife and I spent a long weekend in Berlin, Ohio. Berlin is the hub of the largest community of Amish in the USA. Their life is heavily influenced by their fundamentalist religious beliefs which leads them to shun modern ways for the most part, preferring life as it existed a century or more ago. We've shopped furniture in Shipshewanna, Indiana and visited Pennsylvania Dutch country near Lancaster, Pennsylvania--two other Amish enclaves. But this was our first time in Berlin.

As you can see from the photograph( though you have to either enlarge or look hard), the folks in Berlin decorated the streets for our arrival. Not! Who knows what motives lurked behind the toilet paper streamers. But I thought I would try to find out.

Somwhere among the storefronts above is the Boyd & Wurthmann Restaurant. "Where the locals eat." We stopped there for breakfast. Hopefully, it would not be as adventurous eating as the restaurant where we stopped the previous night when I was enticed to try a "mustard egg." It sounded intriguing, but all it turned out to be was a hard-boiled egg pickled in mustard. And it tasted pretty much as the name would indicate.

Anyway, Wendy and I took a table among the locals for breakfast. The young Amish waitresses all wore their customary plain long dresses and bonnets. They were friendly but kept up a busy pace.

"So what's the big event?" I asked our waitress as she stopped by to refill our coffee. "Why is the street all decorated?"

She laughed. "I don't know. It was like that when I came to work this morning. Somebody got excited and let the cat out I guess," she said, then moved on before I could ask a follow-up.

Somebody got excited and let the cat out? Did I hear that right? Is this an Amish idiom that I'm not familiar with? I wondered why somebody excited and out of control would decide the prank of all pranks to pull would be to let the cat out. Or maybe she meant that toilet papering the downtown was just the kind of mayhem a bunch of cats in Berlin would commit if their collective owners let them out on a Friday night.

I do remember that our cat would sometimes partially unravel a roll of toilet paper in my boyhood home. But we never woke up to find streams of toilet paper hanging from the light fixtures in the morning.

Maybe there's an Amish blogger I could ask. Not likely. Since the Amish ride buggies to work, light their homes by lantern and candlelight, and often plow their fields with the old-fashioned horse-drawn plow, the chances of there being an Amish blogger is slim at best.

Oh, well. Never mind. But I will tell you one thing. The peanut butter at that restaurant was the most delicious I've ever had. Wendy suspects they mixed marshmallow cream in with the peanut butter, but there was no label to tell us.

Guess I should have asked about that instead.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Simon Says (Guest Blog)

Dat Big Dave and his pooch was dissin' me I hear, makin’ me sound uncivilized and all. Since BD’s recuperatin' after a family re-union up north, I'm gonna say a few things in my defense. By the way, this is Simon, Boston Terrier owned by Big Dave's son Greg and his fiance Lindsay.

True, I killed a rabbit. You heard about bein' in the wrong place at the wrong time? Dat was him. Now for those who don't know nuthin' 'bout Boston Terriers, let me quote from Wikipedia about the breed: "if properly socialized, (Boston Terriers) get along well with children, the elderly, other canines, and non-canine pets." Doesn't say nuthin' there about chumin' around with stray rabbits.

True, I dug up Big Dave’s plant that was sittin' on a window sill. They saws me diggin 'outside. Why wouldn't I dig inside if I gots the chance? Ya lives, ya learns. I can be a rascal, ya know. Quotin' again from Wikipedia on our breed history: "the Boston Terrier has lost most of its ruthless desire for mayhem." See? Most--not all.

But I don't want no bad rep. Greg's cousin Vic called before our family re-union, which I attended by the way. Vic saw dat blog about me and was worried I'd eat his little kids. Heck almighty, not me. I love kids to death. Let me re-phrase that. I loves them like they was my little brudder. And I did. Gave them lots of sloppy wet kisses when we was up north. Kids love dat.

There was lots of dogs up there and I behaved just as good as the rest. There was this bite-sized (oops) Yorkie named Franchesco that would run after his master, nipping at her ankles. Biting your master? Dat’s uncivilized. I wanted to wrassle around with him but he was quicker than a long-haired mouse in a horse parade.

Then there was dis big white retriever mutt named Barley, probly named after Marley from Marley and Me, since they resembled eachother. He belonged to Greg's cousin Gabe and his wife Kristen. That dog wouldn't stay put. Walkin' away, jumpin' in stranger's cars. Never catch me doing that. Dat's uncivillized.

The family played lots of volleyball--the geezers versus the youngsters--and Barley would mosey among the older players while they were trying to hit the ball. Kristen said he was just checkin' on folks to make sure they were okay but hang, the geezers won half the games even though a bunch of them was over 50. I'd say they was more than okay.

I'm not that sure about Gabe and Kristen. When it was late at night, they stripped down to their skivvies and jumped in the lake. I was in that lake. It was COLD! Even in the day. Then in the middle of the night I was sleepin' in the cabin and I sees Gabe come in to use the bathroom. After he's finished, he crawls into bed with his uncle Tim. I thought it was cozy curled up on the couch with Big Dave's son Scott. Tim's bed wasn't much bigger than da couch. Dat’s uncivilized.

So Kristen had to come in to RETRIEVE her husband and take him back out to their tent. Maybe he was sleepwalkin' or under the influence of somethin' . . . whatever, but where was Barley the retriever on THAT one? Da bum.

And I didn't see no Barley either when Big Dave got struck on the arm by a stray firework. It bled a little but he was okay. Next day one of the women wanted to take a picture of the wound. Big Dave said to hold on till he flexed his bicep so his arm would look more photogenic. When he was ready, Lindsay said, "That's flexed??!"

She shouldn't diss Big Dave like that since she's gonna be his daughter-in-law someday. Dat’s uncivilized. Maybe I should start nipping at her ankles like Franchesco to keep her in line. Big Dave’s all right, even if he is a little fussy about his plants.