Camera Flashes and Nighttime Dogwalking

Confession.  For the past several months I had my dog Ollie do his business in the back yard.  Every few days I would walk through the grass with a claw-mechanism pooper scooper and a bucket double-lined with plastic bags to collect and dispose of all his piles of earthly delight.

However, partially due to a dumbass bird situation, and partially because we are trying to get some grass to grow on a large hunk of the yard, I’ve been taking Ollie for walks.   I used to take him for nighttime walks at ShesAllWrite’s place in Chicago.  Her old neighborhood, though a tad on the dicey side, was well-lit by sodium vapor streetlights.  It’s a lot darker in my neighborhood.

Tonight, ShesAllWrite and I took Ollie for a walk, and he did his business.  I honestly wasn’t looking SUPER closely at where he dropped his doody.  Being a good neighbor, I had about seventeen plastic grocery bags stuffed in the lower-left pocket of my camo cargo shorts.  But I didn’t know exactly where the stuff I had to pick up was.

I tried shining the display of my phone in the general direction of where the package had been dropped, but couldn’t find it.  The grass was glistening from a recent rain, which made finding a shiny piece of poo that much more difficult.  I gingerly walked in the grass.  “Be careful,”  ShesAllWrite warned.

The scent of the doody gradually wafted up and into my nostrils. Oh, yes.  I was close.

I got the idea to use my smartphone camera’s flash to find what I was searching for.  After several pictures, EUREKA!  Land, ho!  Mr. Watson!  Come here!  I need you!

I bagged the crap and threw it in the trash.  I got home, plugged in my phone, and began to pull down my photos of the day.  The last pictures were the ones I had taken to locate Ollie’s leavings.  So, of course I made an animated GIF of the pictures.  You’re welcome!

Dog poop.  It's in there somewhere.
Dog poop. It’s in there somewhere.

Dumbass Birds

It was only weeks ago — WEEKS AGO — when I was relatively optimistic about the robins nesting on the flood lights in back of my house.


So, we stopped using the back door to our side porch, as to not disturb the birdies.  Soon, we saw a piece of robin eggshell on the ground.  We could see some baby birds popping their heads out of the nest.  How many?  2.  No, 3!  Yeah, 3.  Wait….  4.  There were 4 baby birds.

Mama and Papa Robin were bringing home the worms to the babies.  We were in the backyard a lot, doing some major gardening.  My 10 year old son found a worm when he was digging and dropped it on a part of the yard we weren’t working in, and one of the robins got it, gave it the what-for (i.e. killed it) and brought it home to the babies.

A few days later, the shitting began.  It was all over the steps.  ShesAllWrite sprayed the crap off with a hose, but immediately after that, like magic, more bird crap.

Ahhh, birdcrap.
Ahhh, birdcrap.

But that wasn’t the end of the dumbassedness of the birds.

ShesAllWrite and I were sitting in the back and I looked over.  “Hey, is that one of the baby birds?”  A small, young robin was standing on the steps.  It hopped down into some plants, went through the neighbor’s fence into a bush.

Jesus.  Is this supposed to happen?  The bird tried to fly a bit, but it was clear it wasn’t ready.  Had it fallen out of the nest?

It didn’t take long for all the birds to be out of the nest.  ShesAllWrite saw one of the birds actually hop out of the dumb nest.   Another time, she saw Mama Robin hopping around with one of the Baby Robins around the yard.  Well, that’s good.  Mama Robin knows where at least one of her kids is.

At one point we let our dog Ollie out in the backyard to do his business, not realizing one of the baby birds was there.  He went up to the bird and licked it.  He’s a sweetheart.  I have no doubt he would be a great Mama Dog to the robins.

Still, we thought it was best that Ollie didn’t lick any more birds, so now the backyard is an Ollie-free zone, at least until the birds clear out.

I saw a baby robin fly half-assed in the alley behind our house, smacking gently into the wall of a garage wall.  Was it one of ours?  Or another dumbass bird?

I was taking out the trash and saw a baby bird standing in our garden a foot from me.  It just stood there, blinking.   Jesus.

I hope these robins survive.  Jesus.  I hope Mama Robin doesn’t lay eggs again in her dumbass nest.  Jesus.


LoveSong – Tim Russell and Hot Girls In Love

Hi, and welcome to another installment of LoveSong, where someone loves a song that many people don’t, and that’s okay!

The lover:

Tim Russell is a writer, DJ, and musician living in Springfield, IL.  He is the co-host of the weekly radio program The Alleged Show, broadcast every Wednesday afternoon on WQNA.  He is the author of two books, The Tea Leaves The Pianist and The Metaphysics of Stupidity, both available for purchase on Amazon.


The loved: Loverboy, “Hot Girls In Love” (1983)



Probably when most people think of the Canadian rock group Loverboy (that is, if they do), they recall the band’s 1981 hit song “Working for the Weekend”. It was used in an episode of 30 Rock and in the movie Zoolander, and it’s a staple of classic rock radio now. Back in the 80s, though, at the height of their popularity Loverboy had a few other successes on the charts both North and South of the border–“Turn Me Loose”, “Lovin’ Every Minute of It”, “When It’s Over”, and from their 1985 4x platinum album Keep It Up, “Hot Girls in Love”. For reasons I will try to explain here it’s the latter song that comes to my mind when I think of the band, which (admittedly) isn’t often.

For one thing, I happen to love “Hot Girls in Love”. I like a few of their other hits, too (“Working for the Weekend” and “Lovin’ Every Minute of It”, in particular), but it’s “Hot Girls in Love” that stands out for me as an example of everything that was good and enjoyable about the group’s sound.

Musically speaking, for me the song simply rocks. The flanger on the drum roll at the beginning. The 80s-style, hard-hitting quarter notes on the hi-hat and ride cymbal. The organ during the second verse. The vocals that are over the top. The hand claps. The echoes on the vocals during the bridge. And, what a guitar lead! It all makes me very happy. It makes me laugh, and not entirely in an ironic way. Yes, to me it’s also at once very cheesy sounding, especially by the standards I have today that involve appreciating bands like Radiohead and The Flaming Lips. But, I don’t on the rare occasion play a Loverboy song on my radio show or at home for the deep qualities of its lyrics or the complexity or variety in its sound. My enjoyment of the band’s music is a thoroughly silly love, rather. It’s similar to the way we love joking around. It’s light-hearted and fun, and that can be a very good thing.

Lyrically, of course, “Hot Girls in Love” leaves a lot to be desired if one is looking for anything profound or poetic. Moreover, there is the question (in my mind) of the missing apostrophe in the title, where “girls” should probably be “girl’s”. Let’s read the first verse and a chorus, and you’ll see what I mean:

She’s so young at heart
She likes the pleasure of his company
She cuts the inside groove
With her silver spoon

She likes her tapes on 10

And it’s the same as her anatomy

She’s on a rainbow cruise
All the way to my room
She’s turnin’ on the heat

She’s got the magic touch

She’s turnin’ on the heat

And it’s a little too much

She’s turnin’ on the heat
And it’s a hundred above, yeah
Hot girls in love

I’m in love

It goes on like that. Forgetting for a moment (and even maybe at once enjoying the heck out of) the nuttiness of these lyrics, notice that the 3rd person singular (“she” and “her”) perspective on the woman-as-subject changes suddenly in the final moment to 3rd person plural (“girls”). Who, then, are these girls, and where the heck did they come from in the song? Shouldn’t the title and refrain read “girl’s”, abbreviating “girl is”? Obviously, it would make a lot more sense of the lyrics. Regardless, I suspect that it was either the band’s guitarist Paul Dean and/or the song’s producer Bruce Fairbairn (both of whom are the attributed writers) who decided in the final moment, either intentionally or subconsciously, to omit the apostrophe and make it “girls”–plural–so as to make the title hotter and vaguely lesbian. Hence, grammatically speaking, the song has that going for it, too.

So, what’s not to love? Hot girl’s/girls are in it, after all!


“Hot Girls In Love” is a song I never really knew the lyrics to (I knew the “it’s a hundred above line”, though), and it’s neat and/or weird seeing them printed.

This line struck me in particular:
She likes her tapes on 10

I’m wondering, what does the fact that she has/likes tapes mean about her? I did a little research and saw the album Keep It Up (of which “Hot Girls In Love” was the lead track) was released on November 8, 1983. According to Wikipedia, on March 2, 1983, compact discs and compact disc players were released in North America.

So, she COULD have liked compact discs. But would that be off-putting? The song itself might have even been written prior to the release of the compact disc, of course. However, if CDs had been released and Loverboy was fully aware of them at the time of the composition of this song, I’m thinking they still could have consciously used tapes instead. Perhaps because she likes tapes means she’s not some fuddy-duddy vinyl record lover, but she’s not some geeky audiophile, either. Thoughts?

And it’s the same as her anatomy could be one of the clunkiest lines in rock and roll lyrical history, I think. She’s on a rainbow cruise is refreshingly full of whimsy for such a cock-rock kind of song.

Are these all the lyrics? I am wondering if there are multiple verses that are talking about a different girl per verse, which might explain the whole confusing pluralized “girls”.


I don’t think the writing team of Dean/Fairbairn thought very much about the lyrics they were composing. Hence, “tapes on 10”. Rainbow cruise, and the anatomy line are hilarious and so much fun. I love them!

I just included the first verse and chorus in my analysis. There are more verses and choruses (and a bridge), of course. And no, I think there is only one “girl” talked about in the song. He’s in love with her, and she’s in love. Etc.

I do believe that the pluralization to “girls” was either an oversight or intentional to make the song more marketable. Or both!


Many thanks to Tim for sharing his outpouring of love for Loverboy!

By The Playbook

Oh, hi.  It’s a movie review! I haven’t done one of these in a while.  In the movie reviews that I do from time to time, but haven’t done in a while, I go to a neighborhood, second-run theater and review something using a fair amount of smark.  Oh, I also include details not germane to the movie.  That’s a thing I do.

For example, did you know my hairline is very oily right now?  Oh my God is it oily!  I don’t know why.  The weather’s been hot for a few days, after a long spell of colder spring weather.  Does the change in temperature make my hairline secrete oil?  Possibly! Please remember my oily hairline.  It will come back at the end of this review.

ShesAllWrite was very sleepy after a day of gardening and being pregnant, so I flew solo on this movie mission.  What were my choices?

Oz the Great and Powerful

It’s a movie directed by Sam Raimi.  It’s his first movie since the wonderful Drag Me To Hell. This would be a good bet for me to see.  I didn’t see it!

Pain & Gain

People on the Twitter made jokes about this when it came out.  Who gives a shit!  (<—- an emphatic statement, not a question).  I don’t know anything about this movie.

The Host

I didn’t know anything about this, until I went to IMDB to copy the URL to paste above.  Oh, it’s that Stephanie Meyer Twilight author other movie thing or something.  It has no South Korean monsters or anything that I know of.   Boooooooo!

Which leaves me with:


Silver Linings Playbook
Meet Cute Probability Approaching 100%


Look at those two people  on the movie poster.  They’re pretty.  But they’re separated!  What’s going to happen?  Are the laws of romantic movies going to click and lock into place, sending them hurtling towards each other to form a composite face of blissful, Hollywood attractiveness?  Yep.

Bradley Cooper’s character Pat has problems at the start.  He’s bipolar.  He’s getting out of a mental institution.  But don’t worry.  His mental condition will be fine.  He’s cute crazy, not oh-man-I-hope-he-is-okay troubled.  And Jennifer Lawrence’s wounded character will heal.  And the characters will embrace at the end, and everything is going to be alright.

Is that so wrong?  I don’t know.  I don’t want it so easy.

I like several of the films that director David O. Russell has made.  They are occasionally unpredictable, but you can see the happy ending of the movie in the movie poster, and that fact itself is kind of sad.

After I got out of the movie I went to the bathroom.  I looked at my hairline — even oilier.  I popped a small pimple, left the theater, ran through the rain, got in my car and drove home, a little more bummed out than I was before.

As I’m writing this, I’m listening to The Bats’ album Daddy’s Highway.  ShesAllWrite is watching Party Monster and Dylan McDermott’s in the movie and he’s wearing a goddamned eyepatch. And that makes me happier.

Look at the low-res picture I found on the movie’s IMDB page.  I mean, come on, how does that not make someone happy?

Party Monster




Advanced Placement Invasions Of Privacy

Since my recent privacy post, I’ve noticed a couple privacy-related news items, and frankly, compared to me, these privacy-invaders are MAJOR DICKS.

The first article I saw courtesy of a link by ShesAllWrite:

Photographer Takes Secret Photos Of Neighbors For Public Art Project

Okay, so I probably shouldn’t link to this story, because by linking to it I essentially add to any noise around the photographer and his pictures.  My guess is that, in his opinion, any noise is good noise.  More noise equals more people talking, and more people talking means more potential buyers of his artwork.

Aw, what the hell.  I’m weighing in, so enjoy the free press on this dumb, obscure blog, Asshole Photographer.

Yeah, he’s an asshole. I think what he is doing is wrong, mostly because it is very invasive of the privacy of the tenants of a neighboring building.

The guy says, “For my subjects there is no question of privacy; they are performing behind a transparent scrim on a stage of their own creation with the curtain raised high.”  I’m curious if he is serious.  Is he just trying to rankle people?  He can’t be serious, can he?  He’s full of shit, right?

I like how he removes himself from the responsibility of the photographs HE IS TAKING.  He is but a hapless documentarian of the various plays being performed (Cats!  King Lear!  Oh, Calcutta!) for a city that only needs to look in the right direction.

Fuck that guy.

Here’s another asshole:

Are Creepy Dudes Now Using Drone Technology For Their Nefarious Ends?


A dude flying a device with a camera around someone’s house, looking into its windows, who insists he’s within his rights when the owners of the house confront him about it.  Yeah, this guy is an asshole.

At least he’s not killing people with his drone, I guess.  So, he’s better than the Obama Administration.

Well, maybe I speak too soon.  Let’s give Obama a chance to explain the awesomeness and legality of his drone program.  I bet his excuses and fallacious arguments are going to rock!

bachBust! bachBust! bachBust! bachBussssssssssst!

Tim is visiting me this weekend. Earlier this afternoon, we both had guitars and poor senses of judgment.

We recorded this half-assed song in one take.  We wrote it while we recorded it!  Lightning in a bottle!

We spent more time arguing about what our stupid new bandname was going to be.  He got me a bust of Johann Sebastian Bach some years ago for a present, so of course we are now known as bachBust (PLEASE NOTE THE IRREGULAR CAPITALIZATION).

Bust of Bach

We’re gonna buy a tablet computer
We’re gonna buy stereo equipment
We’re gonna buy nuclear weapons
[assorted hooting ‘n hollering]


Enjoy!  Or don’t! Probably don’t!

An Invasion of Privacy of a Barely-Animated Head

Delicately-vibrating head
Delicately-vibrating head

I like taking pictures of the backs of people’s heads on trains.  I don’t go on trains specifically for this purpose, but hey, while I’m there, sure, I’ll take some pics.

When I started doing this last year, I had to navigate some uneasy feelings I had about violating my subjects’ right to privacy (none of the owners of the heads knew I was taking pictures).  I managed to talk myself into thinking it was okay.  I don’t know that it *is* okay, but I convinced myself.

Here’s the argument I made:

  1. I’m posting each head picture on Instagram, which (in my mind) is a relatively disposable, ephemeral format.  I’m not popular on Instagram.  Not many people see the pictures I take.  I’m not hanging these pictures in a gallery or putting them in a book.
  2. You only see the backs of people’s heads.  I convert most of these pics to B&W before posting, which in some ways makes it even harder to identify a person by their hair/clothing.
  3. When I post a mosaic of 25 heads on my blog, the overall affect overwhelms concentration upon any individual heads.  It’s more textural than a photojournalistic kind of series.  And, did I mention I’m not popular?


Yesterday, I was playing around with a couple pics I took of someone’s head yesterday.  I went back and forth in a photo-viewing application, so the picture became pseudo-animated.  My uneasy feelings about privacy welled up again.  Why?  I think it had something to do with the fact that not only was I stealing a photo from a person I didn’t know without their consent, I was stealing a moment in time from them.  As you can see above, I posted an animation of the two pics, but mostly as a launching point for discussing candid photography and issues of privacy.

The pictures I take are actually on a private train company’s cars.  I found the Photo Policy for my suburban train line at their Public Awareness page:

  • Photography & Videography: For safety and security reasons, photography or videography on Metra property is only permitted in areas that are clearly open to public use.  Areas that are accessible only to Metra employees, including but not limited to, the right-of way and rail yards, are highly restricted areas and are not able to be accessed for photography or videography by the general public.  Metra will prosecute trespassers to the fullest extent of the law.

I’m taking pictures on train cars, which are clearly open for public use, so I don’t think I am violating the law or the rules of the train company.  But I am not a lawyer, etc.

I found an interesting discussion at Photojournalism, an Ethical Approach – Chapter 5, Right To Privacy.  It provided some nice history about candid photography and photojournalism in general, and also spoke of the controversy surrounding candid photography when handheld cameras became cheap, widely-available and popular.

I’m unclear how skeezy what I’m doing is.  As I see it, there are different kinds of candid photography.

  • Candid photography with a subject’s knowledge and consent
  • Candid photography with a subject’s knowledge but without their consent (like a prisoner being walked down the steps in front of a courthouse, for example)
  • Candid photography without a subject’s knowledge or consent

So, I’ve been doing the 3rd one.  Kind of skeezy, I guess.

I want to believe that there have been a lot of wonderful, important photos that were taken with a subject’s knowledge and consent.  I will say that some pictures I have seen that I admire are clearly of the no-knowledge/no-consent variety.  They are moving and/or wonderful, yet at the same time somewhat troubling.

Comedian Nikki Glaser takes a lot of really nice candids on her Instagram account.  The one below isn’t my absolute favorite of hers, but it definitely captures a moment, and highlights the problem I have with this type of photography.

Nikki Glaser Train Candid
Nikki Glaser Train Candid

There is a woman with a black eye.  Is she embarrassed by this?  Or, is she fine going out of the house, but has a reasonable expectation to not have her facial blemishes spread across the Internet? Does she want this picture published on the Instagram feed of a relatively popular personality?  We don’t know.  And she doesn’t know, either.

And what about the child?  Is it okay to take pictures of a child without his (and his parents’) consent?  It raises issues for me.

There have been a few times when I have taken candids that weren’t the back of someone’s heads.

I took a picture of this guy outside Union Station:

Cigar Smoker Candid
Cigar Smoker Candid

I rationalized posting this because:

  1. He’s sort of turned away. You can’t see his face very well.
  2. He’s posed in a stylized way.
  3. It’s a cool picture, man!

I did an even more invasive recording of a stranger here:

Underwater Grandma


Um, okay, here’s how I was able to post this:

  1. The person was recorded through a fishtank.
  2. They are not the reason for the video.  It’s the context that the fishtank is there and I jokingly said they were in it that was the reason for the video.
  3. Ummmm.  I was kidding around.


Am I way too sensitive about all this?  Should I be bothered?  Should I stop taking these kinds of pictures and videos?

What are your thoughts?