Friday, August 31, 2012

Spot Dog

Goin' to the fair.

Take a bite out of Sharon, Fridays at FITK

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Design Aesthetic

Presenting my newest toys: a 2012 camera on a 2012 tripod with a 1982 lens.

It struck me that someone in the design department at Pentax must have had a fondness for the old gear. Not only does that lens work with the new camera, but it also looks as if it fits, a perfect match of styling between the eras. Recent years have not been kind to the Ashai corporation; they put out a spate of cheap and ugly plastic cameras in the 80s and 90s and it was beginning to look as if the world of photography was passing it by. When digital hit even their mighty 6x7 workhorses fell out of favor.

My new camera is about 2/3 the size and twice the quality of my old one (also a Pentax) and my “new” lenses (all 30 years old) are also very compact. I have a couple of monster plastic zooms but I never warmed up to the concept of toting around an outfit the size of a toaster just to take a few pictures. Most of the new pictures you see on this blog were done with a compact Point and Shoot (albeit with manual controls), but there are times when a higher quality image just can't be beat. I'll have plenty of opportunities to use this new rig in Iceland when I go back—IN SIX WEEKS! SIX WEEKS! SIX WEEKS! OMG! OMG!

I’d better get packing.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 4 

Monday, August 27, 2012

TB Chicken

Until last Thursday, I had never dreamt a recipe before. In the dream I was at a country restaurant where the cook offered me some black, tarry chunks of meat.

"It's our specialty, 'Tar Baby Chicken'."

It was delicious, so I asked her what the ingredients were.

"Just regular chicken, with a sauce made from molasses and garlic."

"But isn't that name a bit offensive? Couldn't you call it 'TB Chicken'?"

"Who want to eat chicken with TB?"

"I've got it, instead of Tar Baby just call it The Best chicken."

After I woke up, I was still obsessed by the thought of delicious chicken with a black molasses coating. Checking out the internet, I found just the thing at Allrecipes. I modified the recipe to fit my dream:


3 pounds chicken, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon salt (omit if using frozen with brine)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or ginger
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons horseradish mustard
1 tablespoon minced garlic


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and cinnamon or ginger.
Arrange on wire rack over flat pan or foil.
In a bowl, mix the molasses, vinegar, mustard and garlic.
Bake chicken 20 minutes in the preheated oven.
Coat chicken with the molasses mixture.
Continue baking 20 minutes till black.

I baked it Saturday and it tasted just as good
as it had been in my dream!

    The Cinnamon gave it a light spicy flavor.

Ginger would tend toward a darker taste.

And a tip of my chef Batty's hat to


By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Sharon's Karen's

Sharon has become one with The Karen people of Burma.
The Karen people's ancestors were from Tibet.
Karen was originally applied pejoratively by enemies.
However, the term has since been claimed by the
Karen themselves as a badge of pride.

Sharon rings the world, Fridays at FITK

Used by permission

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


As if Jófríður Ákadóttir didn't have enough on her plate with the successful Pascal Pinon group, she is also the main singer of the moody electronica/clarinet trio Samaris. I rarely post music videos here, but this one is far more sophisticated than the usual, especially considering that the members of the group are all in their teens. It was directed by Þora Hilmarsdóttir who, judging by this effort, is a name to watch. The delicate lyrics are by the poet Steingrímur Þorsteinsson (1831-1913.) Even Google translate can't destroy the dreamy feel of the piece:

Góða tungl (Good moon)

Good moon, through the sky you pass
Sweetly by the clouds' silver bosom
As the Almighty's will bids
On your sure path.
Bring your light to all the tired
Sneak in through each window.
Let, in dusk, the suffering hearts
Be sweetly comforted by your beam

Good moon through the streets baptized
Walks to and expresses
It is set to the glory
God himself, your bright bang
Look for our low morphology
Let your peace faces
And as a friend in guard men
Answer by the Lord's love

Good moon beam in fog
Glitters you Astro Asael
And plankton lower latitudes fist quiet
Solemnly in the night air
Brings us, from the highest
Father gently kiss of grace,
And until the morning, golden splendid,
Good moon to lead us

By Professor Batty

Comments: 4 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Night at the Improv

I had been meaning to catch one of the performances at the Brave New Workshop's Student Union for a long time. My old friend Andy was in the troupe and last Friday night was reserved for their "Stage Match" format, where a group of students in the program were picked at random to be in one of three groups an hour before the show!

Sink or swim.

Audience members could vote for their favorites (and you'd get an additional ballot for the each drink you bought.) The improvs were pretty good; each member got a chance for a short monolog which could lead into a longer riff while cast members "tagged off" with one another to sustain the hilarity:

Between the second and third match was a short intermission (just enough time to get another drink, I mean ballot) and a chance for the cast to interact with the audience:

High points of the "matches" included a couple with a dead dog in an igloo, a talking buffalo (with wings) trying to persuade a hunter not to shoot him and a less than enjoyable vacation in Saudi Arabia. The last of the three "matches" ended with two dying children in a hospital. OK, that one might not have been as funny- it's all in the context. My friend Andy's team won (free drinks!) and then the audience and cast ate chicken wings and had more drinks afterward. It was all very social—the mugging continued long after the show had ended:

If I lived in the neighborhood (Uptown Minneapolis) I could see this becoming a habit.

Did I mention the drinks?

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Sharon's Device

Handheld, futuristic, one flashy channel.

Who said there isn't anything good on TV anymore?


By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Tent Sale

The divine Sheila M. at the register...

The venerable local camera store (since 1917!) holds a "tent sale" every summer. I seldom need anything, but I always go and I always buy. The sale usually features refurbished and overstock items, some used gear and tons of "other" stuff—printers, paper and ink, albums and other accessories. This year, in preparation for my trip to Iceland in October, I actually required some gear, specifically a quality tripod with a calibrated pan head which was small enough to fit inside a pack on the rack of a bicycle. I found just what I was looking for and at a price much less than Amazon's. I also took a look at the used lenses; my Pentax K20D is compatible with any lens made for any Pentax camera in the last 50 years. The 'helpful' salesclerk couldn't understand why I would be interested in an old lens made for a film camera. "You can't use that on your camera, the meter won't work! The autofocus won't work!" As if I needed a meter! Most of my cameras didn't have one, and with instant playback (or preview, if you like to fiddle) you can see exactly what your actual exposure is. Autofocus? Never use it, not even on my modern lenses (Anyone want to buy a 16-50 F2.8 DA* zoom?) The prices of used gear has fallen so far that I bought three lenses for less than the cost of a high-end filter. I've already grown attached to the cute little 28mm f2.8 I got there, I might just take only that and my 50mm f2 to Iceland (along with my pocket camera.) I'm tired of lugging a bunch of stuff around.

And image quality? I'll let my $25 tent sale Vivitar speak for itself:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Sharon Unsynchronized

In perfect unison.

Going for the gold, with Sharon

Used by Permisson

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee

This is chapter 17 of Window Weather, a serial fiction novel on FITK

Billy insisted that they enter Sean’s flat separately.

“Just go in the foyer and wait—keep the door open a crack so it won’t slam,” Billy said, “I’ll come in about three minutes later. We look enough alike that anyone seeing me enter after you did will only remember one person. If we go in together he would remember there were two men and wonder what the connection was between them.”

“A little paranoia never hurt anyone,” said Sean.

Billy stayed behind in the graveyard while Sean walked the block and a half to his apartment. Nobody was on the street, although Sean did notice that there were children doing homework on a dining room table in the ground floor flat. They didn’t look up when Sean climbed the stairs. He waited in the foyer a few minutes, and when he heard Billy’s footsteps on the porch, Sean opened the door and Billy slipped in silently.

“Step in unison,” Billy whispered.

They managed to get in Sean’s apartment without being seen. The door to Sean’s flat opened into a hallway. A tiny bathroom was on the left. At the end of the hall was the ‘living room’: a single bed, two chairs, a small table, and a TV. Off to one side was a doorway to a small kitchenette. Billy turned on the TV.

“Just for a little masking noise,” he said.

The program that came on was a dreadful call-in strip-show from the UK. It featured nearly comatose young women with bad skin gyrating in their underwear as telephone callers (paying by the minute) suggested lewd acts they could perform on each other.

“You’re witnessing the fall of the British Empire, Sean,” Billy said a faint smile, the first smile Sean had seen from him. Billy relaxed a little as he sat in the overstuffed Ikea chair. As Sean opened the wine he wondered if four bottles would be enough.

“Sean, can I use your phone? I left mine in its charger. I’ve got couple of people I need to touch base with.” Sean handed him his phone, thinking that the ADR team could use the information. Billy used it to text a couple of messages and handed it back.

“OK, I’m free, said Billy, “You’ve got my undivided attention.” He spoke to Sean the same way he used to do when he thought that Sean wasn’t being quick enough on the uptake, “I see that you are still lugging around a laptop.”

“I’m not quite ready to commit everything to the cloud yet,” Sean said as they lifted their glasses.

“A toast, then,” said Billy, “To our secrets, brother.”

As he spoke, Billy smiled again, this time with a glint in his eye. They sat without talking for a few minutes, watching the woman hosting the television program as she did her best ‘big sister’ act, imploring lonely men across the British Isles to “ …pick up, call in, we can’t make it happen without your call.” Sean switched the channel to an Icelandic newscast, then turned to Billy.

“Ok, Bill. I’m still trying to process the Senator as my father, forgive me if I don’t follow everything as quickly as I should... tell me, what’s the story with those Icelandic women you’ve been seeing? Silu, and Þora? One of them is the mother of your child, I take it.”

“Silu is the mother, but she won’t admit that I am the father. She doesn’t want anything to do with me. Þora is her sister but she thinks that I’m here for her. How it actually works is complicated and messy. That’s why it doesn’t help matters any having you running around as my double. One of me is trouble enough! I need a little time. Silu will come around. Þora is fun, but she will get distracted soon enough.”

The sun was setting and the room was getting darker, but Sean didn’t bother turning on the light. He refilled the glasses with what was left of the first bottle.

May 4, 1500 PDT
Sean, I'm writing from the library downtown, I'm getting really paranoid at home, there are definitely people following me. I don't think they'll try anything in a public place. I think I lost them (for a while at least) back at the market. I know they've watching my car. This might be something from my past. Remember when I asked you not to run a background check on me? It was for your own good. Things aren't turning out the way we planned, are they? Shit. They're here, in the library. I'll say good bye, maybe I can


“Molly Berenson? Agent Mathaison, FBI. Don’t get up, don’t make a scene, trust me, it will be better this way. Pick up your things, and walk calmly to the elevator. Don’t try to run.”

“And if I refuse?”

“Have you ever seen anyone with a grand mal seizure?” the agent said, taking a thick bracelet out of a case and deftly clipping it around her wrist. “You have a choice. You can walk out with us like a sensible woman, or you can be rolled out convulsing, strapped to a gurney.” The agent’s tone of voice was intimidating: “Don’t speak. Come with us, the bracelet is on in its lowest setting. Don’t force us to turn it up.”

Molly could feel a tingle on her wrist. The agent closed her laptop and placed it in his briefcase, leaving it on. Molly stood up slowly and walked to the elevator with the FBI man.

“So, what’s your story, Sean?” Billy said, holding the wine glass as if it was a baby’s rattle, “How did you end up with the job of being my babysitter? And just what are you doing with yourself when you aren’t dashing off to the arctic, rescuing your wayward brother?”

“I never know how to answer questions about myself,” said Sean,  “I don’t see myself completely committed to anything. I’m always ready to move on. I thought it was different with Molly, but somehow I have ended up four thousand miles away from her, in a strange place, on a dubious mission that has little chance of succeeding. I could be coding for Oracle. Now I’m just a glorified hacker and a not very good P.I.”

“Molly? That wasn’t the woman you were with the last time I saw you? You haven’t gone soft on me, have you? Settling down?”

“She’s alright, Bill. Somehow it works for us.”

“So, who is she? I mean where is she from? Where did she go to school? Does her family have any money?”

“Ha ha. No money Billy. There isn’t much of a story. We live in a lower duplex in Seattle, under her mother. Her father’s dead. She’s in insurance. I met her in Chicago."

“Who knows about her? Your boss know? I bet the Senator has a file on her.”

“Anything is possible,” said Sean, “I take precautions. Are you ready for some more wine?”

“I’ll get it. I need some water for my meds.”

“So, you still like playing doctor, do you? How can you keep taking that shit?”

“Not to worry, it’s just a little something for pep, no prob. Give me your glass, you’re running on empty.”

When Billy went into the kitchen Sean took the opportunity to hit the can. He never wanted to see anyone dosing. When he came back Billy was staring out the window in the direction of the Russian Embassy. His foot was tapping, the way it always did when he was on speed.

“No story on the girlfriend, Sean?” Billy said,  “Not good. Everybody needs a story, that’s what makes us human. Apes don’t have stories. They don’t know how to lie. That’s what being a human being is all about, Sean. Little lies grow into big ones. It’s the telling of them that makes them come true… sort of. That’s why Daddy’s running for president. It’s his story, ever since he was a teenager—he wrote it, he believed it, and now it’s coming true. Heaven help anyone who gets in the way. What’s the title of your story, Sean?”

“Something Happened. What’s yours? The Valley of the Dolls? A Million Little Pieces? I’ve read them. They all have unhappy endings.”

Sometimes a Great Notion,” Billy said, raising his glass. “Cheers!”

Sean thought that the wine from the new bottle tasted a bit off.

Next Chapter: Triage

By Professor Batty

Tuesday, August 07, 2012


Its over. Whatever cachet Photoshop™ may have had as a "tool of the elite" is gone, buried under an avalanche of smart-phone images and cruddy YouTube™ vids. I've attended a few of these before, they had the air of a religious festival, with hundreds of eager acolytes, devouring the missives from the anointed. Today a few dozen weary souls (most of them older than me!) ran through the motions, listening to the virtues of the newest iteration of Adobe's™ flagship product. It is a good program, but not much improved (except for video editing) from the previous version. The presenter was solid, not flashy, and was mercifully free of annoying anecdotes. But we'd seen it all before. Those of us who use it in our regular jobs appreciate its depth and complexity, but know that using it quickly becomes routine. Younger people have grown up with it, they don't need instruction. At its worst, it becomes a way to alter history, to create a visual world with surface attraction, but no substance. Those who become ensnared by the program's wiles tend to become removed from reality:

~ illustration via the most excellent Night Deposits

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Found Art

"Tranquility" by Ted Tinquist, date unknown

Another thrift store find, not exactly cutting edge art, but a pleasant watercolor of a north woods cabin in the moonlight. I thought it would look good in our kitchen, less intimidating than my latest State Fair entry. It was signed; a quick search of the name brought up numerous references to Ted. He was a professional sign painter, a pioneer aviator, he trained flyers for World War II, was active in church affairs and evidently had time to pursue artistic hobbies. He established a land trust to keep wilderness property from being developed; his sons are continuing this legacy.

The thing which caught my eye about the composition is its birds-eye perspective. It makes sense, seeing as Ted was a pilot. This kind of scene may be something of a cliché, but for anyone who has spent time in Northern Minnesota, it resonates with a spiritual essence beyond criticism. Ted died in 1997:

Word has been received of the death of Ted E. Tinquist. He was born March 28, 1910, in Bristol, S.D., and his family moved to Grand Rapids in 1921. He graduated from Grand Rapids High School in 1928 and started Tinquist Signs right out of high school. He married Lily Parks on March 21, 1932. In 1941, he started the Grand Rapids Airport and worked with both the sign company and the airport until he was drafted into the Army Air Corps during World War II. After the war, he worked full time with the flight training school at the Grand Rapids Airport for two years. In 1948, he sold the airport and spent full time with the sign business. He served as a lay pastor for many years in the surrounding area, including Bethel Lutheran Church in Warba where he served for 20 years. He also served in many community organizations including the Itasca Art Association, Restoration of Central School, and the Itasca County Historical Society. He was chairman of the Bass Brook Township and was a member of the Itasca County Planning Commission. He was a well known area artist and creator of the picture "Devotions."

~ Itasca County obituaries

By Professor Batty

Comments: 4 

Friday, August 03, 2012

Sharon's Controversy

Over-aged Gymnast sparks inquiry... and intrigue.

Balance your week with Sharon, Fridays

Used by Permission

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Lush Life

The Bismarck Tavern, Fargo, North Dakota
I used to visit all the very gay places
Those come what may places
Where one relaxes on the axis
Of the wheel of life
To get the feel of life
From jazz and cocktails
I spent much of my late twenties and early thirties in places like this, working, not drinking, but nevertheless the atmosphere permeated my existence. Ray Price once sang: "The nightlife, it ain't no good life, but it's my life." I was making minimum wage (barely) by schlepping gear for an R&B band in exchange for three hours of glory when the music and the booze would take us all away from our everyday miseries. Most of the places we worked weren't too bad, but the ones with strippers and sleazy wet t-shirt contests were the worst.
The girls I knew had sad and sullen gray faces
With distant gay traces
That used to be there you could see
Where they'd been washed away
By too many through the day,
Twelve o'clock tales
And then there were the bad times, really bad things, bad things involving fists and guns and then nobody had any fun. I got out. Others did not. I'll still drop in to a nightclub once in a while—to hear a band or perhaps to get together with a group of old friends. But that time when every night was Saturday night is over for me; no regrets, except maybe one small one, but the small sadness it brings is a comfort, not a sorrow.
I’ll forget you, I will
While yet you are still burning
Inside my brain
Romance is mush
Stifling those who strive
I’ll live a lush life in some small dive...

And there I’ll be,
While I rot
With the rest of those
Whose lives are lonely, too

~"Lush Life" lyrics by Billy Strayhorn

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

                                                                                     All original Flippism is the Key content copyright Stephen Charles Cowdery, 2004-2024