Unparalleled Awesomeness

Leica Mmm...

leica m3 with lenses

I wasn't really looking to get a Leica any time in the near future. I've always admired them and thought, "Someday I'll get a used one." But then I saw a listing in, of all places, Craigslist. A listing with a price that seemed too good to be true. So I met the seller today and examined the camera. Everything seems to be working just fine. So I pulled the trigger and picked it up.

It's a 1956 Leica M3, double-stroke film advance converted to single-stroke. It came with a Leica screw-mount adapter and these two lenses:
1. A Voigtlander Heliar 15mm with accessory viewfinder. This lens is multicoated and has a reputation for being incredibly rectilinear. We'll see...
2. The seller threw this in extra - a Leica Elmar 90mm f/4. The aperture is stuck mostly open which is why he included it extra, but I'm betting I can figure out how to fix it. If not, the Heliar and the M3 were still a great deal (if my roll of film turns out okay).

So I have a roll of Tri-X in this puppy right now, and I plan to start shooting tomorrow. If it all works out, I hope to have some shots up next weekend. And then I start saving for a 50mm Summicron :-)

sufjan stevens in concert

The second post on this website, back in July 2005, was about Sufjan Stevens. I've been a pretty huge fan ever since that time, but I've never yet made it to one of his shows. Couldn't make the 9:30 Club in DC a few years ago because of the week combined with it being at least 1.5 hours away. Couldn't make it to see one of the BQE performances because, well, they were exclusively in Brooklyn. Last night I finally made it, though, and caught Mr. Stevens at The National Theater right here in Richmond, VA.

This was one of the best concerts I've ever attended. Each musician was spot on, from the wonderful backup singers to the double drummers, and of course Sufjan himself. The visuals projected on screen reinforced the mood of many songs, and the sound was mixed quite well. It was still a proper loud show in a concert hall, but I could actually hear each instrument and singer clearly and distinctly. The whole set - including a several song encore - lasted around 2.5 glorious hours.

Most exciting, however, was how this show reshaped my appreciation of The Age of Adz as an album. I have to admit that, while I certainly enjoyed some tracks before the show, I was a little let down by Sufjan's latest effort. I'm not sure if it's because of the seemingly heightened sonic bombast or something else, but it was a slight step below The BQE on my ranking of Stevens' work. This concert, somehow, shifted my opinion. Perhaps it's my fond impression of the live performances, or maybe it's the way these touring arrangements seemed to have highlighted what made these songs good to begin with.

Whatever the case, I listened to a few tracks on Adz this morning with renewed ears. I sure hope Sufjan comes through Richmond again in the future, too. I'll be there.

New EP from Sufjan Stevens


Sufjan Stevens has released a new EP called All Delighted People, and you can listen to the whole thing for free on Bandcamp (or at the bottom of this post)! From there you can buy the entire EP for five bucks, or you can wait until next week to digitally purchase it elsewhere. Or you can wait until later this year to snag a physical copy.

Just listen! So much majesty!

<a href="http://sufjanstevens.bandcamp.com/album/all-delighted-people-ep">All Delighted People (Original Version) by Sufjan Stevens</a>

Double Barrel Camera

Some enterprising photographer hacked up a cheap Holga camera so he could shoot two taped-together rolls of 35mm film. It's a novelty, sure, but I bet it's easier/cheaper for many folks to obtain and process 35mm than it is for 120. The results have the characteristic Holga look (or rather, cheap camera look), but this gentleman who made the mod seems to have managed some nice captures:


You can also see a series of pictures that depict his whole process of loading/sealing the camera. This sort of thing is cool enough to ALMOST make me want a Holga, just for messing around...

Of Oysters and Gin

Today was rough.

From the moment I sat down at my desk, feet still aching from the 10k, I was busy. Request after request seemed to pile up with seemingly little time to dig myself from the fast-growing pile of work in my queue. There were deadlines, questions, confusion from co-workers, and a general sense that today's pressure greatly out-paced that of my day-to-day. As 4:30 loomed I started to feel like I needed a dramatic break from the mentally cramped environment of the day but I wasn't sure how I'd accomplish that without going straight-away to bed. Not one to call it a night early, I recalled that Can Can has a weekly cocktail tasting that I had yet to attend.

I'm not going to say that I needed a drink but the prospect of good mixology lifted my spirits, so Val and I headed to Carytown for some light fare, cocktails, and atmosphere.

Can Can's cocktail tastings work thusly: from 6-7 on Tuesday nights they mix up free (!) tasting portions of the evenings tipple while the full size is a special price all night. Tonight's sampler was a Gin Rickey (theirs had Bombay, lime, soda, and simple syrup on the rocks) mixed up right, and weighed in at $6.50 if you went for a full dose. Pair that with the Fontina Fondue (which we had at our first dinner there) at $4 bucks and you have a reasonably inexpensive night out with a cocktail and a fancy snack in a classy atmosphere. This evening, however, we had a few other drinks - London Pride on tap, for example - and couldn't resist dessert.

I also crossed a gustatory threshold; I tried, for the first time, oysters on the half shell.

consumed oyster on the half shell

I chose to have my first oyster at Can Can for two reasons. First of all, I'm pretty comfortable with the freshness and quality of this restaurant's food. More importantly, I was able to snag oysters one-at-a-time for $2.50. Steep? I don't know yet. But I do know that I didn't have to commit to a plate of bivalves with the possibility of hating them.

It turned out, however, that raw oysters aren't scary or slimy. They taste...well, they taste like the sea. Nether fishy nor smelly, the oysters and their liquor (the briny liquid in the shell) went down the hatch easily with a quick burst of flavor. The bartender, hearing it was my first experience with oysters, helped me out. I was first served a little guy which was a bit more intense in flavor. I ate this small serving unadulterated since it was my maiden voyage, and the experience was good enough for me to order a second. My next oyster was considerably larger and I spiked him with a squeeze of lemon for a touch more brightness that worked well against the ocean flavor.

All told we were in and out of Can Can in about an hour with some quality eats in between. It was the perfect week night diversion to take my mind off a brutal day in the cubicle farm.

Remixing YouTube

File this under the "too amazing not to post even though everybody else is doing it" department, but Kutiman's project, ThruYou, is one of the most incredible media experiments I've yet seen.

This audio/video cut-and-paste represents, to me, the very best of the Internet's potential. YouTube became a gigantic repository of largely user-generated material which has become reasonably easy to mine. An enterprising (and brilliant according to my ears) musician needed only to piece together samples from a seemingly endless pool of candidates. I'm sure Kutiman may not have been the first, but he sure is good. I'd like to see more of this - there's so much material available, and plenty of talented mixers out there.

And, more broadly, I'd love to see what else clever artists can assemble from the mass of content at their collective disposal.