On Dead Things

This is the season of dead things. Even the wasps and flies are thin on the ground by now.

The world dies in stages in autumn. As one thing falls, an economy of predators arises to slurp down every last unpeeled protein, until those things bore through their resources and die. We're almost at the very end of the cycle, when everything is consumed and every limb is bare. This is the best time of the year, that pivot between decay and nothingness. It lasts a week at most, but sometimes the drama plays out in an afternoon, and by the time you leave work the sun is dropping and the world has turned over. It's winter and you never saw it happen. Oh well. Next year.


[Early morning. The sun, not even breaking the horizon, scans the few low-lying clouds in the East. Dimness holds in the bedroom. SCHMUTZIE drowses under quilts and sheets, PALINODE slips on clothes.]

SCHMUTZIE: You're handsome.

PALINODE: You don't have your glasses on.

SCHMUTZIE: I can tell.

PALINODE: And the room is dark.

SCHMUTZIE: I can still tell.

PALINODE: I think your eyes are closed.


PALINODE: Yeah, I'm super hot.

All Thumbs: The Lensmate Thumbrest for Fujifilm X100s

Sometimes it's the little things that count? Like the absent-minded touch of a loved one, or a stray beam of sun slipping through thick cloud and illuminating your child as she plays in the park (which is great, because you lost that kid years ago). Or this:

It's my new Lensmate thumbrest and I love it so.

The thumbrest or thumbgrip, which slides just so (all nice and Kentucky, as Douglas Adams might say) into the camera's hotshoe, is the accessory you never knew you needed. The extra bit of grip makes handling the camera just that bit more pleasurable, and you'll find yourself taking pictures with greater ease. In practical terms, it's supposed to aid in stabilization and help you get better handheld shots with slower shutter speeds. And it does. But for me, it just makes everything a little bit easier.

The thumbrest, you'll be supremely interested (or not) to discover, is sometimes called a Thumbs Up grip. Originally developed for Leica cameras by Match Technical Services, they are, like all things associated with Leica, insanely expensive. No doubt they're a good product, but there's probably no need to spend $125-$150 when the $60 Lensmate (yes, still not cheap, I know) is kicking around.

I have other accessories for my camera - a lens hood, a cable release, the TCL-100 teleconverter - but I use the thumbrest 95% of the time, and I always appreciate what it does. Thanks, tiny piece of milled aluminum.

The Lensmate is also a step up from the grip I've been using (pictured above), a $5 eBay item that felt cheap and squiggled around in my hotshoe like an angry baby in a high chair. It had to be screwed into place, and I knew it wouldn't be long before I lost the tiny Allen key (in fact, I think I have lost it). The Lensmate is machined to slide perfectly into the hotshoe, with silicon padding to protect the contacts and provide extra grip. Additional padding braces it along the body around the toggle dial and the exposure compensation dial. Best of all, the Lensmate is designed to match the camera finish, so it just looks like a part of the camera and not a mutant (and backward) film advance lever.

In conclusion, you should pick one up. Then, just to make your purchase worthwhile, you should get a camera to go with it. Otherwise you'll just be resting your thumb all day long and no one respects a thumb rester.

How to Improv

I see you have come here to improv. Very good. Everyone must learn to improv at some point, especially in this godforsaken world. But first you must learn the basics.

First you must split into three people. Isolate the tall one in the middle. Make sure he doesn't fall over!

Then, as quickly you can, you must turn black and white. It helps to point at crotches.

Verrry good. Just look at that monochrome crotch indication! You will improv so well in the salt mines of King Andor XXIII, I mean, down at the Yukks Club on Wednesday nights. Forget I said that thing about my glorious king.

Now, abruptly turn into two people and stand downstage. Observe something tiny but distressing. Stay black and white!

Good. So very gooooood.

*These are not random puppets for my blog-based amusement but the Tragedy Plus Time Players, performing here at the Arfful Dodger CafĂ© as part of Thirza Cuthand's exceedingly funny performance piece I Could Kill Myself with My Panties. Cuthand's piece is part of the Dunlop Gallery's group show Tragedy Plus Time. Pictured above are: Jayden Pfiefer, Katie Rich and Colby Richardson. 

A bus tour through The Forsaken Zone

Good afternoon everyone! Welcome aboard your tour through the Forsaken Zone.

First I'd like to apologize for the slight delay in getting started. The bus disappeared briefly and returned as Something Else on its way through The Living Islets, so we had to get that sorted out. Alert myself or the driver if you hear whistling noises or spot vestigial gills anywhere on the vehicle and we'll take care of that for you.

If the bus becomes too hot or cold, just let us know and we'll adjust the temperature. Please use gestures only as the Zone may translate your speech into Words of Power.

We have something special for you today! The levels of radiation around the Original Discovery Base Camp have finally dropped to safe levels, so we'll be making a quick stop. Photography is still not permitted as there remains a 60 per cent chance that the souls of the original explorers will attempt to enter you through the photo. No one wants a lost soul trying to claim your body as its own! I hear it's excruciating.

Lunch will be waiting for us just inside the Zone at The Plateau of Light, which apparently has breathable atmosphere today. You'll be in for a treat when you step out onto that plasma field and your lungs don't explode.

After lunch we'll visit the Palace of Zorg the Unbeliever. Sometimes Zorg appears as a burning bronze sword piercing the vermilion canopy and dropping gobbets of fire on our heads. Other times he's a lamb with human eyes and teeth. Once he appeared as a clothesline adorned with the skins of the tour passengers. That Zorg! You never know what you're going to get. If you get the chance, ask him about the Apostate Wars and the Exile of the Seven. He'll regale you with colourful anecdotes.

On our way out of the Zone we'll be passing through The Fold, which has been known to disturb some passengers. You will almost certainly see your mother beside you, gazing fondly into your eyes and whispering words in an unknown language. If you find yourself recognizing any of the words, slip on the noise-cancelling headphones in the front seat pocket and close your eyes. Keep them closed, even if you feel Mother's soft but incredibly strong fingers trying to pull your eyelids up.

I've been advised that temporal storm activity has been reported on the edges of The Zone, so you may find yourself returning on a previous or future bus. Dimension Tours cannot be held liable for lost time or the consequences of returning to an era in which everyone you know and love has grown old and died, leaving you to navigate an unfamiliar world that no longer has a place for you. Nor can we be held liable if you are thrown ever backwards to this moment, listening repeatedly to this introduction as you push down the dawning realization that existence, language and experience has been emptied out and rendered meaningless.

Also, in the event that you return from the tour before it even happens, no refund will be issued.

What I saw today #31

I found this glass on a little ledge jutting out from my building. I got as close as my camera would allow without shifting into macro mode and shot this thing at the maximum aperture, effectively dissolving the background into a colourful mush.  At some point I swore off ultra-shallow depth of field, but clearly it's refused to swear off me.

The fixed lens on the Fujifilm X100s is a little soft at the maximum aperture, which gives the images a cloudy, dreamlike texture. Stop it down a little bit and the image snaps into rigorous clarity.

Also: note that little bit of glop by the glass. Just keeping it rizzle with my compozizzle.

What I saw today #28

I'm not sure I understand the concept of the farmer's market anymore. Is this another marker of age? Or is the Regina Farmer's Market exhibiting mission creep? Because the farmer's markets of my twenties and thirties didn't include a child trying to teach an animatronic dinosaur to read.

They also didn't include weird contests with local celebrities, none of whom I recognized. Who are these people? What do they do, aside from show up to events and eat with randomly selected implements?

I felt comforted by the sight of the traditional farmer's market Darth Maul, though.