Thursday, September 30, 2021

The Promise


I suggested yesterday that more pictures of water and light were coming, where the water is light and the light is water.

That's what we have today.

The funny thing about these pictures is that when the light is beautiful, and I'm out squatting in the creek, contorted into position with my hand lamp and lens attachments, taking picture after picture, it seems like almost all of them should turn out well. But the alchemy of it all is peculiar and unpredictable, and I am only sort of a good photographer, and not a very good technical photographer, so just a handful of 180 pictures tends to come out like I want.

But when one does, I feel it in my stomach, like butterflies.

You will see that I have three pictures today. I stand confident of the first and the third of them. But I merely wanted to show you the second. I wasn't quite able to capture the strange, liquid metal of the water and the light on the Autumn creek there. I tried filming it too, and maybe some time I'll find a way to show this picture number two in motion, which maybe tells its story slightly better. 

On nearly all my pictures I am throwing every editing trick I can at them, and on the creek pictures I usually turn up the volume on the color anywhere from a little to a lot. But this second picture is exactly the color out of the camera, unedited, and the water where I took it was clean and clear and flowing. So whatever it is, outside of struggling to be in focus, that's just how it looked.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Comedy heals again


I wasn't really connecting with my co-workers at the library, which can be hard for me because I prefer to feel like I'm in everybody's good graces. I also like it better when most of them are in mine. So I decided to disappear upstairs and shelve, which, it also turns out, is one of my jobs. 

So that was convenient.

I wheeled a cart of books into the elevator, went upstairs in what is surely the slowest elevator on the face of the earth, and headed out to non-fiction. On my way there I passed an idle librarian who was sitting at the librarian desk. So I stopped and said "You probably don't know this because you work in reference, but everyone in circulation is jealous of me because I'm so good at the alphabet."

Then I felt a little better.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Fall has come!


Grab your broomstick. Get your cat. The chill wind blows, raising hackles. 

Shuffle your feet through dead leaves. Hear their crunch and hear their cackles. 

Forget your courage,  have some fear.

My favorite time of year is here!

Stock your house with giant candies, delicious or poison, as you please. Listen to the wind howl and moan and wheeze. 

Glowing green and oozing purple, 

Pumpkin patches, eye of turtle. 

Life is here and death is there, and just between them, thin, transparent, sickly tall 

like a ghost, 

stands Fall. 

Crooked, black, smiling true, one tooth missing, now two.

A gathered host. Smells of coffee. Smells like toast.

A pall. A call.

The fourth wall.

Fall fall fall.

Trees are burning, time is short. 

Summer's over, grow a wart.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

The Tribute


As ever, the strange, marvelous, broken, and mostly unvisited Life is a Fountain is...

I'd advise against it. It's haunted.

No. That's not reverse psychology.

Anyway, to today's program:

What do all these pictures have in common?


Yes, newsletter subscribers, you are getting two emails today along the theme: What do all these pictures have in common? One is from the Life is a Fountain Newsletter, and one is from here, the Clerkmanifesto blog posting.

It's a lot of pictures, all of people in the library, mostly at the front desk. It's of a pretty regular day at the library. Except for...

Well, that's the puzzle.

And it is a very easy puzzle. So easy, in fact, that it's not really a puzzle.

Let's maybe call it a tribute.

Or maybe this is what happens when I don't have Dan to pose for me. 

This is the plain version, the more unadorned approach that I am calling the "Nanu Nanu" pictures. They don't have any filter effects or editing, beyond the first complicated edits.

In your Life is a Fountain Newsletter you will be getting the "Shazbot" version, which has all kinds of filters and edits.

If somehow you happened upon all of this without being a subscriber, well, how odd. You are in for a reckoning with the nature of the World.

So lucky you!

Sunday, September 19, 2021

The bird


You will find Life is a Fountain


But it's strange, and ramshackle, and haunted, and you might be better off reading this below, and never thinking of it again)

The Bird

I went on my Thursday walk, through a neighborhood of homes more expensive than I imagined they were, before the real estate agent told me about how expensive they really were, after I photographed a white squirrel on the land he was selling, to a creek even quieter than I hoped. And along this way I came to the River. I walked along its bluffs on a narrow trail. I tripped there once this Spring and I had just remembered that, so I was suddenly being careful, when I spooked a large bird.

It's funny how you can have a sense for what kind of bird it might be without really even seeing it. There's the sound and beat of its wings as it lifts into the air, everything from the buzz of the superlight and fast hummingbird, to the heaviness of the thrum of the great wings of a large predator. This was the latter. Leaves were displaced in his mighty ascent. A half second of hole was formed in the tangled greenery of the woodland he vanished into. I saw the hole he left more than I ever saw the bird. And though he was not loud, rather he was deep like an acoustic bass, I marked the cessation of his sound.

Though I could not see him, and had not seen him, I hoped to see him.

Unfortunately, being on something of a cliff, I had limited options for finding any vantage point.

I was on a creek, well, more like a rivulet, and it allowed me to drop to a level below me. From there I had a bit of manageable land that jutted out to where everything dropped off very steeply to the Mississippi below. I edged out to the end of it, trying to slice brave and cautious right down their uneven center. And standing exactly on that line I saw him. Through all the great Summer greenery, the winding branches, and the shadows, in a little pocket of space, the head of the bird.

I levered around for the best view, but there was none, no best view, just my one fractured tunnel of sight through the leaves.

My camera, who has its own mind, wanted everything darker when I tried to take my picture, and it wanted to focus on all the hundreds of interesting things that came before the bird, instead of the bird.

But eventually I got it, as well as I could.

And then the bird flew away without any sound at all.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021



I don't know why I'm putting these here. Maybe because they're strange, very strange, and the format is unobstructed here so I can post them simply and... slip away.

I was at the Mall the other day. Which Mall?

The Mall.

There is only one Mall.

And in my spare moments I took pictures of Mannequins, feeling they might be useful in my...


Photographic work.

They weren't. Well, they were. Well, they weren't. You decide

Here then is how they weren't useful. Brace yourself. 

It can be a little disconcerting.

Mona Lisa getting her library card:

Birdlady in the city.

Dan at the Mall

Inquiring at the front desk as to whether we have any books on the family "Cervidae".

A gentleperson drifting through time to our service desk.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Baseball Season


One of my co-workers at the library is a baseball aficionado. He devotedly follows the Milwaukee Brewers. I followed baseball passionately as a kid and can still rattle off a small ton of pre 1980 Baseball trivia. Do you know what Ty Cobb's lifetime batting average is? Do you know who hit the most doubles ever? 

I do.

And so feeling it never goes amiss at work to take an interest in a co-worker's hobby, I took a modest interest in the Brewers. I particularly took an interest in the rising star of a player named Christian Yelich who grew up fairly close to where I grew up in Southern California.

As I watched, on my own, and through the information from my co-worker, Christian Yelich started tearing up the league the very year I started watching and tracking him. He even won the MVP that year! The next year, 2019 he looked about the same, and he was headed for likely another MVP award when he hit a foul ball off his kneecap and broke it. His knee he broke, the ball was fine. It was a bit of a freak accident, time consuming, but not a terribly difficult one to recover from.

However, when he came back the next season he suddenly could not hit worth beans. He had other physical problems as well, particularly his back. So we were waiting for this season.

This season he was even worse! However, weirdly, without their star hitter, the Brewers were brilliant, mostly behind some bizarrely good pitching, like, historically good pitching. The Brewers are currently sailing along to win their division, and they have one of the best records in baseball.

Also, Christian Yelich, who oddly reminds me a bit of Ted Williams, has finally, late in the season, started to hit again from out of nowhere. Most of the season he was an albatross around the Brewers neck, struggling to hit a miserable .200, a benchable offense, but how do you bench a player who you are hoping at any moment might become the best hitter in baseball again?

So with Christian Yelich hitting again and the best pitching in a new era of pitching dominated baseball, maybe we could see a Milwaukee Brewers World Series? 

It sure would be nice, and I like to see my co-workers happy.

But why am I telling you all this?

Oh, I have some baseball player pictures and I just got going on it out of nowhere. 


Here's the greatest baseball player ever, in my opinion. I asked him to sign his library card but he absent mindedly signed a baseball instead.

Maybe I was wrong up above there. Maybe the best player ever was this catcher below. When I was, er, taking this picture I felt a real fondness for the guy and his smile, and by all accounts Josh Gibson was loved by everyone, though how much of that is myth and legend I am not equipped to know. It's also pretty tough to judge a Negro League Player, but that he was one of the greatest baseball players ever seems profoundly evident.

This, below, of course is just a kid who comes to my library, but I know for a fact that he pitches in Little League. This summer he'd sometimes come in to the library in uniform after games. He seems a little depressed to me after these games, so maybe his team doesn't do so well?

He's always asking me if we have any books on Joe Shlabotnik, who, apparently, is his favorite player.

We don't have any books on Joe Shlabotnik.

And finally, I wasn't born when this photo below was taken, but late in this player's career I did see Willie Mays play for the Mets when they came to town to play my Dodgers. That's likely the best player I ever saw play in person, though he was a bit past it at the time, and I was a bit before it.

And with that, I leave you for the day.

Go Brewers!

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Don't get mad


There is some dark part of me that wanders the Internet looking for things to get mad at. This is not good for my spirit. But I am clearly not alone in this. Much of the Internet is obviously constructed along these very lines; a series of rich opportunities to become enraged, disapproving, disappointed, frustrated, and angry. 

Why is the Internet like this?

I don't know, but it infuriates me!!!

Oh. You were hoping for the non joke answer?

Me too.

Fortunately this inducement to rage is not all of the Internet. There is also the part of the Internet designed to sell you stuff. And sometimes, if one is very careful, and a little bit lucky, one can even find the part of the Internet designed to inform or entertain you. That part's pretty neat. But why can't there be more of that! It just makes me so...

No, I think that joke's all used up.

Lately I have been trying to use rage as a kind of barometer for my time on the Internet, the canary in the coal mine of sorts. Before I look at or watch something, an article, a site, a thread, a video, I might do a little check: "Am I likely to be able to watch this without becoming furious?" But also then, when I'm reading or watching something, I am trying to take my getting furious as a measure of the very quality of what I'm consuming. If I'm watching or reading something that makes me furious, even if that seems righteous and just, even if that makes perfect sense in accordance with the content, maybe that content just... isn't... very... good.

I read a large amount, both in books and online. And I have come to watch quite a bit of YouTube videos. Some of all that is in Politics, and concerns injustice, the terrible ways the world works, and the needless suffering that is caused to so many for such small and horrible reasons. But I have found in the best of those videos and books, the ones that speak most clearly and honestly, the ones whose understanding is rich and full, no matter how dark and bitter and sad the subject is, I do not become enraged. 


I am enlightened.

Relevant Life is a Fountain Pages for further exploration: