Friday, September 28, 2007

happy birthday to my little man

my nephew, colin, turns three years old today. he's such a little ball of fire that it's incredible i got a portion of his body to stay still for this snap as we hiked through armstrong grove...congrats to naomi and alex on 3 years of parenthood.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

and the winner is....the loser

dear friends who took so much time and energy to give me your opinions about my tennis ball photos:
thank you thank you thank you. i know you are all desperately checking spackleshot for an update as to which photo i used. turns out a very interesting thing happened in the process of polling. 1) i was truly touched by your thoughtful analysis and sometimes complementary comments. 2) reading your often unique opinions only seemed to reinforce my own. i posted these photos because i was insecure about the shot i immediately chose from the group. i knew which photo i wanted from the start. i printed it first. in my mind it was the one. yet i was so unsure that it was the 'right' choice. turns out for good reason, as it came in last place. if i listened to all of you as you'd think i would since i'm the one who asked, i would have chosen the tennis ball disguised as a pepper. yet i rebelled. the more you guys passed up my first choice, the more confident i became that it was the one. and it was. so i present to you the loser which was my winner.....maybe i just tricked you all into commenting to show you how fun and easy it is. and maybe in the future you'll be so inspired that we'll continue to have this great conversation. or other great conversations....okay, enough.
oh, by the way, 'tennis ball, soft' was very well received by my class, who couldn't imagine me using any other shot. thank you for your encouragement!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

the brooklyn open 2007

okay people, it's time to mull over my weekly 'pod' assignment. i know this wasn't your favorite entry last week, based on the lack of comments. it's long and boring, and who really wants to hear about my sorry creative process? but tough luck! do you think this is all just for you? i know, it's so exhilarating here at spackleshot that you may have been lulled into the idea that i'm only here to entertain you with brilliantly rendered stories and witty banter. but let's also remember that the 'shot' in this blog title refers to photography, not something very dirty, as my brother-in-law thought....and spackle--well it's my favorite word. me. me. me. me. not you. college roommate, you were right. i am selfish. deal with it.

okay, now that daily therapy is over, on to my 'point of departure' journal.
this week's assignment: tennis ball.

23 september 2007
the tennis ball. i don't know. not feeling this. not having a raving mad genius moment that transforms the mundane object into art. but do i ever? figured i'd take the ball and my camera everywhere i go and see what situations arise. but that hasn't worked out at all since i'm actually expected to work and the term "down time" doesn't apply even to a lunch break. spent some time with the ball at home though.
we had a lot of fun. started out on the fire escape in the morning. right now my plants are in the strange state of dying while still ripening their last pieces of fruit. green cherry tomatoes and green sweet peppers. the tennis ball camouflaged in nicely: a big unripe piece of fruit. i like the humor of the shots, though it's a bit cheap.
more humorous was running into the old polish woman with whom i share a fire escape, wearing my sleep t shirt and shorts with no bra, photographing a tennis ball in my tomato plants. language barrier. she gets no explanation, just a good laugh.

next i moved inside and photographed my friend the ball sitting atop my bedbug-war-torn apartment's mountain of garbage bags that contain my long lost belongings. i know there is no reference point for most people in these compositions, but they mean everything to me. does it matter?

moving into the empty living room i pulled out my big blue exercise ball which dwarfed little wilson. i wanted to isolate 'son' and emphasize their size discrepancies, implying the tennis ball was son to the exercise ball, but it just didn't work. not macro? letters too close together?

instead i became entranced with the sun throwing blue light through the ball, chilling the hard wood floor. suddenly it's a more planetary relationship.

when it comes down to it though, i love the texture, the hair of the close up. one close up between my knees personifies the ball as a bald baby with one curly hair catching the light. nice texture in my shorts and correpsonding stray leg hairs. another personal, yet not universal favorite.
the shot below is technically better because the highlights aren't blown out, but i think the other one is more special.

so i'm left unable to choose a shot between what i have, unsure if i need to reshoot. i like the abstract shots but are they anything other than color studies? seth says that after all, photography is a visual medium, yet we must go further than pretty...let me know which YOU, dear reader, like best, and why (if you can figure that out)!

Saturday, September 22, 2007


looking down from 7 world trade center at sunset.

little things mean a lot

Blow me a kiss from across the room
Say I look nice when I'm not
Touch my hair as you pass my chair
Little things mean a lot

Give me your arm as we cross the street
Call me at six on the dot
A line a day when you're far away
Little things mean a lot

i wanted to open this post by saying, "patsy cline got it right". but then i looked up the lyrics to this old favorite song from my childhood and found that it was actually recorded by kitty kallen. kitty who? i thought i knew of all the famous kittys. kitty kelley, kitty carlisle-hart, kitty hawk, miss kitty from gunsmoke, hello kitty....interesting. okay, so let's start over.

kitty kallen got it right. hmm. not as powerful. nonetheless, i haven't felt too well this week. kind of a low-grade, underlying, is it stress, depression?, getting sick, i don't know kind of a feeling. one night emre suggested tofu vegetable soup from our very nice, very clean (i know, lucky) chinese take-out place on the corner. i guess it's my equivalent to chicken soup. are they coming out with a 'tofu soup for the soul' collection anytime soon? i hope not.

anyhoo. the soup indeed nursed me nicely. but even nicer was when i later ventured to the kitchen and found this plate of discarded mushrooms on the counter. mushrooms, those vile creatures that contain far too much animal vibe for me to stomach. mushrooms, the vegetarian alternative ALWAYS. mushrooms, oh how i loathe you. so why is my heart swelling with love at the sight of this disgusting fungus?

emre picked the mushrooms out of the soup for me. i don't need much. i don't demand the chocolate and flowers on valentine's day. i don't want the big diamond ring. you picked the mushrooms out of my soup. i love you.

Friday, September 21, 2007

rafter, could we swap mayors?

i know that it's unlike me to post anything that is deeper than drivel, yet i'm sitting in front of the computer with tears streaming down both cheeks. a politician follows his heart? unbelievable. at five minutes, this video is a bit long, but worth every second. could we interrupt the scheduled programming to hear some good news for a change?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

look at emre's little sis go!

congratulations are in order for emre's too-beautiful-to-be-so-nice sister, yasemin, who just landed the lead role in turkey's newest hit primetime television show, 'pusat' (which translates to 'weapon' in old turkish). yasemin plays the eponymous boxer's ex (and future) girlfriend. let's see her in action, fretting over the possibility of danger in the boxing ring. by the way, this modest kiss on the cheek scene is quite scandelous, as depictions of physical affection on tv in turkey are let's say, not as liberal as they are here in the U.S. of 'i can't believe they did that on tv' A. their formerly super-strict father, the elder mr. fish ('balik' means fish in turkish) is now suppressing urges to pass out, even though yasemin is 27 (?) years old.

by the way, yasemin's part is the first and last minute. in between is an oh so interesting boxing scene. time to fast forward!

in a totally unrelated yet favorite yasemin story, when emre was 2 years old he pointed to his pregnant mother's tummy and said, "you have a yasemin inside of you". turns out the baby was born a girl, and emre was right. he then proceded to abuse this fact hundreds of times as a child, enlisting yasemin in a kind of servitude to her "name father". did i ever give thanks that i have sisters instead of brothers? though, what am i talking about? "you owe me 30 minutes of tickling on my left leg" is still ringing in my ears, sister christian! and i still haven't forgotten that set-up "kitty said the f-word!" sure abbie, i'm on to your tricks....

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

point of departure: the elements

tonight is my first night of the much dreaded yet anticipated 'point of departure'. i'm dreading this class because i'm supposed to clarify what my 'style' is. that word makes me squirm. the word on the street, or at least from my friend, august, is this teacher rocks so i am alternately excited yet terrified about getting my ass kicked. so what does kitty joe do to impress the teacher on the first day of class? you guys have all heard tales of the stomach turning extent of my teacher's pet syndrome. this is a good one. way to impress your teacher on the first day of class: just don't show up. yup. that's what i did. in my worst blunder of my new school career, i really, truly believed, all summer long, that my 'pod' class would meet monday nights. tailored my work schedule around it. it seems, however, i must have been suffering from a bout of temporary dislexia because that M was really a W! wednesday nights?! naturally, i discovered this fact on a thursday, a day too late, and i'm only now emerging from the depression and self loathing this incident produced. ugh! rocks in my head, bugs in my bed. yes, i'm blaming the bugs. it's cheap, but they deserve it. i corresponded with my teacher and he was understanding, though i've probably cemented my reputation as an airhead. he forwarded me the first class assignment, which is to photograph the four elements. earth, wind, fire and water. remember now, this is 'point of departure' so creativity is a must here. one thing i already love about the class is that we are supposed to keep a journal detailing our ideas and experiences completing the assignments. just say the word 'journal', and i'm there. so here we go.... reverb please....EXCERPT FROM KITTY'S CLASS JOURNAL

'the four elements. earth, air, fire and water. hmm. stumped on this one for days. then a piece of inspiration hit me, bounced off the floor and started to slowly unfurl. i was at work, setting up for a rosh hashana celebration on the fortieth floor of 7 world trade center. the view was incredible. the atmosphere was so clear. buildings were stacked like blocks all around me. the bridges over the east river looked like toy models i could reach out and pluck with my fingers, plop down somewhere else. the land was covered with this amazing network of buildings all the way to the horizon. 'wow!' i thought. 'look how we've covered the earth!' from that vantage point i did feel like i was looking down on a sphere and new york city was the whole world. i'd been thinking a lot about the elements, due to this impending assignment. i started thinking about how the elements affect our lives in new york, or how we as humans affect the natural elements, or what elements translate into in our urban setting.

urban elements.

there it stretched out below me. our earth carpeted with our dwellings, apartments, offices, businesses, places of worship, bombed out war zones, storage. steel, concrete, wood, poles. even central park, artificially constructed like a train model landscape. tree here, lake there.

fortunately, i had my camera with me.
unfortunately, i was a work. these people had the nerve to expect me to boss waiters around rather than shoot to my heart's content?! so i itched and ached until finally i stole away into an empty conference room and took some shots.

nikon D70s. 50mm 1.4 lens. i had a terrible time with window reflections. couldn't control the lights in the room. also, i know i'm overdue for a polarizing filter. i had one for two fun-filled weeks. then i left my nikon n90s on the roof of a rental car in new mexico (another one of my fine, brainy moments). drove off obliviously, camera clinging to the roof until about 50 mph, at which speed i heard an ominous scraping above and saw a black ufo out the rear view mirror. it took an entire tear filled hour to find that camera in the roadside shrubs, during which time i berated myself, insisting i don't deserve nice equipment. the camera was shockingly resilient, with 'only' $450 worth of damage. but that polarizing filter seemed to be the lens' hero, absorbing the impact of the fall, completely shattered, so the lens didn't have to.
okay, so as i struggled to photograph through that reflection-ful glass, i yearned for a polarizer. but i also wonder, as far as sky goes, how much is too much? past teacher of mine told me i 'over polarized' the sky on that trip. hmmm. reflections aside, though, i'm happy with the image. it conveys what i want.

earth. adapted into human environment.

started thinking of the other elements in similar context. wind. i see air conditioning, fans. artificial wind. but then i'm walking through mc carren park and i see astounding imprints of leaves in the asphalt. wow. i am struck by the power of nature. wind has left its imprint on the urban landscape, blown that leaf right into the (albeit wet) pavement. i ran home to fetch my camera, delighted. it was an overcast day. i was shooting the grey sidewalk. blah. got extremely close up (as close as i could without macro!) to make the shots look interesting. had to mess with the levels in photoshop, though, to coax some contrast out of the blah images.
had fun kneeling on the sidewalk, people walking by only noticing the imprints because i was there photographing them. people oohing and ahhing. toddlers running to me to pose. some shots just of imprints. some shots with imprints plus a real leaf. the latter are beautiful, but i think the lone imprints are more appropriate for my idea. runner up is here: i love the diagonal pavement lines which look so much like wind. but alas, i chose the first image because the imprint is so powerfully deep...

on to fire.
i immediately think of my industry-ringed neighbhorhood. i live in greenpoint, brooklyn--factory worker's houses turned into homes for polish families and hipsters. under our soil the aquifer is filled with black oil from a spill back in the 50's larger than the exxon valdez disaster. nothing is done to clean it up. litigation drags on for decades. cancer and asthma rates soar. and we still live here, eat our pierogis and delight in the new ice cream shop down the street.
but the newton creek sewage treatment plant is impossible to ignore. some nights that awful smell wafts just a little too far into unwelcoming territory and i laugh as old factories are converted to million dollar lofts in that zone. it seems almost every time i drive over the pulaski bridge i am greeted by the neighborhood's volcanos--fire spewing from smoke stacks. always fire.
for two nights i've gone out with the tripod, whose mechanics allude me. nighttime. must use tripod--check!
and where the hell is the fire? no fire! 8pm. 10pm. 2am for chrissakes! i've ventured into the no man's land, the industrial wasteland surrounding the plant. i've choked on the hideous fumes, hoofed it over the pulaski bridge, greenpoint avenue drawbridge, for a better view, and still NO FIRE!!! time is running out. i'm becoming frantic and disappointed. my mind finds no alternative. i want my neighborly urban volcano!

and i, the bold nyc adventurer, drag my boyfriend along to "carry the tripod" because it's pretty deserted out there!

tonight, another try. printed my first 3 images today. earth, wind, water.
oh yeah, at least something came of one of my fire walks. stumbled on an "urban river" on a dark, deserted block. surprisingly, hand held the shot, just after sunset. editing between 3 very similar shots. level, level plus truck back lights, and tilted horizon. i love the tilt. i know i have to be careful with it because it's some yesterday's overused fad. but it comes so naturally to me. always has. i love the tilt. it's like sufjan's noise guitar adding edge to a folk song. tilt.

i'm having trouble abandonning this particular tilted image, though, because it allows you to see the tip of a building which is reflected in the 'urban river'. just love that composition more.

18 september 2007
another unsuccessful night stalking the sewage plant. my sister takes a photography class and hangs out shooting at wineries and the lake. i take a photography class and find myself nightly at the foul smelling (is that description even necessary?) sewage plant. hmmm....
got into a lengthy converstation with the security guard (after showing student id) about how unusual it is there's been no spewing fire this week. funny, he said. yeah, funny.
so, heartbroken i must go with plan b. emre actually thinks this idea is stronger, but my heart is all volcano. my next idea is merely the radiator--this city's version of the fireplace anymore. i know there were once fireplaces, but they've been bricked up.

Monday, September 17, 2007

which composition do you like better?

sorry, i'm gonna make you turn your head sideways. i have no idea why these photos refuse to load vertically, but since i'm just asking for an opinion and not trying to show off here, please bear with me. these are three almost identical photos, save for three distinguishing little details. AS ALWAYS, CLICK ON ANY PHOTO TO MAKE IT BIGGER!

first: the level

second: the level plus truck lights

third: the tilted horizon

okay, i want EVERYONE who sees this post to comment with a choice. now is your chance, you silent readers, to make a comment! even if you don't care, and hate them all. tell me why. and no, you don't have to sign in to comment! except mom. don't try to comment. just keep pretending you don't read this. please.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

get well soon, kim!

my kim, she is one amazing lady. how does she do it--balancing work, school, marriage and did i mention the toddler twins? i know, i've mentioned them a time or two. somehow, kim pulls off, weekly, way more than i can imagine ever handling in a month. and she still seems more grounded than the rest of us. it's true that she has an amazing support network, but i credit that to how wonderful she is to be around. we all selfishly love to help kim because she is a joy of a person. unfortunately, living 3000 miles away makes it pretty difficult for me to participate in that network. the best i can do is call and leave whining, profanity and siren (thanks,nyc!)-laden messages on her machine, providing her with comic entertainment. right now it's killing me especially to be away from her because KIM BROKE HER FOOT! oh the universe is terrible and cruel! not that anyone has the time or energy to be cast-clad, hobbling around on crutches, but least of all kim, running from class to work to the backyard with twins--it's just too much to imagine! i want to cook her meals, take care of her cuties and bring her an ice pack. instead, all i can do is follow through with her request to post more videos of rose and ginger to try to cheer her in her vicadin slumber. so beware the barrage! i also must apologize for the annoying fact that my voice jumps up at least two octaves when i talk to kids. kim used to call this my squirrel voice, because she first observed it a couple years after i moved to new york. she came to visit me and noticed that i seemed a little hard up for nature, thus became obsessed with the movements of squirrels in the park, calling them like they were precious creatures. have you seen those floaty tails?! now with rose and ginger around, the squirrel voice is here to stay, and in fact, ever present. can't help it. must try.

'tickle me...i have a belly button'

'i'm going away'

'breakfast blues'

'the waiting spot'

and three more!
'at la calaca loca'
'now you're recording'
'who are you?'

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

sebastopol sky

mid july. i'm standing in the driveway of the house where i grew up. if you run 17 laps around the gravenstein apple trees and swing set it equals a mile. i know because my freshman p.e. teacher instilled in me the fear of flunking if i didn't improve my dismal 15-minute-plus mile. so being the teachers pet that i just can't help being, i measured the driveway, foot by foot, did the math, and then huffed and puffed those 17 laps of gravel every night. still, no matter how hard i tried to be more athletic, i could never quite win her approval. maybe it had something to do with SOMEONE who shares my last name calling her a dyke when she thought she was out of ear shot. maybe that.
but tonight i'm standing out in the driveway just talking with my dad and my sister. i look up and this is the sky i see. same sky that i ran under those nineteen years ago. sunset. cherry plums. old fort that kiyomi and i built. the mailbox that replaced the cherry bombed one on the fourth of july. 1955 ambulance. sunset. cherry plums. old fort that kiyomi and i built. the mailbox that replaced the cherry bombed one on the fourth of july. 1955 ambulance. sunset. cherry plums. old fort that kiyomi and i built. the mailbox that replaced the cherry bombed one on the fourth of july. 1955 ambulance. sunset. cherry plums. old fort that kiyomi and i built. the mailbox that replaced the cherry bombed one on the fourth of july. 1955 ambulance....sigh.

Monday, September 10, 2007

more vegetable porn OR flattery will get you everywhere OR still life with homegrown peppers

yes, that is my bra. you might scratch your head and think, "why would kitty arrange such a ridiculous still life?" and to you i say. i didn't arrange it. this chaos is a hallmark of my crazy apartment. we're still in boxes. going on the third month of that joy. so an overturned chair holding both my bra and the colander of vegetables i picked from the fire escape is a perfectly normal sight here at bedbug central. my eye was merely caught by the coincidental matching color spree.

closed the door to the empty bay ridge apartment i was sleeping in (extermination number 4, my friends) saturday morning at 6am to ride the subway for two hours to work a spoiled 13 year old's bat mitzvah. i know, you're jealous. left the shell-shocked cat huddled against the closet wall. with all of this getting crated up and left with strangers every two weeks this summer, she is constantly threatening suicide, refusing to eat. thank god she's not one of those i'm-mad-at-you-so-i'm-going-to-pee-on-your-bed kind of cats because frankly, that just might send me over the edge right after her.

with this lovely outlook, emilia easily brightened my day at work by declaring, "kitty, i'm addicted to your blog!" and to emilia, i say: flattery will get you everywhere. hence today's edition of 'more vegetable porn'. i'd been sitting on this photo of emilia proudly wielding her eggplant for quite some time, trying to put some distance between the barage of vegetable related posts that dominated my blog this summer. but truthfully, the veggies were the highlight of one shitty summer. so here you go, emilia. you are one foxy polish chick! have i mentioned that before?

i know, amy, the focus below is slightly off. i was trying really hard! naturally it seemed on the shots i nailed the focus, the composition was poor (concentrating too hard on the focus?)

Thursday, September 6, 2007

fun quote of the week

emre: "can we throw this soap away? where did you get it? it's terrible--so cheap! it doesn't even foam!"

me: " gave it to me for christmas in my stocking."

emre: "oh."

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

birthday gift, anyone?

the big thirty-two is knocking on my door, and so, coincidentally, is pj harvey, playing just two nights after my birthday at the dreamy beacon theater! and of course i'll need to take a date, so you may need to win the lottery in order to fund this dream of a show. maybe some of my anonymous fans want to pool together to get on my good side. maybe the bedbugs want to surprise me, just to say, "hey, thanks for the blood. what extreme hospitality! really, you didn't have to pack up all your stuff on our account!"

in other celebration news, today i can officially say, "i've lived in new york for eleven years!" it's high time for dad to come visit!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

i'd like to thank god, the academy & evan

this post serves duals duty as:

1) something ridiculous to share with my adoring audience

2) a big fat thank you to evan, who 'loaned' me his canon powershot a95 point and shoot when he upgraded to a gorgeous leica p&s.

why, you ask, would i want a point and shoot when i spend all my loot on my nikon dslr system? the answer is the above photo, taken last night at midnight as emre and i tottled back from our favorite new bar, the mark bar, WHICH HAS SKEE BALL, darts, pool, candyland, an ouiji board and very often FREE FOOD. emre had a true 'beginner's luck' moment, nailing the impossible 100 slot on his first ball, which crushed his heart with each subsequent 10er. the sad news--no tickets for redeeming swirly candy sticks.

anyhoo, in another part of greenpoint, where i don't often tread, we came across the above 'chinese musician' restaurant. wow. what a name. where did it come from? was it opened by a proud chinese musician? can you only eat there if you are a chinese musician? or are the diners graced with the music of a chinese musician? first i had my usual, 'man--i wish i had a camera with me!' moment. my d70s is just to bulky and valuable to tote everywhere i roam in this city. then disappointment gave way to excitement and supreme thanks to evan for the loan. yeah, i suppose, relating to my last post, that a camera phone would do the trick. but did i mention how much fun i'm having with the video?

i just want to mention that the following segment was not coached (except i asked her to repeat it for the camera). one day my friend kim reported that ginger just came out with the following statement, and now periodically declares:

Saturday, September 1, 2007

otherwise known as the machine that hypnotizes

again, i'm talking about new jersey. but that's what happens when a city girl hits the 'burbs for a weekend in a parental house. one that gives you towels and food cable and a swimming pool, and doesn't charge you. first you heard about the fat lip, then the tanning salon. i've yet to share some of the other photos i took, but for now, i had to take a moment to marvel over emir's new iphone. i'm one of those people who doesn't care about cell phones, who chooses the free phone with no camera. if i wanted to take a picture, i'd use a real camera! and why spend money on a phone when you can get one for free? okay, so the sound quality may not even rival two tin cans linked together with a piece of yarn, but don't talk to me about your iphone, cause it's stupid to spend money on that kind of blah blah blah......and then i met emir's iphone. how does he get anything accomplished, what with the zooming into satellite images of your childhood home and the checking of imaginary stocks!? and then it takes these great snapshots on this huge screen! so fun.
emir spent the weekend documenting our time in jersey with the iphone and i.m.-ing photos to his cousin in turkey, who inexplicably stayed up all night sharing our epic journey, thanks to emir's fancy new thing.
as you see from our dress, it wasn't a typical august weekend in jersey. in fact, it was chilly rain pouring down most of the time. but that didn't stop us from swimming in the ocean, the swimming pool, and visiting this farm where everyone was dressed in period clothing. and yes, kim, i have seen baby chicks before, but that didn't stop me from talking to them in the squirrel voice. new york does this to you. sorry!
indeed, it was so chilly that emre and emir were outfitted in collegiate gear, courtesy of the kirk household.
of course it wouldn't be jersey without a trip to a silvery diner where you eat cheese fries, onion rings, grilled cheese AND a banana split!
then a ride to the new jersey transit train where you sleep off the grease and magically wake up in penn station.

thank you, haley, for sharing your suburban roots with the rugrats!