"[My relationships were] like I was in these movies where the script was only half-written. When I’d get to the end of this half-script, the other actors wanted me to ad lib. But I had never gotten the hang of that. That’s why these movies were always box-office failures. Six of them in the past twenty years. I always blew the lines." ~ from my horrible first novel "Learn How To Pretend." (unpublished)(obviously)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Espaliered Apple Tree

I like the creepy effect of this shot. I've been very interested in the quality of light around dawn and dusk in New Mexico this Autumn. This shot was, of course, tweaked a bit, though not much. Mainly, I pulled the light up a bit, sepia-ed it (or desaturated) and added the blur at the edge.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Deer in the Target

by Robert Fanning

I only got a ten-second shot,
grainy footage of the huge deer
caught in the crosshairs
of a ceiling security camera, a scene
of utter chaos in a strip mall store,
shown on the late local news.
The beautiful beast clearly scared
to death in this fluorescent forest,
its once graceful legs giving out
on mopped floors, think Bambi
as a faun its first time standing.
Seeing the scattering shoppers,
you'd think a demon had barged
into this temple of commerce,
as they sacrificed their merchandise,
stranded full carts and dove for cover.
And when the aisles were emptied
of these bargain hunters, who was left
but an army of brave red-shirted
team members, mobilized by
the store manager over the intercom
to drive this wild animal out.
I wager there's nothing on this
in the How to Approach
an Unsatisfied Shopper
section in the Target employee handbook,
but there they were: the cashiers
and stockers, the Floor Supervisor,
the Assistant Floor Supervisor,
the Store Manager,
the Assistant Store Manager,
the District Associate Manager,
the District Supervisor,
the District Assistant Supervisor
and visiting members from
the Regional Corporate Office,
running after it, it running after
them, bull's eye logos on their red golf shirts,
everyone frenzied and panting: razor hooves
clattering on the mirror-white floor tiles,
nostrils heaving, its rack clearing
off-season clothes from clearance racks.
All of them, in Target,
chasing the almighty buck.

"A Deer In The Target" by Robert Fanning. Reprinted with permission of the author. Borrowed from Writers' Almanac

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Free Range Kids

“Increasingly, American children are in a lose-lose situation. They’re forced, prematurely, to do all the un-fun kinds of things adults do (Be over-scheduled! Have no downtime! Study! Work!). But they don’t get any of the privileges of adult life: autonomy, the ability to make their own choices, use their own judgment, maybe even get interestingly lost now and then.” The L.A. Times

What do you think?

Here's a post from a blog called Free Range Kids (http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/2008/04/06/why-i-let-my-9-year-old-ride-the-subway-alone/) by a woman who let her 9 year-old ride the subway alone in NYC.

As a parent, I know it's hard to let go and not panic whenever the kids are out of my sight. (hearing is not such a big deal). But is the world really that different from when we were kids? Or is it just "Different"?

The Happy Dumbing Of America

January 22, 2007
Source: New York Sun

Maybe we've been pointing to the wrong culprits when we attempt to assign blame for the dumbing down of America. (What is it this week — too much testing in the schools? Working mothers? Fox TV? It's hard to keep track.) It is quite possible that…

Read the article here: http://www.nysun.com/new-york/happy-dumbing-of-america/47126/

I'm out of the closet: I admit it. I'm an Archer's Addict

The Archers is a radio soap opera -- the world's longest running -- on BBC4. I listen to it via a podcast from itunes.

The show is about the residents of the fictional town of Ambridge and... Oh, hell. Here. This is lifted straight off the BBC Archers site.

What is The Archers?

* The Archers is a radio soap opera set in the fictional English village of Ambridge. It provides contemporary drama in a rural setting.

What will I hear?

* Ambridge is portrayed as a 21st century village, with all the pressures of modern rural life. You'll become involved in the characters' personal and business struggles, love affairs - happy and troubled - and village activities. And there are plenty of lighter moments too.

Who is it about?

* Several of the main characters are farmers: David and Ruth Archer at Brookfield Farm (dairy and beef), their cousins Pat and Tony Archer who farm organically at Bridge Farm (dairy and vegetables), and well-off Brian and Jennifer Aldridge at Home Farm (arable, sheep and deer), the biggest in the village.
* The Archer family is related to the Aldridges and to several other Ambridge families, including the Hebden Lloyds (riding school and vet), the Pargetters (stately home owners) and the Woolleys (retired business people).
* And there are lots of less well-off characters. Most of them live and work in and around Ambridge: on the farms, in the local pub (The Bull), at the village shop, the swanky Grey Gables hotel or St Stephen's church. Others might be found in the nearby market town of Borchester.
* Full details can be found in the Who's Who.
* And there are family trees for the main families .

How can I hear it?

* The 13-minute episodes are broadcast on BBC Radio 4 every day, Sunday to Friday at 7 pm, repeated the next day at 2pm (except Saturdays). There's an omnibus edition of all the week's episodes on Sunday morning at 10.15am.
* BBC Radio 4 is on 92-95 FM, 198 LW, and on digital radio and television
* You can also listen online , or get the programme sent to your computer in a podcast.

Anyway, it is highly addictive. Unless you are a total anglophobe, which many American's are.

I guess I should mention that I'm not an "official" addict (that is to day that I haven't actually paid my £10.00 to Archer's Addicts. There is also an alternative club known as the Archers Anarchists, whose motto is "The Archers are real - there is no cast."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It's Presshah Time!

Thanksgiving is only a week away. The semester is nearly over. I'm not sure if that's where the pressure is coming from or if it's just because I've got a lot going on/due this week.

I had a 13 page short story due this week -- though that got turned in last week, but we are critiquing it in class this week. I've got a quiz in my Hitchcock class today (Hitchcock is a hard word to type.) This afternoon I've got a meeting with my advisor and tomorrow a meeting for an independent study course I'm trying to get into for next semester. I've got another 100 pages to read for tomorrow on a book that I haven't found all that good. And, of course, there are more things coming up.

Roll into all that that I'm feeling sick (bronchitisish)and heading towards a bout of depression, and, well, there's my life.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Autumn Leaves 2

Autumn Leaves 2
Originally uploaded by rraabfaber
The colors, though they are in the brown mustard range, are still pretty stunning.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Rio Grande from Alameda Bridge


Rio Grande from Alameda Bridge, Albuquerque, NM
November 15, 2008

Posted by Picasa

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This work by Rick Robb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

North Beach, Corrales


Sandia Mountains from North Beach, Corrales, NM
November 15, 2008
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


It’s been kind of a rough day. Spent most of it trying to fill in the last bits of a short story that is due tomorrow. I should have insisted on doing it last weekend, when the squeezes family was here, but I was being the good guy and hanging.

The story itself kind of depressed me. Well, that and the weather. And my friggin iPod, when I pulled it out of the little charger/remote player thing we’ve got, froze up. It won’t reboot or even shutdown. And there is still glass in my ass from when some punks smashed my windshield at Halloween. And it’s time to start looking at next (final) semester’s classes. And it’s also time to get my grad school applications in order. And the bank just hit me with an NSF fee. And I’m practically broke.

I feel trapped. Not in my life with the squeeze, but in life in general. (This is all the result of that story, and the one I wrote before that, no doubt.) The economy’s got a lot to do with it. I just found out that the last place I worked has filed Chapter 11. The place before that folded. The place before that filed Chapter 13. My resume looks like shit.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Music Review

I ran across this review today -- though it is a couple of years old. I've been a huge Springsteen fan for years and years, something that is no mean feat in a city like Albuquerque, where we only knew of The Boss by articles in Rolling Stone, or from covers by Manfred Mann's Earth Band.

As it happens, I'm also a folkie, and work as a research assistant for David Dunaway, Pete Seeger's biographer, so Ron Radosh's review of The Seeger Sessions in American Interest Magazine is doubly appreciated. Radosh has a conservative - or at the least cynical - bent to his review, saying of Springsteen,
Perhaps realizing that the song hardly says “U.S. out of Iraq”, which is how many have portrayed its message, Springsteen has added to his tour Seeger’s old anti-Vietnam War song, “Bring ’Em Home”, in which he sings, “If you love your Uncle Sam, bring ’em home, bring ’em home/ bring them home from abroad” (Seeger had sung “from Vietnam”). Springsteen is entitled to his views, and he has made them clear. But do his audiences really believe that the United States should pull its troops out of Iraq immediately? Do they believe, as Seeger used to, that the singing of left-wing and antiwar songs has the power to change American foreign policy? For those who are antiwar (and certainly at least a minority of Springsteen’s audience is), the song works as catharsis. But as before, even in the political folk heyday of the Vietnam War, most of the audience shows for the music; the performers, meanwhile, show up to make it—and to sell records.
Ummm... Yeah, Ron. I think his audiences do. Maybe not people who dislike anything after Born To Run, but certainly his newer fans. We've had enough of being pushed around. Enough of having our lives (both actual and metaphorical) being sacrificed on the altars of war and corporate greed.

I don't know what sort of magazine this American Interest thing is, but their current issue has an article titled When He Wins: Three programs for a McCain presidency by Lawrence Eagleburger, Newt Gingrich & Charles Hill. It's a hoot! A scary hoot, but a hoot nonetheless.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Totem Frankenstein

Back in Chili, New York, when I was in 6th or 7th grade, my friend, Dave M., admitted to us that he'd sent away for the lifesize Frankenstein with glow-in-the-dark eyes. Unlike the paper model advertised on your site, this one was advertized as polyethylene. We were all amazed that he'd had the balls to order this thing -- I mean, we all always wondered how cool these things from the comic books could be... especially the lifesize Frankenstein with glow-in-the-dark eyes.

With the Frankenstein, we confused "polyethylene" with "polystyrene," the hard plastic that was used to make the football players for the vibrating football game we all had.

A few weeks after the order, we were hanging around in Dave's room. His mom poked her head in the door and handed him en envelope that had just arrived in the mail. It was a standard manila size and the return address was the same as the one he'd sent off to for the the lifesize Frankenstein with glow-in-the-dark eyes. We were all a little confused. How could you put a life-size 6 foot Frankenstein in an envelope?

He opened the envelope, reached inside and pulled out a folded piece of plastic. As he began to unfold it, we could see the face of a screen-printed green and black drawing of Frankenstein. I fell apart laughing and snatched it away, dancing around the room with it. It just hit me. "Polyethlene's not what they make the football players with. It's what they make Totem Trash Bags from!" The eyes weren't glowing though... until we shook out the envelope and found a little sheet with two round stickers of glow-in-the-dark material. I guess that the manufacturers saved money by not paying someone to pre-apply these -- thus passing the savings on to the consumer.

Frankenstein was renamed "Totem Frankenstein" and Dave and I (who were both budding cartoonists) drew many exciting and hilarious adventure with this new hero -- usually somehow involving him blowing down the street in the breeze.

(Thanks to Steve Conley for the reminder!)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Hrorscope: Taurus

Taurus April 20 - May 20

Enlightenment and confusion will both be yours this week, when a tree falls in the woods only to make the sound of one hand clapping.

From The Onion

Bring 'em home

I'm writing here as a 6 year veteran of the armed forces. This crest shown here is from the 5th Cavalry Regiment, which I served in during the Cold War.

I want to say that I understand the desire of certain politicians to finish the job, that to leave now is to admit defeat. But I also want people to understand what they are asking of our servicemen and women... Wait. Let me rephrase that. We aren't asking them to serve longer. We are ordering them. We had a spate of young people who, in the patriotic fervor of the times, enlisted to help fight America's common enemies. We repay them for this by abusing them heart, mind, body, and soul. Sending them back, extending their tours, holding national security as a higher ideal over their health and families.

This somehow reminds me of the corporate Fat Cat who gets rich by the labor of his underpaid employees. Substitute "General Public" for "Fat Cat" and "soldiers" for "underpaid employees." Don't make me spell out the entire analogy, let me just say that it is easy enough for the corporate CEO to ask for extra hours from his employees for the sake of the company, when he's enjoying the fruit of that labor.

And after all is said and done, that Fat Cat is floating to safety thanks to his Golden Parachute, while the employee is stuck without health care and trying to live on unemployment benefits.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Lemmings in trouble

I love this photo (as a photo.) See the related article at science.com. The little rodents, famous for pushing one another off cliffs as a way to control populations are now in trouble.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Some thoughts on change

The following email arrived in my box today....

Worth passing around

Some thoughts on change:

In the late 1950s, most Cubans thought Cuba needed a change, and they were right. So when a young leader came along, every Cuban was at least receptive. When the young leader spoke eloquently and passionately and denounced the old system, the press fell in love with him. They never questioned who his friends were or what he really believed in. When he said he would help the farmers and the poor and bring free medical care and education to all, everyone followed. When he said he would bring justice and equality to all, everyone said, 'Praise the Lord.' And when the young leader said, 'I will be for change and I'll bring you change'; everyone yelled, 'Viva Fidel!'

But nobody asked about the change, so by the time the executioner's guns went silent, the people's guns had been taken away. By the time everyone was equal, they were equally poor, hungry, and oppressed. By the time everyone received their free education, it was worth nothing. By the time the press noticed, it was too late, because they were now working for him. By the time the change was finally implemented, Cuba had been knocked down a couple of notches to Third-World status. By the time the change was over, more than a million people had taken to boats, rafts, and inner tubes. You can call those who made it ashore anywhere else in the world the most fortunate Cubans.

Fortunately, America would never fall for a young leader who promised change without asking, what change? How will you carry it out? What will it cost America? RIGHT?

Remember these words from Thomas Jefferson 'A government big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have.'

To which I responded...

Back in the 1700's, most colonists living in North America thought the Colonies needed a change, and they were right. So when a group of patriots came along with an idea called the Declaration of Independence, every colonist was at least receptive. When the young leaders spoke eloquently and passionately denounced the old system, the press fell in love with them.

You think nobody asked those questions of Obama? You think he wasn't scrutinized as much as McCain? You think we need more of the same? Yeah, America is just floating along on a sea of prosperity and happiness, isn't it?

This is one of the weakest bits of propaganda I've seen in a long time. The Republicans couldn't get the Muslim label to stick, so now they will compare him to a dictator? It is as easy to compare the Bush administration to the fascists of the 20s and 30s, or the KGB of the Kruschev era. Please. Give me a break.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Death to the Consumer Culture

Originally uploaded by rraabfaber

What a great title for this shot. Of course when I think of the little punks who stole the shopping cart and dumped it in the arroyo I get all pissy about the cost of groceries and the overhead that is created by this senseless vandalism. God, I'm old.

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This work by Rick Robb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Rio Grande Autumn

Originally uploaded by rraabfaber
This is just a test to see how well posting shots from my Flickr account works.

I took this photo a week or two ago as the leaves were changing.... and the water was flowing.... and stuff.

When was the last time you heard this after an election?

Crowds danced in the streets, wept, lifted their voices in prayer and brought traffic to a standstill. From the nation's capital to Atlanta to Los Angeles, Americans celebrated Barack Obama's victory and marveled that they lived to see the day that a black man was elected president.

Jubilation stretched into the early morning Wednesday in Washington, D.C., and a large crowd paraded on Pennsylvania Avenue with drums, balloons and a life-size cutout of Obama.

By 4 a.m., a few young revelers lingered among the reviewing stands being built for January's presidential inauguration.

"I heard that he won and I instinctively came here," said Hollis Gentry, 45, who lives about six blocks away. "I came down here to make a prayer... that we'll be able to change the nation and the world." (Source: AP via Breitbart.com)(italics mine.)

For so many years when the election's been called, we've heard people say "Thank God" as they breath a sigh of relief that the lesser of two evils did not win. For the first time in I don't know how long, people are saying "Thank God!"

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

'Change has come to America'

Wow. I can and can't believe it happened. I honestly never thought it would happen in my lifetime.

But it's not just the race issue. It feels like here is a man who will be able to get things done. At the least, for a brief moment in time, we can have a sense of hope.

The Squeeze mentioned to me that she wondered how many people voted for him because he's black. I reminded her that it probably got balanced out by the number of people who voted against him for the same reason.

It may not work. It may all blow up and go to hell. But I felt like if we went with McCain, it was just a guarantee of that. It's slippery slope time. Time to tread lightly.

As of tomorrow, I will remove all political content from this blog, with the exception of this post and the Obama tag on the right-hand column. That one I'll keep up there until January 20th.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Picture of the Week

From Wonkette.com comes this wonderfully crazy story of the Day of Prayer for the World’s Economies.

Here we have Christians seemingly praying to the golden calf (all grown up now into a bronze bull.)

Of all the things I've heard that signal a time of judgment for the church in America, this has got to be the most blatant.

Not surprisingly, this event is affiliated somehow with the Pat Robertson influenced 700 Club.