Saturday, November 26, 2005

samurai photographer and her japanese speak n' spell

So the NPR piece was broadcast, and I didn't know about it until my father called me and told me. It was kind of bizarre hearing about it third hand (he had heard about it from one of his friends.)

You can hear it for yourself here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

samurai photographer hits the air

Apparently NPR will be airing a piece about NaSoAlMo either this week or next.

Also apparently, my *cough* melodious voice will be heard in this piece.

Details as they come.

I am sort of sorry I haven't been recording all the water pipe wierdness that has been happening in my apartment for the last hour. I awoke this morning to having no running water, which made me VERY angry (since I am supposed to go out later and I would like to brush my teeth.)

For the past hour, intermittently, the toilet has been filling/emptying of its own accord. I like to call it "Ghost Flushing". I wonder if there is a German word for this phenomenon, since they seem to have a word for everything else. Perhaps I will make one up.

In any case, the sounds emanating from my bathroom are quite odd, and could make for an interesting track. Hmmm.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

samurai photographer grapples with a new (to her) subculture.

seydi and taka
seydi and taka,
originally uploaded by samuraiphotog.
The sound an arm makes when it's being broken is terrifying. Imagine a dozen stalks of raw celery snapping in unison, and that's an approximation.

It was a sound I had never heard before today, but at the 28th Empire State Golden Arm Tournament of Champions, in the Port Authority bus terminal, I heard it twice.

I went there on a lark - If you know me even a little, you know that non-traditional competitions fascinate me. Aw, hell, I'm gonna call them "fringe sports", because let's face it, they might be popular, but they are still on the fringes of, say, baseball or football's popularity. The fact that one of the major sponsors of the New York arm wrestling circuit is White Castle was also a factor. As a lifelong Castle devotee, I couldn't resist.

Since most of the competitions I photograph on a regular basis aren't contact sports, I didn't know what to expect of this one. Not knowing how the participants moved, I decided to shoot this one from the rail and get a feel for the event. The only arm wrestling I have seen (besides heart-tugging father/son flick OVER THE TOP) has been by drunken friends in bars. That's all done sitting down. Today's competition was done standing.

An actual match can be over in a matter of seconds, or stretch out over a few minutes, depending on a number of factors. Referees are trained to know which grips and positions are likely to incur injuries - but sometimes even that isn't enough to stop sprains, strains, or even broken arms. I didn't get to ask anyone how often a break happens, but I would think it is not a very common occurance. When the first break of the day happened, mouths were agape and a curtain of silence descended on the crowd, punctuated only by the bells and clacks of the kinetic sculpture "New York Ballroom" which was situated to the right of the competition area.

Like poker, arm wrestling seems to draw a diverse group of people. Some of them don't even look all that muscular, until they roll up their sleeves. One of the most interesting things to me was the three Jewish men, wearing kippot and tzitzit. Two of them, I later learned, are considered some of the best arm wrestlers in New York City.

As I watched more and more matches, I found myself getting sucked into it. I started to feel about these guys the same way I feel about poker players - I want to know more about what their lives are like during competition. I started talking to a few of the competitors, wanting to make acquaintances.

This is a sport that definitely has its characters, and I think I'm in love.

For more information: For more photographs from today, click on the photograph.

samurai photographer goes solo, part 3

Some of the instruments/elements I am using on my as yet untitled album for NaSoAlMo, in case you were curious:

, my Travis Bean guitar with the single-coil pickups (a TB500)

My Anpanman speak n' spell

One of FM3's Buddha Machines

My kitchen

Recordings of people snoring, including me

There's more, but this should be enough to give an idea of which direction I am going with this.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

samurai photographer goes solo, part 2

It's November 15th, and that means that NaSoAlMo is half over.

I am pleased to say that my album is almost done - well, in a relative sense. Since the album has to be at the very least 29:09 (though Douglas has offered up Nick Drake's Pink Moon as another timing option, which is 28:22) and I have recorded about 19 minutes of music in total, I consider myself to be a little ahead, and am going to take a day or two to re-think some ideas and actually re-do some guitar parts.

A couple of days ago I allowed a swell guy named Joel from NPR to take a closer look at my creative process (which means I let him visit me at home, and I showed him some of my musical toys.) I am unsure when his piece will air, but I am pretty excited about the prospect of people hearing me get all goofy about the Anpanman Speak n' Spell.

I've also decided that I am going to let people outside "the circle" hear this one. Now that I've posted it, people can actually hold me to it. More details when I'm actually finished with the damned thing.

More music: Earth are playing two shows this weekend here in NYC, and I am really glad I am going to be around to see them. I anticipate ringing ears and a big, goofy smile on my face.

Monday, November 07, 2005

samurai photographer goes to the marathon

originally uploaded by samuraiphotog.
I've been going to the marathon to cheer/hand out tissues for a number of years now. This year, all of the other people who do it with me had other commitments (new babies, business trips) so I got to photograph it in more detail than I usually do.

Rather than post the stuff of the Elite runners and such, I chose to make public the more colorful people that make up the NYC Marathon.

Friday, November 04, 2005

samurai photographer by night

originally uploaded by samuraiphotog.
Now that I'm on a reduced day job schedule (as in: I don't have one any longer) I can get back to shooting every day/shooting late into the night. While I wish I had the steady paycheck, I think the timing is pretty fortuitous - it's poker season, after all.

I went by Radio City last night to try to see the striking musicians, but they had already gone. Also gone: the inflatable rat/cat combo. Bummer.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

samurai photographer goes solo

November is National Solo Album Month. (Check it out here) So I'm making one, again. Last year's was basically a record about recovering from my car accident. This year's, well, there's no big concept behind it (yet) but I know a few things about it so far:

a) It will be loud.

b) I will play guitar on it.

c) I will actually vocalize on it.

Please note: vocalize does not necessarily mean "sing" so don't get yer hopes up, cowboy.