Sunday, January 31, 2010

Freezing our butts off to get some solid night shots in Montreal - the side-by-side shooting experiment continues.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Coooppppyyyy cool construction in Montreal on our quest through the city to find what we were told was the best poutine on the planet.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Again, way to go with the interactive art, Montreal.

Sweet mural, Montreal.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Finally got the clip below up and running thanks to John's Vimeo account. Many apologies for error. Check it out.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sequence 1 from John F. McClellan on Vimeo.

Annnnd I'm on another train. This time northbound to Montreal and this time, with a buddy! Big steps for me... this travel with someone thing. I'm a pretty laid back traveler, but let me tell you, John takes the cake. Ahh haaa...ugggh... I'll explain it to you someday when you are older.

Though we will be spending a night in Montreal, our main expedition lies in Mont-Tremblant, a gem of the Canadian ski scene. Now, I am a proficient and experienced skier, but my (currently passed out) partner in crime to the right of me here, is basically a polar bear with an insatiable desire for all things surf and ski related. Our skill sets in this instance? A bit different. Our goals? The same. Pop in the headphones and boogie down the slopes. Good times, good times and more good times.

And the above? I adore this love/hate relationship. So much passion! So much motivation! So much dedication! Oh, and quite funny too.

Video: One of my favorite silly clips from Turbo. Gorgeous ski film, by the way. Many thanks to said Polar Bear for introducing me to it and for cutting it to post to the blog.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Designed by American artist/architect/OSS member/silk entrepeneuer, Jim Thompson (I highly recommend clickling), this angel hails from a most unlikely place - Bangkok, Thailand. While I am unfortunately not in Thailand at the moment, this little love delicately traveled back from Asia with me in February 2008 to remain in its permanent home in Monessen, Pennsylvania.

Since I was unable to see my family over the holiday season and the show is now over, a lovely trip to Pittsburgh was in order to celebrate a very belated Lutheran Christmas, a slightly belated Orthodox Christmas and Russian New Year (also referred to as Old New Year).

And actually, Russian New Year is the reason for writing today. I spent the day in the angel's home yesterday, which is owned by an angel of other sorts. A 92-year-old woman who lives alone, cooks, cleans, bakes, trims shrubs, cuts her hair, knocks icicles off her gutter (with a broom stick) and says the rosary religiously 1-3 times a day. As you can imagine, these feats also come with the necessary amounts of stubbornness and determination. The woman still hand-washes dishes faster than me.

No part (to our knowledge) of our family is directly Russian, but we are primarily Eastern European by descent, which explains why my grandma met my grandpa at a Russian New Year dance on January 14th, 194_. The year, in this case, is irrelevant, as she was simply glowing all day on January 14, 2010. She had recently cut her hair to suit a left-side-part and placed a crystal bobby-pin on the right, not for decoration, but for efficiency. She looked beautiful. Just as you can hear a smile through the phone, if you missed the light in her eyes, you could taste her happiness in her pirohy* yesterday.

Oh pirohy, pirohy... heavenly pirohy.

My pap-pap passed away in 1997, truly a man with the heart of gold. One of the first stories she told me yesterday was his arrival to her house on that January day.

She smiles, looks at her latest batch of beef soup, looks up at me, smiles even brighter:

"When he showed up, I thought (groans)... he was wearing a sport coat and all the other men going to the dance had rented tuxedos. It was the new year! You were supposed to dress up!"**

This woman is a perfect example of why I don't believe in the description of true love that subscribes to one spouse passing soon after the second. Last time I checked, it was 2010 - thirteen years after his passing and she is just as wonderful as ever. Sure, her body isn't as strong as it used to be, but she has one of the greatest, simplest philosophies I've ever heard: "I'm just grateful I can get out of bed in the morning." - says the woman, who, when she can't sleep... bakes pies. Actions speaking decibels louder than words.

To get back to our friend pictured above, we didn't have a candle to light for Pap-Pap, but I did have my camera and we did have the angel. Very cool to think that I wouldn't have been sitting there with her if it hadn't been for yesterday, over a half century ago. You can say that about a lot of things and a lot of dates, but it just felt poignantly cool yesterday.

*Common to most Americans as pierogies, its singular in Slovak, piroh, is sadly as unknown as canolo/cannoli is to Italian-Americans.

**In relaying this story to my parents later that night, my mom knew it and my dad, haha, my dad just smiled a deep, soulful smile and said, "I loved that man."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

One of the classiest joints in which I've set foot in NYC. I will not disclose the location online of said night-spot, just know that it is definitely open on Sunday nights and definitely a place one should keep on the hush-hush.

And to think, my day started with "Batman"! How does your wintry, non-snowy day get better from there? Elementary, my dear Watsons. Your partner in all things exploratory, wild and fun says, "Hey, I just bought a few rolls of film, I've got my Lomo, grab your baby (for new readers, 'tis nothing less than my camera) and let's go."

While it took a little more than that to drag me away from Batman (the lack of quotes is not an error, I repeat, not an error), I hopped the 4 to the J to meet John on the frigid corner of Delancey and Allen to begin implied photo journey.

It should be mentioned that I am on two very personal quests to be accomplished in the next five years. I partially agreed to this frolic in the frozen air to further one of the two goals to teach myself to not be ridiculously cold anymore. The other has to do with snakes. I'll keep you posted on both, not to worry.

Traipsing around the Lower East Side, we allowed the cross-walk man to guide every step. I like to pretend that I make choices on my own, but that little LED man has led me on more expeditions so far than any other single factor in New York. While he guided us in the direction of the Flatiron, I remembered that there was a delightful joint called the Rye House, which had garnered much respect from the New York circuit of Pennsylvanian transplants. Supposedly it was a suitable representation of some of our weird customs. Me being me, I knew of its existence and I knew the neighborhood, but had no clue of its precise location. Rather than dragging John across the universe, I made a wise decision in these modern times. What! Heck no! My good for nothing Blackberry browser? Nope. A phone call to the one and only GianCarlo. Not only did I get the cross streets, but I got him too! How about that!?! A 9-6 advertising guy hitting the town with two freelance crazies on a Sunday night!! Very few things make me as excited as this phenomenon... and tap-dancing elephants.

To proceed, as far as I could tell, the only PA thing about this place was their use of wood in the decor - but that was it and that's a stretch. I had a local beer (local Manhattan beer... meh) called Chelsea "Hoppy Holidaze" and some clam chowder. PA? I don't think so. Make no mistake, I love New York, but select Pittsburgh breweries could hop those holidaze to beer heaven! In fact, I can hear Penn Brewery call my name! As I write this!

Just for you, I shall ignore its summons and continue.

Next? Undisclosed location above, donated to my knowledge bank by Carlo. Personal inquiries will be honored.

Photo, photo, photo... diner, diner, diner. Hollywood Diner. Yes. Nothing in the world like a Monte Cristo at 3 a.m. Monday morning with two beyond wonderful dudes - photo/camera dudes at that.

Who knew things could be better than Batman on a Siberian winter night?

Photo: Racy wallpaper - what else do you want me to say?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ok. I lied. Tomorrow is the day.

Until then, the only thing I can say is all I've ever really wanted is a tap-dancing elephant.

Happy, oh so very happy. I wonder what he charges for lessons.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Locomotive Breath. Jethro Tull.

Too much of a glare to edit photos on this westbound train. The stories of perfect Sundays shall resume tomorrow.

Headphones in, heater on (obviously I mean my overheating Macbook Pro), siesta - now.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Above? The German-made "Grand MA" lighting console, used by a majority of large productions all over the world. Complete mastery of this board means that you are one smart, well-trained cookie. Sadly, mastery is eons away from my skill level, but I was delighted to begin to learn its basics, separate from my work with the follow spots. If the show designers had wanted to, in addition to lighting and effects, they could have controlled all the projectors through this thing too - and trust me, that's a whole lot of expensive, high-tech gear channeled through one console. I would love to bore you with specifics, but I'm still learning myself.

I often wonder if Fisher-Price models their baby tables after lighting/audio boards with all the lights, buttons, knobs, levers, drawers, dials, colors, etc., etc., etc. perhaps with the intention we all will become board ops one day? If that is indeed their intention, Fisher-Price... I salute you. What a world of fun. What a gorgeous, gorgeous world of technical fun.

Photo: Grand MA, John's hand and Act II. My station/deck was just to the left of the board, so when I rolled my chair over to try and shoot this picture, I managed to get tangled in my headset AND get my chair wedged into the platform. Grace comes in many forms, my friends, but sometimes she goes on vacation.

Note: At the time, I liked this photo better with the show in focus, but now I wish I had shot it the other way around!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Two to three times a day... for two months... this angle... long, wonderful hours.

On that note, take it away Bing!

Where it's snowing all winter through, that's where I want to be
Snowball throwing, that's what I'll do!
How I'm longing to ski!
Through the snow-oh-oh-oh-oh...

(I can find "White Christmas" and/or Bing Crosby appropriate for most any occasion, at most any time of year. Try me in July.)

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

She learned that from me. Forget the gymnast mother, the Cirque-act-designer father. All me. You should see me juggle flaming maracas upside down on a highwire. Defies all laws of physics, really.

Photo: Elena Lev, one of the most graceful contortionists I've ever seen, performing her hoops act for Cirque du Soleil's Wintuk.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

With the Cirque schedule being what it is, it's very difficult to accomplish lengthy tasks in the hours we are actually off. Those hours, of course, not pertaining to normal human functionality, come at unusual times, where one can sleep, eat, read and not get two of his/her 16x20 photos printed. Why are we printing such large photos, you ask? New Years Eve, of course.

Let me explain. A very dear friend of mine, Mr. Chris Hondros (there's an entry on him from the summer, if you are unfamiliar) and his close friend, Mr. Todd Heisler, were throwing what was destined to be the greatest NYE party ever. Renting a gorgeous space (with multiple fireplaces, might I add) in Hondros' former Brooklyn loft building, the dynamic duo of a Getty staffer and a New York Times staffer were asking their friends to contribute his/her art to the NYE decorating cause. What a stellar idea! So I get the call from Chris, asking if I "happen to have" any 16x20 (or larger) prints of my work "lying around."

"Uhhh nope."
"Ok, Alli Harv, if a few happen to materialize in the next day, you just let me know and I will swing by to pick them up."

Yoi. How on Earth was I going to pull this off? We're not talkin' run to Kinko's/Staples and get this printed, but legitimately take the time to choose prints, tweak prints, choose a printer, choose a paper, choose an ink and choose a frame with maybe-a-border-maybe-without-a-border-I'll-see-when-I-get-there?

The truth is, I didn't end up having time for most of that. It's not really like me to crap out on something so cool, but this year it just wasn't going to happen. What I did have time for was the lengthy process of sorting through hundreds of gigabytes in order to find a print I'd actually want to put on my wall. You better believe though, that if I was dropping the cashola to do this right, that thing was going on a wall somewhere.

My stroll through digital memory lane had me stumble upon the above image - one that just didn't make the cut the first time around. I don't think this is the one I would have printed, but it was one of the first shots of a great friendship developed that summer, so I had to pull it into my "edits" pile. Just before I started writing this last night, I saw the file number on my desktop and immediately picked up the phone and called "T-Funk" as he's still labeled in my phone. I've never called him by that name, as everyone else does, but it kinda made me laugh. He didn't pick up, but I left him a stupidly long, nonsensical voicemail. Goodness only knows what I could have been talking about, but whatever it was, I assure you it was endearing.

The outcome of all this?

1. No prints with my signature on the walls of that Brooklyn loft.
2. A pretty solid reason to wear a vintage black leather pencil skirt.
3. The greatest New Years Eve I've ever had.
4. A kick in the butt to give a very good friend a call.

And I'm more than ok with all of that.