Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Seafood Month Challenge


Lionfish: photo by Cliff Hutson
Lionfish: photo by Cliff Hutson

National Seafood Month


October is National Seafood Month, a time to highlight smart seafood choices, sustainable fisheries, and the health benefits of eating a diet rich in seafood.

Scallops and Broccoli Slaw: photo by Cliff Hutson
Scallops and Broccoli Slaw: photo by Cliff Hutson

How to Celebrate National Seafood Month


There is more than one way to celebrate the month. The one I really like is put forth by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, which helps us make better choices for healthy oceans. They have issued a challenge ( #SeafoodMonthChallenge ) to post one seafood dish each week on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. 

I am not going to throw myself in to this, but I was challenged enough to go through my archives to find some photos that I thought were pretty good.

Shrimp Tacos: photo by Cliff Hutson
Shrimp Tacos: photo by Cliff Hutson


Calamari Steak and Pasta: photo by Cliff Hutson
Calamari Steak and Pasta: photo by Cliff Hutson

Cod and Greek Salad: photo by Cliff Hutson
Cod and Greek Salad: photo by Cliff Hutson 

It should be noted that I prepared all of these dishes prior to photographing them. And, I ate them soon after that.

Lionfish


I am issuing an additional challenge that people should try to eat more Lionfish. Eating an invasive animal for lunch or dinner is a great way to protect our environment. It reminds me of the the TV program, "Dexter". Which is to say, this is one of those instances where I can kill and eat something without any pangs of remorse nor guilt.



Wednesday, October 4, 2017

My 15 Minutes?

Evening Primrose: photo by Cliff Hutson
Evening Primrose: photo by Cliff Hutson


"In the future, everyone will be world-famous 
for 15 minutes", Andy Warhol

There is little doubt in my mind that I will ever be world famous. It is also said that “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house."  However, two recent publications use images of mine. So, my name might gain the attention of a few people from time to time.

Rainbow Bridge National Monument Brochure


Detail - NPS Brochure: photo by Cliff Hutson
Detail - NPS Brochure: photo by Cliff Hutson

The National Park Service is using my photograph of an Evening Primrose in a brochure for the Rainbow Bridge National Monument.


Gilia capitata: photo by Cliff Hutson
Gilia capitata: photo by Cliff Hutson

Wildflowers of Southern California


Closer to home, my photo (above) of Gilia capitata appears in a guide to facilitate the easy identification of wildflowers - "Wildflowers of Southern California (Adventure Quick Guides)" by George Miller.

Field Guide: photo by Cliff Hutson
Field Guide: photo by Cliff Hutson


I think that this is very flattering as Miller is a professional photographer, and all but a relative few of the images in the book are his own.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Musical Memories


Birth of the Cool: photo by Cliff Hutson
Birth of the Cool: photo by Cliff Hutson

Some months ago, one of my nieces put forth a challenge on Facebook for her friends to list famous musical acts that they had seen live and in person. I demurred at that time as most of the acts fell in the category of "some that I recognized, some that I had hardly even heard of".

But, I really could not let go of the idea, as over my lifetime I have had some memorable experiences.  and, needing a topic for this week's post have come up with a list that I have divided into three categories.


Jazz


Bud Shank
Charles Lloyd
Don Ellis
Frank Capp
Gearld Wilson (and his orchestra)
Laninie Kazan
Shelly Manne
Sonny Rollins
Willie Bobo

I was in my late teens and early twenties (and still am to some extent) an aficionado of jazz. Many a happy hour was spent listening to the MJQ, Wes Montgomery, and others - who I never saw in person.

But, I did see some truly great acts at Shelly's Manne Hole and The Baked Potato, among other clubs and other more less famous venues. However, the most moving was when Don Ellis, a family friend of one of my college classmates, did a solo performance in a small church in Westwood when my friend and his wife renewed their wedding vows.

Rock/Pop


Buffalo Springfield
Country Joe and the Fish
Elton John
Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention
Grateful Dead
Jefferson Airplane
Jimi Hendrix
New Riders of the Purple Sage
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
The Turtles

This is presented in a more or less alphabetical order. Although, by chance, the first of these groups that I saw was Buffalo Springfield which gave a free concert at Cal State LA when I was a student. 

I also first saw the Jefferson Airplane for free at an appearance in LA's Griffith Park that was basically just publicized on the underground radio station I listened to at the time. (Perhaps KMET - who can recall.)


Speaking of "I can't recall", I was tempted to add The Doors to this list. But, that is a very hazy memory. However, as someone once said - "If you can remember the sixties, you were not really there.


Oddly, the most disappointing of these performances was by Jimi Hendrix. I say most disappointing as I was a huge fan, and think that I still have everyone of his LPs - including the "Band of Gypsies" stuff which I do not care for, and the controversial UK issue of "Electric Ladyland". But, the night that I saw him at The Fabulous Forum he just did not seem to be even close to his best.


Blues/Country/Folk


B.B. King
Doc Watson
Joan Baez
John York
k.d. lang and the Reclines
Willie Nelson


Some readers might be surprised by my listing k.d. lang in the Country category. But, I saw her at the world famous Palomino Club when she was touring for the release of  the "Angel with a Lariat" album.  Albeit, she did the first set dressed like Dale Evans and the second in a simple black cocktail dress. Her rendition of "Three Cigarettes in An Ashtray" was unforgettable.

However, the most memorable of these performances was that by Joan Baez - almost fifty years ago, give or take a month or two. That was an afternoon that I shall always treasure.

It just so happens that Willie Nelson, who is listed last is also the last famous act that I saw in person. That was in February 2013 at Pomona College's Bridges Auditorium. And, since I don't get around much anymore, he might be the last.

Anyone else care to share?

Note: The astute reader will notice that this post is headed up by an image of a Miles Davis CD, yet he does does not appear on any list. I never saw him in person, but as this blog os called "Pictures and Words" i felt that I had to include an image and that was the most musical one in my archive.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Batch of Books & Another Anniversary

August 2017 Reading: photo by Cliff Hutson
August 2017 Reading: photo by Cliff Hutson

Harlem Detectives Series


All of the books that I finished reading this August were from one series by the American author Chester Himes. Interestingly enough, my binge watching the Netflix series "Luke Cage" led to my discovery of the author. I read six of the eight books which feature two black NYPD detectives — Gravedigger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson.

The stories are very well done, and can be said to rival the works of Raymond Chandler and Walter Mosley, as Luke Cage remarks more than once - this show is very clever in its allusions to culture and literature.

While the depictions of police brutality and blantant racism may be disturbing to many people, I highly these books to fans of the hardboiled detective genre. And, the TV show is not all that bad, either.


Jambalaya: photo by Cliff Hutson
Jambalaya: photo by Cliff Hutson

10th Anniversary


"The general rule [is] that whenever anything artistic is described as a “journey,” you can be pretty certain of going nowhere. "

- Peter Schjeldahl

I began writing this blog ten years ago this week. The first post was on September 4, 2007. It has been an interesting journey, even if the progress is uncertain. This morning I scrolled through a list of all the posts and found that by a large factor, the most viewed post is "Jambalaya with Shrimp, Ham, and Andouille Sausage", from January 2008. Why that is I have no idea. I have, in my mind, written many more informative posts, and may be even a thoughtful one or two. But, I guess my reading public knows what it likes.






Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Mt. Whitney - 55th Anniversary

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.” 
John Muir, The Mountains of California



Mt. Whitney Summit - 1962 - Cliff and Loncy Hutson, from left
Mt. Whitney Summit - 1962

This past weekend marks the fifty-fifth anniversary of my summiting Mt. Whitney, with Loncy, my oldest brother. It was his idea that we should do this to celebrate my sixteenth birthday.

Neither of us had ever backpacked prior to this. Although, he had done a stint in the army, so he had some experience with bivouacking. Also, we were both in good physical condition - he from his job, and me from my participation on high school sports teams - so we gave no thought to training.The whole trip was put together in a couple of weeks.

We obtained most of our equipment from the Army Navy surplus store at the Sunset Junction (which still seems to be there in some iteration, imagine that). The main purchases were knapsacks, Army canteens - which included a cup which could be used for cooking, and a foldable Stereo stove on which to cook. Loncy also bought a sleeping bag. But, I had my Mom make mine out of a wool blanket based on a design from a  card found in a box of Nabisco shredded wheat. Our food supplies were just things from the local market.

I have read that, nowadays, each year 19,000 people now attempt to climb Mt. Whitney from the east. We saw only about 10 - 12 (most of whom were very surprised to see us) over the duration of our trip. We spent one night at Whitney Portal.The next day we hit the trail and hiked to Mirror Lake and overnighted in the open. The follow morning, we summited and walked down to the base camp by late afternoon.

It was a great way to spend a birthday, and a trip that I shall always remember. 


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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Sorted Books

National Book Lovers Day


Each year on August 9,  book lovers celebrate National Book Lovers Day.

#NationalBookLoversDay

This year it coincides with my monthly post about books.

The books I finished reading in July 2017


July 2017 Books: photo by Cliff Hutson
July 2017 Books: photo by Cliff Hutson

I originally planned not to say much about my reading list for July. Because, as my Aunt Dagmar used to say, "If you can't say anything nice, may be you should keep your mouth shut." But, ended up being carried away and got very judgmental.

"Stuff White People Like," by Christian Lander, a Canadian no less, was the best of the bunch. It was clearly written in fun and tied in nicely with June's “How to be Black,” which was where I learned of it. I, of course, while not being white may not be the best judge, but highly recommend it to people of all stripes.

My favorite genera of book over the last few years would be mystery and I completed two in that category. "The Bat," by Jo Nesbo was the the first of his Harry Hole series. I enjoyed it, but found it less compelling than his later stories such as "The Redbreast”,  or  “Nemesis”.  Michael Connelly is most famous his Harry Bosch novels.  His latest, "The Late Show", introduces a new protagonist, detective RenĂ©e Ballard. It is not a bad story, but it left me looking forward to the next one about Bosch.

There is a quote: “Art is what you can get away with”; attributed to both Andy Warhol and Marshall McLuhan, I find that it most particularly applies to "Blind Spot" by Teju Cole. I purchased this book based upon a glowing review, it was not money well spent. The tome is a collection of something like 150 photographs taken by Cole and pieces that he has written to accompany each one, but not necessarily about them. This sounded like a marvelous concept to me and I thought that it might be inspirational.  However, I found that I would be embarrassed to present all but a few of these images as a body of work. I also feel that the prose is far too etherial or artsy for my taste. Now, I am willing to admit that the fault may lie within myself, but I really do not like this book.

It is probably my expectations that led to my disappointment with "A Choice of Weapons" by Gordon Parks. Growing up, Parks was an inspiration to me, mostly through his work in LIFE magazine. It was not that I wanted to emulate what did, but that he showed me that a photographic image could be a powerful tool for communication. I was hoping that his autobiography would provide some insight as to how his vision developed. However, what I learned was that he bought a used camera and six weeks later had his first show. The book also discusses experiencing bigotry and hardship, making bad choices, and getting an occasional break. But, those are things that happen to so many of us that it really does not make for compelling reading. Furthermore, the story ends in the early years of World War II so there is no mention of his contributions as a writer and filmmaker. But, again, perhaps I should not discount a book for being what it intended to be and not what I wanted.

Sorted Books: an Assignment


I subscribe to Austin Kleon's weekly newsletter, and this past week it really paid off for me by bring my attention to conceptual artist Nina Katchadourian and the Art Assignment.

The object of the assignment is to group books so that their titles can be read as sentences, creating whimsical narratives from the text found there. 

So far, I have made two attempts. My first attempt was just looking at the books I read in July, as they were sitting on the table next me, and seeing that these could make a heading and a two item list.

Sorted Books - 01 - 1: photo by Cliff Hutson
Sorted Books - 01 - 1: photo by Cliff Hutson

I put more effort in to the next, spending time looking through my bookshelves. I am very happy with this as it reminds me of a haiku:

Sorted Books - 01 - 2: photo by Cliff Hutson
Sorted Books - 01 - 2: photo by Cliff Hutson

Nina Katchadourian’s final results from her time in Kansas can be found here:

How was your July? Read any good books lately?
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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Day 2400

“Life goin' nowhere. Somebody help me.
Somebody help me, yeah.
Life goin' nowhere. Somebody help me, yeah.
I'm stayin' alive.”

  -  Bee Gees


2400th Day: photo by Cliff Hutson
2400th Day: photo by Cliff Hutson

Healthy Aging

Various studies have sown that “healthy aging is associated with a decline in sensory, motor and specific cognitive functions. However, such declines depend on various factors, such as genetics and lifestyle. In particular, physical activity and training not only improve physical and motor but also cognitive functions, and reduce risk for cognitive decline and dementia in later life.”

This past Monday marked a milestone of 2400 days since I made a commitment to regular exercise. The photo is of the display of the Wii Fit application on my Nintendo, so I think the data is close enough for our purposes.

To be sure, I have not worked out on every one of those days. But, I did something on most of them; missing occasionally due to illness. One streak was broken when I was out of town last year. I like to believe that my activity has helped improve my mood, well being, and energy level.



High Score?; photo by Cliff Hutson
High Score?; photo by Cliff Hutson

On the Other Hand

One of my activities is playing tennis on Wii Sports. Three years ago I reached the skill level of 2399. Some say that this is the highest score possible.  I am very proud of this as it was done playing left handed,  and, like Inigo Montoya, "I am not left handed."

This morning marked my 1785th day of playing a variety of video games with my "other" hand. There are those whom argue that this is a bad thing, but I found it to be an intriguing challenge. And, there are others citing its benefits.

I can’t prove that this exercise has improved communication between my left and right brain hemispheres which might benefit creative and abstract thinking, but I don’t think that it been detrimental to my wellbeing. Neither do I consider myself to be ambidextrous and would never consider eating not writing with my left hand unless forced to do so.

Architecto - Model 01: photo by Cliff Hutson
Architecto - Model 01: photo by Cliff Hutson

Cognitive Skills

The concept of some type of neural or cognitive pool of resources that protects against age-related cognitive decline has been an important idea in both the cognitive and neural aging literature.

Spatial thinking is a collection of cognitive skills. The skills consist of declarative and perceptual forms of knowledge and some cognitive operations that can be used to transform, combine, or otherwise operate on this knowledge. The key to spatial thinking is a constructive amalgam of three elements: concepts of space, tools of representation, and processes of reasoning. -  “Learning to Think Spatially,” by NationalResearch Council.

Wikipedia tell us that “Older adults tend to perform worse on measures of spatial visualization ability than younger adults, and this effect seems to occur even among people who use spatial visualization frequently on the job, such as architects . . .” So, in order to maintain my visual perceptual abilities, principally the ability to understand spatial relationships, I decided to play with blocks.

I have amassed several sets. The most challenging of these is Architecto which provides a series of increasingly difficult plans and asks the player to build the structures. Another, which is simpler in nature, but intrigued into studying more about architecture is Blockitecture Series 1: Brutalism. Designed by James Paulius for Areaware. They seemed to have renamed it "Habit", but it is still a set of architectural building blocks than can be used to create a variety of structures.

If building projects stimulate creativity, and sharpen crucial skills in children the activity might help me maintain mine.

Blockitecture Project: photo by Cliff Hutson
Blockitecture Project: photo by Cliff Hutson

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

June 2017 Reading

The books I finished reading in June 2017


June 2017 Reading: photo by Cliff Hutson
June 2017 Reading: photo by Cliff Hutson

“Setting Up Shop: The Practical Guide to Designing and Building Your Dream Shop”  -  Sandor Nagyszalanczy

I first read this book about fifteen years ago. It was clear then that I did not have the time, space, nor money to set up a woodworking shop along the lines of its recommendations. Now, having more of each, I decided to reread it only to realize I no longer have the inclination.

“Cars and Culture: The Life Story of a Technology”  -  Rudi Volti

This is an informative and enjoyable book. I appreciated it even more because I have worked with Rudi for a number of years.

“Murder at the Opera: A Capital Crimes Novel”  -  Margaret Truman

A fairly good mystery, but I will probably not rush out and look for others in the series.

“How to Be Black”  -  Baratunde Thurston

Part autobiography, part satire, and a look at a world of which most Americans have no clue, I highly recommend this book. (By the way, it seems that I have been doing it correctly.)

“The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need” (April 26, 2016)  -  Andrew Tobias

I read the first edition of this book in the late 1970s. And, to use a cliche, it changed my life. I recently gave a copy of this latest edition to each of my grandchildren, sight unseen, knowing that the core principles would still be valid. Then, I decided to get one for myself to read what the updates had to say, and perhaps learn some new tricks. It is still the best guide for anyone seeking advice on spending, saving, and investing.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A Good Reason and the Real Reason

A Real Reason



A quote I have been using quite a bit of late is: “A man buys something for two reasons: a good reason and the real reason.”

This hit close to home recently as was trying to organize some of my image files and realized that sometimes I buy a bottle of beer or wine just because I want to photograph the label.

That is the case with these first two photographs. The ale has been here for about three weeks and I have yet to try it. I did drink the "California Girl", which  is a pretty decent white wine.


Renegade Blonde Ale: photo by Cliff Hutson
Renegade Blonde Ale: photo by Cliff Hutson

California Girl: photo by Cliff Hutson
California Girl: photo by Cliff Hutson

Another reason for the California Girl selection is that the image reminds me of a girl I dated when I was an undergrad. (I wonder if she has aged as much as I have.)


A Good Reason


The next two photographs were taken after I bought the wines for a good reason. They came highly recommend by someone whose taste I trust; and I am truly into Zinfandel. 

Old Vine Zinfandel: photo by Cliff Hutson
Old Vine Zinfandel: photo by Cliff Hutson

Grower's Reserve Zinfandel: photo by Cliff Hutson
Grower's Reserve Zinfandel: photo by Cliff Hutson

These photographs are due to my following  Garry Winogrand's statement; “I photograph to find out what something will look like photographed."  Thus my work becomes sort of a diary. 



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