Sunday, January 1, 2012

What happened to value and quality control?

Seriously... What happened to quality control and value?

Remember how I found the money in my pants? No? well you can read all about it here... (WHY IS MY HAIR BLUE?) I took that money and did what any 37 year old, 6'9", pant hating (seriously, pants are evil), man-child would do: I went out and bought some fireworks. 

I can feel you there. Looking at my words with the same level of disdain that my cat, Lilly, displays. This is the point in the blog that I would normally post a picture of said cat with her look of judgementalism and disdain... Frankly though... I don't think you deserve to see it and I KNOW she doesn't deserve the free publicity. 


I was frugal. I only spent a few dollars. I bought some things I recognized... and a few things I did not. I like to experiment. You heard me... I like to experiment... (that just does not sound right no matter how many times I reword it.) 

I went out to the concrete slab out behind the apartment and set them off. 

You know that sweaty-happy-shaky feeling you get right before the first time you kiss someone? I get the same way about fire works. I lit the fuse and... well... I would say I was underwhelmed... but that would be overstating how I felt. 

Fsssssss... pop!

You heard me... Fssssss... pop!

I stood there staring at the spot on the concrete that the little red tube used to be on and I said, "What? Fssssss... pop? That can't be right."

I scratched my head and thought, "Maybe it was a dud."

I stooped down, lit another one and here is what happened... Fsssssss... pop!

I mean seriously...

I thought to myself... "Okay... maybe it's just that these specific things suck." So I moved onto the other thing I had bought to experiment with. (Still sounds kinkier than I'd like.) I set it down, lit the fuse and stepped back. The thing spat some fire weakly and said "Wizzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz."

I looked down and it and yelled. No... I didn't yell, but I raised my voice... "Really? Wizzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz? Wizzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz? That's all you've got for me? Wizzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz?"

After the savage disappointment with the experimental ordinance, I tore into the tried and true... I love these things... they are called artificial satellites... They are a finned metal disk that shoots flame, spins and goes flying into the air with a squeal.

I light the fuse, the glee of my childhood sparkling through my eyes, casting a light of delighted chaos all around me. I stepped back... it didn't scream. It didn't shoot up into the sky. It leapt 3 feet in the air and landed at my feet.

And this... THIS was one of my GO TO FIRE WORKS...

And they are all like that. When I was a kid, we had fire crackers that were a lot like this...
I am not exaggerating... my uncle still has a goat that glows in the dark.

And it's NOT just me... I talked to my neighbors and we all see the same thing... Quality control and a tightening economy are ruining fireworks. It's not like I bought the 40 cent packs of fire crackers, either... I don't skimp on my explosions, dammit!

I wanted an Earth shattering kaboom and all I got was this:
Can't you hear it? "Fssssss... pop!"

So... I took a few more of my precious found dollars and I went to the BLACK CAT stand. You remember BLACK CAT, don't you. Never! Never once did they let me down.

Until today.

The fire crackers sounded like my knees in the morning... No... like rice krispies!

On a side note... pretty much completely unrelated to this line of thought - I think my Rice Krispies are plotting something. Either against me or a coup against the current government. I can't be sure, because I don't speak what ever language is on the box. NO I am not going to go take a photo of it... that would just be silly. All I can tell you is it is all squiggly and junk.

This left me grumpy all day until it was time to take my daily self portrait. (in case you didn't know, I am working on a project where I take a self portrait a day... I am calling the project Me a Day. You can see the project as it unfolds here.) I was going to take a photo with me holding several sparklers.

Guess what?! No... Guess...

That's right! They fucked up sparklers too.

In the old days, sparklers lasted for a few minutes and then burned out, leaving you with a hot, partially molten wire that you were then supposed to brand your siblings with. What? Not supposed to do that? Well, hell.


I thought they were odd when I opened the box and the sticks were wood... not metal. Well, I went to light them so I could take my photo and I was... well shocked. I lit the first one and by the time (not even 15 seconds) I had lit the second one, the first one was burned out...


Oh, wait. I just told you how.

That's right! SPARKLERS MOFO!
It took some quick action, but I finally got my photo for the day.

So... tonight, when I went down to the First Night celebration in the French Quarter, I left the house disgruntled. I was grumpy. I mean, my child-like glee had been ruined by crappy fireworks... I had been betrayed by BLACK CAT (BTW Black Cat Fireworks, you could totally buy my forgiveness with some free Fssssss... pop! firecrackers...)... and someone, I don't know who... (It was probably the Rice Krispies) had fucked up sparklers.

I got down to the quarter, unpacked my gear and waded into the crowd. I learned a shocking and important lesson tonight: In any crowd of people, there are a sufficient supply of arrogant, narcissistic people to drive any decent photographer absolutely Gary Busey level, bat crap crazy.

This is a t2i... not MY t2i, but
they are identical twins. Isn't
she a sexy girl?
Every time I set down my tripod (with my baby - my optics girlfriend... My Canon t2i)... Some group of moderately attractive tourists (and trust me, we can tell if you aren't from here) would stop and ask, "Do you want to take my picture?"

I mean seriously. In the hour and thirty minutes I was down in the quarter before the fireworks, I was asked this 50 times.

THIS captured my fancy... it was so blue!
I was actually setting up a shot that captured my fancy, and this (I will admit, she was hot) girl came up and asked me, "So... like, you want to take my picture?"

By this time, I was getting really fed up with it. So I ignored her. I'm classy like that. What? No... it isn't rude! My mother told me if you can't say something nice, that you shouldn't say anything at all. So I did exactly that. I ignored her.

Evidently, that was the wrong answer. She waited ten seconds and then cleared her throat. Another ten seconds and she coughed at me. I looked back at her and said, "gesundheit." Then I went back to focusing and framing my shot...

Ten more seconds and she said, "I asked if you wanted to take my picture."

"I heard you."

"Then why didn't you answer me?"

"I'm sorry, I can't answer that at the risk of seeming rude."

She took offense at that. Honestly, if she was smart enough to take the hint, I wouldn't have had the need to be a complete dick to her.

"Listen, asshole! I asked you a question!"

"Please, I just want to take my..."

"Answer me!"

That did it... I tried to be nice, but people like this really push the boundaries of my cherub like demeanor. When someone asks me to be a butt-head... not once... not twice... but three times... they really want to hear it.

"Okay. I will answer both your questions. I didn't answer the first question because I had no interest in taking your picture. I was in the process of taking what I think is a much more interesting photograph. That is why I was avoiding saying second... The first part was simply no. I don't want to take your photo. I knew the next question was why... and here is why... You look like every other scantily clad, overly tanned, make-up caked, drunk blond girl that has asked me the same question in the last hour. I already have one photo of you or someone like you, and I don't need another."

"You don't need to be such a dick about it!"

I know... it was rude... it was mean... it was probably uncalled for... but I have  a low threshold for stupidity and I was already in a grumpy mood because of this!
This would make ANYONE grumpy.

ANYWAY... she left...

And then the fireworks started. And I was satisfied...

It was loud. It was bright... There were "OOOOHS" and "AHHHS"... and I am pretty sure I have retinal damage from one of them... My ears are still ringing from the flash-bang ones... Seriously - who launches grenades in the air like that?

As I drove home from the french quarter, by way of downtown Beirut. Wait. No... It's New Orleans... I smiled.

The smoke obscured everything and the smell of gunpowder hung pungent and cleansing in the air. And I smiled. 2012 is here and the only way to go is up.

Happy New Year Everyone.

Oh, and this year, I vow to... well... to be me.

The photos from tonight are >>here<<

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