Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Reunion Is On!

The Hoyt Family Reunion is a go!  I received a call from my cousin yesterday instructing me which airport to fly in to, and which pay phone booth to wait at for further instructions after I arrived.  Our family is originally from Chicago, as you know, and we can never be too careful.  Let the good times roll!

Friday, June 29, 2012

A Developing Surprise

A real estate developer is putting up an 11 story building at the corner of Evans and University here in the University Park neighborhood of South Denver.  There will be retail on the ground floor and luxury apartments above.  The developer says he will be catering to older, upper income renters, not students.  However, being right across the street from the University of Denver (not to mention a multitude of bars), there is no way it won't immediately turn into a very expensive dorm.  Instead of 4 roommates per apartment, there will simply have to be 8 roommates instead.  Let the party begin! And watch out for those flying beer cans!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Lighting Class Ends!

Tonight was the last night of lighting class.  It was a very informative and useful experience, although I have to admit I was the class laggard each week.  While the other class members were snapping away using all kinds of advanced lighting techniques, I would spend the entire time trying to figure out how to adjust the camera to the correct exposure.  Then, 6 days later the light bulb would go off and I would say to myself, THAT's why it didn't work. Of course, once I figure it out, I want to share my success, but it is usually around midnight or so. Greg, the instructor, encourages his students to call any time with questions or observations, but for some reason I think he has blocked my number. Go figure.    

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Team Wet

Soon after the water stopped running in my condo this afternoon, the Team Wet command cars showed up in front of the building and various team members rushed up the stairs to another water emergency.  We have a lot of water emergencies in this building.  There is often more running water in here than at Victoria Falls.  In any case, faithful readers will recall that Team Wet, while doing a repair in my kitchen last year, flooded out my entire apartment, causing chaos for months on end.  And no, I did not slice the tires on their trucks while they worked upstairs this afternoon.  Unfortunately, I did not have my box cutter on me.  And in case you wonder, I am not still bitter!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

HOA Madness

I attended a Homeowner's Meeting for my University of Denver area condo this evening.  To say it was contentious is an understatement.  I don't know why people can behave so civilly in most situations (please, I insist, YOU take the last seat in the lifeboat), but when everyone gets together for an HOA meeting, chaos reigns. Tonight we had accusations, resignations, resolutions, and tears.  And that was just the opening discussion.  I have heard that most, if not all HOAs, have similar meetings almost every month.  But on the other hand, we also had hot dogs and hamburgers!  The glass is indeed half full!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Happy Hour At Jordan's!

I went over to Jordan's Irish Pub after work today and had a few pints while I planned out my trip to The Great Pacific Northwest.  Originally I was planning to attend a wedding,  and then afterwards the Hoyt Family reunion.  However, once I responded that I planned to attend, I lost all contact with my relatives.  Funny, but that also happened with the other side of my family when I said I intended to pay them a visit when I was in Chicago.  I guess my relatives - on both sides - are all extremely shy.  What other explanation could there be?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Pool Is Open!

The pool is finally open at my condo complex.  It took until nearly July, but I'm sure management had their reasons.  One reason might have been to wait until most of the students living here during the school year went home.  In past years some DU students have climbed up the side of the building and jumped off the balconies into the pool.  One student would jump off the third floor, another would one-up him or her by jumping off the fifth floor balcony, etc. etc.  The building has tried hard to discourage this kind of behavior, but unfortunately we are not talking rocket scientists here.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

S & G At The B.G.

I treated my sister Susan and brother-in-law George to drinks at Kaos - the Denver Beer Garden on South Pearl Street - this afternoon, and they loved the place. It was cool in the shade, family oriented, and the guitar players - playing Spanish melodies - were wonderful!  I had a great time too, not the least because they gave us "Happy Hour" prices long after "Happy Hour" had ended.  Life is truly good!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Location Lighting - Week 3

Yesterday was Week 3 of my Location Lighting Class, and Greg, the instructor - featured in the photograph above -  gave some great tips on taking perfectly lighted portraits.  At the start of the class, everyone showed samples of their work, demonstrating techniques learned in last week's class.  Since I did not have a model to photograph,  I wound up taking a series of highly expressive self portraits and showed them to the class.  I personally thought they were pretty good, but I couldn't help but notice that after returning to class from a location shoot, everyone sat at least 4 or 5 seats away from me.  Hey guys, I'm creative, not crazy!  Right?  Right?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Maria Pays A Visit!

Maria paid a surprise visit to the DU Bookstore this afternoon to say hello.  Maria, as faithful readers will recall, was the DU Bookstore's Textbook Coordinator before she left to concentrate full-time on her studies.  And in fact, she received her degree in library science from DU just a few weeks ago, and is looking forward to a career in that field.  She will also be attending a library convention at McCormick Place in Chicago later this month. To help her out, I gave Maria my budget travel tips - the trip would have cost her next to nothing - but she didn't seem enthused.  Granted, all the people who have taken my travel tips in the past have never returned home, but that is probably because they decided to stay on at their vacation destination permanently.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Remembering Hunter S. Thompson

I am currently reading a collection of writings by Hunter S. Thompson. I haven't read anything by Thompson in years, although I was once quite a big fan of his.  He was actually a kind of role model for me.  In times of stress, I would say to myself, "What would Hunter do in a situation like this?"  And then I would take some sort of decisive action.  In fact, that is how I wound up in Denver, although, I must say, I actually drove out to Denver from Chicago in my car.  I didn't just wake up in a hotel room wondering how I got there, like Thompson would have done.  No one can aspire to that level of greatness.      

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Lower Downtown Denver

I got off work early today and decided to bike downtown, despite the 98 degree heat.  I wound up biking around Lower Downtown, Denver's nightclub district.  It was once a neighborhood of warehouses, but is now the most historic and lively part of downtown.  This is because in the 1960s, thanks to urban renewal,  many of the truly beautiful and historic buildings of the late 1800s were torn down in Denver and made into parking lots.  It is nice that everyone is so concerned about historic preservation these days, but it is a shame that consciousnesses couldn't have been raised a few decades earlier.  Yes, in this case, the glass is half empty.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Homework? At My Age?

I am taking a photography class on "location lighting" Thursday nights this month, and the instructor actually expects us to do homework. For this reason, I had to give up watching Barnaby Jones reruns on TV tonight and go out onto the University of Denver campus to take self portraits, trying to put into practice last weeks lessons. I took a number of self-portraits sitting on the "Lip Bench."  Every time you sat down on it, the DU fight song would start playing.  Not that horrible unless you have to retake the photograph 10 times or so, like I did.  Talk about suffering for your art.  

Sunday, June 17, 2012

North Side Versus South Side!

My friend Stuart (pictured above) is from the North Side of Chicago, home of the Chicago Cubs.  The Cubs are the worst team in baseball this year.  However, Cub fans don't seem to care.  They go to all the games, most of which are in the afternoon, when working people can't attend, and enjoy the beauty of the park, the ivy covered walls, and don't even seem to notice when the Cubs lose their 20th straight.  Meanwhile, the Chicago White Sox play on the South Side of Chicago, almost always in the evening, when working class people can attend.  And most of their players haven't seen a leaf in years, let alone ivy, to quote humorist Jean Shepherd.  The Chicago White Sox are today in 1st place.  Need I say more?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A DU Kind of Day

Valarie (pictured above) and I had dinner tonight at Lucky Pie in downtown Denver with former DU Bookstore co-workers Darrel and his wife Linda and Chris and her husband Jim. We all spent a really nice evening together, solving the world's problems.  Afterwards, Valarie and I had a drink at the Wynkoop Brewery, and who should round the corner but Joe, who helps out at the DU Bookstore during rush periods.  Is Denver a small town or what?  I used to wander the streets of Chicago -and some of its gutters, too - and never ran into anybody I knew.  That was either because Chicago is such a big city or because everyone I knew was able to duck out of sight before I spotted them.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Ghost Cab

I was walking down University Boulevard in Denver the other day, and noticed a London cab driving down the street.  This seemed a bit unusual to me, until I noticed that it was being driven by a ghost, as one can plainly see from the photograph above.  Of course, if I was a ghost, and was driving a London cab, I would probably choose a different street - one, for example, in London, but who am I to say?  The important thing is that I got the shot proving what I saw.  And the fact that I was walking home after a couple of pints at Jordan's  Irish Pub clearly did not impair either my judgement or photographic ability, as anyone can plainly see.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Lighting Class - Week 2

This evening was the second week of lighting class, and involved a field trip to Belmar Park out in Lakewood, Colorado.  I am not saying I am a little behind the rest of the students, but while the others were experimenting with advanced lighting techniques, I was still trying to figure out how to get the camera to function under 1/60th of a second.   The result was a solid black background and a highly overexposed model.  At least the instructor (pictured above) didn't roll his eyes.  That will take place during week 3.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Devil On Wheels

I took a bike ride this afternoon and began thinking about wheels, and how my mother used to reminisce about her mother (my Grandmother Spillard) referring to my mother's cousins -  Marie and Junior - as "Devils on Wheels."  I asked my mother what exactly "Devils on Wheels" were, but she didn't know.  She only knew that Marie and Junior exemplified them.  These days, the older I get, the more I seem to care about family traditions, and this one seems like an ideal tradition to carry on.  I may have to improvise, but I will do my best to keep the "Devil on Wheels" tradition alive.  Someone has to do it, right?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


I decided to go to happy hour at Kaos this afternoon.  Not the evil organization made famous by the old Get Smart television show, but the pizza place on South Pearl Street in Denver, just a few blocks from where I live.  They have a really nice beer garden there, in the heart of a beautiful old residential neighborhood, and serve pints of Odell's beer for only $2.00. My sister Susan (who lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, home of Odell's Brewery) loves beer gardens.  When she was a child about the age of the boy in the photograph above, my parents used to bring her along to a beer garden in Glenwood, Illinois, just south of Chicago.  When the various couples got up to dance, she would go around to all the tables and finish off their beers.  It should be no surprise that she is still very fond of beer.

Monday, June 11, 2012

No One Can Save The Rockies

Let's face it - the Colorado Rockies stink.  Nobody can save them.  The only consolation is that the Chicago Cubs stink even worse - much much worse.  A a matter of fact, the Cubs are the worst team in all of baseball.  As I have said before on this blog - quoting Mike Royko - "you win some, you lose some, but with the Cubs, you mostly lose some."  And what do these two teams have in common besides losing?  A fan base that will attend games religiously, no matter how bad they play. Why should the owners spend any money to improve? Mediocrity pays.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Joe At The Show!

Joe, who works at the DU Bookstore during Rush periods, is quite a talented artist, and is also an instructor in printmaking at the Art Students League of Denver.  Like Carol, another DU Bookstore employee, he has a booth this weekend at the Summer Art Market, one of the best art festivals of the year here in Denver.  Joe is pictured in the photograph above next to one of his prints.  He had hoped a friend would be able to help him out with his booth this weekend, but due to a flight delay he has had to run  the whole show himself.  Despite the 120 degree temperatures and not being able to leave the booth,   Joe is holding up remarkably well. Whenever he collapses from heat stroke and dehydration, there has always been a helpful passerby to prop him back up again. Good going Joe!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Carol At the Summer Art Market

Carol, my co-worker at the University of Denver Bookstore, is also an artist, and is displaying her work this weekend at the Art Student League of Denver's Summer Art Market.  Carol's work is really wonderful, and this particular Art Fair is my favorite of the year.  Great art at very reasonable prices.  The only drawback is that it is about 110 degrees on the streets around 2nd and Grant.  Many of the artists tend to faint dead away from the heat, and must frequently be revived by fellow artists.  However, if you are making lots of sales, I say what the hell!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Lighting Class!

Yes, it is finally time that I actually learn how to take photographs using flash and studio lights. I am currently taking a class in lighting through the Colorado Photographic Arts Center, taught by Greg, seen in the photograph above.  Greg doesn't seem to mind any of the dumb questions I tend to ask, such as which way to point the lens, what do these various buttons do, etc. etc.  I am even picking up some pointers on photographing women, which, if learned correctly, might stop all the female employees at the DU Bookstore from running away shrieking whenever I ask to take their photograph for this blog.  Hope springs eternal.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Good Luck Jan!

After many years working at the DU Bookstore, Jan is moving to Omaha, Nebraska in order to take care of her mother.  In her honor, there was a dessert party today in the Bookstore's breakroom.  Jan is pictured in the above photograph showing off my famous key lime pie, which I baked especially for the occasion. The last time I baked it I never got any feedback, since by coincidence everyone had to leave for the emergency room right afterwards.  I didn't get any feedback today, either.  Once again everyone who tried it seemed to quickly disappear.  Go figure. In any case, good luck Jan!  We'll miss you!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Retraction

I am sorry to admit that I made a serious error in yesterday's blog post.  Tony, the DU Bookstore's Quick Copy Manager, was quick to point out to me out that he was NEVER in the US Navy.  In point of fact, he was in the Air Force.  Furthermore, he served in the 82nd Airborne Division, the one that performed so heroically during the Battle of the Bulge in WW II.  And if I understood him correctly, Tony actually participated in that battle.  To be honest, my innocent little error really doesn't matter very much.  The point is that Tony is old - very old - and nothing can change that.  Deal with it, Tony!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Visiting With Tony

Tony (pictured above, talking to his bookie) is another DU Bookstore employee who is always willing to have his photograph taken.  Unlike Jan and various other Bookstore employees, he does not need several day's notice to prepare his makeup before being photographed.  Tony is - I think - a Navy veteran.  Like our colleague Wally, I believe he served on one of those three masted sailing ships like the Star of India.  And like Wally, he must be a lot older than he looks. Thanks for the photo ops, Tony!

Monday, June 4, 2012

A Shout Out To Noah!

A hearty thanks to Noah, the DU Bookstore's Stockroom Manager, for being such a good sport and always being willing to have his photograph taken for this blog, no matter how much I wind up insulting him on it (in a good natured way, of course).  Noah is a truly nice guy.  Of course, Dave B, the former supply buyer for the Bookstore, was also always willing to have his photograph taken, but he was truly insane, which makes a big difference.  Thanks again, Noah!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Becoming One With Art

My friend Valarie has told me many times that I have achieved oneness with being cheap, so I felt it was time for me to do the same with art - after all, with my world class photographs, I am myself an "artiste."  For this reason, I visited the Denver Art Museum - it was a free day, naturally  - to soak up as much culture as I could get over the next couple of hours.  Many of the paintings defied explanation, such as the one I am standing in front of in the photograph above.  I'm not exactly sure what it means, but it definitely has something to do with the 40 hour workweek.  Trust me on this. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Valarie Goes High Tech

I had dinner with Valarie, the former Operations Manager of the DU Bookstore - not to mention the former owner of Denver's Capitol Hill Bookstore - at 730 South last night.  Valarie recently traded in her flip phone for an Apple i-Phone, with which she can send text messages and e-mails, take photographs, access the Internet, make  posts on Facebook, and send out messages into deep space looking for intelligent life out there.  Meanwhile, I recently bought a new flip phone after my old one fell into the toilet.  With dismay I learned it does not store the names and phone numbers of people who have called you, or of people you have recently called.  It even no longer automatically turns on when you open it up.  Another $20 wasted.  Valarie was not sympathetic, as she sat across the table and texted Mars.  What has ever happened to empathy in this brave new world? 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Wally At The Ready

I saw Wally standing on the DU Bookstore's truck dock this morning as I headed for work.  I asked what he was doing there and he told me he was waiting for a delivery.  I asked if he was sure the truck was on its way, and he replied that he was sure one would probably show up soon. While he was waiting, he said he would also empty the trash into the compactor.  Wally is currently an assistant in the DU Bookstore's stockroom, and now has the perspective of a stockroom employee - he judges the state of the Bookstore by the amount of trash produced, instead of by the number of sales generated.  In Wally's estimation, the DU Bookstore's business is going gangbusters.  Thanks for the insight, Wally!