Monday, December 31, 2018

Year End, STL

The end of another trip around the sun in our river city. My family is all here in reasonable shape, although I had some significant health issues. Nothing, though, that I couldn't overcome with our gold-plated Medicare supplemental insurance. That's great, given that we have the worst, most expensive, inefficient and profit-centered healthcare in the industrialized world. I got to watch my granddaughter Ellie continue to grow into a a poised, intelligent young woman. I'll meet my first grandson in a few months. Mrs. C and I are approaching the 45th tick with no regrets at all. We feel secure, at least for the moment. (Wheel of fortune and all that.) I began to slip out of my practice, which turned out to be 44 years of tragicomedy.

And then I think about the recent past and near future, like the horror in the White House. Just by following the trail, I feel almost certain that the Russians are blackmailing him. But with the forces of (relative) light about to control the House, his own personal hell may be about to break lose. I'm sickened by the rigorous, willful destruction of the planet, alienation of our best allies and relentless kicks in the teeth to working people. Maybe, I hope, that will change.

And beyond? People who try to seriously predict the future are always wrong. There are far too many variables and those unknown unknowns. Nevertheless, I see no reason for optimism. There is a triad at work here: mass climate disruptions (sure hope some technical Lone Ranger rides over the hill to our rescue); the rapid strides in artificial intelligence such as Google's AlphaZero, which can analyze complex situations and teach itself how to overcome problems, something that may far surpass our own intellectual capacity; and genetic engineering with CRISPR - CAS3 modification of living things. What role will remain for us? I know this a downer but you really should read up on this stuff.

This blog's header advertises the occasional rant. I've been criticized once or twice for writing almost none. I guess this qualifies.  

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Ellie Goes to the Symphony 2

I think the kid has been to a small scale circus in Powell Hall but never a performance of the symphony. Mrs. C and I have been subscribers to the SLSO for something over 40 years. It was a real pleasure to share with Ellie something that has been such an important part of our lives.

In the first picture, Ellie and our daughter Emily pose on the grand staircase, seen from above in the third photo. And, if she has a mind to, she knows how to pose.          

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Ellie Goes to the Symphony 1

When Mrs. C and I are off to somewhere, Ellie frequently pipes up with "I go there sometime?"  We always say yes or we hope so. She has mentioned this several times when we were going to the symphony. Last night was her turn,

The marvelous St. Louis Symphony Orchestra has several holiday programs. This weekend it's excerpts from Disney animated films with the orchestra playing the scores, led by resident conductor Gemma New. Ellie was spellbound as the screen went through old and new favorites, including Moana, Frozen, Winnie the Pooh and several more. More pix to come of her experience.

Friday, December 28, 2018

The Darkest Days

Gloomy around The Lou these days. Mostly overcast, bare trees, getting colder. This is Forest Park near sunset a few days ago.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Thursday Arch Series

Taken last weekend with the new Fujifilm X-T3 and a wide angle lens (note, VJ) at the equivalent of 25mm on a full frame camera. Quite a lot of luck here but I think this is one of my best Arch pictures ever, IMHO. The four people standing at bottom center were a gift. They make the picture.   

Monday, December 24, 2018

Tracking Santa's Progress

Despite the idiotic partial government shutdown, NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, will continue to track Santa's progress from the North Pole across the nation. Not sure, but this image could have been from last year's mapping system or this year's Garden Glow display at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Seasons Greetings from the White House

Thousands of federal employees laid off just before Christmas. Others, like TSA airport security personnel and Border Patrol agents forced to work without pay. And who is responsible? Take it from the horse's mouth.   

Saturday, December 22, 2018

And To All A Good Night

Some final pix from Santarchy and then time to move on. There is something appealing about the sweater in the first photo. In the second, Lohr Barclay is expressing some Yuletide cheer. However, if I read the micro-expressions correctly the woman on the left isn't entirely comfortable about it. Further down, some bright color and strange dress in a bar called B-Side, as in the back of an old 45 RPM record. Last, one of the more subdued partiers brought his mandolin. I loved it when he was playing La Habanera from Carmen.

New material tomorrow.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Your Face Or Mine?

I'm not sure if what's in the man's right hand is a mask or a decoration. You could experiment.

Not real happy with the color correction here but there is no chance to use gels when shooting on the fly. My Photoshop skills are OK but hardly advanced.              

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Christmas Cookies

Yes, a traditional and popular way to pack on the calories at this time of year. The interpretation of the sweater, gentle reader, I will leave up to you.    

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Elves, Maybe

The people at Santarchy were encouraged to dress in something Santa-ish. I didn't have a costume so I wore a red shirt, sweater and jacket. Lohr gave me a Santa hat. Fortunately, no one took my picture (that I know of).

You could be an elf. Santa has elves, right? I'm sure that was the man's intention. The woman's costume was perhaps an interpretation.

Taken at Yaquis restaurant and bar on Cherokee Streer. Big windows facing east, good in the afternoon.  

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The Quality of Light

Another picture taken in Lucha. I don't remember the people's names so if you see this, identify yourselves!

Light from the outside can have such an impact on indoor photography. Lucha has large windows, nearly floor to ceiling, facing north. The light couldn't be more beautiful on a winter afternoon, although I probably used a little fill flash. Not that I am comparing my work but this kind of illumination is used so beautifully by Vermeer and most dramatically by Caravaggio. When taking run-and-gun pictures, we have to make use of every advantage.    

Monday, December 17, 2018

Nightmare Before Christmas

I traveled with the Santarchy company from about noon to six. There was a breakfast earlier and a few other stops before I met them at the Fortune Teller Bar on Cherokee Street. My arthritis was bothering me enough that I left after I took yesterday's picture. The rolling party went on downtown and in Soulard until late into the night. I'm too old for that.

This picture was taken at Lucha in Grand Center, which describes itself as Mexican soul food. Except the owner is Sri Lankan. I eat there a lot during the Fringe Festival. This reveler was doing a Nightmare Before Christmas theme. I couldn't identify it but my granddaughter knew it instantly. 

Note the beverage in front of him.        

Sunday, December 16, 2018


I didn't know a thing about it. How? Since the early 90s, groups of people dress as Santa or an avatar and roam around a city from bar to bar, spreading good cheer and searching for merry spirits. Or fermented malt beverages. For hour after hour. It's called Santarchy or sometimes Santacon, and it is now all over the world.

My Friend D. Lohr Barkley, who runs Artica, also finds time to organize St. Louis' Santarchy. He invited me along with them yesterday to document as much as I could. It's just nuts. One of Lohr's many talents is herding cats and he got (most) everybody to pose in front of the City Museum. I peeled off after this but the party continued late into the night. It's still going on as I write this.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Dances of India

To finish this series, an ensemble performance by the group we saw yesterday. The organization is Dances of India, which has promoted the art in St. Louis for 41 years. Every movement and gesture has a meaning. Hard to follow for someone who is not part of the culture but nonetheless beautiful.        

Friday, December 14, 2018

In The Wings

The next group of performers at the art museum were from India or Indian families in St. Louis. If you thought the ballerinas were colorful, these young women took it up another notch. They were waiting for their turn, standing in front of a painting that is an allegory based on the Mississippi River.           

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Gentlemen of Vision

There is an art form in the African American community here that, being another old white guy, I didn't know about. It's called step dancing, sort of a combination of military drill,  tap dancing and calisthenics. This group, Gentlemen of Vision, performed at the art museum last Saturday.

It sounds like a wonderful organization. It puts structure and discipline in young men's lives. They work very hard. Those who finish the program through high school have a nearly 100% acceptance rate in to college, technical school or the military. Good people doing good work.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Pas de Deux

Swan Lake wouldn't be complete without the prima ballerina and her male partner showing off together. They are so strong and yet so graceful. The hours of training and practice it takes to reach this level must be enormous.            


Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Tu Tu You


As I mentioned, I got an awful lot of shots of the graceful young ballerinas at the art museum last Saturday. It's a bit ironic since I can't dance to save my life and have a limited appreciation of the art form.

One part of the performance brought back a warm memory.  My mother liked classical music and the family had one of those big circa 1960 console stereos. She had a few LPs, one of which was The Nutcracker. I played these records over and over, becoming entranced by the beauty and dramatic ending of The Waltz of the Flowers. Hearing it again with these gorgeous performers made me, well, just a little bit emotional.     

Monday, December 10, 2018

Madeleine Monday

Not surprisingly, Ellie was fascinated by the ballerinas. Everyone was milling around taking pictures when the show was done. One elegant young woman was happy to pose with the kid.

There are buckets more of these images - and there were two other dance companies.     

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Corps de Ballet

There is a holiday festival at the art museum this weekend. One of the features is dancing by local groups in the great hall. These young women performed the second act of The Nutcracker for a big crowd. It's a holiday favorite.

Tough light. No flash, of course. The sun was coming in through big windows behind my right shoulder, creating a strong light gradient. It tested my limited Photoshop skills.        

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Sunset on the Mississippi

Phone cam shot so not the cleanest image. Taken from my office window one afternoon this week. The foreground is the new-ish and rather pointless northern extension of the Arch park, where a useful and reasonably priced garage used to serve visitors. Eads Bridge on the left and the low sunlight falling on a casino hotel in Illinois. You can't help but notice the smog on the horizon.

Friday, December 7, 2018

No More Funnel Cake

Along the promenade under the Arch by the Mississippi. The snack stand that mostly sells things that are bad for you is closed for the day. Funnel cakes are a variation on doughnuts and really bad for you. Sorry if you wanted one. Too late. (But not for the light.)       

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Thursday Arch Series

Nice light. The barren landscape and ominous sky make it look like The Arch On Haunted Hill to me.        

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Big Sky Country

I was driving around the riverfront late Saturday afternoon looking for something to shoot. The light was very nice. That's the graffiti-permitted section of the floodwall in the foreground and an old railroad bridge that seems to be supporting a big cumulus cloud. Not many of them around in late autumn. I think of them as summer clouds.        

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Light Tube

It seems like all of the outdoor holiday light displays have an arched tunnel of colored lights. Maybe one of them is a wormhole to escape this administration. The one at the Science Center is a bit dull, straight and unchanging. The one at the Botanical Garden is much more interesting, curved with changing colors. We'll get there soon.


Monday, December 3, 2018

The Hospital At The End Of The Universe

Hope the Douglas Adams reference isn't too obscure. This was taken from the Science Center grounds and looks science fiction-y. The bright sign in the background is by far STL's biggest hospital, whose name reflects the merger of two adjacent institutions. I've been repaired there a few times. It is the hub of the mighty Washington University Medical Center and goes on for blocks and blocks.

There is a bit of university snobbery here. We have two old major schools, Washington University and St. Louis University, 200 years old in 2018. Wash U, as everyone calls it, is usually ranked in the nation's top 10. SLU, where I went, is in the upper middle ranks and has one of the weirdest mascots in American higher education.  All of my many doctors are affiliated with Wash U.           

Sunday, December 2, 2018


It seems like everybody around here is doing outdoor nighttime Christmas lights displays. We have taken Ellie to Wild Lights at the Zoo, which was so crowded we'll never go back. Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Garden is the big one. We may go next weekend. 

However, the St. Louis Science Center got into the act this year. They call it Science Illuminated. There were a couple of demonstrations to amaze the kids. This woman, a chemist, is spraying solutions containing magnesium and, um, I forget what else, into a flame. Great balls of fire.          

Saturday, December 1, 2018

City Daily Photo December Theme Day - Joy

See the positive emotions of other City Daily Photo members at .

Friday, November 30, 2018


Standing quietly in an autumn sunset, the ventilator (I think that's what it is) on the old barn watches the prairie in all directions. A sneak attack by Nebraska would be impossible.         

Thursday, November 29, 2018


Ellie talks about her great grandmother

Mrs, C's mother, Elvira Kruse, passed away about two years ago at the age of 98. Today would have been her hundredth birthday. She had help, of course, but kept her own little apartment and remained mentally sharp. Her memory was astounding.

My wife had the brilliant idea of having some of the younger kids say a little bit about their memories of her. I got to be the director and cinematographer. (Pity I don't know how to edit video but I better learn fast.) There was a wonderfully soft blanket that Ellie admired at Elvira's home, which she immediately gave to her. That's the kind of person she was.

Elvira and my mother, Annette Koral, were born about a month apart in the fall of 1918. Annette has been gone almost 44 years. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Lieutenant Joshua Kruse, United States Army

There is something of a family tradition on the farm the day after Thanksgiving, but it has changed over the years. The younger men and a few of the women would go out in the nearby fields to hunt quail. After restrictions were imposed on hunting coyotes the quail population fell. For a couple of years someone would go out early on that Friday morning and buy a few boxes of quail (heaven knows where) and then scatter them in the bushes. The hunt resumed. I used to joke with the guys that I was better armed: they had shotguns but I had a Canon.
Eventually the marksmen turned to shooting clay pigeons. (See As the years passed and most of that generation had families, the turnout decreased. Now it's just target practice out behind the house with whoever is around. This is my nephew who graduated from West Point last spring, Lieutenant Joshua Kruse. He is supposed to know how to use these things.

Not making any comment about guns here. No one in my immediate family has ever owned one. It is an integral part of the culture in rural Kansas. My relatives there use them with the highest safety standards.        

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Old Barn

There is an old, rickety barn on Mrs. C's family farm. It has been there longer than I have been visiting the place, 45 years. Now it is used mostly for keeping equipment out of the weather. That wagon, though, could be as old as the barn itself.