Wednesday, September 29, 2010


After working as an extra on two episodes of the TV show Detroit 197 last summer I was looking forward to my network TV debut. But I was disappointed.

Even though we extras spent a 12-hour work day playing the parts of guests at a wedding in the episode that aired last night, only a very few of us ended up on TV for a very, very short time.

We worked that day in a ballroom completely decked out for a wedding with a huge cake, wrapped gifts, tables with centerpieces, etc... They had employed a band, brought in a troupe of polka dancers, and we extras were all dressed in our best "wedding guest" attire. I was really looking forward to seeing it all on TV, but there was only the briefest shot of the ballroom with hardly any of the guests or the tables in view.

And this seems crazy to me when I think of all the time and effort that went into that faux wedding. There was a woman on the crew whose job it was that day to make the plates look like they'd been eaten on. She came around to the tables distributing plates with what looked like the remains of a dinner - little dabs of potato, some gravy, half a broccoli spear, etc... Another guy came around and half-filled our wine and drink glasses just so.

We'd all spent time standing in line that day waiting our turn with the wardrobe department to make sure we looked our best. I was instructed to wear more jewelry and so picked out some dangly earrings and a bracelet. This required filling out a special form to make sure the jewelry was returned, and standing in line again at the end of the shoot to do so.

So much attention to detail - for nothing! Now I feel silly for telling all my friends and family to watch the show. I was paid for my time as an extra that day, but the money is hardly the point. The point is the fun of seeing yourself on TV.  What a disappointment; there wasn't even a glimpse of me.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

30 degrees in 3 days

When I drove to Kalamazoo on Thursday it was 86 degrees. When I drove back to Detroit on Saturday it was 56. That's all I have to say today. It's really starting to look like summer might be over.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Photo journey: Oscoda

I went on a little road trip last weekend to Oscoda - a resort town on the shore of Lake Huron. The occasion was the second annual September gathering of women from my former writing group. I hadn't seen some of them since last year, so it was nice to get reacquainted.

I leisurely traveled the back roads on my way up there, stopping to see what I could see along the way. I spent some time in Bay City - which sits at the inside base of Michigan's "thumb" - found some interesting objects along the roadside, and enjoyed my (all too short) time on the beach.

Bay City architecture

State Theater, Bay City

Bay City State Recreation Area

Pine after rain - Oscoda

Morning cloud bank - Lake Huron - Oscoda

My friend, Margery, on the beach

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Urbex Detroit

We have a lot of urbex photographers in Detroit - urban explorers who go into abandoned and decaying  places. And I wish I was one of them, or could at least get one of them to take me along on an exploration some time. I'm fascinated by these places, and especially by the kinds of photographs they inspire.

There is debate over the worth of these types of photos. There are those who say they make Detroit's already bad image worse. And I tend to agree with that opinion. It is a shame that this is what most people think of when they think of Detroit, but there's no denying that the images are stunning. It's incredible to witness such great history and architecture gone to ruin. Not to mention it's perfect fodder for the kind of close-up abstracts and industrial photos I love to take!

Monday, September 13, 2010

A finished story

I finished a short story this morning, the third one for my MFA program in creative writing. It's due on Wednesday, and though I'll probably tweak it a bit between now and then, I'm thinking of it as DONE, and that's a great feeling.

The best thing about being in an MFA program is that it forces you to actually produce writing, and in my case to actually finish stories. Without the deadline there's no way I would have stuck with this story so diligently. I would have set it aside and gone on to something else when the going got tough.

Here's the beginning of the story I just finished:

"Nancy slams the trunk and that's it, she's all set. She turns and looks at the house one last time. Such a shame. The key is in her hand and she could still change her mind. She could dig in and fight, make a stand, make a noise. But for what? Hers is the last house left standing in the way. It's inevitable. It's gone. "

On Wednesday I'll submit this story, via email, to my group and our faculty advisor. I'll get feedback within a week from my fellow students, and within two weeks from my advisor.  In the meantime I'll be writing critiques and continuing to work on my next story submission. It keeps me busy - keeps me from spending all my time with my new camera, which is what I'd rather be doing.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Hello, my name is Hilary and I'm a fan sleeper

There are many things about the end of summer that make me sad - the chill in the air, the grey skies, the socks on my feet - but worst of all is the end of sleeping with a fan in the window.

As a fan addict I'll still have a fan going at night all winter long, no matter how cold it gets, but it will be in a corner, on low. Not quite the same as a nicely whirring fan in an open window in summertime. AH! Sweet dreams.

I can't sleep without a fan. And I especially prefer one with a sufficient volume of whirring. It's the sound I seek, not the breeze. And nothing will do but a fan. No stupid white-noise machines for me, thanks.

The noise of a fan is soothing (as long as it doesn't rattle) and it also does a wonderful job of drowning out other sounds. This is especially helpful if you sleep with a snorer. I've been sleeping with a fan for so long now that I can't sleep in a silent room.

When I travel I take a fan with me. Which is easy if I'm going by car, but problematic by plane. I recently made a reservation at a motel in a distant state where I'll be spending a week in January. I called to ask if they have fans available for guests and the answer was no. In fact, I think they thought I was a little strange for asking. But aren't there millions of people just like me?

I Googled "fan sleeping" but didn't come up with much. The Facebook Fan Sleepers Appreciation Group only has 34 members, but 34,730 people clicked the like button for "Sleeping with a fan on even when it's cold, because you like the noise."

I know I'm not alone. And I think motels should provide fans to guests who request them in the same way they provide other necessary amenities. Why should we lug fans around with us, when we wouldn't be expected to pack a hair dryer or an iron? Especially since fans are so essential to our ability to sleep well!

I once stayed in a fancy hotel in Manhattan. We had fabulous views, a marble bath, white fluffy robes, etc... But no fan. So I called housekeeping to ask for one and in no time at all a tall standing fan with three speeds was delivered to me. That's how it should be! That place didn't even blink at my request.

Fan sleepers unite!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Identical cousins

BB and I were talking about something yesterday that made the theme song of The Patty Duke show pop into my head...

"Here's Cathy who's lived most everywhere from Zanzibar to Barkley Square..."

But BB, being seven years younger than me, had never heard the song. She had no clue about the cousins who were "two of a kind." So, of course I had to Google it.

The Patty Duke Show ran from 1963 to 1966, years during which I was a pre-teen. (Whereas BB was still a toddler.) I hadn't thought about this show in years, but it was fun to be reminded of it.

I loved this show when I was a kid. I Loved the concept of cousins who looked exactly alike, and I was intrigued by the fact of one actress playing two roles. That wacky Patty was always getting into some kind of mess. But Cathy was so cultured and proper. And I wanted to be a little of both of them.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Hello? Hello?

I sometimes have a recurring dream about phones that don't work. In the past these dreams have been about pay phones, or what we now call "land lines." But lately they've been about cell phones - a new twist on an old theme. Nice to know my dream life is keeping up with technology.

In these dreams I'm always trying to make an important call, but can't because something goes wrong. Either I can't remember the number, the phone doesn't work, or something's wrong with the connection. But, in spite of the difficulty, I keep trying to make my call, becoming increasingly frustrated in the process.

In one of my recent phone dreams there wasn't a "send" button on my cell phone. In another the top half of the cell phone kept separating from the bottom half.

The other night I had a dream that involved driving a canoe down the street. I was having a hard time keeping the canoe balanced. I needed to call BB and tell her about my difficulty. So I pulled the canoe over and tried to call her on my cell phone. I kept dialing BB's number but the call wouldn't go through. I was stranded in an area where my phone's signal couldn't be picked up.

I took this photo of a broken phone in Royal Oak. It's just the kind of phone I'd encounter in one of these dreams. I think it's funny that even though the phone is obviously broken, someone has hung it up.