Saturday, January 31, 2009

eyes wide open

rafael nadal, at 5-4, triple match point, v. fernando verdasco. 2009 australian open semi-final.

i am a morning person.

morning light.
morning coffee.
morning paper.
morning kiss...
all that, very, very good.

i love a day when i can drag my blanket from bed to couch, and watch movies from morning til night.

and i love any morning when i can drink coffee and watch some tennis on tv. throw in a bagel, and it's a party.

there have been quite a few opportunities to watch some great "morning" matches in the last couple of weeks, but work's been encroaching on my fantasy life. the other night, my favorite player started his semi-final match at 3:30am ny time. and for a moment, i considered staying up. but on a "school night," it just wouldn't have been smart. so i set the dvr.

when i got up on friday at 7am, i expected the match would be over. but as most people know by now, the match--the longest in australian open history--was only half in the bag at that point. i was thrilled that i had the opportunity to watch it LIVE, and that was before i realized how thrilling the actual tennis would be. within minutes, i was riled up: OOF! NICE! JE-SUS! DAAAAMN! I even threw in a little tagalog--"PUNETA!" i'm not even sure what that means exactly. but you get the idea.

at a certain point, i just felt bad for both of them. they'd sit at the change overs buried under ice packs, looking more and more disheveled. and yet the quality of the tennis remained stunning. who would crack first? i almost couldn't bear to watch them push themselves and each other, physically and mentally--it was a relief for me to have to get ready for work. when nadal would seem to struggle, and play defensively, or verdasco would crush a winner, i'd start poking around in my closet, distracting myself with decisions like, skirt or jeans? black tights or grey? striped sweater or solid?

but by the middle of the 5th set, i was sitting on the edge of my couch, fully dressed, with my black north face jacket on. zipped. i was already late for work. but i couldn't decide if my heart could handle staying--or if i would kick myself for leaving.

i'm glad i stayed. not just because nadal won, but at triple match point, i saw a look on nadal's face that, to me, told the whole story. exhaustion, desperation, on the verge of tears (and in about 2 seconds, that look was gone). if i were a photographer, that would be the shot i'd want, that i'd use to tell the story. if nadal had won or lost, that look said everything about that 5 hour, 14 minute match. as a photographer, i'm sure it's no easy decision what to focus on, at any one moment. so much of it is luck. and i imagine, you must always feel like you're missing something. and for an editor, the money shot usually reflects the outcome, whether it's expressed in a physical gesture, or a more emotional portrait.

but this is the kind of stuff i get to dream about from my couch. so i dreamed i took "that" shot. and i couldn't shake that image all day long.

my favorite writer offered his impressions of the semifinal match, with particular appreciation for how expressive nadal is (at 4-3 in the fifth, he observed "a trance-like bug-eyed look filled with exhaustion and maximum adrenaline at once" that he'd never seen before from nadal) and he included a fantastic, close-up shot of nadal's face (i love that his hair is all mussed under his bandana).
i don't remember seeing that expression before either, or even on that morning. what can i say, nadal makes you not want to close your eyes.
if your heart can stand it.

nice gallery of the semi-final via the la times here.

Monday, January 19, 2009

hard core

ms. lolo jones. photographed in nyc, by sarah a. friedman, for runner's world magazine.

i've never really had a problem with finding the motivation to work out. if i don't, i go a bit bonkers. i'll hit the gym or do some kind of exercise 3-5 days a week, depending on how the work and social calendars align. and i eat pretty healthfully, too--lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, never skimping on carbs and protein, especially if i'm going to run. my goal has been to be healthy and injury-free, and stay in decent shape.

my last few turns on the treadmill suggest that i'm going to need to push a bit harder to stay true to that last bit. the new year finds me a step slower (step and a half?) and all of the croque madames, holiday cookies, and coconut cream pies are making cameos on parts of this bod where they are not welcome.

so, time to step things up.

and i'm letting ms. lolo jones lead the way. if the photos (by sarah a. friedman) in the feb 2009 issue of runners world (online here) don't inspire an extra 15-minutes on the mat for some ab work, then i just don't know...(and there's more than just eye candy, there's also an interesting breakdown how the core is engaged during different kinds of runs.)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

(afternoon?) delight

from "on the street....big bad plaid, bowery. january 5, 2009. photo by the sartorialist.

some days i miss living on the lower east side...

getting up early on a saturday, and heading over to the essex street market to say hello to ms. anne saxelby (and getting schooled on american farmstead cheeses. personal favorites: brebis blanche. the grayson. and mmm the mecox sunrise...) and sir jeffrey, of jeffery's meat market (where kids can get a pig's foot for free). or skipping over to my favorite "appetizing shop" so that i could create a little herring smorgasbord at home...

this "big bad plaid, bowery" photo brought back some nice memories.

i really like the light here (does it look like afternoon to you?) and his hands-in-pockets (thumbs out).


i've not been following the sartorialist for very long, but i'm definitely hooked. one of the things i've been curious about is how he approaches his subjects.

i found reuel golden's interview with him, re-posted on pdnonline (it was one of their top 40 online stories of 2008). he sheds a little light:

Tell me a little about the shooting process.

It's pretty quick. If I'm in New York, I will pick a certain area to roam, downtown, or Williamsburg or Harlem, and then head out with a Canon 5D and a 50mm lens. If I spot someone whose outfit I like I will maybe walk a half block behind him or her, and then try and stop him or her in a place that will make a good picture. You can tell from person to person who is in to it and will give you time and who just wants you to take the shot. As I've become more known it's become a lot easier. I generally don't pose them too much or move them away from the place that I stopped them.

What about the editing?

I don't shoot a lot and I'm picky about what I put up. In a very good day I'll get five shots, but most of the time maybe two or three. The biggest challenge is trying to look at the photos that I've got and then thinking how do I spread it out so I can have people constantly returning from the site. I look at where I've been and try and mix it up with different neighborhoods and getting different looks. It's not all about bespoke. Right now I've got a lot of high end fashion from the shows in Milan and Paris, so I can really put in some street style in there.

it suddenly seems ok to have a little "stalker" in me.

here's a link to the entire (albeit brief) interview. there are some good tips for folks who want to try to market their blogs to a wider audience (calla style? film snobs?)...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

re-fashioning rafael

rafael nadal at qatar exxonmobil open, doha. photo by julian finney/getty. via

my favorite tennis player has a new look. sleeves! i predict that once my friends (especially pia) catch wind of this (which, unless i decide to hang this photo in my cubicle, will be a long time, since not too many of them are keeping tabs on what goes on in doha, or at the australian open or anywhere, until roland garros so...if rafa keeps the sleeves through the french open) i will be asked by my friends for my opinion, and i will answer: i like them! maybe not the actual shirt, but the idea of a new look.

and he will likely keep it, as it is part of the effort to re-fashion his image and his game to be more like federer's: to elevate his stature, broaden his appeal, and ensure his longevity in the game.

do sleeves make the man? he already struck me as someone mature for his age--he's got the energy and enthusiasm of a kid, but he's seemed also respectful, level-headed and unspoiled (oh yes, and he's very good). and if folks choose to read into his lack of sleeves, then they'll probably read into these new ones. maybe they will be less distracted by what he wears, and just focus on what he does, and how well he already carries himself?

but probably the more meaningful change that fans can look forward to is the one they are attempting on court: re-tooling his forehand...ending points more quickly...making his game easier on himself.

if you're interested in full-color details, here's the link to the time mag article (though, i disagree with the whole "subversive instinct" characterization, as if it's subversive to simply be yourself? play the game the way you want? it's still worth reading.)

that article also links to a nice little gallery of "alternative" photos from wimbledon, including these two:

photo of nadal by glyn kirk, afp/getty via

photo of rafael nadal's ryan pierse, getty images via

Saturday, January 10, 2009

the year in sports photos

photo of kim sookyung by bill frakes/si

photo of japanese synchronized swimmer, by lorenvu/dppi-sipa/icon smi

i'm finally catching up with some of my reading material from late last year. i don't tire of "best of" or "favorites" lists -- especially from people i'm a little in love with and whose opinions i trust. i look forward to scanning the "year in review" issues of my favorite magazines (and try to note things i've missed!). one that i take special interest in is sports illustrated's "year in photos" issue.

it arrived a few weeks ago. and while i loved the tips and insight from the photographers, i thought that, overall, the issue was pretty disappointing. how was there not a single tennis photo? no nadal? fed? and gymnastics--no nastia? how could it be?

i tossed it into my unwieldy "to be recycled" pile.

but i picked it up again today, reminding myself that these guys know their stuff, believing that i had to be missing something. and i looked at it a few more times, and finally read the editor's letter.

i agree with terry mcdonnell: "there is nothing in sports journalism more powerful than a single image, the shot that defines the moment with detail, clarity, and nuance." i get all dreamy about the idea, and think, oh, i could look at photos for hours...but pausing to consider that si photographers shoot tens of thousands of pictures a week, and that photo editors review those and close to 100,000 pictures (a week) from outside sources, it's pretty damn humbling (though there are still a few i'd swap out).

here are links to si's "best of" galleries. there are actually many more great pictures online than were included in the (single-advertiser sponsored!) magazine.

maybe when you're flipping through, you'll consider what the editors look for when putting this collection together (which is what i should have done from the outset): "for pictures to be effective they have to be affective. they have to invoke a reaction--make you laugh, make you cry, make you cringe, make you linger just a little bit longer to absorb all they have to offer. if it's truly a special picture, it will grab your heart."

best shots of the year (from outside sources, getty, ap, etc)

si's greatest shots of 2008 from si photographers

Saturday, January 3, 2009

perfect from now on

"perfect from now on," two color silkscreen, two poster set, by jason munn.

i was sitting in my parent's den last night, long after they had turned in, with my feet up and the football game on, decompressing after a week and a half of holiday festivities. i was missing our whole crazy extended family and dreading the upcoming work-week, but i also knew that tearing myself away from the trough (everyone "almost doesn't fit the pants," as my favorite tennis player would say), getting a bit more shuteye, and settling back into a routine, would be a fine thing. and as the night's solitude gave me a little surge of energy, i began to consider my new year's resolutions.

i'd actually been a bit distressed earlier in the week after realizing that not only had i failed to achieve some of my 2008 resolutions, i couldn't even remember all of them. oof. i told myself it wasn't such a big deal. i'd simply carry a couple of them over. but still, i felt a little bad about it.

tonight i was poking around on the internet and i found my way to jason munn's spare and beautiful work, and the poster he designed for built to spill. the title seems to capture the spirit of resolutions: to be, if not perfect from now on, then, at least, better.

in any case, my 2009 list: be on time (2008 remnant), read the paper before work (!), read the books already on my shelf (2008), practice the piano...

link to jason munn's design studio, the small stakes, here.
and a nice little q & a here.