The Millennium: transmitting general happiness

I think Begin by The Millennium is one of the greatest pop records ever made. It was notorious in its day for being the most expensive album Columbia had ever recorded, but - in the absence of a performing band to plug it - sales were low. The back cover promised it was 'TO BE CONTINUED', but the septet split soon after its August 1968 release, dooming it to retrospective cult worship. Here's everything I've found relating to it.

Firstly, this is the only contemporaneous interview with Curt Boettcher that I'm aware of. It appeared as part of a feature about the occult in the April 1968 issue of Cheetah magazine, and would have been conducted at the time that Begin was being recorded:

Here's a snippet from TeenSet of June 1968:

Begin was released in August, trailed by a 45 coupling It's You and I Just Want To Be Your Friend. Here's the picture sleeve a few copies came with:

A launch party for the album was held on July 19th. Here's the invitation (and yes, the brownies did follow the Alice B. Toklas recipe):

Here are the (strangely drab) cover and the insert that a few copies came with. Originally it folded over the back cover, showing a tear-off 'Mee Moo' logo strip, as below. It contains thanks from the band on one side and a bad poem by one Brian Longe on the other:

It was even issued on 8-track cartridge:

Various ads appeared in the contemporary press:

I haven't found many reviews, and the ones I have are mixed:

‘New group with a unique sound that should quickly establish them with the fans. With the flair and feel of The Mamas & The Papas and The Stone Poneys, they offer a diversified program that’s musically first-rate. ‘It’s You’ is a smooth rock ballad with singles potential, and ‘Anthem’ is outstanding’ – Billboard, 31/8/68

‘The vocal and instrumental arrangements and the harmonic textures this group achieves are surpassed only by the quality of the original material written by its members’ – Saturday Review, August 1968

‘Soft, full, light – sometimes overdone arrangements, but generally excellent songs and vocals’ – TeenSet, October 1968

‘Despite certain pretensions (extraneous sounds, etc) incorporated into the music, what The Millennium offers is faultlessly-surfaced teeny-bopper fare. There is no denying the septet’s smoothness and professionalism, but equally there’s no denying the essential vacuity of its material. Production is absolutely first-rate, as befits an album of this type. Not much for serious listeners, however’ – Down Beat, 15/5/69

This article appeared in TeenSet of December 1968, and shows that an inability to spell their name is nothing new:

In the February 20th 1970 issue of Fusion, Clive Davis - head of Columbia at the time - had the following to say. (Both the interviewers and Davis seem to be conflating Begin and Present Tense by Sagittarius, which was released simultaneously.)

What do producers do at Columbia these days?
I think we allow a great deal of freedom to our producers. We allow them to do work and build up a track record upon which we can judge their creative standards. In the past I think this has been abused by a number of producers - certainly not by all, but there have been producers both in and outside of Columbia who have not held the highest standards for themselves and have perhaps lowered their sights and signed artists who they feel are competent but yet who don't have the degree of charisma to really step out above competition.

Gary Usher and the Millenium, for example? We understand they became pretty expensive.
I think the truth about that is Gary never really knew how much money he was spending, and that responsibility was entrusted to him. The progress reports showed a much lower amount than was actually being spent. We knew that it was going to be more expensive than the average album. We did not know that it was becoming as heavy an expense as it did. Listening to the quality of the tapes. I was quite impressed. Millennium had an exciting sound. But there are very few recording entities that have ever made it without building up charisma and a following. Also to make records sell, you have to perform and of course they never did appear around. There are basic principles as to why records sell and, number one, this group did not perform and appear around to create an underground following. We sold a fairly respectable number of the Millennium album — not enough to re­coup the recording cost — but they certainly created quite a stir among a number of people.

Did the group exist?
In the recording studio. They never appeared in person. Another principle is that if a group doesn't appear in person, the only way you can break the album is to get a single from the album. We couldn't break a single with them.

Where'd they come from?
This was Gary Usher's project that he worked on with Curt Boettcher. The two of them put together the art­ists for Millennium. It was a studio group that they just formed. They signed the group. Mostly everyone I know liked the Millennium album. There were hardly any negative comments. I know my friend Jac Holzman at Elektra once said that if he had to bring three albums to an island to live with over a period of years, the Millennium album would be one of them.

The cult reputation of Begin was well underway by December 1971, when the following paragraph appeared in Phonograph Record Magazine, in an article about Millennium member Michael Fennelly's new band Crabby Appleton:

In the autumn of 1974 Fennelly gave this revealing interview to the ever-great ZigZag magazine:

I'm unaware of any interviews given by the Millennium in their lifetime, but a detailed conversation with Curt Boettcher appeared in the December 1974 and January 1975 issues of ZigZag, and can be read here and here
Jennie and I, though known to have a good time, are not real drinkers. Last night we went to a Halloween party, which was fun, and a good time to see people before leaving. Well the folks were my high school friends, and my best mate Ben's sister's friends (she happens to be one of my sister's best friends too). So Jennie and I hit the costume box for some ideas, we ended up going as Axel Rose and Sailor Moon, I wont get into who was who.

It really amazes us, the different social demographics showing up to these things, as well as how people interact with each other. There is the affluent, sheltered from real life crowd, who grew up in house holds filled with A types, and are needy for attention or fell better when they cut others down. Or there are the having a good time, induced by booze crowd, which I'm totally cool with (except when it comes to playing drinking games at a table all night... uggg). And then there are the chilled crowd who just socialize and talk, which is the way to go at a house party. Anyways Jennie and I enjoy the people watching and socializing.

Funny story of the night goes something like this... Jennie finds a firework that shoots out colourful balls of fire 40 or 50 ft into the air, or whichever direction you point it.  She has never lit one of these roman candles off before, so I had to help her find the wick. After it's lit, it sparks for a while before shooting 8 flaming projectiles at 30ft per second in the direction you point it. Well some A type attention seeking drunk comes out side just as it's about to start spitting fire balls and announces "Your pointing it the wrong way!". Well Jennie was a little on edge, not knowing what was going to happen, so she turn 180 degrees and the first one shoots right at the jerk off. Then she immediately turns around once realizing how it works and shoots the rest off into the air. Well, Mr. Ego start throwing a temper tantrum and kicks or throws a bottle at Jennie, nothing serious and I'm pretty sure he didn't hit her, or Jennie would have knocked him to the floor; it's been known to happen she grew up on the Prairies surrounded by boys whom suffer from ADD.  Mr. Ego spent the rest of the evening sulking with his super insecure girlfriend, and they left early. We left once the blood alcohol levels got too high, and headed home. Alcohol is by far the dumbest and most dangerous drug in the world, when abused. But it does have a wonderful effect when appropriately consumed.

Also in a side note to the WW1 letter, Jennie found out from her Grandpa that that was the last correspondence from his uncle jack before he died in the field.

Jennie is really having a good time with her grandpa lately finding out out all she can about their family history. Hopefully we will get some pics to put up. I know there are some of when her family was more affluent before the great depression, and they went travelling in the south pacific, super cool!

Fitness Failure

I've gotten myself into a bit of a situation and I'm not quite sure how to handle it. 

A few weeks ago I was at an impass with my fitness routine. I had worked myself up to running 5km three times a week but had gotten a little bored with it and therefore a little slack with it.  The running had tapered off a bit and my determination to eat healthy had waned.  I put on a tiny bit of weight (3lbs) but it might as well have been 30lbs for how I felt about it. 

I felt like I wanted to try something different to shake up my routine a bit and reignite my passion for exercise. 

What I had in mind was to maybe try a spinning class.  So one evening when it was too windy to run outside I headed to the gym to run on the treadmill with the intention of asking about the spinning classes they offered.

What happened that evening set the personal trainer debacle in motion and in turn the gym's impressive response to make it right.

I've now had two sessions with the regional fitness manager.  During my initial assessment with her she wanted to know what my goals were. I told her, in all honesty, that I wasn't sure. I said that I'd "recently" lost 33lbs (now 30), that I had a previous goal of being able to run 5km comfortable - which I was doing 3 times a week.  I told her that I was generally happy with myself but that I suppose I wouldn't mind losing another 10lbs and maybe toning up a bit. (Who wouldn't?)  I emphasized I have two toddlers at home which limits my time, energy and ability to give a 100% balls out commitment to a gym routine - which is why I run.  Running is convenient, effective, and I can usually do it right from my front door and be done within 45 minutes max.

She listened and seemed to understand.

My second session with her was killer.  She worked my ass so hard.  I was at the gym for an hour and a half and my body was sore for days afterwards.  She told me during that session that she wants me to do the gym routine 3 times a week and also do 120 minutes of cardio per week. Plus I need to do stretches throughout my day and some floor exercises 5 nights a week at home.  She also mentioned that she wants to set me up on a nutritional plan and that will likely happen in our next session. 

It's a 10 minute drive to the gym.  To drive there, get in and do the hour and a half workout and get home takes 2 hours of my day and when I get home I have NO gas left in the tank.  When I got home from my last workout, I still had to feed and bath and put the kids to bed.  I needed a shower and I needed to eat.  I needed to make lunches for everyone for the next day.

I wanted to die/cry.

So here's my problem.... How do I carve out that sort of time/commitment 2-3 times a week, plus run 3 times a week, plus be a mom to two busy toddlers, plus be a wife, plus take care of my home, plus eat half decent, plus have some tiny shred of enjoyment in my life??  The thought of it is completely overwhelming and disheartening and, quite franky, depressing.

And how would I maintain some sort of stringent nutritional program? I know generally how to eat well (just lost 30lbs).  I don't always eat well but I don't always want to.  And I don't want to feel more guilt than I already do when I eat something that isn't on the "plan".

I HATE making excuses. I HATE being a quitter.  I HATE admitting defeat. 

But the whole thing has added some serious stress in my life and I don't know the best way to handle it. I don't want to be a quitter. But I know this is not manageable for me. 

Admitting that to myself is hard.

How do I handle this with the trainer? I was the one who wrote the letter to Fitness World complaining about my experience there. And they were gracious enough to set me up with the best trainer they had to put me on a fitness routine. For free. With three months free membership.
And I said I wanted to lose 10lbs and tone up. This killer routine would do just that. She's doing what I asked.

I feel like a failure if I admit I can't do it.  I will look like a quitter.  Like a wimp.  Like I don't want to do things that are hard. It's not that, but it will surely look like that. 

I have a fair amount of stress over this and not sure what do to.  I have gotten myself in over my head and not sure how to get out. 

I'd love to hear  your opinions on this.  What would you do?  How would you handle this without looking like a total flake? 

Paterno's comment to ESPN after the Illinois victory

Joe Paterno is so class.

He's an icon. He's the reason why yours truly writes this blog. He's the reason why we've been known to fly across the Atlantic for games. He's the reason why we pay for ESPN subscriptions and swear at TVs.

And after the heart-wrenching game against Illinois, Joe Paterno said this about becoming the winningest coach in Division-I history. And it wasn't to do with himself, the Nittany Lions' offense, or even the 8-1 record or the possibility of winning the Big Ten (the trophy's named after himself). He talked about Grambling coach Eddie Robinson:

Q: "Win No.409 Joe. If I'm your grandchild asking you, what does win No.409 mean to you?"

A: "What 409 means to me is that a good friend, a great guy - one of the greatest people who ever had anything to do with college football - did a great thing for the African American when he and Jake Gaither started to give scholarships when those kids didn't have scholarships. To have my name next to his means a lot".

And here's how 409 was won - from the field level:

About Time! Georgia beats Florida in the Cocktail Party

For the last few years, the only thing the Georgia Bulldogs felt when they came down to Jacksonville to face the Florida Gators was the boot on their behind when the Florida Gators kicked their butts. 

It wasn't pleasant - heightened by 2010's crushing overtime loss that would have made any red-clad man cry.

Anyway, this time it was different, as the Dawgs overcame a 17-3 win down to snap to the Gators 24-20,  highlighted by Aaron Murray's 4th and 6 touchdown to Tavarres King for a 14-yard touchdown in the third quarter and Richard Samuel's four-yard rush - helped by a Florida pass interference game that has become the pattern of Gator football this season - for a touchdown in the fourth.

The defense - as it has done all season long - did the rest for the Bulldogs. 

Was it pretty? Nope. But the fans in Athens are much happier with Mark Richt, and my God it's effective!

Awful game, nutty victory: Paterno passes Eddie Robinson on the Division I all-time list

Wow. What a game.

I'm not glad to say I went through the whole of Penn State's goddawful 10-7 victory against Illinois, but I did.

Both sides seemed to be stunned by blizzard conditions, which entered State College and Beaver Stadium like a thief in the night and spread its claws all over the North-Eastern seaboard.

In short, it brought the terms "White Out" to a whole new meaning, when the student section was shivering its collective ass off waiting for Joe Paterno to collect a victory that would see him pass legendary Grambling coach Eddie Robinson for first all-time on the Division I list.

At half-time of a mistake-prone, truly dreadful first half, it was 0-0. No, we're not joking. Penn State quarterbacks Matt McGloin and Robert Bolden were both absolutely dreadful in the first half, and Nathan Scheelhaase was equally poor. And yes, we think the conditions - where it was hard for each team to hold onto the ball - played a massive, massive part.

Anyway, the second half featured Illinois looking a little more on top, with both teams adjusting to each other's weaknesses.

With around 3 minutes left in the third quarter, Illinois took the lead and we could feel ourselves beginning to use the sort of language that Mom told us not to use in front of polite company (we were watching this game at friends for dinner!).

Then, a field goal late on. Hope? Not with this offense. Then, the second-to-final drive of the game, with McGloin leading. Hope? Nope. But McGloin - for all the hatred yours truly and the rest of Penn State Nation have thrown at him - proved us wrong, starting an 80 yard drive which ended in new State College hero Silas Redd running the ball in for a touchdown. Happy? We nearly jumped over the wall.

Then, the moment. Wow. Moments like this don't happen often in sports, and when it's the opposition kicker who's nailed his last 10 in a row, you swear to God it's not going to happen to you. But Derek Dimke (an unfortunate name for a college kid), splattered the ball against an upright with the potential, and Beaver Stadium went absolutely crazy.

So did we.

Posting # 2 today... It's my day off, so interesting things happen.  We went to look for a van. Something simple, older, domestic, and in relatively decent condition. So we found a 1990 chevy power wagon rally stx. This thing has two captains chairs, and a bench seat. Everything is in decent working shape except the turn signals on one side don't work. The heat works, but the cabin lights don't.  Oh and there is a huge chip in the windshield. We hope we can get away without fixing the windshield, but it shouldn't be too expensive if we have to. In fact nothing should be too expensive to replace.

We may have to take it slow, but our other options are: flying and having our stuff shipped and staying at hotels and using rental cars, or renting a uhaul. Both options would cost well over 5 grand. I think 4 or 5 days driving in a sketchy van with 360000 kms on it is ok, come on 360000 kms, she's a survivor.

This van is essentially the same van the A-team drove, if it's good enough for Mr. T, it must be good enough for the D. Here are some pics of the beauty!

jazz poster comes to life

the concept behind the jazz show's holiday publicity downtown posters: festive but not limiting, attractive but not cluttered, informative but not visually confusing, magical and wintery but not entirely christmas-specific. oh, and incorporate at least one dancer, of course. after some thought, the image of a snow globe filled my imagination, but how to create an empty one? after closely examining several in real life, it became clear that dismantling one for my specific use would not work. it needed to be a bit larger, and unique, from scratch. so setting out no farther than 2 square blocks outside of my house in little dublin, i came upon the raw materials: wintery silk flower parts, a 6" globe light fixture, and a candle base. add a white duct tape roll to get the elevation needed, and the set up looked something like this. any thoughts on how it will come to life?
wait no longer. the first draft:
although it's catchy and classic at the same time, it needs something to make it sparkle, to make the eyes move around the layout without knowing why. snow. yes,just a touch. what's a snow globe without snow anyway?


Long time no write... we have been just going through the days, waiting for our place to sell. Markets are starting to perk up so hopefully things will go soon. Jennie yesterday transcribed a letter her Grandpa found. One of her great uncles wrote this to his sister during WW1.  The context is amazing, we definitely over value human life these days.

St. Martins, Shorncliffe England
June 30, 1916

Dear Sister Eva
            I received your letter yesterday, I was sure glad to hear from you & to know you & mother are well. Well Eva I know you sure had some kick coming at me for not writing, but you know, I kept putting it off so much that I was almost ashamed to write at all, but I will sure do better after this. Well Eva you can’t amagine how sorry I was to loose George, but you know we are in the army now, of course I could have got him in the transport a groom, we were full up of drivers but short a groom, & he took quiet awhile to think it over & by that time he was picked for the draft that went to Bramshortt, well I am glad he is with Art. Now, I got a card from him every few days, I have been thinking of going up to Whitley to see him, but I cannot get away for a few weeks yet, you see our transport officer is in the trenches now, as we are not entitled to an officer over here, I am Corporal now & our Sergeant is away taking a course, to go to France as Farrier instructor, that will take him another four or five weeks, then I will be made Transport Seargent, in the mean time I have my hands full, as I am in charge of the Transport Polumm (polum) myself, say Eva you ought to see my saddle Horse, he sure is a dandy. I have been over quiet a bit of this country already on business of course but I made out quiet a bit of fun just the same. Say Eva you ought to hear the noise that goes on sometimes, last night I woke up & thought I could hear thunder, but it was only the guys across the line shooting their fire works you know. Say it make a fellow feel mean when you hear them going at it like that, and then just look around & you see all your friends hiking off with their guns & packs just a hundred or so at a time & the next day or so hear so & so killed or so & so wounded, that is in one way I was glad Geo. Went when he did so he missed going over so soon, you know I should be there now but the way I am fixed now I guess I will be here for a while now alright, & I am not very sorry because I sure want to get back with out my head blown off. You know I want to see little Francis &  that big boy Douglas. Say Eva wait until you see him & me going off on a hunting trip. Ethel sent me a photo of him also one of herself & the two little ones. I sent Ethel a little package with a broach in for you, I will get Mother something soon.  Now you & Mother must not worry about us, as I will watch myself alright & Geo. & Art. Will be alright on their job so we will come back alright, when I go to France I will go with three stripes to the base, providing all goes well.  Well I guess I will (leave) now & I hope to get a letter soon, hoping this finds you both well I remain your Effect. Brother Jack.

Address  Corporal Mac Farlane
no                 Transport Srt.
464147            62nd. Batt. C.C.7
            Army P.O. London England

Cocktail Parties, Huskers and Lions: Week 9 College Football Preview....

So this is the week they talk about. While LSU and Alabama think ahead to Armageddon in Tuscaloosa and Badgers try lick their wounds from last week's tussle in Michigan, the dreamers of the SEC East are thinking cocktails - and a lot of them - as Georgia and Florida go head-to-head in Jacksonville. Michigan State, the conquerors of Wisconsin, go to Nebraska for a none-to-easy game in Lincoln, while Wisconsin travels to The Ohio State University to play a side that's low on respect. And elsewhere, Penn State - who suddenly has their division in their hands - hosts Illinois and Clemson travels to Georgia Tech.

And College Gameday's in Los Angeles (the only bit of good football they'll see in the City of Angels for a while!) for Stanford's visit to USC in what promises to be the battle of two soon-to-be- NFL quarterbacks, Andrew Luck and Matt Barkley. Oh, and this Robert Woods kid's quite good, too. 

Who says Week 9's going to be boring? Anyway, we start on Thursday night at The U and Houston...

And since Paul Simon tunes are the soundtrack for tonight, some of these featured games will have a Paul Simon influence to them.... apologies if this offends you...


Rice vs Houston

7-0 Houston's not only still trying to remain unbeaten, it's dying for some respect. Wins over Rice (which we predict they will), won't do take them to Graceland, but it'll be fun. PREDICTION: Houston by 30.

Virginia at Miami

After Virginia's Week 7 upset of Georgia Tech, this game looked interesting, but after the subsequent week's implosion against NC State's it's once again the game that 'could have been'. Still, Miami's getting better under 'You Can Call Me' Al Golden, and will look to avoid the heartbreaking loss. PREDICTION: A thoroughly entertaining Miami win. By 3.


Stanford at USC

Andrew Luck and Matt Barkley are both Obvious Child-ren to go to the NFL, and so's Barkley's primary wide receiver, Robert Woods. USC fans will be hoping that the Trojans score often and early in the first half, because in the second half, the Cardinal are near unstoppable (and the Trojans are always fairly poor in fourth quarters this season). Oh, we're also praying for lots of shots of Song Girls and that College Gameday's going to be filmed on USC's campus. PREDICTION: Stanford by 14.

Georgia vs Florida 

Everyone loves their Cocktail Parties, and this'll be the first for Fat Charlie, Will Muschamp and the Florida Crew. Florida and Georgia fans are going to be their noisy/drunken best at the game, and Georgia fans will be particularly anxious to put one over their hated rivals, particularly as not only are the Dawgs the form team at the moment, but a South Carolina loss at Tennessee gives them control of the East. Watch out for Isaiah Crowell, the running back for Georgia. This kid's good. This is going to be fun PREDICTION: Woof! Woof! UGA by 3.

Clemson at Georgia Tech

This is going to be a dangerous game for the Tigers. Despite losing two in a row, Georgia Tech is still a dangerous team, and Paul Johnson's triple option will score points against a defense that - let's face it - really hasn't got diamonds on the soles of its shoes. But can Tech stop Clemson and Sammy Watkins? We think not. Oh, and this game's always a classic too. If you don't believe us, check out the game on Thursday night a few years' ago. Amazing. PREDICTION: Georgia Tech in a monster upset.

Michigan State at Nebraska

Wow. Games at Lincoln were built for games of this magnitude, although we'd argue that perhaps it shouldn't be played at 12pm (we prefer night ones). The corn-heads will be in their prime at this one, which will show the spirit of America and it's great game of violent ballet. Michigan State may still be on a high after disposing of Wisconsin in the wildest of circumstances, so beware Nebraska. PREDICTION: Nebraska in a tight one. 

Illinois at Penn State

Penn State apparently holds the division in its hands, which might not be the greatest news since the Lions have a knack of not playing well when they are favoured. The Illini have lost two in a row (one of them, laughably, was to Purdue), but they are dangerous when no-one thinks of Ron Zook and the Orange and Blue-clad people. PREDICTION: We Crazy Love The Illini in this one. By 3.

Oklahoma at Kansas State

When I told the guy in the bar last week that Kansas State's unbeaten and scoring for fun, and Oklahoma lost to Texas Tech, the guy called the police because he thought I was on drugs. "No sir", said the policeman. "It's all true". Anyway, we love Bill Snyder. We love what he's doing in Manhattan. We don't give him a prayer against an angry Sooners team. PREDICTION: Oklahoma by 21.

Baylor at Oklahoma State

The over/under for this game is around 70 points, because both sides struggle defensively and have fireworks on the other side of the ball. So that's why it'll be a piece of low-scoring melodrama featuring just two of the best quarterbacks in the land. Sound like nonsense? That's because it is. PREDICTION: First one to 41 wins. Oklahoma by 10 in a game that will be billed the manual on "What Not To Do" by defensive co-ordinators for years to come.

Missouri vs Texas A&M

The only funny bit about this game is that both sides might be playing in the SEC next year in a game between two teams that will struggle to keep up with the likes of LSU, Alabama and Florida. The rest of it? Yawn. PREDICTION: A&M by 21.

Washington State at Oregon

If you think this game's going to be close, you're a Boy In A Bubble. PREDICTION: Oregon by 41

Navy at Notre Dame

This has been one of the games to watch almost every season for one reason: It's always entertaining. Notre Dame will have problems against the Navy's triple-option, but can Navy play for 60 minutes? They've been good at losing heartbreakers this season! PREDICTION: Notre Dame! Last second touchdown!

Wisconsin at Ohio State

After losing a game that yours truly is still talking about, Wisconsin is going to have to pick itself up off the carpet for a night visit to what will be a noisy and unforgiving Horseshoe. The good news for Ohio State is that they've sorted their running game out with Dan Herron, the bad news is is that Braxton Miller's still learning. PREDICTION: Wisconsin by 14.

And now....


According to Wikipedia a child is considered a toddler between the ages of 1 and 3 years old. Personally, I am hesitant to call a child a toddler until he/she is actually toddling – until then, they are still babies to me.

In my head I have kept Lincoln a baby - typical, youngest child, final baby stuff I guess.

Until last night when I was curled up in the fetal position crying myself to sleep after yet another unbelievably psychotic evening in my house, when suddenly a light went on in my head... Linc is now 16 months old and walking and talking.  He is a toddler now!

Which lead me to my next light bulb moment - Oh my god, I have two toddlers.


Anybody who’s ever had ONE toddler knows how insanely difficult it is to manage them. They are emotional and defiant and unreasonable, volatile and belligerent.


And they feed off each other. They not only torture me, but they torture each other – so there is never, ever a moment of peace! Even after they go to bed (and never mind the total bullshit runaround that has to happen to get them INTO bed), they still are doing shit through the night that prevent me from having a few quiet moments at the end of another off-the-rails day, nor a full 8 hours of sleep.

I don’t know why I never realized this two toddler thing before.

I guess you might think that this new enlightenment would change my approach to parenting and help me improve upon my efforts at reining in the insanity that happens in my house every single, god-forsaken day – but I am pretty sure I have tried every approach, method, course of action and parenting technique ever invented – with little success.

On the contrary, I think what it does mean is that I now understand just how totally fucked I am, I should just accept it for what it is and let go of any hope of coming out of this with any shred of mental stability.

Letting go....

Their Satanic Majesties & The Fab Four

Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was released on June 1st 1967, in the most elaborate sleeve of any rock album up to that point. Though cut-outs of the Rolling Stones weren't included, an oblique tribute was paid by the inclusion of a Shirley Temple doll wearing a jumper that has 'THE WMPS GOOD GUYS WELCOME THE ROLLING STONES' knitted on it. Six months and many tribulations later, the Stones finally released their own psychedelic album, Their Satanic Majesties Request. Not to be outdone, they had an amazingly expensive lenticular sleeve produced, with art direction by their chum Michael Cooper. Buried in the blurry image are the moustachioed heads of the four Beatles, but they're nigh-on impossible to spot, so I thought I'd spoil the fun:

Stunner in Sparta: Week 8 thoughts....

Wow, we're still getting our hearts back after an exhilarating, pant-wetting end to Week 8 after the play-of-the-year that saw Michigan State upset Wisconsin on a Hail Mary and Texas Tech give Oklahoma Sooners fans a boot to their National Championship Game Hopes.

So without further ado:


Michigan State/Wisconsin

Both teams get the VFA's props in the Game Of The Day. Amazing ending with Kirk Cousins' Hail Mary beating Wisconsin 37-31, but Wisconsin's fervent comeback in the second half will have Badgers fans thinking about Indianapolis with a fire in their belly. Can't wait for the rematch in December!

Texas Tech

Considering they were 30 point underdogs going into Norman, we'll go as far as saying that no-one thought the Red Raiders would be Oklahoma on Saturday night. Well, they did. A fast start nearly became a grim ending for Tommy Tuberville, but fate was on his side, and the 41-38 scoreline stands out as the biggest upset of the season so far.


The Cardinal started slowly then exploded against Washington in the Pac-12 favorite's biggest game of the season so far (they were 7-0 against dross before this), with Andrew Luck - again - having all the fun. And the defense is for real, too. We can't wait for the USC and Oregon games.


Came into Notre Dame in night game circumstances and many thought it could be the Trojans undoing. But the Trojans stepped up, and Matt Barkley and Robert Woods both proved why they'll be playing on your Sunday television very soon indeed. Plus, they caused the turnovers that proved to be the Irish's undoing (again). Next up is a clash with the Cardinal at the Coliseum. We still remember this game in 2007:

Penn State

We marked this on our cards as a game that would be the Nittany Lions' undoing, but the second half defense came up trumps and Matt McGloin was no awful as Joe Paterno's side went 7-1 in Evanston. Devon Still's the real deal, by the way. And so's Silas Redd.


Brutalised North Carolina despite Sammy Watkins not having a great game. This Clemson side looks as though it's for real, but when is this side - to quote a million Twitterers and Kirk Herbstreit - going to go back and 'be Clemson'?


Three out, no bother. The Tigers were so terrific against Auburn, we were scared that Mike might get put down for cruelty to birds.


Notre Dame

Killed themselves (AGAIN!) with turnovers in front of a packed and noisy stadium in South Bend. When is this team going to learn?


Excuse me while we stop laughing, 'Big Game Bob'...

 Kansas State

Hammered KU in the State Rivalry game. The outcome was perhaps expected, but the 59 points they put up wasn't. Bill Snyder for Coach of The Year 2011 (and not because of the Jayhawks result, either!)

Georgia Tech/Illinois

Two weeks ago these two were unbeaten. Now, after back-to-back horrible performances, we have this question to ask: What in the heck happened? Still, they have the chance to be spoilers for other fans' seasons...


fall brings a welcome change from the fever of summer work out in the great open. more inside studio work occurs, particularly at one location i hold dear to my heart: the oakland scottish rite. the masonic organization has been held under the scrutiny of the public eye thanks to pop fiction and movies that feast on the intrigue and mystery of secret societies ,but i am here to tell you these men are nothing less than professional, kind, driven by the betterment of the person and the spirit, and are held together in a tight fraternity by the universal belief in the all-mighty. they welcomed me into their world in 1994 after scott and i were married there, when i was still green, "wet behind the ears" as a young photographer. mother-in-law gayle got me in the door, as she held the position of secretary.  john beringer put faith in me, which gave me confidence to continue. over the years the classes and tuxedos come and go, the years slip by and john has retired. others remain and continue to welcome me.the building's detailing by none other than the masons of the art-deco era continues to awe and inspire me. the intricacy of the ceilings, fixtures, paneling, use of rich fabrics, hand forged metals, stained woods, built in furniture, tiling, painting and scale of it all remind one of the lost arts of carpentry and excellence in building, and excellence in character as a choice. its formidable size, mysterious passageways, and quality of craftmanship beckon. going back to the scottish rite is like going back home. and the welcome received from the masons is as comfortable as visiting family. 

the public ceremony of investiture
and even in the midst of all this brotherhood and masculinity, a glittering bokeh can be found if one knows where to look...

calling for backup

backdrop, check. strobes and triggers, check. backup speedlites, check.  backup batteries and cards, check. this once-per-year company session includes dancers scheduled 5+ per hour for 4 hours, check. 1/3 through our studio session the shutter sync is wrong. half of my frames are showing up black. usually this means the sync is set too high for the studio strobes, but at 1/160 and slower still at 1/125, that should not be the case. the viewfinder goes entirely black. i am now shooting blind and beginning to sweat. i pull off the lens and to my horror, the mirror literally falls onto the floor. my heart surely stops, and at very least, skips a beat. reinsert the mirror. (it should *never* fall out. in 30 years, i've never seen anything like this.) reattach the lens. fire. we have a shot, and it is synching properly. but it's out of  focus and i cannot use the viewfinder in order to focus the lens. someone finds us a fabric tape measure. we take to the floor, marking out 5' intervals between the camera lens and the dancer. finding our total length, i return to the camera and set the lens manually to the correct distance. fire. check. we're back in business, but for the rest of the day i have no visibility through the viewfinder. here are some of our results from our indoor jazz company session.  one parent asked, "do you have a backup camera?" well, i didn't. i do now...