Friday, August 28, 2009

Glenn's Photo Tips

Here are my tips for taking good photos, as expressed succinctly on my Twitter feed:

#1: CROP. Cut out extraneous data along edges of photo, either in-camera or in post-production.

#2: SEPARATION OF ELEMENTS. Each person or other subject should be distinct from its surroundings. Move to make that happen!

#3: SINGLE FOCUS POINT. Each photo should have only ONE center of attention, no more. If two things are competing, cut one out.

#4: COMPRESSION. Select a viewpoint that compresses the scene into a tight area. E.g. A whole mile-long train seen from the front.

#5: ILLUSION OF DEPTH. Always put something in the foreground and something in the background.

#6: HUMANIZATION. Every photo needs a human or human-like character to give the scene perspective.

#7: HIGH CONTRAST. Search for bright colors and high contrast between colors. Avoid dull grays.

#8: IRONY. Seek the outrageous and that which is unexpected for the situation.

#9: FIND HIDDEN MESSAGES. Look for messages in the juxtaposition of objects. Change your viewpoint to bring these items together.

#10: TAKE A LOT OF FRAMES. Shoot first, ask questions later. In the digital age, it's all free, so why not?

#11: REMOVE DISTRACTIONS. Frame or crop to exclude distracting objects, or Photoshop them out.

#12: KEEP SUN BEHIND YOU. Whenever possible, stand with the sun behind you for best light.

#13: ILLUSION OF MOTION. Every photo should be "going someplace" with its main character engaged in an action.

Most of these elements are present in the photo above (from Rome, see larger version). The girl in pink is the reference point. There's depth. There's motion. Most of the people in the photo are nicely separated. The "irony" element is that this place looks surreal, yet it is real.

Also see my Guide to Photo Cropping.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Song #12: "Can't Stop Thinkin'"

Here is my first love song! (albeit a bit obsessive) Intended for a male singer but might also work for a female. (I imagine Ringo Starr singing it. Shouldn't be a polished singer but someone seemingly clueless.) Here is the tune (.mp3), the sheet music (.pdf) and a video of me singing the song. (The song obviously exceeds my own ability to sing.) It was written on a road trip to Alaska.

Can't Stop Thinkin'

Oh, I can't stop thinkin' in my mind.
I got a melody playin' overtime.
I think my sanity's crossin' the borderline,
because I can't stop thinkin' all of the time.

I try to stop the voice in my head.
He's anxious, angry, wants to be fed.
But every time I see you walk by,
My mind starts racin', it won't stop takin' me
Back to the scene of the crime.

Oh I can't stop talkin' to myself
About the damage you're doin' to my health.
I saw you walkin' on water like God himself,
But now you're drivin' me crazy, straight into Hell.

Can't eat, can't sleep, I'm wastin' away.
I stare at walls and mumble all day.
But every time I see you walk in,
My mind starts racin', it won't stop takin' me
Back to the pickle I'm in.

Take my red pill, blue pill every day.
I'm a model patient in every way.
I'm making progress with my therapist
Who wants to help me mend,
But soon as the doctors have walked away,
I just start thinkin' again.

Oh I can't stop thinkin' in my head.
Can only stare at the ceilin' above my bed.
I think you're tryin' to kill me. You want me dead,
Because I can't stop thinkin' thoughts in my head.

I hear you, smell you up in my nose.
I feel you, taste you down in my toes,
'Cause every time you give me a kiss,
My mind starts racin', it won't stop takin'
Me back to perpetual bliss.

Oh I can't stop thinkin' what to do,
'Cause my reality's shaken, through and through,
And every little bitty neuron is black and blue,
Because I can't stop thinkin',
Can't stop thinkin',
Can't stop thinkin',
Thinkin' of you.

Lyrics and tune copyright © 2009, Glenn Campbell, PO Box 30303, Las Vegas, NV 89173.
Released from Las Vegas.
Here is my complete song archive.
My songs and screen stories are indexed at

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Kilroy Café #51: "In Defense of Stereotypes"

Here is the latest Kilroy Café philosophy essay. You can click on the image above for a larger version or print it out on a single page via the pdf file. The full text is also below. Also see other Kilroy Café newsletters and the KilroyCafe Twitter Feed.

In Defense of Stereotypes


It has become fashionable to say there is no difference between men and women, gays and straights, or between one race or culture and another. If you portray women as homemakers or gay men as walking around with a limp wrist and swish, you are supposedly engaged in bigotry and are perpetuating destructive stereotypes.

In an earlier era, people were imprisoned by those stereotypes. A woman would become a homemaker whether she wanted to or not because so many other roles were reserved for men and closed to her. Today, at least in North America and Europe, most of the barriers have fallen. Women can join the military and fight in combat. Men can become flight attendants and nursery school teachers.

And still the stereotypes persist. Males shoot guns, drink beer and watch football. Women primp and preen. Gay men flip their wrists and say how APPALLED they are at someone else's fashion sense. Nature designed these groups differently, so statistically they are going to behave differently.

If you try to point out these differences you are considered a bigot. According to current thinking, if someone from a certain genetic strain behaves in a manner typical of that group, it is only because SOCIETY MADE THEM DO IT, not because of any inborn inclination.

If women primp and preen and take an unusual interest in the aesthetics of their environment, it's only because the male-dominated culture expects it of them. If men treat women as sex objects and are drawn to mindless porn, it must be because the media already portrays women as sex objects and men learn from this what their role should be.

Rubbish! Stereotypes do not come out of thin air. There is almost always some truth to them. While it is unfair for an individual to be blocked by a stereotype from what he wants to do, it is equally destructive to say such patterns of behavior don't exist. By denying the behavior, you may be denying yourself an important tool for dealing with it in yourself and the people around you.

Human behavior is patterned by our genes. We may have "free will" but only within a framework that nature has designed for us. If you want to understand human behavior in the present, it's helpful to look at our genetic past, at what might have been critical to our survival in the hunter-gatherer days when our genes were formed.

If you love sweet and salty food today, it's because your genes set you up for it. If you can acknowledge this pre-programmed impulse, then your "free will" can adjust for it. If you refuse to acknowledge the role of your genes, then taste is your only guide, and you're going to turn into a little piggy.

Likewise, when dealing with others, you would be foolish not to acknowledge the patterns of behavior that are right in front of you. Saying that a male is "testosterone-driven" when engaged in certain risk-taking behaviors can be a pretty good shorthand for understanding his behavior and dealing with it. Whether testosterone itself is the culprit may be debatable, but you have to acknowledge that males are jumping off cliffs at an extraordinary rates compared to females. To deal with groups of males effectively, you have to grasp these typical patterns.

All humans are coping with powerful drives within themselves, and you can't simply talk them out of the resulting behavior. To a large extent you have to simply accept the behavior as it is, and stereotypes are one tool for doing so. Males behave in a certain way, and so do females. A stereotype, refined by experience, may be a good starting point when you first meet someone. After that your actual experience with them takes over, and eventually the stereotype can be set aside.

Since we are dealing with a lot more people in our lifetime than we will ever know intimately, we have to have slots to slip them into. After talking with someone for two minutes, you can usually say, "Okay, I am familiar with this personality type and how to deal with them." There is nothing wrong with that, even if it leads to mistakes sometimes. Since you often don't have more than two minutes for assessment, making these judgments is an essential social skill.

There is also nothing wrong with seeing that someone is labeled "female" on the internet and approaching them differently than you would a male. Genes aside, being male or female implies a certain kind of life experience. It's only prudent to approach each gender with your stereotypes activated, just in case they might be true.

Even when all the practical barriers have fallen, you will still have people behaving in the manner "typical" of their group because that's what they choose to do. It's what feels good to them. To force them into cultural sameness is as bigoted as the original stereotypes once were.

Just because women can go to war doesn't mean most of them have any desire to. Sometimes, homemaker or fashion maven just works better.

—G .C.

©2009, Glenn Campbell, PO Box 30303, Las Vegas, NV 89173. See my other philosophy newsletters at
Released from Boston.
You can distribute this newsletter on your own blog or website under the conditions given at the main entry for it.
You are welcome to comment on this newsletter below.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Kilroy Café #7: "Preening and Nesting Behavior of the Human Female: A Study"

Here is a republished Kilroy Café philosophy essay, originally released 6/7/08. You can click on the image above for a larger version or print it out on a single page via the pdf file. The full text is also below. Also see other Kilroy Café newsletters and the KilroyCafe Twitter Feed.

Preening and Nesting Behavior of the Human Female: A Study


My many years of research into the behavior of the human female have yielded more questions than answers. The chief difficulty with studying this species in the wild is that the observer tends to change that which is observed.

The researcher can't set up his cameras and recording equipment and expect the female to act naturally. As soon as observation begins, the female instantly becomes aware of the researcher's presence and withdraws to the bathroom, where she remains for hours.

When she finally emerges, there is artificial pigmentation all over her face, while an overpowering floral scent permeates the air within a 20-meter radius. The clothing is frilly and impractical, and the subject has gained 4 to 12 centimeters in height through the attachment of bizarre pointed extensions to the feet. Fingernails may be similarly extended and decorated, and useless baubles and charms are attached to various parts of the body. The hair on the head has been colored and coifed, while extraneous hair on other parts of the body has been plucked or shaved.

Only when the female opens her mouth and speaks is it clear that this is the same individual who went into the bathroom.

Evidently, the female has difficulty "being herself." There always has to be a layer of decoration between her and the outside world. This can be a veneer of makeup or a whole houseful of vanity objects. The risk to the female is that adornment takes over her life and nothing is accomplished all day except primping and interior decoration.

Males just want to get a job done, while females (and some gay males) have a dangerous aesthetic sense which says things have to be done in a certain ceremonial way. Females are often called more "sensitive" than males, but an alternate term is "superficial," as they can easily become obsessed with outward image rather than delving below the surface for substance.

Given the resources to do so, a female will build a nest. This appears to be a deeply ingrained behavior that may have evolved to meet the needs of offspring when the world was more dangerous and resources were scarce. A nest is a comfortable, protected place in a harsh environment. Nest building, however, can get out of hand in the modern world. If excess resources are available, the typical female will invest them all in her creation, regardless of true need, until the nest becomes an obscene and overwrought display of selfindulgence and waste.

In the female universe, one cannot simply sleep on a mattress on the floor of an adequately heated cubicle, no matter how comfortable it may be. One has to sleep on a raised bed with an oak frame, a feather comforter and color-coordinated sheets, surrounded by furniture and art objects that radiate good taste. The room should have a light scent of potpourri, and the windows should look out upon some idyllic scene of nature. The female fails to recognize that when she is sleeping, she isn't going to notice any of this, but the symbolism and psychosocial imagery of the nest seem to be more important than actual function.

Feminine nest-building is directed toward an unfulfillable ideal epitomized by the pornographic imagery of Martha Stewart. In magazines and TV shows, the Stewart communications empire shows us idealized, softly-lit images of what the gentle life should look like—not unlike the dreamy images of centerfolds in Playboy. Females usually fall for this nonsense just as surely as males drool over Miss November.

According to the Stewart ideal, objects brought into the home should not be hard and functional but soft and rustic. They should seem to come from a theoretical "Middle Earth" era when most things were made by hand and life supposedly had more substance and quality. The nest is lined with cotton and lace, never nylon or polyester. The idealized pornographic home is always pristine but never quite finished, as there are always new projects to start as soon the current one is done.

By genetic predisposition enhanced by commercial marketing, a female's nest tends to absorb whatever time and money are available to her. If she has a million dollars, she'll soon have a million dollar nest. Necessity and function are usually the least considered issues in nest implementation and the female will respect them only when poverty, divorce or other outside factors force her to.

The tragic part of feminine nesting is that the nest, once built, has to be defended. After years of accumulated vanity, the home contains so many complex and fragile investments that the female can hardly move. The "nest" becomes more like a "web" with a ill-tempered spider in the center. "Don't touch that!" the female snaps if you try to change anything. Once the web has been spun and attached to the surrounding terrain, it becomes nearly immovable. The female can thus become trapped in her own elaborate creation, which can inhibit all forms of personal growth.

The female, like the male, has only a limited time on Earth. If precious years are wasted in creating the perfect home, there will be little time left for actual living.

—G .C.

ALSO SEE: Male Sports Addiction: A Clinical Profile (Kilroy Cafe #10)

©2008, Glenn Campbell, PO Box 30303, Las Vegas, NV 89173. See my other philosophy newsletters at
Originally published from Las Vegas, 6/7/08.
Re-released from San Diego.
You can distribute this newsletter on your own blog or website under the conditions given at the main entry for it.
You are welcome to comment on this newsletter below.