Friday, December 18, 2009

Specular Highlights

Some of the oddities of life abroad begin to slip beneath the radar after a while, like the shops that proudly sign their establishment in 1998, or the fact that the chicken in your sandwich costs less than the bread you wrap around it, let alone the cheeky slice of tomato you slip inside (though not less than the amusing flap of cheese). Then, just as you're feeling comfortable, you'll make some innocuous comment and inadvertently step on a cultural landmine. The world flips on its axis and you remember that you're not in Lewes any more.

Not that that's happened lately.

That's our Christmas tree on the right. No, really. All will be explained. It's the first time we've had our own Christmas tree. Rachel and Ethan made ornaments and decorated it themselves. It's the best.

Here's a holiday tradition that must have Al Gore spinning in his political grave. So very un-Portland. It's the Winter Wonderland at Portland International Raceway. Billed as "Largest Holiday Light Show West of the Mississippi," a stupendous number of old-school tungsten filament light bulbs are arranged in hundreds of displays around the length of a speedway track. You arrive, with hundreds of others, in your car, and proceed to drive very slowly around the circuit, bumper-to-bumper, marvelling at the spectacle. It costs $16 per vehicle, but they do throw in a CD of Christmas music to play on your car stereo as you go around.

What they don't tell you is that they are almost certainly testing some kind of deep hypnosis or time-shifting technology on the general public. I swear it took no more than seven or eight minutes to see everything, and yet the CD player had clearly logged 31 minutes and indeed we had been transported into the future by that same amount of time.

I realised fairly early on in our vehicular perambulation that any photos taken with such little light from a moving vehicle in a gentle rain were going to turn out prosaicly crap. So I focused the camera at a distance of about two feet and shot the thing as a series of specular highlights, thus giving you a pretentious impression of the mise-en-scène.


The tail lights of the car in front. Told you this was better.








That's a gingerbread house (apartment block, surely?) on the right. The display is a holiday tradition at Portland's Benson Hotel. That's 100lbs of gingerbread, 25lbs of marzipan and 22lbs of chocolate right there.


My little bear cub.

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