Monday, July 31, 2017

The Meaning of a Cone



If a cone fell from a tree in the forest and nobody noticed it, does it mean that it never happened?

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Airport Rush


Book Cover for The Dying Game

My image is now in the cover of Asa Avdic's novel The Dying Game.  


  • On the remote island of Isola, seven people have been selected to compete in a 48-hour test for a top-secret intelligence position. One of them is Anna Francis, a workaholic with a nine-year-old daughter she rarely sees, and a secret that haunts her. Her assignment is to stage her own death and then observe, from her hiding place inside the walls of the house, how the other candidates react to the news that a murderer is among them. Who will take control? Who will crack under pressure?


Friday, July 28, 2017

Remains of Corregidor


This used to be the headquarters of the American troops stationed in the island of Corregidor, Cavite City, Philippines.  It was bombed in World War II by the Japanese Army in 1942.  The Japanese did not like the western architecture of the building so they restructured it inside and out with a vision of Japanese Minimalism.  The remains stand as a reminder that Japanese architecture is king.



  Hope your day is going well.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Great Sage of the Vatican Museum

Earthenware of Anthrophomorpic Figure,
1200-1400 AD, Quimbaya Culture, Columbia
found in the Vatican Museum.

We had a private viewing at the Vatican Museum, and I was able to interview the great sage Master Quibokoh of the Quimbaya Culture in Columbia.

Juzno:  Master Sage, oh, great prophet of the lost civilization, I do not wish to disturb you but can I have a penny for your thought please?

Quibokoh:  Please come forward.  I always sit like this.  And you can call me Iggy.

Juzno:  What do you think is the theory of everything?

Quibokoh:  That nothing is everything, and everything is nothing.  This is the fundamental belief of our culture.

Juzno:  Was that why your civilization became extinct?

Quibokoh:  That will be a penny.


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Dutch Babe Chalk Artist at Work





And you may find yourself 
Living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself 
In another part of the world
And you may find yourself 
Behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house
With a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself, well
How did I get here?

Once in a Lifetime Written by Brian Eno, Christopher Frantz, David Byrne, Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth • Copyright © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group

Monday, July 24, 2017

Gimme my ice cream

Somewhere in Prague.

He obviously wants his sugar.  After all, it makes the medicine go down ... medicine go down ... in the most delightful way.

Hope you are having a great time.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

A Better Gumamela



Here in the States, this flower is commonly known as Hibiscus.  Where I grew up, we call it Gumamela.  It is considered wild in the Philippines.  Back then we would squeeze the juice out from the flower and mix it with a sliver of laundry soap. The concoction made great bubbles, which could be as large as our heads. Of course, we were only 7 years old then-- so they probably were not that big.

Hope your day is going well.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Her name was Lola


Santillana del Mar, Cantabria, Spain
Her name was Lola.  She said she was a showgirl at the Copa Copacabana, the hottest place north of Havana.  Except this was at Santillana in Cantabria, Spain.  

Lola was very friendly.  I chatted with her with my un poquito Espanol for over an hour, and I think I only understood a tenth of what she said.  May have been the same for her.   But we didn't care.  We had a good time.  Until Rose pointed out to me that I must be having a heatstroke of some sort.  

Hope your day is going well.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Eclectic Simplicity



Just some samples of my images taken in the last couple of years. Significant changes made since my last post.  Thanks for watching.  Hope you enjoy.  

Oh by the way, the video is best viewed with a glass of white wine.  Cheers.

© 2017 Rob Castro.  


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Blended Pastel


Many moons ago, I was still in an alternative rock band, Joe our bass player brought in a song he wrote which he wanted us to try out.  It was called Blended Pastel.  I would have to find a tape of our rehearsal to remember how it completely went as I have already forgotten about the song.  But the title of his song stuck on my head.  So as I edited this image, I again remembered Blended Pastel.  Joe, I don't know where you are, or even if you're still writing great stuff.  But this is for you.

Cheers.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Spiral Tap - Sistine Chapel's Secret Staircase

Sistine Chapel's Secret Staircase.
It so happens that my memory escapes me more often nowadays.  It's called old age.  Now I can't remember where I shot this but I know it is in Rome.  I think it could have been part of the interior inside the Sistine Chapel.  I do remember having a nice dinner inside the Vatican.  Yes, we were privileged to dine privately inside what people would call the most holy place in the world.   Not sure how our Tour Director pulled it off.  The best part of the dinner was the wine and roasted pig, which is one of the things they make you eat to test if you are not a Jew or Muslim.  Not an issue  for me -  they can throw in shellfish and all creeping things prohibited in the Old Testament,  I'll eat them.

I usually don't take photos of interiors as the lighting is usually bad.  In this case, it was different.  With the help of technology, I managed to get some nice bokeh and blurs to enhance the shot.  Shot with the iPhone 7 plus.  I dig its camera.

Addendum:  Rose reminded me that this was the modern double helix staircase designed by Giuseppe Momo in 1932, and was inspired by the original Bramante Staircase. This staircase, like the original, is a double helix, having two staircases allowing people to ascend without meeting people descending; as with the original the main purpose being to allow uninterrupted traffic in each direction. Kind of like driving in the Los Angeles Freeway.

Cheers.  

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Ferdinand VII by Goya at the Plaza Nuestra Señora del Pilar

Plaza Nuestra Señora del Pilar, Zaragoza, Spain

Aragon in Spain is famous for producing famous people.  Among them is one of my favorite artists, Francisco Goya.  Arguably, he is considered the father of modern arts.  

The image is a lamp post surrounded by the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar, the principal cathedral of Zaragoza.  The lamp post is not important, and has nothing to do with the Zaragoza’s history.  What is important is what is on it :  a replica of Goya’s painting of Fernando VII, who Goya never respected.  He painted portraits of the king for many organizations but never for the king himself.  To a trained eye, Goya made the king look like a pompous fool with his pork loin belly protruding at the center. The The king's mop top haircut style became the inspiration for Moe of the Three Stooges.  His hair is also ashen, which made him look weak and cuckold.  

Ferdinand restored the Inquisition and believed in the Divine Right of his kingship.  This caused Goya great anxiety to a point of nervous breakdown.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Black Madonna in Montserrat



Rose's take on my rendition of the Madonna is that it looks scary.  I purposely blurred most of it because of my aversion to images portraying God or Christ Jesus.  (A baby Jesus was sitting on the Madonna's lap.)  I believe God would not be pleased if somebody painted or carved an image of him.  After all, nobody knows what he looks like.  How would you like it if somebody who has never seen a likeness of you draw your picture?  I think the Muslim religion has a similar tenet.  But that doesn't give me an excuse to create dull art.  I usually just avoid the subject.  However, in this case I wanted to document why people are lining up just to see the statue of the Madonna - which is mostly out of curiosity or believing she can grant the pilgrim's request.  I find the latter a sad state of affair of false hope and futility. People will sincerely do what they think is right for them.  But people can sincerely be misled.  But it doesn't matter what I think. 


A bit of trivia on why the Madonna is black since most European rendition of her is she is fair skinned.  I was told that the statue is made of wood.  Its face was painted with lead-based cream colored paint.  The paint discolored through time because of oxidation.  That is why it is now mostly black.  I was going to first write about this bit of information when I started blogging on this image but I think I got distracted.  

Thursday, July 13, 2017

An ordinary day at the beach

Lanzada Beach, O Grove, Spain

This doesn't really have a witty story behind it.  But I like the picture.  It kind of reminds me of Martin Parr's style - satirically  journalistic  anthropologistic images of aspects of everyday ordinary life of retrospective social England.  Except this was shot at Lanzada Beach, a tourist site in Galicia off a few miles  away from Santiago de Compostela.  Quite frankly, I find Parr's images quite boring.  Does it mean that I find my image equally boring?  At this point, I don't really have much of an opinion.  Maybe deep inside I think it is because I have procrastinated sharing it.  I see the fat lady with too much sunscreen cream on her back, the  hot chick beside her - applying some faux cream on her arms, the lazy people in the background  - they look like miniature toys.  What else can it be?  Unexceptional.  Ordinary.  Maybe if I did not blur out the topless woman sitting next to a man at the lower left hand corner of the photo - it might be a bit exciting.  Oh but I have to  blur out the topless lady because my art is rated PG.  She is there though - I can assure you.  In fact, there were some more topless women at the beach so it was a challenge not to include them in my frame.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Ceramics in Montserrat



I found these ceramics in a shop in Montserrat.  These ceramics are unique.  They come with artsy barcodes.  What a novel idea, I thought.  I wonder if they have special readers to scan them.

Montserrat is a mountain top monastery in Catalonia Spain.  It is visited by pilgrims who want to see the Black Madonna.  Not related to Madonna who performs dance music. 


Hope your day is going well.

Monday, July 10, 2017

It Ain't over 'till the Fat Lady Sings: Have a Banana!

Woman by Fernando Botero, Denver, Colorado.


The "Woman" figurine, located at the Denver Performing Arts Center, was sculpted by Fernando Botero Angulo.  The artist is known for his signature style, also known as "Boterismo", depicting people and figures in large, exaggerated volume.

Near the Temple Hoyne Buell Theatre, Botero’s "Woman" has watched over the crowds of theatre goers since 1998. The 13-foot-tall bronze sculpture is a perfect example of Botero’s characteristically plump figures.

Though I must inquire of Botero the existential question, "What is the significance of that peeled banana that she is holding?"

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Vinos for Hot Santiago de Compostela


My rude awakening began in Santiago de Compostela.  St James of the Stellar Camp.  Or Camp of the stars.  Whatever.

Yea.  I was still in denial.  Wishful thinking.  After all the Weather Channel forecasted moderate temperatures in Northern Spain.  Alas, this has not been the case.  I was looking at the clothes I packed, and there was no way I would be wearing them.  Thinking that the weather was going to be cool, I only took with me one pair of shorts just in case it would get warm.  Just in case.  And this is the case.  Hot.  Searing heat.  High humidity.  Hot hot hot.  Hotter than hot.  The climate demons were celebrating their triumph over this awfully forsaken tourist.  They were mocking me.  I know.  I heard their scoffing.  

We were fortunate that a mall was a stone's throw away from our hotel.  The El Corte Ingles.  The name of the mall truly describes what they are.  When you inquire from the sales clerks in broken Spanish, all of them responded in fluent English.  Hey, you think I could apply for a job here?  

Juno:  Por favor, I need par de pantalones cortos inmediatemente.  Like right now.

Isabel:  Sir, the mens wear is on ailse B.  Just to your left.

Juno:  Muchas gracias, señora

Isabel:  My pleasure.  We aim to serve

Juno:  By the way, are those cold wines on sale?

Friday, July 07, 2017

University of Salamanca



Salamanca.  Our final stretch before we head down to Madrid for our farewell dinner.  It was searing in the 100s, with extremely high humidity in the shade.  Everyone in our tour was melting.  My thighs were starting to weld together from the heat.  I could hardly walk without looking like an old seasoned cowboy who has never gone down from his horse except to pee.  No wonder Don Quixote got crazy.  It was not dementia but the effect of the hot Spanish weather.  Interestingly, Salamanca is known to be terribly bitter cold in the winter. I remember not wanting to leave the coach the last time we were here.  It was very very cold.  The thought of it made it easier for me to deal with this heat.  Finally, our great tour director went and bought us bottles of cold water.  Thank you, Pascal.

The University of Salamanca is a Spanish higher education institution, located in the city of Salamanca, west of Madrid, in the autonomous community of Castile and León. It was founded in 1134 and given the Royal charter of foundation by King Alfonso IX in 1218. It is the oldest founded university in Spain and the third oldest university in the world in continuous operations. 

Salamanca draws undergraduate and graduate students from across Spain and the world.  It is also known for its Spanish courses for non-native speakers, which attract more than two thousand foreign students each year.  Hence, the place is essentially a college town.  We know what that means.  The night life can be wild.  That night, we were told, that the town will hold an all night light show with loud music to celebrate Corpus Christi Day.  Maybe the Rolling Stones will show up.


Thursday, July 06, 2017

Plaza de Espana, Barcelona



Each city in Spain has its own Plaza de Espana.  Maybe there is a plaza within the plaza.  Must have been seven or eight o'clock in the evening in Barcelona when I shot this image at the rooftop of the La Monumental, a renovated bullring arena that has been converted to a shopping mall.  In the past, the place was used for public hangings.  When that became boring, the Spaniards decided they would be better entertained with the murdering of bulls.  That too has been outlawed in Barcelona.

I researched the significance of the twin buildings.  They're the Venetian Towers, built for the 1929 International Exposition around the late 1920's just to say to the world that Barcelona can build anything they want.  They were made of cheap materials because they were meant to be demolished after the expo.

As one can see, the cityscape is not busy.  Not yet.  Night activities do not come alive until ten o'clock.  Only then the Spaniards would bring their familias to their favorite restaurants.  Anytime before that would just be the opened Tapas bars filled with urbanites nursing their beers and chewing on olives skewered unto a piece of octopus meat.  The Spaniards know how to live.  I am told that in Galicia one can survive with a thousand euros a month, an ordinary salary if you ask anyone.  A retired guy in our tour bounced to me an idea of living in Spain.  Why not?


Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Don't Bother Me



Don't Bother Me.  This is a crowded train.  I'm pretending to look busy reading a week old newspaper.  Lost and found baseball cap.  Walgreen reading glasses.  Made in China for sure.  They make the best.  And never mind these vagabond shoes that are longing to stray.  They'll step around the heart of it.  New York, New York.  I 'm on No. 7 Train from Flushing-Main Street to Times Square.  I'd make it anywhere.  Yeah, oh New York, New York.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Don't they know it's the end of the world


Night time
leaves rustling,
wind blowing,
sounds of fireworks rising up in the air
though they are nowhere to be found.

"Don't they know it's the end of the world ..."
-- eerie music on the background.

Bandidos, cigars, red wine, leather jacket, 
perfect for this cool evening breeze,
while my service gun tucked inside my cargo pants.
Not even thinking about it anymore.  
It has become an extension of my body.

My concealed carry.

Thank you Mr Smith.
Thank you Mr Wesson.

Already eight o'clock in Europe.
eleven o'clock in the West Coast.
Forget the East Coast,
forget New York,
who cares about New York?

Smoke rising from the Bandidos.
Mouth burning from the cigar butt,
Nicotine high,
and under the influence --
of alcohol.
It's just red wine.

Meandering thoughts.

I'm fat!


American Woman



Proud to be an American.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Sunset on the Eye of Liverpool


One might argue that the Eye of Liverpool looks better than the Eye of London.  I'm probably one of those people.  Taken during sunset with my iPhone 6.  The 8 mp camera on the smart phone only takes jpeg photos, and yet the image is useable in editing in Photoshop.  There are enough good quality pixels for the final rendition.  I think it's not the number of pixels an image has, it's more the quality of pixels that makes for a better image.

(I have now switched to the 16 mp iPhone 7 plus, which takes images in Tiff and Raw format.)