Category: Uncategorized

A Renaissance Festival Wedding

August 31st, 2015

A Medieval wedding for a modern-day couple

“I’ll bet you’re looking forward to this wedding,” bride Jen said to me as we waited at the front gate of the Renaissance Festival in Holly, Michigan.

That was definitely an understatement. It’s not often that you get to photograph a couple and thousands of their closest friends who went all Medieval on them before, during and after the ceremony.

I knew things were going to be memorable when Jen was accosted by the Village Idiot imploring her to travel the world first, before jumping into matrimony. That’s okay, The Queen (I wanna say Elizabeth, but was unable to confirm her royal lineage) blessed her union with new hubby Dave Roby.

More than a quarter million fair-goers visit the festival each year. Held on weekends from mid-August through the beginning of October, the Michigan Renaissance Festival has been going strong for 37 years. Sprawling over 17 acres, the festival features 300 artisans, themed stages, jousting, camel rides, a cornucopia of food and last Saturday, a wedding as well.

The wedding party and their lucky guests were feted and featured as they were paraded through the festival, first with the bride-to-be, then with husband and wife. After the nuptials, they were all seated for a rather lavish five-course meal in the castle on the grounds and treated to ongoing performances featuring sword fights, acrobatics, fire juggling and all manner of merriment.

You’d have to be a Village Idiot not to enjoy something like that. And I have it on good authority that even the idiot had a blast as well.

Enjoy a small sampling of the photos. Here’s to Lord and Lady Roby. Hip hip, huzzah!

The Beast From The East

August 6th, 2015

Don’t say his name three times.

They chanted, “No, No, No,” like petulant toddlers.

And he began to stir.

Like summoning Bettlejuice with repetitive incantations or the toil and trouble chant from Macbeth, they beseeched their anointed leaders to reject all: immigrants, Muslims, health care for the sick and needy. They implored with rancor that we shun science, Mother Earth, those who identify as LGBT+.

And he rose from the scum, the muck.

They had no ideas, no thoughts, nothing that could move the people forward. They could only conspire against. And they did so with malice. They plotted against women, the poor, minorities and menaced the rest of the land with openly-carried assault weapons.

The clown prince of darkness showed his ugly, contorted visage, riding an escalator down to his poorly paid pretend partisans.

The world jeered. So did his own party. “We eschew responsibility for this monster we created.”

And he began to spew forth hatred. He parroted back all that had been hushed up, hidden by his party’s elite. A vast trainload of misplaced rage was now out in the vile open, rolling unstoppably down the tracks. Pandora’s boxcar.

He bellowed resentment against all the dumb losers who weren’t rich, white or male.

They tried to run away, but he just gained in strength. He was grim reaping what they had so hatefully sewn. Out in the bright sunshine, their evil beast roared with pompous hatred and shambled to the top of their popularity polls.

He was them; their words, their thoughts, their bigotry. He was their golem, brought to life by hatred.

And now he stalks the land. Will he be stopped? Can he be stopped?

My Five-Year Mark

June 1st, 2015

I’m having a happy cancerversary

June. It’s been a long time coming, but June is finally here.

This is the five-year mark. Five years ago I got the lousy news that my blood and bone marrow had secretly been invaded by a stealth force of leukemia. After teaching a morning class, then golfing nine holes, my doctor called me into his office and dropped the bomb on me. Until that afternoon I felt fine. The next day I was in the first of three hospitals for what was the beginning of a six-month odyssey.

Cancer sucks. It was the showpiece of my Three June Hell. The previous June I was forcibly divorced from my lifelong journalism career. The June after cancer, I was back in the hospital for complications from my cancer-cure treatments: my heart lining had become engorged with a liter-and-a-half of fluid. Heart juice I called it.

Forgive me if I stopped looking forward to June for a couple of years. I think I actually dreaded it, having nightmares as I reported a few years ago.

But now.

But now things are different. I’m back to freelancing, both with my photography and my writing. I’ve been back in the classroom several times. And with the extra time I’ve had on my hands, I’m putting the finishing flourishes on my new novel: it’s destined to become a bestsmeller. This is my first fictional attempt and it’s a novel about Detroit, relationships, baseball and the funny things that happen when you throw a bit of mystical “Hope” into the mix.

I’m taking back June. It’s a fantastic time of year. A good friend just ran in my honor in a leukemia/lymphoma fundraiser. That brought tears to my eyes. But these days, I realize the tears have a healthy dose of joy mixed in too. I’m clean. I’m cured. I’m happy.

And that’s the best part: I’m happy. I hope your June is as incredible as mine’s about to become.


May 16th, 2015

I’ll take this, any day.

I’m surrounded by a bunch of animals.

As I sit here writing this, just outside my window sits a mother robin nesting in our hanging plant. The red in the flowers must’ve drawn her in: like attracts like.

And when Mr. Excitement does electronic yoga with his Wii balance board, Bernie and Alex show me a better pose — Downward Dog, instead of my Child’s Pose.

It’s good to have dedicated instructors like them.

Watering our porch plants has become a bit tricky. Mother robin flaps at me sometimes, so I have to sneak up from behind with a hose set to heavy mist. Apparently that’s okay by her.

I’ll take an occasional “flapping at me” as opposed to what transpired with my wife and daughter on a recent Mother’s Day bike ride. Riding along Big Beaver, we apparently angered a couple geese and their goslings. My wife was flapped at with what — she reports afterward — felt like a baseball bat striking her arm. They let me pass, oddly enough, then went after my daughter, pecking at her for having the audacity to pass them with, what we thought, was many yards of leeway.

I’ll take angry birds any day, compared with a recent story I shared with my family about a southern community “terrorized” by a wayward alligator. And heck, didn’t a killer whale in captivity attack someone down in Florida during a live performance a while back?

Even though the dead of winter can be tough up here and I find it increasingly necessary to escape to some place warm each year, I’ll take our mildlife as opposed to the south’s wildlife.

I’m happy with just letting sleeping dogs lie.