Personal Sewanee

The beauty of Sewanee

Here, in a time-lapse by Steven Alvarez, is 3 minutes of why we live here in Sewanee. Man, is it beautiful.

The Light from Stephen Alvarez on Vimeo.

Client: University of the South

Music by Boy Named Banjo

24 hours on the campus of the University of the South.

The original page for the video is

There is no video in this video.

I shot 27,000 images in the course of 3 weeks. Around 5,000 appear in the finished video.

Everything was shot as Canon raw, converted in Adobe Lightroom and edited in Apple Final Cut Pro.

Motion control is with a Dynamic Perceptions Stage Zero Dolly.

Cameras were Canon 5D MK II, the MK IIIs didn’t fit into my workflow.

lens are all Canon

16-35mm L 2.8 model 2

24mm L 1.4

34mm L 1.4

50mm L 1.2

70-200mm L IS 2.8

85mm 1.8

300mm L 4

Personal Sewanee Video

On the Domain

An absolutely beautiful video that shows off the place I live. Watch it in HD if you can, it’s worth it.

Books Media Personal Sewanee

More on the Family Fang

I know I just blogged about this a few days ago, but there’s been more amazing responses to Kevin’s book that I thought I needed to follow up. There was this really great review from NPR, during Fresh Air on Aug 8th that is about 6.5 minutes of praise about the book. And then there is, most strange to me, a biographical piece in the New York Times that talks about Kevin’s family and life in Sewanee. It’s not strange because it’s untrue, or because it’s hyperbolic, but just because it’s strange seeing the people I hang out with in the NYT. This is especially true of Griff, one of Eliza’s best friends…from the article:

The family lives outside Sewanee on the edge of a one-acre pond in a thicket of woods teeming with rabbits, bats and deer. Inside the house signs of Griff, 3, were everywhere: a basket of toys near the wood-burning fireplace, a child-size canvas swing from Ikea hanging from the ceiling and a remote-controlled train set taking up most of Ms. Couch’s office upstairs, where she writes her poetry on a drafting desk in the corner.

I’m thrilled to see Kevin getting such attention…he and his family are amazing, awesome people. I hope that The Family Fang is a massive hit, and that they find the success they deserve. As I said in my last post, if you haven’t bought it, go buy it. It’s an awesome read, and hopefully one of the year’s bestsellers.

And if you are in any of the cities where Kevin is speaking/reading on his book tour (going on NOW…he’s speaking in an hour or so in Birmingham, AL) you should definitely go and see him read.

Literally while I was writing this, my wife texted me to tell me that she was taking Eliza to the playground to meet up with Leigh Anne and Griff. Hilarious!

Books Personal Sewanee

The Family Fang

One of my best friends, and the father of one of Eliza’s best friends (and maybe Eliza’s favorite person who isn’t Mom or Dad)  is an incredible, wonderful writer. His name is Kevin Wilson, and his first novel, The Family Fang, is coming out August 9th. I mention this because today the book got an outstanding review in the New York Times.

Mr. Wilson explores the damage inflicted on children raised in an atmosphere that is intentionally confusing. They have been told that their parents do important things; they have been told that their own feelings do not matter. They have learned the hard way that either of them might be betrayed in an instant by parents who bring a lofty, arty, guilt-free approach to everything they do. So as “The Family Fang” begins, Mr. Wilson shows just how badly the adult Annie and Buster have been damaged by Fang ideas of fun. He also makes it clear that the senior Fangs can be amusing. And then, all of a sudden, they are not.

His previous book of short stories, Tunneling to the Center of the Earth, won an Alex award from YALSA in 2010, and should be a part of any library collection by now. If you haven’t picked it up, do so…it’s an incredibly good book.

The Family Fang is something else entirely. It’s a book that stands up to anything on the shelves, a brilliant first novel. I’m in awe of Kevin when it comes to his skill with words, his imagination, and can’t wait for this thing to be a huge hit so that everyone can see how talented he is. And it’s not just that I know the guy…he’s getting reviews from all over:

So: Go buy it now. Seriously. Buy a copy for yourself, and put it on the purchase list for your library. It’s going to be huge.


Personal Sewanee

Across the LupUS

If you have had any “Gee I wonder where I should donate this money” moments recently, I have the perfect answer for you:

Across the LupUS

These two Sewanee grads, inspired by the struggles of one of their mothers, decided to try and raise $50,000 for Lupus research by biking across the US the summer after graduation…this summer. They are wrapping up their trek in the next few weeks, and could use any help that anyone can give them. Even $5 will make a difference…besides going to a good cause, it’s tax deductible.

If you know anyone with Lupus, you know how terrible the disease is. These are two great guys, trying like hell to help out as they can…help them.

Personal Sewanee

Look what interupted our picnic

We’re over at a friend’s house this past Saturday for his birthday party, and Betsy and I and a friend are just lounging in the yard eating. Beautiful day, with maybe, oh…30 people eating in various places around the yard.

Guy walks up to us and says “Don’t freak out, but there’s a big snake just behind you.” I don’t think anything of it, really…country boy, seen plenty of snakes…so we stand up to take a look.

Dead, view 1

That’s the “after” photo…it was at least a 4 foot timber rattler. Biggest one I’ve ever seen, hanging out right at the edge of the yard. Lots of kids, boys playing football…I shudder when I think about one of them tossing the ball just a little too far.

See if you can spot him in the “before” shot on flickr. Or how about just the head (again, an “after” shot).

One other shot, from a different angle:

Dead, view 2

Digital Culture Sewanee


While this blog isn’t a gadget-blog, I wanted to sing the praises of a recent purchase that might come in handy for both the gamers and librarians (and gaming librarians) who might read this.

At the Origins Game Fair this year I purchased a Zuca. What’s a Zuca? It’s a rolling bag of many things…


This is the best rolling bag I’ve ever seen. It has great organization inside, with pockets and a large open area for books/computer/folders/body parts…whatever you need to haul around. The thing feels indestructible, has inline skate wheels with frictionless bearings and will go anywhere and has a nearly zero turn radius. The frame allows you to use it as a seat or table for those crowded airports or in the library, and since it’s aluminum it doesn’t actually add much weight to the product. It’s still very carryable when needed. It also comes in about a million colors/styles.

The only complaint I have about the bag is that it connects to the frame at all of the sides, but not the top, so when you use the handy mesh hammock in the inside top of the bag to hold change and such, it pulls the top down when you roll the bag. It’s a terribly minor thing in an otherwise remarkably well-designed product, and doesn’t effect the use of the bag at all. There was some issue with it fitting in a few of the overheads of the smaller airplanes I was on this summer, but in every case there was a solution (once it was checked by the crew, and once I stowed it under the empty seat beside me). It fit in the larger planes just fine.

For those of us who carry a lot of books and electronics when travelling (and who doesn’t anymore…) this is a really well made solution. If you see me at a convention, I’ll probably be wheeling this along behind me.

Personal Sewanee

Sewanee in Spain

Cool blog from one of Betsy’s former students, now taking part in the Sewanee study abroad program in Spain:

Stranger in a Strange Land

Some great pictures, and a nice insight into college life abroad.

Personal Sewanee

Fun in the snow with Indy

Video of Indiana discovering the joys of playing with snowballs.


Sewanee in the news

Two stories that mention Sewanee, both in the New York press, and both in the same week?


In any case, they are both great reads. The first is a scathing look at academic plagiarism from the New York Press, and the second is a New York Times story (first born child required, or you could bugmenot) revolving around the culture and traditions among southern universities. The New York Times article reminded me a great deal of this blog entry, and the accompanying discussion of the Sewanee Mace, that I thought I had mentioned previously. I also stumbled across this collection of stories/photos of the Mace, which is a subsection of the Sewanee Online History Museum. Yes, you heard me right…the Sewanee Online History Museum. (Aside: Boy, could they use some web design. Having a menu at the bottom of the page? WTF?) Here’s a great picture of the Mace from the NYT site:

Sewanee Mace