The Day The Tide Turned Brown.

The history of Alabama Football is nuanced and deep in its tradition. Why, for instance, would our mascot be an elephant, yet we’re called The Crimson Tide?

It came from a simple phrase used by a journalist.

In 1907, there was a particularly momentous game – the Iron Bowl, in fact – that was played in a sea of red mud which stained the Alabama jerseys, formerly white, into a deep crimson. Hugh Roberts, a sports editor of the Birmingham Age-Herald, used the catchy phrase “Crimson Tide” in his article to capture the imagery, and that was that.

…So it would be fitting if another momentous game caused a shift in the naming of the team.

Such was Saturday’s game.

It was a huge game from the outset – two undefeated teams this late in the season, ranked 1 and 6. College Gameday was there. The entire city was basically standing room only – forget actually trying to walk in the quad. The gameday attire (or lack thereof) was turned up like never before, and that’s saying something – I saw more body parts sticking from the places they’re typically kept covered than I have ever seen in my entire life.

When game time arrived at 2:30, the 101,821 people that were lucky enough to be inside the stadium had been given ample time for tailgating and general celebration of the occasion, which of course included the consumption of many things – both in liquid and solid form.

The game started happily. Alabama scored, the stadium was wild with excitement over such a fantastic match-up. I admit I wasn’t actually in my seat when the game began – we have hospitality tickets, so I was enjoying the food and drinks provided in the cushy indoor seating where you watch the game on TV, you’re not squished into the people on the right, left, north, and south of you, and the bathrooms are pristine.

I visited those pristine bathrooms when we arrived and noticed that the toilets were eterni-running. They had the flush that never ends, and moreover that was a bit too high in pressure so that they also doubled as a bidet.

Not great, but who am I to complain about overzealous toilets.

Right before we left the Stadium Club to head to our actual seats, I visited the little girl’s room one more time – just in case. This time, the bathroom was silent. Too silent, in fact. Gone was the eterni-flushing. Gone were any flushes. I wiggled the handle – not even a wave emanated from the bowl.

Huh. Weird day in the bathrooms.

Then I quickly moved on.

We got to our seats just in time to see a couple of exciting plays, and then there was….

…the announcement.

Attention: the stadium is currently experiencing water pressure issues. We are working to resolve the problems. Until that occurs, there will be no running water. Please do not use the facilities until further notice.

And then the game continued as if nothing catastrophic was afoot.

My mind quickly went into math mode.

101,821 fans.

32% were too drunk to hear the announcement.

Another 45% heard it, but were too filled with liquids to heed it.

10% were in the bathroom during the news and didn’t hear it.

100% of the stadium concessions were still selling fountain drinks.

28% of the people in the stadium smuggled in their own liquids.

And 100% of Rachel Callahans now had to pee since discovering that they weren’t allowed.

I tried to come to grips with my situation by turning to Twitter.


Surely the issue would be quickly remedied. The population of the stadium alone was currently Alabama’s fifth largest city. Every state employee except Nick Saban was surely frantically working on this.

So I sat and watched the game, crossing my legs, suspiciously staring down each and every person who left their seats, wondering if they were on their way to worsening our situation.


We headed back inside during halftime, severely disappointed that no follow-up announcement had been made. There were lines to the regular stadium bathrooms, so maybe we’d just missed the all clear?

That, or truly no one was heeding the gravity of the situation.

When we arrived at the Stadium Club, we were greeted with grave warnings that all of the bathrooms inside were off limits.

In fact, they were being guarded by a wall of workers. Martial Pooping Law had been enacted.

I decided that I’d had enough of the cramped quarters of the stadium, so I stayed in the club while Chris went back out to the game. Plus, I was hopeful that the bathrooms would be opened any minute. My personal situation was feeling more urgent.

But alas. The Palace Guard was not budging.

After a little while, I went back to the normal stadium bathrooms, thinking that the long lines from earlier had to be proof that they were once again working.

I walked in and headed to a stall. And gasped, then promptly choked on the air I had just inadvertently sucked in.

There was a pyramid constructed of moist toilet paper and who-knows-what-else…all the way up to the seat.


I walked into another stall. The same sight greeted me.

Third, fourth, fifth stalls – the pyramid scheme was nonstop.


I couldn’t do it. I turned and walked out. But then the urge was too great and so I turned around and got in the back of the now-formed line. Everyone that came out said “Oh my GOSH ladies it’s TERRIBLE in there.”

I got to the front of the line, looked in one stall, and once again backed out.

I just couldn’t.

10% out of sympathy for whoever the poor soul was that was going to have to DEAL with THAT, and 90% out of complete and utter terror from the contents therein and the closeness they would pose to my own body.

Uh uh. I would internally burst first, thankyouverymuch.

I trudged back up to the Stadium Club to wait it out. I sat down next to a friend and she leaned over and said, “Look what’s going on over there….there’s some sort of…LIQUID…dripping through the ceiling.”


There was zero water running through the pipes of the stadium – I had just confirmed that fact by attempting to scrub the nast of the bathroom off of me – but the sink was bone dry. So the logical conclusion was that whatever that was coming through the ceiling did not originate from the pipes that carried clean water.

And it was dripping steadily into a room that was designed for…and full of…food.

We sat and watched it drip into the trashcans strategically yet subtly placed underneath it.

Needless to say, I lost my appetite for any further consumption, and my bladder insisted that I throw away the rest of my ice water (which, oddly, was still available and flowing from the drink machine.)

Meanwhile, I pondered gravity, and the downward motion of the liquids drip dripping away. And imagined the situation on the field itself.


By the fourth quarter, the game was well in hand and my husband, being the type that likes to take mercy on his wife and beat the traffic, decided we should leave early. As we walked down the street by the Health-Hazard of a Stadium, there was a small river running in the gutter… even though our state is currently in a Level Three drought.

That there was not water.

That was the Brownish Yellow Tide.

Roll Tide, y’all. And pass the toilet paper.

Crimson Tide Turns Brown

40 Spectacular Spots for Birmingham Photo Shoots

Best Photo Backdrops in Birmingham

It’s getting to be the season for family photos, and I often have photographers message me for new ideas on Birmingham backdrops for family or commercial photo shoots. We all know that the Botanical Gardens and Morris Avenue and Railroad Park are great, but people want new ideas.

And I like to give the people what they want.

As I tend to get around a bit as a Birmingham photographer, I have a few suggestions for you who are looking for unique backdrops to take photos in Birmingham. I’m sure you’ve heard of some of them, but maybe I’ll surprise you with a few. Some are seasonal and some take longer walks than others, so be sure and read the details for any disclaimers that you might want to know about. And feel free to ask follow-up questions in the comments or by email – I’m always willing (albeit sometimes a little slow) to help!

Also, if you just like shooting cool places in Birmingham, this is the list for you. As you can see, I don’t usually clog up my pictures with people, either.

But first, a disclaimer: Please use common sense. Just because I list a place here does not mean you can have a full two hour photo shoot there without permission. If in doubt, get prior approval.

Now. Let’s begin.

1. Urban/Artsy: The Blank Space Mural Projects near the Alabama Theatre. These are beautiful, bold, colorful works of art that can be found on the north side of 3rd Avenue South and 18th Street.



Details: They’re both in the backs of parking lots used by Alabama Theatre visitors and workday cars, so attempt to time your visits when the parking lots aren’t full for best access.

2. Urban/Graffiti: The “Graffiti building” on 1st Ave S by the Jones Valley Trail between 28th St S and 32nd St S – It’s a giant warehouse building at least two blocks long covered from one end to the other with Graffiti tags.

161014z Graffiti Building Panorama

If this is your thing, this is the place to find it. It’s currently uncovered because of construction going on next to it. There are some really fun, colorful, and unique tags on the building.






Details: There isn’t public parking right next to it, but you should be able to park fairly close by and walk down the walking trail to the graffiti wall.

3. City View: Crest Road, off of Aberdeen Road. The ultimate city view, this street has a spectacular rock wall overlooking the city. The sunset is best here during the summer, but it’s a great place for family photos year-round.



Details: Park on Aberdeen and walk up Crest – there’s no parking on Crest. It is gated after 7pm, but it’s still a public road – you are not trespassing to walk around the gate.

4. Floral Gate: During Crepe Myrtle Season (July), the gate at the east end of the above mentioned Crest Road is like a fairytale.


…Even when boys photobomb you.


5. City View: An alternate to Crest Road is Stratford Road – but the nice big yard that is city-facing is private property, so stay on the sidewalk or obtain proper permission before scheduling a photo shoot.

150430 Rose-Colored Glasses

6. Pastoral View: Tip Top Grill’s parking lot in Bluff Park. With their great gate and the unobstructed view of Oxmoor Valley, this is a spectacular place for a photo – of sunsets or people or both.



7. Night Funk: You’re not going to get fantastic detail of your subjects if you wait until dusk and go to the Light Rails, but hey – you’ll get some cool shots. And if you’re shooting somewhere close by, this might be a fun way to end the photo shoot.










…But even during they daytime, they’re cool tunnels.

130627 Birmingham's Tunnels

Details: There are three sets of light tunnels that run between north and south Birmingham – at 14th, 18th, 19th, and 20th Streets. I currently recommend 18th Street because the others have construction around them right now.

8. Rotary Trail: The Rotary Trail is a fun place to photograph, with or without people. There are so many fun angles, interesting benches and signs, underpasses and fences.






9. Morning Light: If you actually convince a client to meet you at sunrise, the Argyle Road area (near Stratford Road) has stunning sunbeams that provide an ethereal glow to the already lovely street. You could visit this road in conjunction with Stratford or Crest.

160710z Morning Beams

10. Manicured Lawns and Gardens: Samford University is a charming college with many superb buildings, yards, flowers, and stairs.

160618z Samford

Continue to Page Two….

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On My Whirlwind Relationship with a Spammer.

I came across this post in the course of conversation recently, and the memory made me giggle. So I decided it was worth re-sharing.

Originally posted September 23, 2014

As a blogger, I get hundreds of emails a day. Of those, approximately one is a real person emailing me to genuinely correspond.

If I’m lucky.

I adore emails from real people.

In the stack of emails, there are definite patterns that can be found.

PR Firms sending me press releases, hoping that I’ll write a glowing blog post about their newest product in exchange for hi-res images of said product!!

Because there’s nothing more exciting than the promise of hi-res images. I MEAN. I live my life to be able to zoom in on your product as tightly as I could possibly want, taking in every detail with wonder and excitement.

As do, I’m sure, my blog readers.

…Or PR firms offering me even more exciting perks in exchange for writing about their product.

“YOU will be honored to get an exclusive sneak peek at the ‘Our Stupid Movie 2’ MOVIE POSTER!!!”

Seriously?! A .jpg of a movie poster?? And all I have to do is spend a couple of hours and all of my credibility hawking the inane sequel to your straight-to-DVD movie??


I get thrilling offers to share 25 cent off coupons with you guys, invitations to give away smocked clothing (marketers: why not try searching key phrases before attempting to sell – you might find you are hawking smock to the World’s Foremost smock mocker), and even press releases written entirely in Danish.

(Those are the closest to my heart because I can pretend they’re offering me a Lego Factory Tour and want to give me one of everything they make, when in reality it’s just about some new freakish punk rock band called Fhrztengäggich with a feral cat for a lead singer.)

After I sift through all of the PR Firm emails (which would take approximately three days per day to accomplish if it weren’t for the cute little trash can icon on my toolbar), I still have the strange and mysterious guest post requests to deal with.

I get emails at least weekly and sometimes daily from almost assuredly fake people with these not-at-all believable stories about why they want to guest post on my blog. They never tell me what the subject matter would be, and there’s always the tiny stipulation that they’re going to place an undisclosed link (or ten) somewhere within their blog post that points to their “client’s” site.

And if I don’t answer them promptly with a giant flashing NO, they email me back – to check in.

Sometimes they offer to pay me in exchange for this guest posting opportunity, and other times they simply explain that the benefit for me is the post in and of itself. Here’s a direct quote from one of my favorite spins on this strategy:

“I was wondering if you would let me write a post for you?  I am looking to get my work placed on high-end sites such as yours and would be happy to write a unique article just for you.  I can come up with a title – or if you have something that you would like me to cover I can work from a brief.  What’s in it for you, you are probably thinking?  I place a sponsor in the post, which could take the form of a linked word to a reputable client relevant to the article.  Your free article would be 500 words or more in length and completely unique to you.”

500 words that are all my own?? How could I ever resist such a priceless gift.

(I especially appreciated that his next sentence after what’s in it for me was actually what’s in it for him. But hey. Technicalities.)

However. Even my collection of Guest Post emails deliver me a special jewel every now and then, as was the case recently. Read carefully and slowly, out loud perhaps, savoring the beauty of this document.

Andy Steve 8

On my first read-through of this email I knew it was something fantastic.

On my second read, I caught the fact that he changed identity from Steve to Andy back to Steve again, and I giggled with glee, then shared it with you on Facebook.

After riding the beautiful wave of your responses all day long,

Facebook Comments

I finally responded back.

Steve Andy 2

The next morning, I had a response. I shook with excitement.

Steve Andy 3

“…sorry to use as Andy as because I generally use Andy which is my alias when writing blogs.”

But besides that gorgeous sentence and the fabulous use of unnecessary parentheses, the real present was that tiny little picture I got next to his name.

It just didn’t look like the mental image I had of the AndySteve I know and adore.

So I clicked through to his Google+ profile and then clicked on the picture.


Steve Andy Gmail Profile Picture

Oh AndySteve…don’t you know that when you steal a picture of an actor to claim as your own, you should at least change the file name?

Steve Andy Gmail Profile Picture b

Naturally, I continued my investigation by looking Ben Wright up on imdb.

Turns out, AndySteve is also a stunt guy! Who knew?? He is SO DANG TALENTED.

Ben Wright

So I responded to his email, hoping to sound interested enough in his project that he would answer me again, but also referencing his acting career.

Steven Andy 4 copy

And then I waited. Because of course AndySteve only emails me in the middle of the night, as it is obvious that he’s not exactly from around here.

But alas. I apparently went too far with my caustic attitude. AndySteve cut off our relationship, leaving me saddened and alone, and once again with an inbox full of nothing that made my heart pitter patter.

I miss AndySteve. Desperately. I have many regrets about the way I handled our relationship. I was clearly not ready for a commitment and sabotaged what we had together.

I keep going back to my draft that asks him to come back to my inbox, to open up and tell me who he really is. Not to leave me without a word. We meant more to each than that.

But I never can hit that send button.

And every morning, when I open my email and read my latest request to hijack my blog, I am reminded of the hole in my heart.


Every morning, their grammar is too perfect, their consistency of name too exact. They don’t overuse the word “as” or have eternal run-on sentences.

There will never be another AndySteve.

And I let him go.