Sunday, January 21, 2007
Chico-based husband and wife team put whimsical words to outlandish animals
By DAN BARNETT
Michael Agliolo of Chico is a professional photographer, someone who creates images for ad agencies and stock photo companies and who teaches digital photography at Butte College. After years of picture taking, he discovered the computer and "what I was capable of creating within the unlimited resources of a keyboard and a mouse. So was born a long-lasting affair of the heart, inspired by my love of photography and a new found ability to manipulate the ten of thousands of images I'd collected over the years."
His wife, Nancy, began to look through the images, especially the ones of animals, and "started writing prose to some of the more amusing pictures." Well, more like poetry: What might a bear or cow or bird say given the oddball situations created by Michael? The answers started to appear on Christmas cards the couple sent to family and friends, and often they'd hear "you two should do a book." And so, Nancy writes, they have.
"Animals Thinking Out Loud," by Mike and Nancy Agliolo, is a full-color, shiny-page gift-paperback available in selected downtown Chico stores and also from the authors. Interested readers can write Mike Agliolo Productions, 2196 Oak Park Ave., Chico, CA 95928, firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 891-5100 for pricing information. (Ron Sanford, Kirk Yarnell and Marty Snyderman have also contributed images.)
The cow with binoculars on the cover is typical of the animal pictures inside. Each full-page image, beautifully rendered in sharp focus and colorful detail, is joined by some bouncy text by Nancy which begs to be read aloud (especially with kids). Take the piece called "COWard."
In a pasture not so far away,
Standing firmly in the mud,
I spy my fair Fernando
Chewing quietly on his cud.
I view him from afar because
I'm just a shy bovine.
I dream about that fateful day
I hope to make him mine.
I wish I were a braver cow
And looked more like my mother.
Then I'd go and talk to him ...
He moooves me like no udder!
Such "thoughts" accompany pictures of bears in a forest (one of them reading a newspaper on the loo), a hummingbird frustrated at a garden on a computer screen, and a turtle with a jet pack: "Some may say that it's absurd, / And some may wonder why. / But he knows that it's assured / Ol' pokey's gonna fly! // With this thing, he'll catch some air. / Two turbos are a must. / Now he can race that crazy hare / And leave him eating dust."
Computers play a role in four of the images (there are three ancient Macintoshes and one nondescript Windows laptop), a nod to how the composite pictures were produced in the first place. In one, a big old polar bear gazes lovingly into a monitor that shows a tropical sunset. "I see me walking on the beach, / A scene that's very pleasing. / But then I wake and realize, / My toes are next to freezing!"
Mike Agliolo has created a beautiful image of Pegasus, eagle wings flapping ("I live only in your dreams") and, on another page, a large cow with a rather peculiar birthmark (a bar code): "Never once did it occur to me, / That others were appalled. / They'd whisper to each other / That I'd be better off born bald!"
For Nancy and Mike, this project is more than just puppy love.
Dan Barnett teaches philosophy at Butte College. To submit review copies of published books, please send e-mail to email@example.com. Copyright 2007 Chico Enterprise-Record. Used by permission.