I wrote this explanation several years ago when I was still at Rutgers. John Barry has passed away since then and I have aged, but the photo still looks more-or-less like me. I plan to "soon" take another silly picture of myself to put on my web page but until then the "pompous-ass" pose remains.
Explanation of Photo
For a long time, and for stupid reasons, I didn't want any pictures of
me on the web. Recently I thought, hey, that's stupid. So I decided
to have a picture taken of me that would best capture my personality.
Too many computer science types have dorky pictures on their web page and
I thought I would try something different. Paul Wilson had an MRI scan of
his head for his mugshot which I thought was pretty cool. I didn't want
to go that far, though. One day I came across this picture of John Barry,
who is well-known for composing beautiful music for many movies including
some of my favorites. This picture appears on the inside of the CD for
the 1998 re-recording by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra of the
soundtrack for Somewhere in Time.
When I saw this picture I thought, "What a ridiculous and pompous pose
he has chosen. I want my picture taken that way!" I love the way it's
saying "I wear glasses, but I'm not wearing them now because I'm getting
my picture taken." Mine is a little different, of course. Although it's
not clear whether John Barry is at a piano, I thought I would pose by my
piano to emphasize the fact that I'm trying to look like a composer. Also,
it looks like he's posing near a first edition of Dylan Thomas' "18 Poems,"
while I have Liszt's "Transcendental Etudes" in the background. Luckily,
I have glasses that look just like John Barry's glasses. By the way,
I'm not a composer, but I do play the piano. I tried to play the tenth
Transcendental Etude once, that's why I had the book. Let's just say I
won't be quitting my day job. My wife (now ex), Stella, very patiently took this
picture for me. My sister, Amy, helped make it look a little better with
some image processing software.
The aspect of my personality that this picture reflects is my bad sense
of humor. Sometimes when I'm making a joke, I do it in such a way that you
don't know if I'm being serious or not. I'll say something absurd and you'll
suddenly realize that I've either just made a joke or I'm completely insane,
and you can't tell which. For instance, half of the people who visit this
web page might not read down this far and think I'm taking myself way too
seriously with this picture. So, if you like the picture, then I'm being
serious about it. If you think it's silly, then take it as a joke.
Some comments I have received on the picture: "why is he sitting there by a
piano," "hilarious," "quite dramatic," "funny," "that was fabulous," "you are
a nut," "Count Dracula trades bites for bytes, becomes computer scientist,"
"gosh, what a pompous ass" (my favorite!)