Best of Rapid Eye Reality 2007

I struggled with whether to do a retrospective, a best-of, or a “State of the Otis” post to end the year. Because I’ve already written a 2500-word retrospective for another site and I’m feeling lazy, I won’t be doing that here. Because I rarely have any idea of my current state (least of all now). That left me with a best-of. It sounded exceptionally cocky to me, until I realize that there is always a best-of something, even if it’s the best kid in a classroom full of morons or the best prisoner in a pen full of murderers. So, here’s the best post and best picture from each of this year’s 12 months.


Otis and the Magic Door…”when a large, dark, Bahamian man confronts you when you’re alone, the first thing you do is swallow your balls out of your throat and remember you’re actually in what at least reports itself as a five-star resort. Chances are you’re not about to get rolled.”

The wife and I on New Year’s Eve and getting ready to tackle 2007 — taken by my friend, T


Lapsed–“Scissor-cut the sides and back pretty short, the top not as short, but still short, take most of the bangs off, bring the sideburns most of the way up,” I said. With Michael just a few feet away, it was like directing a stripper–or worse, a prostitute–while my wife was watching.

This picture was actually taken in 2006 by my friend Pauly, but it got posted this year as a look back at the past few years of my professional career. This picture captured my professional life since 2005 better than any other


Timeless–“My wife and I have occasional discussions about how we’re becoming more summer than spring chickens. Ten years ago, we had our lives ahead of us and could afford to be bohemian and lazy. Now, it feels like each month slips away a little bit faster. We’ve managed to succeed on a lot of fronts. We’re financially comfortable. We have a beautiful son, a home, a dog, two cars, and very little debt. It is the American Dream…which we managed to accomplish in spite of ourselves.”

I took this photo a few days before I left for an international work trip. It till reminds me how sweet and perfect my family can be


Jungle–“we recognize that we’re in the jungle and it appears to be the only jungle we have. And that’s what makes our eyes sad. When people look at us and say, “Dance, monkey,” we can choose not to. However, that doesn’t change the fact we’re pretty much trapped.”

My dad and my kid, taken at the zoo.


No post this month. Even in a best-of, some months are going to be stinkers. So, two pictures instead.

My friend asked me to take some pictures of his kid playing ball. This was my favorite

Dinner in the Dark…I was in Missouri visiting my family. Twenty minutes before we sat down to eat, a typical Missouri storm blew through and knocked out the power. We ate by the remaining sunlight and flickering candles.


Sick Boy–“(Las Vegas, NV) She’s an Asian woman who doesn’t speak a ton of English, but I imagine her conversation in the housekeeping room of my floor goes like this.

Housekeeper #1: The boy in 012, he sick boy. He have problem.
Housekeeper #2: It’s Vegas, everybody has problems.
Housekeeper #1: No, he sick boy! He masturbates! He cokehead! All day long!”

I took this picture in June, but it didn’t appear on this blog. I’ve taken a lot of pictures of Isabelle Mercier in the past few years. This is one of my favorites from 2007.


The Devil and Mr. Otis–“I remember the slightest of chills. The guy was probably in his mid-20s, but his eyes said he was a thousand years old. When we got on the elevator together, he stole a brief glance at my Nikon.

‘You getting some good pictures?’ he asked.

Those were the first words the Devil ever said to me.”

No picture this month.


No key to the gnocchi–“…There’s nothing I can’t do with a potato…”

A photo I took in 1997 of my buddies in Scotland…posted this month to mark the end of one of their bachelor lives


Suburban Landscapes–“Corner Bastard lives up the street and around the corner of my little cookie cutter neighborhood. He drives perfect little cars, has perfect little bushes, and has a lawn of green fescue that not only is the pride of the neighborhood, but has managed to emasculate me in such a way that I can barely drive by without reminding my wife that I was “man enough to give her a baby, so stop looking at the damned grass like you want to have sex on it.””

No photo.


Lifespan–“Ray wore sunglasses, a work hat, and a stained shirt. His hands bore all the signs of a career in manual labor. He worked with a silent deliberation. I stood on the sidewalk and wished I’d worn something different. I was in a pair of jeans–a little too tight–a graphic tee and a pair of Ecco shoes. To anyone driving by, I was that guy from the nearby suburban neighborhood where men don’t change their own car batteries. I was about to stick my head under the hood, too, just to keep up appearances, when Ray emerged.”

Kid Hero–My boy on Halloween


Amanda Smith arrested in death of son, Devon Epps–“It has been determined that Devon Epps death did not occur in the manner in which it was reported by his mother,” Loftis said. “Amanda Smith is responsible for the death of her son.”

I sent one of my guitars to a buddy in Iraq.


Afflicted–“Daddy, I am making the perfect drum,” he said, as if it were the most natural goal in the world.

“Who told you to make the perfect drum?” I said, making sure the roux wasn’t sticking to the pan.


My son, just a week ago

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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11 Responses

  1. May ’08 rock. Happy New Year, sir.

  2. It was a good 2007 despite being surrounded by sand. It will be a great 2008. I’m looking forward to the Johnny Walker / Macallan taste test in Vegas. First round is on me.


  3. Despite the “little Drummer Boy” beating out “I finally got to meet Bam-Bam” for December’s review, (in what clearly must have been an agonizing decision making process!)I would like to wish you and yours, all the absoloute best that 2008 has to offer.

  4. You forgot one photo.

    The UCON players as the walked off the field after losing to West Virginia.

  5. Anonymous the rake says:

    Oops – Wake Forest. Mind was on last nights game.

  6. You’re a better man for 2007, as am I…

  7. Beautiful retrospective on the year, Otis.

    All the best to you and your family for 2008!

  8. superb ‘state of the otis’. nothing speaks better than pics.

  9. Hey, when did you become a photographer? Kid Hero, the Zoo and the Tree Kiss have to be some of the best composed shots I’ve ever seen from you. Very nice!

  10. Otis, you took some fantastic pictures this year. I particularly like the zoo pic, and the last pic in the post.

    Hope you have a great year in 08!