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kyle cassidy

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The Bed Song Book is ... DONE [Sep. 15th, 2014|05:35 am]
[Tags|, , , , ]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |the bed song]

Years ago the Dresden Dolls had a reunion show on my birthday in New York and I found myself standing somewhere in the back with Neil who said "Have you heard The Bed Song?" I said I had not. "Get Amander to play it for you," he said, "it's really beautiful."

That was long before it came out and over the next couple of years, I would come to know it as an incredibly beautiful song. One of the things that really amazes and inspires me about Amanda Palmer is that she can write a funny song, like Oasis and she can write a terribly sad song like the Bed Song. (And she rhymes "Slayer" with "dare", which is both daring and wonderful.)

If you haven't heard it, it's the story of a couple's relationship told through the beds that they own.

When it came time to make the Theatre is Evil album, Neil and I did a very ambitious book version of the song. It was a $1,000 backer reward and was, basically, a comic book script by Neil that I turned into photographs. The book took a long time to produce for a number of reasons, one being that we wanted to make a book that was incontrovertibly worth a thousand dollars a copy. Another, I discovered, was that because there was nudity in it, no printer that we approached in the United States would print it. (Weird, I know.)





(Video not showing up on your mobile device? click here.)

This weekend, we all met up at the Gaiman Compound (though technically it's a compound, it's actually more like a fairy glade) to sign all the books. It took a long time. SuperKate and Eric (aka Southships) spent a day unpacking boxes and prepping things. (The book itself comes in a box, and the boxes were made on a different continent than the books, so there were boxes of boxes and boxes of books). While this was going on Neil introduced trillian_stars and I to the new Doctor Who (Trillian and I hadn't seen Peter Capaldi yet, and we enjoyed the two episodes we watched) and plotted the Librarian documentary and went running out in the wilderness and saw monarch butterfly caterpillars and examined tree that piliated woodpeckers had been systematically dismantling to get some gigantic ants out of and Neil cooked dinner (not ants) and then breakfast (and then lunch) and made us "Bubble and Squeak", which I'd never had before and now I feel properly touched by the English. & then we had to race Trillian home so she could be Lady Macbeth in her closing night performance, but it was grand and we saw friends and had a swell time and this thing exists that wouldn't exist if a lot of people hadn't worked very hard on it.

When I first saw the boxes opened and the books come out (I had to wear white gloves) I was so happy ... they're astonishingly beautiful. The printing of my photos is exquisite, the book is so well put together (AAAAAND, since we were worrying that people might cut their books up to frame the prints, you can actually disassemble the book, frame the prints, and then put the book back together later if you want.) So many things so thoughtfully done.

Thank everybody who made it happen. It's a beautiful thing.
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Look ma! I'm in Forbes! [Sep. 10th, 2014|05:14 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |ego likeness: sirens & satellites ]

Look at me Mom, I'm in Forbes! (TL;DR? Just read this.)

I've been in a lot of magazines over the years, but I'm pretty sure I was never in the financial magazine Forbes until last week. Imagine my suprise when people started to email saying "One of your photos is in Forbes!" -- I figured it was some stock photo I'd done of George Bush, but it wasn't -- it was an outtake from the Breedless album cover shoot for Industrial sensations Ego Likeness, uncredited. In an article about the ego's of CEO's by award winning business writer Bruce Kasanoff.

That's weird, I thought. The "thats weird" started to pick up some traction on Ego Likenesses website with lots of head scratching. Patrick Rodgers, who owned the record label that E.L. was signed, to wrote to the author and suggested he should write an article about Ego Likeness and me, and how social media works. And Bruce did.

You can also read about the shoot that photo came from (and some of the social media behind it) here.



Ego Likeness. Outtake from the Breedless album cover.



Bruce followed up with an article about how we (Ego Likeness and me) used social media. It's called "5 Social Media Lessons From the Dark Side. I'm not sure if I'm the Dark Side or if it's Ego Likeness.

Anyway, there was much good stuff in that interview that didn't end up in the final article, so Bruce did a longer piece which contains the whole interview and is called What Artists Can Teach Business About Social Media. There's good stuff there. You ought to read that one.







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(no subject) [Sep. 7th, 2014|01:23 pm]
[mood |awed]

Fear not, till Birnam wood. Do come to Dunsinane the three witches tell Macbeth. And how can a forest come to him? Obviously it can't so the mad King of Scotland lashes out with impunity, bathing the countryside in blood, fearless that he will ever be challenged. But prophecies ... well ... and witches ... they have a way of maneuvering around your way of thinking.

Last night I went to "see" Till Birnam Wood as part of the Philly Fringe festival. trillian_stars is playing Lady Macbeth, for the second time this year, in a very different production.

It's an absolutely stunning production that left me at times joyous and at times chilled by fear (actually, really).

The audience enters the theater, which is in the round, and sits down facing a giant bag on the floor, you can tell that there's something alive in the bag, which is ... writhing ... at which point the audience is instructed to put on blindfolds and everything goes black.

You see nothing else for the duration of the show's 55 minutes, but you experience a host of sensations. The witches appear, you can feel the air as they move past you, possibly only inches away, predicting the future of Macbeth, who very soon arrives with his friend Banquo, back from a battle. There are sounds in front of you, behind you, and in a way that eerily terrified me ... under your chair. It's a full 360 degree immersion and not just sounds -- when Birnam Wood inevitably comes to Dunsinane, you can smell the forest. I felt like I was the only person in the room apart from the characters in the play. It really was a wonderful thing. The play is loud, it's fast, it's creepy. And there are only three more performances left which are mostly sold out. It might be too scary for young children. It's also best if you're familiar with the plot of Macbeth (you can just read it on Wikipedia before you go) so you know who the characters are.

If you're in Philly, really, don't miss it.






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Twitter asks, we answer. [Sep. 4th, 2014|12:01 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |accept: fight it back]


‏@chrystalml asks


@kylecassidy I often get passed by runners while I'm rambling. It's my instinct to high-five them, b/c I think they're awesome. Should I?




Ah -- here's a deep runner conundrum. Stay silent, or spread the joy?


Personally, I feel that every time I run past someone wearing a shirt from a race that I've run, they owe me a hi-5 because we shared an experience, and for a long time I'd yell "BROAD STREET RUN 2013!!!" and wave my arm out at them like a broken windmill and some people are like "HELLA YEAH! HI-5 BRO!!!" and others are like "I'm calling the freaking cops you assweird" and lately I've come to realize that it's a person-by-person judgement you need to make based on how friendly the person passing you looks.

Some of the West Philly Runners make it a point to nod or wave at every person they pass, I play it by ear.

Very often when I'm running an actual race I'll see actual friends of varying degrees passing me on the way back while I'm still on my way out (I'm slow, what can I say?) and I'll yell "DOING GREAT FRED!" or whatever and hold a hand out and, invariably they'll all ignore me and charge ahead, not because they don't think we're friends or whatever, but because they're focused on doing the best they possibly can and any hi-5 would detract from that and they probably don't even see me.

So I think the answer is "Offer a hi-5 to whoever you want, but don't feel bad if they leave you hanging". Any skin-on-skin contact between runners is sweaty and gross so you might just want to wave anyway. Hi-5 them at the banana stand at the end of the race or tag them on Facebook: "Just passed Joe Blow running like the wind. Hi-5 dude!"




The West Philly Runners celebrate their 200th run, with many hi-5's








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Writing the Intro for Alexandria Still Burns.... [Aug. 24th, 2014|04:05 pm]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |birds]

Now is the time on Sprockets where I either go upstairs & find the beautiful edition of Plutarch's _Lives_ and go through it trying to find the bits about Caesar and the burning of the Library of Alexandria, or I stay here in the hammock, download it from Project Gutenberg and hit ctrl-F to find it. This is the 21st Century bibliophile's dilemma.







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Don't you hate it when? [Aug. 15th, 2014|06:19 pm]
In some meeting room 8 or 10 or so years ago someone said "I think when Standard Definition video is played on a 16:9 HD television, the default should be 'stretch video to fill screen'." I'm betting that person was not an engineer.










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Standing amidst the roar of a surf tormented shore ..... [Aug. 15th, 2014|06:12 am]
[Current Location |the antipodes]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |Kaylea Ann]

Last night: I'm standing in an enormous hall with vaulted ceilings and books everywhere, great, majestic piles of them, along the walls, on rows of low book cases, everywhere. There's a woman with shortish blond hair and large sunglasses standing next to me. I'm looking at the books, she notices me and says:

"Oh, you're real person."

"What?" I say.

"We're both dreaming, our dreams got crossed. Now that I told you, you're going to wake up soon."

And I feel this weird feeling, because I know it's a dream, and it's like I'm being pulled out of there and everything's getting all tingly.

"How do I know you're real?" I say, realizing that I'm waking up.

"My favorite bands are Kaylea Ann and Woodpecker K-A-Y-L-E-A; keep repeating that until you wake up and then write it down quick. You'll like them."

I woke up repeating "Kaylea Ann and Woodpecker & dutifully wrote them down.






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Another insufferable post about running [Aug. 14th, 2014|05:31 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

Ostensibly the West Philly Runners get together every Wednesday night and run routes that are 2, 4, and 6 miles, but there are lots of little offshoots of that, one of which is Coach Emma's Saturday Long Run where we run anywhere from 8.5 to 14 miles depending on who's there and how we all feel after Friday night.

This past Saturday Alon headed the group and took us trail running, which I'd never done before. As soon as we hit the trail head the dreary feeling that I so often associate with actually-being-out-running went away -- the woods weren't the traffic-light littered streets of Philly, it was really beautiful. The trails were often no more than a foot wide and you'd need, occasionally, to leap over fallen trees or streams and it was exhilarating. I found myself, for maybe the first time, feeling like I wasn't pushing my body, rather my body was pulling me through these paths, showing me these wonderful things -- like this was the reward for all the hard work, a body that won't stop, legs that don't fatigue, sides that never ache. It felt like I'd never get out of breath (we were running significantly slower than normal because of all the turns and dense vegetation) and after a while I found myself thinking I've run six miles, how come I'm not tired?

Somewhere along the line I got stung in the leg by a wasp which took my mind off of any other pain I might have experienced, later I found out that one other person got stung too, but that's the price you pay.




Running through the forest, you may clickenzee to embiggen!



It was a spectacular experience and I think it's also going to be Saturday's long-run. We split up after 10 miles and I slugged it out to 14 because my milage is sucking lately and I've been creeping my weight back up. People who are interested in doing the trail run but not running 14 miles can ride their bikes to the trail head and the trail run is about 5 or 6 miles, the pace is pretty easy, it's not like a 10k all out race, plus, nobody gets left behind.






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The Case of the Missing Mummy [Aug. 6th, 2014|06:46 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |accept: wild child]

When I heard that whafford was hot on the trail of a missing mummy, I knew I wanted in. (Technically it wasn't a mummy, but it's more exciting to say mummy.)

He'd been reading through Sir Leonard Woolley's notes from the excavation at the city of Ur for years, so new finds and theories were frequent dinner conversation (my favorite previously were the diary entries in reaction to the dig site getting a Victrola. Some of the potentates really liked it, others thought it distracted the workers, Woolley wrote that the Arab music the staff was listening to was "a cacophony".)

Last week I got a chance, under high security and a strict embargo, to see and photograph the 6,500 year old human remains, lost for 85 years in the basement of a museum.

I won't write about the mummy, it's loss, or it's discovery, because Randy Lobasso does a great job of that right here in the Philly Weekly.





Cover of this week's Philadelphia Weekly.
You may clickenzee to read the article.



As of right now (early in the morning August 6th) it looks like the story is going big. The Daily Mail picked it up last night but neglected to credit me for my photos (what else is new). We were trending in Google's top stories.




It's going big....
You may clickenzee to embiggen



I can talk about the photography though.

Tell it with shadows

Shadows are how we identify things, they tell stories, they show detail. The best time to photograph the moon, for example, is not when it is full, because there are no shadows, so there's no texture to the surface.

I'd heard that the mummy was in a crate and it was difficult to photograph, so I brought a lighting kit with a whole bunch of experimental options for getting light inside a box (including iPads, which I wrote a Videomaker article about using as light sources) -- since this guy was a person, I wanted to light him like a person, the way I would if they'd sent me to photograph some Senator. It's important to be able to get the light close to your subject and I was worried about the tall sides of a crate (If you haven't, now is the time for you to read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's story Lot 249 about an Oxford student who has a mummy in a crate and it wakes up and does all sorts of terrible things.)

I wanted to get a relatively close raking light with soft shadows across his face.

Dr. Brad and Dr. Janet (not kidding) took me down to a room that actually says "Mummy Room" on the door and I was relieved to see that the crate had very low sides. This was going to be easy. I set up a Photek Softlighter II (the small one) on a very low light stand and pretended it was an ordinary portrait. Brad & Janet started talking about various bits of the mummy, so I turned the light up and lit them and did a few photos like that as well. I used a Leica D800, with a Sigma 12-24 and a 50mm f1.8.

But take a look at this side-by-side:




With a grazing soft light, and with ordinary overhead lighting.
You may clickenzee to embiggen



Here's the difference between a close, angled, directional light, and the overheads that were already in the room. You can see the overheads don't really cast much in the way of shadows and the detail is harder to see and, I think, our guy has less of a human personality. I have a Videomaker article coming out soon that discusses the difference between something being "well lit" and something being "properly lit".

Good photos, in my biased opinion, are important in getting people to pay attention. (So is a well written press release, and they had that too.) The Google Alerts have been going off like fireworks.

Here's what it looked like in the Mummy Room with the natural light.

Thoughts on mummies, museums, lighting, archaeology or anything related? Let's hear it.




Behind the scenes in the mummy room.
You may clickenzee to embiggen








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Photographing the Glass Menagerie [Aug. 3rd, 2014|05:47 pm]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |Accept: Turn Me On]

I love working with actors because it's their job to make fantasy reality. When you're telling some CEO "ok, now look smart" most of the time they're thinking about their lunch or their next meeting or some article they're writing but the one thing they're not really thinking about is how to make your photo amazing. Actors are thinking how to make your photo amazing. You can give them individual words, you can give them fake scenarios, you can give them moods and they go with it. When director Joshua Browns asked if I wanted to work with some of Philadelphia's best actors to do some photos for the Commonwealth Classic Theater's production of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie I was very happy.

There's not a whole lot visual to The Glass Menagerie, it's a play about memory and the interactions of a family, but it's not a play where a house falls on a witch, so any visuals have to be subtler.

The relationship between members of the family is extremely complicated and this is what the whole play is about, so I knew I needed to do something that told who everybody was and how they got along in a single image. The cast have two hours to tell the story, the photographer has three seconds as someone drives past a bus shelter poster, so you've got to get it right fast.


The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
Directed by Joshua Browns
Cast: Jamison Foreman, E. Ashley Izard, Allen Radway, and Isa St. Clair
Off Broad Street Theater
Philadelphia, PA




The Wingfield family.
Clickenzee to Embiggen!


There's Tom, the narrator, he works in a factory to support the family but has much bigger dreams, he's a writer and not understood by his mother, Amanda, at one time a legendary beauty who repeatedly tells the story of how at one time she had seventeen different suitors show up on her porch at the same time and the family had to send out to the church for extra chairs to accommodate them. Now she's selling magazine subscriptions and living in a miserable tenement in New York, but all the while, in her mind she's still a belle, and she's still 17. Then there's Laura who has some disability I can't remember if it's ever mentioned -- trillian_stars thinks she may have a limp from Polio, but whatever it is, it makes her self conscious. She's retreated into her room and away from people.

Into this frail & dysfunctional web come some things that make up the play.

Since the story's about a family, I wanted to do a family portrait that was as honest as we could make it.

I lit this with the Photek Softlighter II (the small one) with a pair of Pocket Wizards on a Panasonic GX7 Micro 4:3 camera with a 45mm f2.8 Leica lens, Voice Activated Light Stand was yagathai. The Panasonic had some problem working with the Pocket Wizards and didn't trigger the flash every time. Not sure why, but it was annoying.

I really love how all the actors made their characters come through with nothing to act with but their eyes, their expressions and their posture.




Behind the Scenes -- you may clickenzee to embiggen.
Clockwise from me, Isa St. Claire, Allen Radway, E. Ashley Izard)



We had the run of the theatre, which is nice because you can say "do you have an oriental carpet?" and the stage manager will scratch her head and say "yes, on the 4th floor, in the Carpet Loft, it's right above Swords and Armor".

We did some shots outside too that I thought might be the sort of family snapshots people might have. I used a Holga lens on the Panasonic, but when we got down to it, the inside portrait was so right on we didn't need anything else.




Clickenzee to Embiggen!





The show runs August 7 through August 24. I'll be there on opening night.






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convertible running dress [Jul. 31st, 2014|07:11 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |judas priest: metal gods]

Forget the skort. Trillian Stars runs 3 miles to the bar in her tecwick running shirt that converts to a little black dress right as she gets to the door. The rest of us all look like chumps.




Clickenzee to Embiggen









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Run for the Hill of it Race Recap [Jul. 28th, 2014|12:20 pm]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |judas priest: british steel]

Jackie Oh was my first real assistant. This was back in 2000 or 2001. She'd found a poster of mine in a thrift store and tracked me down on the Internet and said she wanted to work with me and so for, I don't know how long, a couple of years anyway, if there was someone carrying lights or standing in for some rock star while we set up moody lights, it was Jackie.





She's also the one who operated all the complex machinery on the Repulsed by the Earth photo series, which was one of the first really successful art projects I had, and she brought amazing, weird, & wonderful people over all while I was just starting to figure out what "my" art really was.

Then Jackie moved away and everybody was sad, but she wrote a few months ago to say that she was going to be back in the city for a weekend and we should run a race, and she'd found this five mile-er through the forest out north west of Philly somewhere and I signed up. Jackie has started a running group in California that's been bringing people together and growing and it sounds wonderful.




With Denise in the middle. Clickenzee to Embiggen!



The Philly Phanatic was there when we got there which signed an auspicious day. It was a small race which got me thinking that I might actually be able to do well. The weatherman from some local TV station started the race and said we might run into some intermittent showers but everything looked like it was to the west of us and a half mile in the skies opened up like someone had blown a hole in the bottom of the ocean and I ran and somewhere along the line got passed by a guy pushing a jogging stroller and decided that even if I didn't place, I wasn't going to get beat by someone who had to push a jogging stroller up and down all these hills. A guy in a yellow shirt came past who looked like he might be my age and these were to be my personal adversaries for the last two miles. The guy with the stroller was remarkably fit and I was struggling to stay within 50 yards of him, but I held on and in the last half mile let loose with everything left and ended up passing him in the last 10 yards. The guy in the yellow shirt pulled too far ahead, I think he beat me by about 20 seconds.




After a half hour in the pouring rain, you're not getting any wetter.
Clickenzee to Embiggen!



A few minutes after I finished, someone came up to me and said he'd been trying to catch me the whole time but just couldn't do it -- this to me is one of the greatest things about this sport -- wherever you are, you're where someone would like to be, you're always better than someone and always worse than someone, you're fighting your own fight and you own every finish line as your own personal victory.

It turned out I was 2nd in my age group and there was an awards ceremony where a four year old whose name I think was Jeremy put a medal around my neck and said "congratulations on your victory" in the back of a cafe, and then I went out back into the pouring rain. Jackie & I loaded up on bananas and victory and headed back to the city.





Some call second place "first loser" but I call it CHECK OUT MY SILVER MEDAL YO!!!!



I ran faster at Broad Street but I've been not running as much lately, plus there were hills, so I'm not sure really how to judge my performance. My official pace for this was 8:29, and at Broad Street I ran 8:22 over ten miles ... but there aren't any hills at Broad Street, so who knows.

In any event, I got to see Jackie, and I miss having her around.





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when did I grow up? [Jul. 25th, 2014|07:21 pm]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

Je suis une bigshot.

I sent a sample chapter to my agent so that he can forward it to publishers, and I talked to my attorney who is suing some jerks who stole my photos, I haven't seen my wife, but we texted back and forth about the cats and the trash.

This might be the most grownup day of my life.

Except for the fact that I had chocolate cake for dinner while blasting heavy metal music.


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New Photo: Joan of Arc [Jul. 22nd, 2014|02:45 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |The Beatles: She Said]

A few weeks ago trillian_stars and I were sitting around in the living room and I thought aloud that there really wasn't anything that I could think of that I wanted that I didn't actually have and trillian_stars said something like "Well, I could use a suit of plate armor...." and I realized that was very true.

So ... I took to Twitter, as one does, and this was rapidly resolved. We give you Joan of Arc.




Clickenzee to Embiggen!



Lighting is the giant Photoek Softlighter II and and a Pocket Wizard, triggered by a Nikon d800. The corpse is yagathai, of course.




Behind the Scenes. Clickenzee to Embiggen



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In which I photograph Weird Al [Jul. 21st, 2014|07:22 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |weird al: tacky]

Congrats to Al & his band (& Amanda Palmer) on their fight to the top of the Billboard charts.

I was happy to be able to photograph Al with the kind assistance of shadowcaptain who acted here as the Voice Activated Light Stand. I'm very happy with the way it came out.

Lighting was a single strobe in the small Photek Softlighter II (the 30 inch one), Nikon d700.

Al was awesome.




Weird Al. Clickenzee to EmWeirden!








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What goes on in my house during rehearsal time [Jul. 13th, 2014|01:33 pm]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |stoneburner: songs in the key of arrakis]

So ... I'm working on the librarian project. And upstairs trillian_stars is rehearsing for Macbeth, and Milla, our ancient, toothless cat is perched upon the bookshelf like a vulture, staring at her like an unpleasant audience filled with distempered old people and helping her rehearse by occasionally shrieking like she's got her leg caught in a car door.

So, from downstairs I hear this:

Lady McStars: What beast was't, then, that made you break this enterprise to me?

Milla: MARRARARRRRRROAOOOOOOW!!

Lady McStars: When you durst do it, then you were a man! And, to be more than what you were, you would
Be so much more the man!

Milla: MARRARARRRRRROAOOOOOOW!!

Lady McStars: Nor time nor place did then adhere, and yet you would make both!

Milla: MARRARARAAAROOOORRRRROAOOOOOOW!! MARRARARRRRRROAOOOOOOW!! MAAARRRRRAAARRROOWW!!!

Lady McStars: They have made themselves ... and that their fitness now does unmake you.

Milla: Mrarow.

THUMP!! [Books fall from shelf.]





Photo by Ashley Labonde, from a past production of Macbeth.
Clickenzee to Embiggen









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Sweet Barking Cheese! [Jul. 7th, 2014|08:37 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

I just found out that I've been nominated for the 2014 Philly Geek Award for Best Visual Artist, for This is What a Librarian Looks Like, which is about the greatest honor I can imagine. The Philly Geek Awards represent all of the best things about being an artist without any of the bad ones. This is what happens when the AV club takes over the school and starts building nanobots and making viral videos about space: They're some of the best people it's been my privilege to meet.


[Newsworks.org has a write up about all this years nominees here.]


It's been my great pleasure to present awards at the last two Philly Geek Awards which is an amazingly awesome event hosted at the Academy of Natural Sciences. They close the place down and you have free-run of the building for two hours before the awards -- you can walk through the butterfly room, see the scorpions, admire the t-rex or just talk to people like Derrik Pitts, chief astronomer at the Franklin Institute, Biomolecular Archaeologist Dr. Patrick McGovern, who's recreating beer from microscopic samples found in 3000 year old jars, Braille street artist Austin Seraphin, who won Best Visual Artist last year despite being blind, the filmmakers who did Ressurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Tyonbee Tiles, or Joel Hodgeson from Mystery Science Theater 3000 (that's where I met him). It's like being in the AV club after everybody in the AV club has had the chance to do the amazing things you knew they were all capable of.




From Geek Awards Past, Clickenzee to Embiggen!



If you missed them before, you should read my post about presenting at the 2012 Philly Geek Awards (it is pretty funny and contains photos of an alligator and a t-rex skull.) And also my blog post about the 2013 Philly Geek Awards (which includes Joel Hodgson from MST3k and 2x Women's U.S. Chess Champion Jenn Shahade). This should get you pumped to try and buy tickets when they go on sale. They sold out in, I think, 11 minutes last year.


The other nominees for Best Visual Artist are street artist @kidHazo and mural artist Ben Volta. I'd say that it's being nominated that matters, but ever since I saw that lightup robot statue, I knew I wanted one, but if there's a consolation prize for losing, being there surrounded by all those people is as good as it gets. Thank you all the people who nominated me and everyone at Phillygeek for making Philadelphia the best place to be the weird kid, all grown up.









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Top Sekrit No Longer! [Jul. 6th, 2014|09:35 pm]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

I've got some photos in the current issue of Auxiliary Magazine from a photo shoot I did with Megan Massacre from NY Ink who was modeling clothes by Heartless Revival aka our buddy Autumn who starred in Bravo TV's reality show Styled to Rock. The shoot was back in October and it's one of those things that's hard to keep a secret. I think we have a ton of other stuff coming out in different publications (I think). I'll let you know. Big thanks to Autumn and Matt and Megan.





Click to go to Auxiliary Magazine







Behind the Scenezez. Autumn in the middle. Photo by Matt.








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Happy 4th of July, don't blow your fingers off. [Jul. 5th, 2014|10:53 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]





General Washington speaks with a confidant in Philadelphia.
Clickenzee to Embiggen!



"Truly Ms. Stars," said the General, "I value these conversations moreso than you can ever imagine. Congress is useless, my aids are sycophants, Lafyette, while effective, smells of a persistant, strange and moldy cheese which I cannot abide. Your suggestion that I work over the Christmas break in Trenton is one that I will take to heart. Thank you again. Until fortune returns me to Philadelphia, madam....."

One of our July 4th traditions here in the Stars/Cassidy household is a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence, usually performed by some mixture of actor friends and whoever else is around. It's actually a very interesting document.

If your takeaway about the 4th of July is "beer", you're on par with everyone and you're probably ok.

If your takeaway is "some guys didn't want to pay taxes" you're obviously trying to rise slightly above "beer" and should probably read the Declaration of Independence. If you have, you'll know taxes don't really have very much to do with it at all. You don't have to read the whole thing, but I submit to you the list of grievances outlined in the Declaration, that you may temper the ordinary festivities of the weekend with the thought of burning towns, garrisons, political murder, the dissolution of local legislators, and the number of other things that rose above Taxation without Representation.

  • He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

  • He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

  • He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

  • He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

  • He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness of his invasions on the rights of the people.

  • He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

  • He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

  • He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

  • He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

  • He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

  • He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

  • He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

  • He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

  • For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

  • For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

  • For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

  • For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

  • For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

  • For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

  • For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these states

  • For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

  • For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

  • He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

  • He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

  • He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

  • He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

  • He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

  • In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.



Have a swell weekend!








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THE PLAY THAT WAS TOO GRAPHIC FOR GOFUNDME! [Jul. 2nd, 2014|06:33 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |that new portished that i spelled wrong]

I made this photo for the "gofundme" compaign of John Schultz's "Till Birnam Wood", a very clever adaptation of Macbeth which I hear now gofundme shot down as being ... TOO BLOODY. This is somewhat appropriate because the audience of "Till Birnam Wood" will be blindfolded and unable to actually SEE the play, thought they'll hear it, in all its blood spurting, regicidal, baby-killing, guard stabbing, castle storming, cloven in-twain on the field of battle glory. So, if you'd like to help out what will actually be THE LEAST BLOODY PRODUCTION OF MACBETH EVER, here's your link. And here's my pretty photo which some people are afraid will send you into night terrors.

Just how bloody do you like your Shakespeare?




Bloody, bloody Lady Macbeth.
Click to help it out.



(It's actually Hawaiian Punch.)




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1/2 Sauer 1/2 Kraut Half Marathon Update (This is still not a fitness blog). [Jun. 15th, 2014|07:57 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |culture club]

I ran an accidental half marathon this weekend, which might seem a little strange. Someone on the Internet who I thought was one of the West Philly Runners injured herself on Wednesday and had a spare bib for this odd race in a park in North Philly called the "1/2 Sauer 1/2 Kraut half marathon". It was ... German themed and they encouraged people to dress up in lederhosen and promised bratwurst and an accordion player named Uber Hans who used to be a professional football player for the Seattle Seahawks.

Anyway, it sounded like fun, even though I'd just run a half marathon the week before.

I'd read on line that the course was "challenging" and had a lot of hills, so I decided not to run it hard and to have fun, which turned out to be the right decision, there were some insane hills covered with mud and rocks and it was like running through the set of Predator for a good part of it. The surfaces were partially paved, then partially just grass, then partially muddy trails, and then there was this thing they called "Cuckoo mountain" which, I didn't get much of a chance to see because I was staring at the shoes of the woman in front of me, hoping she was making wise choices about foot placement as we ran up the side of this muddy monster.




Clickenzee to embiggen!



It was terrific fun, there were lots of people who dressed up. I ran it slow (ish) in 2:04, which is seven minutes slower than my Personal Record, and it's amazing how seven minutes over thirteen miles is the difference between going blind at the end and trotting over the finish line with a smile and a wave.

I came in around 250th out of 675 which is a happy place for me to be, at the front of the mid-pack.

It was a fun race, advertised as the "hottest race in Philly" because, well it's in freaking June which turned out to be OK. Almost the whole course is in the shade and I was experimenting with this space towel thing that's supposed to stay wet all the time and keep your neck cool (review: it actually seems to work), plus I wasn't running fast. The after party had vegan bratwurst and beer, plus Uber Hans playing the according with a wireless. The only downside was that it's waaaaay out in the middle of nowhere (hence all the pretty trees).

I'd do it again next year, but I'd want to carpool.




Clickenzee to embiggen!





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My photo shoot schedule for the American Library Association's convention in Las Vegas [Jun. 13th, 2014|06:12 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

If you'll be at ALA & want to get photographed, here's my schedule. If you have a statement written out (250 words on the subject of "If you could tell 50,000 people one thing about why libraries and librarians matter, or relate to them one story about how libraries have been meaningful to you, what would you tell them?") that'll make things go quicker.

Friday June 27th
11:30 - 1:30 - convention center
EVENING – ALA Play gaming event (http://ala14.ala.org/node/14527) 7:30pm – 9:30pm.

Saturday June 28th
11:30 - 1:30 - convention center
9:30 - 10:30 pm – Librarian Wardrobe Party (AND KICKSTARTER COUNTDOWN!)

Sunday June 29th
9:30-10:30 - convention center





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Goodbye Jay Lake [Jun. 2nd, 2014|05:41 am]
[mood |sad but grateful ]

I met Jay Lake on livejournal. He started blogging in 2004 and you can go back and start reading it there. LJ is a much more personal blogging platform than Facebook or Twitter and I felt that I really got to know Jay through his frequent entries. He was a very popular blogger and in 2008 when he was first diagnosed with cancer he made the decision to bring all of us along with him in a series of extraordinarily honest journal entries that continued right up to his death last week. I hope someone collects these into a book, and knowing Jay, I can't imagine that he hasn't already thought of it.




Clickenzee to remember.



His openness about his fight was one of the most remarkable things about Jay, the fact that he let us know that he was not ok with dying, that he was afraid was all a part of his invitation, his request even, that we come along with him. He took us all on an extremely difficult journey in a way that I don't know anybody has ever done before. He never vanished from the story he was telling, he told it as long as he was physically able and we are all the richer for having been able to witness it.

I photographed the cover of his amazing book The Specific Gravity of Grief in which he writes eloquently about a fictional author dying of cancer and brings into it his own experience. He wanted people to know how much it hurt, and he also showed me a jar which contained a Dorito shaped wedge of his lung that doctors had just cut out.

He wanted me to photograph him getting up out of the bed, because it hurt an awful lot to do that and he wanted people to know that it hurt and to be able to see it on his face. He didn't internalize his suffering to shield us, because he wanted us to know what was happening.

There were a number of remarkable things about Jay Lake, one was this gift, if you can call it that, of wanting to share this journey, and the other was his gregariousness. He was surrounded by people who loved and cared for him, and people upon whom he depended and who depended on him.

What I learned from Jay is that there are ways to deal with the inevitable. He held his funeral in advance so that he could attend it, he took time out to visit with people and, as much as possible, make the spectacle of his death into a party, but all that time he never pretended it was a party he was okay with throwing, he threw it because the other option was to sit quietly at home and wait for night instead of dancing with friends as the sun set.





My photograph of Jay for Where I Write: Fantasy & Science Fiction Authors in Their Creative Spaces. Clickenzee to Embiggen








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Help me photograph and interview 100 librarians [May. 29th, 2014|05:15 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |damon buxton: visitations]

You may remember that I did a photo essay about librarians that went viral and started a lot of discussion (and fighting) I realized the way to fix what was wrong with that essay is to do many more photos to paint a broader picture.




Click to go to the Kickstarter



Earlier today I launched a Kickstarter to get myself to Las Vegas to photograph and interview 100 librarians at the American Library Association's annual meeting to help tell the story of why libraries are important today. My goal was to cover my plane ticket, my hotel, and the backer rewards which as of right now I'm very close to meeting. I was pretty sure I'd make that goal, but I didn't expect it to come so quickly.

I have three stretch goals in mind and I'd like to hear which ones people think I should go for first, because I think they're all important:

1) Bring a video crew to Las Vegas and make a short documentary of interviews, I think sometimes moving pictures can tell the story better than stills. This would mean I'd need to raise another $1,500 just to shoot it and some more to edit it.

2) Create a series of royalty-free stock photos of libraries and people reading that librarians can use (for free) on their web pages, brochures, signs, etc. This would be a $500 stretch goal.

3) Book Knits -- you may all know that Joan of Dark and I collaborated on a book recently called "Geek Knits" (comes out in December) which is a collection of knitting projects for geeks modeled by geek celebrities. We'd be interested in doing a followup called "Book Knits" (or something like that) which would be projects all about books. I'd love to have librarians model some of these out in the desert in Vegas for the book. If this becomes a stretch goal, we'd have .pdf patterns (with photos) as a new backer reward. This could be a $500-$1000 goal, and Joan would have to start knitting her fingers to nubbins.

Let me know, do any of these appeal to you? Or something else? Also, if there are additional backer rewards you'd like to see, let me know.

Thanks everybody, I think we're helping to make the world a better place.
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Relentless devotion to function [May. 23rd, 2014|08:02 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |vnv nation: nova]

When you cook, and you drop, say, a dry lentil, and it falls behind the microwave, a few days later some moisture condenses back there and … your forgotten lentil sprouts and a hard working forager finds it on an exploratory mission and it makes her very happy. She picks it up and heads back across a landscape of nearly microscopic fragments of salt crystals, dust, and hair on that surface you think you just scrubbed clean and she gives her treasure to her sisters who don’t thank her, they just store it away and she goes back through whatever perilous paths she’s traversed looking for one more thing that you’ve dropped. And she’ll keep doing this, over and over, until an accidental giant crushes her with a careless footstep.





Clickenzee to see the world larger.










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(no subject) [May. 22nd, 2014|06:32 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |VNV Nation: Tomorrow Never Comes]

There's a fun article about my Valley Forge race over at ValleyForge.or it has some nice photos and talks about City Kitties.

Click for the joy!!





Click to read the article









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trading spaces [May. 21st, 2014|09:17 am]
[mood |the one where you see potential]
[music |vnv nation: nova]

We've got a friend living with us now. Our house goes through cycles like that. I'd suggested the Rock Star Hotel would be a good place for someone to live, trillian_stars said it's a bit rough down there since our last visitor and suggested that my office would be a more suitable place, which means my office got packed up and moved into the Rock Start Hotel where I'm currently settling, thinking that it's a bit rough since our last visitor. It's nice to be here, I've always thought this place was fraught with possibilities but I think when it's not bands crashing here this space tends to be the place where people work through things, not where they live so it's potential has been recently unexplored. I'm looking forward to the challenge of building it up, but it's also a busy time and the distractions of picking out curtains and making bookshelves are all too welcome while I'm on procrastination deadline for so many things.




The Rock Star Hotel in 2011




These rooms have become the space into which things go that no one wants to deal with anymore. It's become a repository for broken lamps, half-empty cans of paint (I counted sixty), a seemingly limitless stream of broken fans of all varieties, things that came down from the walls, things that we saw on the street and thought we might want if only we got the time to fix them up. It's the place where projects get started and not finished, there's half a recording studio down here, there's a bunch of my back-stock of books and art projects, props from photo shoots, old windows, boxes of toy soldiers, old cameras.... There's a darkroom that I haven't printed a photo in since 2003 that ever since I read, and loved, The Not So Big House: A Blueprint for the Way We Live I've always thought would make a cool reading room, or at least a place where nerds gather and play Dungeons and Dragons.

My last week has been spent rounding up these things and hauling them out to the trash in an official gesture that some things will never get done. In a way I like the release, and I like the newness the place is experiencing.




In December of 2009 we lived in the Rock Start Hotel for three days when the
heat went out. We brought the Victrola downstairs and had an epic party.



There's been some water damage over the years, we had at least three floods, two quick one during a hurricane, one quick when the feed line to the fridge broke and leaked for a weekend, and the other slow as a drain leaked in the sink above for years. So there's that. There's the damp, there's the lingering ferret, but there's the other thing, the important thing, this is my Room of One's Own, which I think is a key to any long term relationship. I think whether a space is depressing or full of potential depends on your headspace when you walk into it. And for me it's like that dream where you discover that your house has a whole apartment in it that you'd forgotten about, because I have.

One thing's for sure, if you forget about a thing and stop loving it, that thing will die.

I've always thought "here's this space, you can take it an love it," but I don't know that anybody's ever loved it and I'm realizing that if someone's ever going to do that, it should be me.

This is my space. It has a shower, and a fridge and a chess board. I might invite you over for a painting party.







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This is where I live [May. 16th, 2014|01:24 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |VNV Nation]

I want you to photograph the things you like best about the place you live and share them with a stranger. Print them out, put them in an envelope and put them in the mail share them. And I want to help make that happen.

A few weeks ago I took a photo on the streets of Philly and it was really beautiful and I thought "wow, I can't wait to post this, it's so beautiful here where I live", and then I thought "maybe it's too beautiful, maybe I should keep this one a secret." And then I thought, "no, I should share it with one person, but I want to see what they love about where they live in return."

And that was that. So here's what I propose.

1) Take your camera, your cell phone, your whatever and take some photos, I'd say no more than five, of the place you live. Your house, your favorite street, the top of a mountain, your garden at sunset, whatever you love most about where you live (I will suggest to try and make them scenic rather than five photos of your cat or you grandmother).

2) Print them out 4x6 size and put them in an envelope.

3) Then email my assistant. Include your address and your name. (If the html link doesn't work, Carl's address is icarrykylesstuff@gmail.com)

4) Wait a day or so.

5) You'll get someone else's address mailed to you.

6) Send them your envelope. You can put a note in it if you want. Or a poem, or stay mysterious.

7) Wait a few days, checking the post-box every time the mail person comes. One day it will arrive, tear it open, look at the photos. Think about where that other person lives.

I'll send my photo of Philly to one of you.

So as not to incapacitate an already overworked assistant who's busy planning library things, I'm going to limit this to the first 100 people who sign up. After that, you're on your own.

Go. Get to work.

This is where I live.

Bored developers: If you can figure out a way to automate this w/ a web app, I'd love to talk.




.





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My photo on the cover of the Philadelphia Weekly [May. 2nd, 2014|07:05 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

I got a call late last week from the Philadelphia Weekly asking if I could do a quick cover for a story on the Broad Street Run, which is, I think almost without a doubt, Philadelphia's signature race. It's 10 miles in a straight line down the main street, from top to bottom. I wrote about running it last year -- it was the first race of any significant distance I'd run and it was wonderful.

I figured I'd just stick some people on broad street and photograph them running. Unfortunately I had to do it the day that I ran the Valley Forge 5 miler and it was also the day of the Penn Relays which meant my day was bisected and all the runners were out watching other runners. The fine folks at Philadelphia Runner put out the word to some local running clubs but on the short notice nobody showed up but some people from the West Philly Runners.




Cover art. Clickenzee to embiggen!



I shot this with a Nikon d800 and two off camera flashes held by writer Randy Lobasso and Kevin Wheeler who was my assistant that day. We'd wait for two simultaneous red lights, north and south, and Kevin & Randy would leap out into the streets, aim their flashes, and the runners would run towards me about 20 steps, then backwards quickly and do it again. All in all I think we did about 20 shots.

We did a few in the Broad Street Line subway stairwell along the lines of "gaah, these self-absorbed sanctimonious fitness jerks are clogging the town again?!" which is how I have to imagine is how some people feel about it, though certainly not everyone. The city comes out in droves to cheer along the entire ten mile stretch, and it sure helps.

I worked fast, got the photos in, the paper's out, the race is this Sunday, I'm going to try and beat last year's time by half an hour.

You can read the article by Randy Lobasso and see more photos here.





Behind the scenes by Kevin Wheeler.
You may clickenzee to embiggen!







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I ran, I carried a cat, there is video. [Apr. 29th, 2014|05:44 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

Thanks to everyone who helped me raise nearly a thousand dollars for City Kitties! We did it, and, thanks to bizarrely cold weather, I didn't die. It was actually pretty chilly out. I ran the race with John Lopes who actually plays George Washington




Clickenzee to EmVictory!



In FACT John showed up unexpectedly on Constitution USA which I watched for the first time last week:




Clickenzee to EmGorgein!



Where host Peter Sagal is taking a photo of him in front of Independence hall. My world's collide. Peter, as you may know, is really the guy who got me started running. It was a bit weird and wonderful to bookend a pair of races with them, two months and a thousand miles apart....

ANYWAY ... it was great to run the race with John who knows so much about Valley Forge and what went on there, so it was sort of like having a guided tour, while dressed in a hot outfit carrying a stuffed cat. Everyone at Valley Forge was great -- park rangers hi-fived me when I ran past, pointing and shouting "look! a patriot!" which really did help the miles melt away.

You should watch the video -- it's good, and includes Roswell.

All told, I think $140,000 was raised for the park, and nearly $1,000 for stray and homeless kittens.





I found this quote in a diary from a lieutennant named George Eweing who was stationed at Valley Forge in which he writes, in part:


Were I to describe the hardships and the difficulties we underwent from this time until the 4 of October no person but those who were with us would credit my relation therefore I chuse to pass it over in silence rather than those who should see this work should think me guilty of an Hyperbole--


Which makes sweating for five miles seem a pretty pale thing. Next year we have Big Plans to get a whole brigade of people running in custom tech-wicking continental uniforms and raising money for some veterans organizations. Let me know if you'd be interested in running or in making costumes.

Thanks everyone --





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If you HAD to choose.... [Apr. 25th, 2014|07:33 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

Ok, ladies, (and gentlemen) -- if you were forced to choose between Edward Ferrars and John Willoughby, WHO WOULD YOU PICK???





don't answer yet!



Edward is a conversationalist




And John is ... gallant....


WHO?!


Sense & Sensibility opens tonight at Hedgerow in Rose Valley PA. You can get tickets here.





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HOLD MY BEER! I'M GOING TO TRY SOMETHING! [Apr. 23rd, 2014|06:11 am]
[mood |nervousnervous]
[music |loop]

*** EDIT ***

*** EDIT: $866.11 donated so far ***



Ok, you sadists, stretch goal.

If you can get this to $1,000 I shall run this five mile race dressed as a Continental soldier, AND I will run either carrying a) THIS FAKE STUFFED CAT or b) THIS FULL SIZED BENNINGTON FLAG.

I can make this offer with great confidence because I know that you can't possibly make it happen.

However, let me know in the comments, in the ridiculous, impossible case that $1,000 gets donated to City Kitties, which of these two things you'd like to see me carrying while running the race.




Clickenzee to embiggen



*** END EDIT -- ORIGINAL POST BELOW ***


Dumb ideas always begin in a way that sounds reasonable.

For some reason, a few weeks ago, I thought it would be reasonable to run the Valley Forge Revolutionary 5 mile run dressed as a continental soldier. You know, with a vest, jacket, jabot, knee breeches & tri-corner hat.

This seemed like a good idea because our buddy John Lopes was running it and John Lopes is an actor who often portrays George Washington. (John, however, is nowhere near foolish enough to try and run five miles dressed as our nation's greatest general and first president.)

The short end of it is that I will probably die while doing this because it's five million degrees in this getup, and the closer I got to the actual date, the more likely it became that I'd just start the race in it, wave to the cameras and toss the whole thing in the shrubs by the end of the first half mile. How, I thought, can I keep myself from doing that?. SO ... in order to make my death worth something, and make sure that I can't discard this uniform along the way, I'm issuing an Internet Challenge.

If you can donate collectively donate $300 to City Kitties the West Philadelphia stray cat rescue group, I shall make an Agony Mile Video while I do this notoriously hilly run -- every mile, I'll pull out my cell phone and videotape a progress report. You'll be able to hear my gasps, my death rattle, and see the sweat pouring from my body like milk from a busted coconut. Five miles, five reports, and a video of paramedics dragging me across the finish line.

Isn't this a video you'd like to see?

Click on the link, make a donation, email me your receipt, and if they add up to $300 by Sunday morning, I'll take you along for the ride.






THIS CAN'T BE A GOOD IDEA!







Here are some of the current bunnies City Kitties is helping. Your $$$ will go
right to them. You my clickenzee to enfluffy!




Plus, I've been shopped. Via Ken Thomas on the Interwebz:




Clicenzee to form a more perfect union






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This is not a fitness blog, but I just got hit by a car [Apr. 17th, 2014|05:05 am]
[mood |soresore]
[music |Aerosmith: Dream on]

A car plowed into me last night while it was making an illegal turn onto Belmont Avenue.

I'm mostly not hurt it seems.

So ... a few weeks ago that article came out saying that people who ran ultra-long distances actually had sometimes fairly crappy heart health -- like there's a point at which your body starts being damaged by all the running. And with this the Internet as a whole sighed a big breath of "See! running is bad for you! I'm going back to eat Tastykakes and watch House of Cards!" which isn't really what the article said, but I got curious while reading that and thinking about Jim Fixx who was a pioneer of running of my parents generation who dropped dead while out for a jog one day and the whole pre-internet world sighed loudly in the supermarket and said "See! Running is bad for you! I'm going back home to eat a pie and watch The Cosby Show!" so I looked on the Internet for athletes who'd died while doing athlete things and it seems the overwhelming majority of people like runners and cyclists who've died lately while running or cycling (Zinaida Stahurskaya, Jason MacIntyre, Scott Peoples, Amy Gillett, Lauri Aus, etc) were hit by cars. Your chances of running too much and blowing your heart up are small, but your chances of getting hit by a car increase every time you leave your house -- and runners & cyclists do it a lot.




This route was through Belmont park so we could check out the cherry trees in
bloom. It was pretty spectacular. Clickenzee to Embiggen!



I was running along with the West Philly Runners, trying to keep up with the second-fastest group and at mile 4 I'd fallen behind about 100 yards, but I was still doing around eight-minute miles, which I was pretty happy with and while crossing the Avenue of the Republics, which is a small street that opens up onto the very large Belmont ave, I saw, out of the corner of my eye a car that wasn't stopping for the light. I looked over just before it hit me and saw that the driver was looking left, towards oncoming traffic on Belmont to see if she could keep going to turn right or if there was traffic and she'd have to stop. I guess there wasn't traffic on the left and she wasn't expecting that anything could be coming from her right and by that time it was too late for all of us -- she sped up to make the right hand turn and hit me with the right fender of her car (it was a giant black Cadillac) and I went up on the hood -- as soon as she heard the noise she slammed on the brakes and I went off the hood and landed face down on the ground. I remember laying there thinking first that I wasn't in a hurry to get up and then thinking "wow, I really should have heard a car door by now...." I don't know how long it was, probably just a few seconds -- I felt like nothing was broken, so I rolled over and sat up and saw two people staring out the window of the car at me like I was a penguin they weren't expecting on the side of the road. I wiggled my fingers and does and they all worked and I didn't see blood anywhere, so I waved and said "I'm OK" and they drove off. Which I later thought was also weird. If I ran a red light and hit someone, I'd want to at least check and see if they had a concussion.




You can see my speed go from pretty good to zero on ye olde gps.
It's also interesting to get an insight into how the GPS averages time
Instead of flat to zero and staying there, it's averaging my previous
speed in there for at least a minute.
You may clickenzee to Embiggen!



One of the things that I like about the West Philly Runners is that it's a group of all kinds of people who run all sorts of distances at all sorts of paces, and also, that the group runs through all sorts of places in West Philly -- since I joined a year ago, there isn't, I don't think a street within two miles that we haven't run down. Plus there are these destination routes like this one, to see beautiful things I wouldn't know about otherwise.

While I was limping to my feet another group of West Philly Runners came past and I headed back with them a little more slowly. I felt mostly fine by the time we got back, there was a circular bruise on my thumb probably where I landed on a pebble.

This morning I'm pretty stiff in both legs and there's a little ouch on the leg that collided with the car, but I never hit my head and, luckily, I mostly t-boned the car rather than getting scooped up in it's giant grill and bent in half the wrong way. So, an 8 minute mile is 7.5 mph, so imagine running 7.5mph into the fender of a car, that's basically what happened. If I'd been running 7:50's I would have been right in front of it and then who knows, I could have ended up underneath it getting dragged until I sluiced out the back.

So, like Dr. Pangloss says, It's the best of all possible worlds -- and if not, it's certainly not the worst outcome.





This seems to be the worst of it so far. This and a bruise on my thumb.
You may clickenzee to Embiggen!



In retrospect -- I wasn't wearing a flashy neon jacket, but it wouldn't have helped, the driver was looking in the other direction. I'm not sure what would have stopped this from happening, on my part, maybe being more aware that a green light doesn't necessarily mean you can go. We'll see how it percolates in my brain over the next few weeks and months.

In the meantime -- have any of you been injured on the road like this? Bicycling, running, walking?

What have you learned?





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You missed making a dress and getting stabbed in it [Apr. 14th, 2014|05:18 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

So, you know trillian_stars stars in Sense & Sensibility which opens Friday April 25th at Hedgerow Theatre and to celebrate we've been having all sorts of Jane Austen themed thingies. Yesterday we had a day of regency dress making and dueling.


We hired dressmaker Tina Giovannone to teach everyone how to make a Regency era dress. If you didn't feel like making a dress, Sir John's hunting party ate cucumber sandwiches and went out hunting craft beers and the local ritzy bar.




Making the dresses!
Clickenzee to Embiggen!



Dress making and cucumber sandwich eating went on for some time and then it was time to start killing one another.





An hour into the dress making the fencing lessons began.
Fight instructor Jacqueline Holloway taught everyone where the
vitalist organs were and how to skewer them for maximum
satisfaction in the duel.
Clickenzee to Embiggen!



Some of our dress makers were very speedy and others had started the night before, so there were a good number of people who actually dueled in their regency dresses. There were four judges and a scorekeeper for each duel. It was interesting that most people chose lines from Laertes or Mercutio as they bled out. "No, ’tis not so deep as a well nor so wide as a church-door, but ’tis enough, ’twill serve," and "Zounds, a dog, a rat, a mouse, a cat to scratch a man to death!" were both unusually popular as people toppled into the dust gripping their sides.




Mary watches in the dress she made while old scores are settled on the field of honor.
Clickenzee to Embiggen!



Once half of us were dead, it was back to the dress making with great gusto.




Trillian makes a dress, Trillian fights a duel!
Clickenzee to Embiggen!



Some of us retired to the photo studio and set up some lights. Everybody got a portrait in their dress, I'd post one, but Bernard Jones and Kevin Wheeler took over the photo duties along with Amy Blackthorn so I'll have to wait for them to post things.

As dresses got finished and people got their portraits taken we played Jane Austen board games in the back yard and a splendid time was had by all.

Regency dress, sword or not, we certainly hope to see you at Sense & Sensibility opening Friday April 25th at Hedgerow Theatre.




After the dresses were all made and the cads all dispatched we retired to the
back yard to play the Pride and Prejudice board game. I was Wickham.
I didn't win.
Clickenzee to Embiggen!







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Mary Stuart [Apr. 4th, 2014|07:24 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |Holst: The Planets]

I really like working with actors. They take direction well, they're collaborative, they want to help you make your thing work. That said, I'm not really interested in taking production photos, that's the bit where you come in on the last dress rehearsal and sit in the audience and click away. If people ask me to do production photos I usually watch the play and then re-enact key scenes later with the cast where I can get up on stage and start and stop and rewind the action, that's fun, but it's difficult to find theaters that will let me work that way. But what I really like doing are theatrical portraits. That's something that totally interests me.

So this week I photographed Mary Stuart which opens this week from The Philadelphia Artists Collective. It was great. I had lots of fun and we did wonderful stuff.

It's directed by Dan Hodge who directed trillian_stars in MacBeth and The Real Inspector Hound and we love him. He's a great director who always has a vision beyond what was written on the page. The Philadelphia Artists Collective is his baby, he's one of the founding members and this is what he calls home.





The cast of the Philadelphia Artists' Collective Mary Stuart.
You may Clickenzee to Embiggen!



Four image panorama stitched together in Photoshop. I was using a wide angle lens and realized only when I was putting it together that I'd have been better off shuffling to the right rather than turning to the right so that everybody was head-on to the camera. I'll give that a try next time.

Anyhoo, the really nifty thing about PAC is they do plays that you don't ever see otherwise.

Imagine this: Shakespeare is the Beatles. We all know his plays, we see them all the time. But who are the Rolling Stones? Who are the U2? Who are the Clash? Who are all the other great playwrights working around the time of Shakespeare that we don't know about because someone's putting on Midsummer Night's Dream again?




Nathan Foley as William Cecil, Lord Burleigh and Reuben Wade as Sir Andrew Melvil
You may clickenzee to Embiggen!



That's what these guys do. Mary Stuart tells the story of Queen Elizabeth I and her sister, Mary Queen of Scots. It's not a good relationship. There's intrigue, people are locked up in the Tower of London, people die, people betray people. It's action packed. It was written in German by Fredrich Schiller in 1800 (in this case a good deal after Shakespeare's time) -- it's a dense play, you might need to take notes in the program to keep track of who's on whose side because there's lots of switching around. It's got all the things that make Shakespeare wonderful and the cast of PAC is made up of some very, very heavy hitters.





Kate McLenigan-Altman as Hannah and Brian McCann s the Earl of Shrewsbury
You may clickenzee to Embiggen!



One of the great things about working with Dan Hodge is that he's like "what do you need?" and then he just lets you go. He has a great talent for getting great people and just letting them do what they do and such lovely things come out of it.

Everybody was super-nice and we cranked all of this out in 30 minutes. It was snappy, but we got it done fast & well. Tech info for the photogeeks: Photek Softlighter II (the big one) but more importantly taking a lot of notes during the play and scoping out places in the theater where things would work.




Krista Apple-Hodge as Queen Elizabeth I and Adam Altman as Sir William Davison
You may clickenzee to Embiggen!




Mary Stuart runs April 2nd - April 19th at the Broad Street Ministries theater which is on 13th street in Philly.




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Jane Austen Party Series [Mar. 31st, 2014|06:33 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

This month trillian_stars opens as Elinor Dashood in Jane Austen's Sense & Sensiblity at Hedgerow theatre and we're throwing a month long shindig to get you in the mood! There will also be a photography contingent at each party, like at the last hairstyle party, so if you're interested in lighting and portraiture, bring your camera and come out, we'll be taking photos too! Let us know you're coming and to which so we can lock in stylists & instructors. Seating is limited for all of these.

Jane Austen Hairstyle party!
   Sunday April 6th, Noon-4:00 Learn how to do your hair like Elinor Dashwood! We'll have some professional 
   hairstylists to help out. Remember our last vintage hairstyle party? This will be even more awesome.
       $15 goes to the stylists.

Jane Austen Dressmaking DUELING and food party! 
   Sunday April 13th Noon-6 This day has multiple options with lots of great things going on.
     1) Make a regency dress! Whatever your level of skill, we'll be making 
        regency style dresses from patterns. Cut out & sew your dress during 
        the party. We'll have dressmakers on hand to help out! (You'll need to
        order fabric beforehand and we ask that people skilled in the arts begin 
        their dresses before the party so you can be on hand to help out others.)
        Our dressmaker tested a pattern & was able to make a commplete dress in an hour & twenty 
        minutes, so you'll be able to walk away with a dress you made.
     2) Don't fancy making a dress? LEARN TO FIGHT A DUEL! Colonel Brandon and John Willoughby duel
        offscreen and Jane Austen makes no mention of whether they duel with pistols or swords, but
        we shall duel with swords because it's more exciting. We'll have a fencing & stage combat
        instructor to teach us how to punish or defend. Dueling & dressmaking are, obviously, not
        gender restricted. Anybody's invited to do either. (We tried to see if people could make mens
        vests or shirts, but they're all too complex for a one day party.)
     3) Regency snacks & cocktails. Interested in what went on in the kitchen? Learn how to make
        various period foods and drinks.
          $20 goes to the dressmaker & fencing master

At evenings end, we shall retire to the field of honor to wear our fancy new 
clothes, eat period food, sip cocktails and WATCH DUELS.

Not regency at all
(tentative - based upon availability of actors) Jane Austen Picnic! Saturday April 19th 4:00-7:00 What do you do when you have a regency dress, a basket full of food, a great hairstyle plus the skill and knowledge to dispatch any cad who dishonors you? You have a picnic! Cast members from Sense & Sensibility will be on hand to perform scenes from the play. Movie viewing after! (Costumes not required, no cost.)



Friday April 25th Sense & Sensibility opens at Hedgerow Theatre! Wear your regency dress & challenge cads to duels!


We have some amount of crash space at our house for out-of-towners coming to the play, plus some swanky nearby bed & breakfasts. Seating at all of these will be limited, so let us know if you're in so we can lock down your spot.





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This is not a fitness blog [Mar. 30th, 2014|11:46 pm]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |dead milkmen: i dream of jesus]

I ate a pizza then ran a half marathon. At mile 10 I un-ate the pizza.
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Big News [Mar. 27th, 2014|11:45 pm]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

I go a text message and then an email a few hours ago from Philadelphia Weekly editor Stephen Segal telling me that I'd just won the 2014 Pennsylvania Newsmedia Association's annual Keystone Press Award for Best Feature Photo, for my portrait of taxidermist Beth Beverly (article by Tara Murtha). Weekly staff writer Randy LoBasso won the Distinguished Writing Award and a second place for news beat reporting and a second place for his profile of state rep Brian Sims (which I photographed). JR Blackwell got an honorable mention for her portrait of the Hip Hop Fundamentals dance group and Stephen himself will take home a fist full of awards in a variety of categories.

All in all, the Philadelphia Weekly got fifteen awards. I'm really proud to work with these people and grateful to Stephen for the opportunity to photograph so many of these wonderful stories. (Like the opportunity to photograph a mob boss, or a badass movie director.)

My behind the scenes blog about the Beth Beverly photoshoot can be found here.

It's been a wonderful ride with these folks and, over and over again, a life changing experience.

I like my photos and I think I've done good work, but winning this is an incredible sense of validation. It means something to me to do a thing and to do it well, and for purpose. It also means a great deal to have an art director who will trust your vision and let you push things in the direction bound by your creative heart, and I've gotten that so much from the Weekly who have provided me with opportunity after opportunity, then stood back silently before and cheered vocally after. They've made me feel loved, welcomed and appreciated and I'm so grateful.




Clickenzee to Embiggen!








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The Trojan Women [Mar. 25th, 2014|07:22 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

So, last night I went to see trillian_stars in The Trojan Women, a play by Euripides written 2,500 years ago about the aftermath of the sacking of the city of Troy. The play begins with the Poseidon walking through the ruins, lamenting it's destruction. He calls it the only city he had ever loved. He sets us up in understanding that some terrible things just happen and that there's nothing that can be done.

Helen, you may remember, the wife of King Menelaus, was either kidnapped or ran off with Paris of Troy, I couldn't figure out which. The king gathers an army to go and retrieve her, they siege the city for ten years. Finally, there is a great battle where the armies two champions, Hector of Troy and Achilles of Greece fight, Hector is killed, Achilles drags his body around the battlefield behind his chariot, a wooden horse is filled with soldiers and snuck into the city, the gates are opened from the inside, the armies pour in and it's all over for Troy.




When nobody was looking I snuck a photo from the back of the theater;
because that's the kind of husband I am.



This is where The Trojan Women starts -- the city is conquered, all the men have been killed. The women are being divided up between the victors. Menelaus shows up, Helen has been rounded up with the other women and the king sentences her to death, for what I wasn't exactly sure, either because she'd run off with Paris or because he wasn't interested in used goods.

Key among the women is Andromache, the wife of Hector. She is told that she is to be given to Neoptolemus, the son of Achilles. She's resigned to her fate, to live with the son of the man who killed her husband. She realizes there is nothing she can do but care for her infant son, Astyanax. There is a deep, deep sense of powerlessness, among all the women, but it's really focused through Andromache.

Now enters Talthybius an ordinary foot soldier. His job is to get the women to the ships where they'll be taken back to Greece to begin their lives as slaves and concubines. He reluctantly tells Andromache that, he has been ordered to take her baby and throw it from the high walls of Troy. In the most poignant scene of the play, Andromache refuses and Talthybius tells her she can't refuse, she has absolutely no power, and almost as heartbreaking is Talthybius who also has no choice and no power. He is inevitability, the slow, grinding truth of what their lives are to be. If he doesn't kill Astyanax, some other foot soldier will come along and do it. All any of them can do is what they need to do to stay alive. He tries to convince Andromache that her son's death will be quick and painless. The baby won't know what's happening, but for a few confused seconds hurtling through the air -- which is a kinder fate than any of theirs. Talthybius takes the baby and flings it from the walls, all the while lamenting it as a despicable act. "A strange murder for brave men" he calls it in one translation.

He then locates Hector's shield, which is a great war prize, and somehow acquires it. He washes the blood off the baby's corpse, wraps it in sheets carries the baby back to Andromache on it's fathers shield. He digs a grave and tells the women it's over, it's time for the ships to leave. He is the metronome of the things that will happen. The central theme is this: you are a creature without claws or teeth. You are someone that things happen to, there is nothing that you can make happen, nothing.

As they walk away, the Greek army begins to set fire to Troy. They watch as their houses and the great city that they loved burns and collapses behind them.





The Trojan Women. Adam Altman as Talthybius, who is
not an evil man, but is bitterly tasked with evil deeds.
Clickenzee to embiggen








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Decisions, decisions .... [Mar. 23rd, 2014|08:35 pm]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

So, this upcoming weekend I'm artist Guest of Honor at the Twisted World convention in Valley Forge. (Yaay!)


Here's my schedule:


Art Show – Artist Guest of Honor
Artist Portfolio Review – Friday, 6-7pm
Q&A with Rodney Anonymous (Dead Milkmen), Ego Likeness, others – Friday, 10:30pm-11:30pm
Twisted Tete-a-Tete – Saturday, 11am-12pm
The New Magazine Assignment: Crowd Funding Your Art – Saturday, 12-1pm
Words & Images – Artists Collaborations – Saturday, 1:15pm-2:15pm
Promoting Your Circle – Saturday, 3:30-5pm
Photo Workshop: Create a Horror Novel Cover! – Sunday, 12:30pm-2pm



Now, I just noticed that the Philadelphia Love Run half marathon is Sunday morning at 8 am. Which gives me a bit of a dilemma. I could easily get up at 6:00 on Sunday, head into the city, run the half marathon at 8:00, finish by 10:00, make it back to the Hotel by 11:30 in heavy traffic, shower and do the 12:30 photo workshop, and make a giant day of it.

Or I could run 13 miles by myself on Friday morning and stay at the conference all weekend.

Upsides of doing the run is that I'D GET A MEDAL and it's much more fun to run with ten thousand people than all by yourself. Downsides are all the driving back and forth and the fact that the race costs $90 and I wouldn't really be able to hang around and enjoy the banana eating party at the end.

Upside to staying at the convention is I wouldn't be going to bed at 7:00.....

Did I mention it's not super fun to run 13 miles all by yourself?






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Finally, a package that's not for Roswell [Mar. 21st, 2014|05:07 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

We get a decent amount of mail, it's mostly for Roswell. People send her little stuffed mice they made, or catnip or nori, or drawings. So it's nice to see a package arrive that's not for Roswell. This one is from Australia and is clearly marked VEGEMITE. Which Roswell will lick, but won't really run off with your toast.




Not for Roswell! Clickenzee to Embiggen!



But of course, on the inside, we're put back into our places. There's a drawing of Roswell inside the box.




Clickenzee to Embiggen the Roswell drawing!!!



BUT this also arrived from Trevor, who may be in Canada,



Clickenzee to Embiggen!



Which is the result of an incidental afternoon that I didn't blog about but I did tweet about. About a month and a half ago I twisted my ankle doing a speed run with the West Philly Runners, twisted it BAD. It swelled up like a sausage and I couldn't walk on it for three or four days. I went to the doctors, they poked it and wiggled it and said it would be fine I'd just have to keep off of it for a while. (My recovery was "2, 2 and 2" -- two weeks off, two weeks slow, and two weeks getting back. So on the 15th which was 5 weeks out I tried to run 14 miles but really didn't want to. The first two miles kind of sucked mostly because I'd gotten slow & out of shape & felt fat and blah and wanted to go back to bed, but I gutted it out and around mile 3 it started to be pretty fun and then got really fun until about mile 10 and I was having a great time and then somewhere around mile ten I was done and wanted it to be over but I was still four miles from home, so I griped about it on Twitter and someone, rightfully, I might add, thought I deserved a medal for my efforts. Thank you!




Clickenzee to Embiggen!



This is the time that running weather goes from cold to glorious to miserable in just a couple of weeks. This medal will remind me to stop complaining about stupid things when it's super nice to run out. Thanks! And thanks for the Vegemite Margaret!




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Stuff ends, stuff starts [Mar. 18th, 2014|06:22 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |kent: sundance kid]

trillian_stars has never been unemployed since I met her, which is no mean feat for an actor. There's never been a time that there wasn't a marked up script for a new play in her purse during the closing night celebration of the old one.

This last week Dancing at Lughnasa closed, as everyone expected, to sold-out performances. I went to the final night and ended up having to give up my seat to a stern looking family who eyed the empty seats next to me and mine with a glower that sent me up into the rafters for the last available, lonely chair in the nosebleed section but, so far away from the action I didn't feel bad slipping out my Fuji X-20 with it's silent electronic shutter and 112mm telephoto lens to snap an inconspicuous photo during the loud dance scenes.




And they danced! Like a wave on the ocean.
Clickenzee to Embiggen!

(Closed course photographed by trained professional, do not try snapping a photo during a theatrical performance or you risk being beaten, ejected from the theater, killed and then sued.)




After the play was the set strike where the whole thing gets disassembled and pieces get re-tasked for the next play. As many hands make light the work strike is often advertised as a quasi cast party where friends are invited to help move flats and take down staircases and it's kind of magical to get to stand on the set where you just saw the Magic Happening, and you get to look at all the props and see if the bread dough was real bread dough (it was) and if the stove was a real stove (it was) and how the water worked in the sink and what everybody's knitting projects looked like up-close. It's also a bit magical for other reasons -- the striking of the set during The Green Bird was the first time I actually felt like I was Trillian's boyfriend. We'd been dating a couple of weeks and she invited me to closing night strike and everybody treated me like I belonged and I remember thinking this feels really right. And nice and warm and comfortable and all that. (You can see some photos I took of The Green Bird here. It was a very strange play.) So it kind of feels like our anniversary to me in some ways. (You can also watch a bit of a time lapse video of Trillian and I pulling up the tiles of the kitchen floor on the set here.)

So after the strike there was a cast party and it was an Irish play ending on Saint Patrick's day, so there was Irish food and it was fun and warm and wonderful and lots of nice people were there. And the next morning trillian_stars was rehearsing for a staged reading series of new plays which happened Monday night.




Clickenzee to Embiggen!



She played a schoolteacher in a religious mission in the Navajo Nation in 1963 and it was an entirely different thing from Dancing at Lughnasa and an audience got to hear a new play that's being worked on and Trillian got to do something new and not so stressful and this week her rehearsals start for Sense and Sensibility where she's playing Elinor Dashwood.

That's all the news from back stage at Lake Woebegon.





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mst3k photo shoot for #GeekKnits [Mar. 16th, 2014|05:26 pm]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

So ... this conversation just happened:



Me: Hi Joel, is it possible for Crow and Tom Servo to [redacted].

Joel Hodgson: "Well, we can [redacted] to [redacted] and they can [redacted]."

Me: Excellent. That'll work just fine.







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sick as a dog. [Mar. 12th, 2014|12:31 pm]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

This is me today:




Clickenzee to Embiggen this Bosch!



There's almost a weird joy to being sick in bed when there's someone to make you soup and tea.

I remember as a kid, when I got sick my father would go to the bookstore before work and buy me a Charlie Brown book. I'd read it in bed that day. He bought me models too. I remember putting together a model of Jaques Cousteau's ship, the Calypso. Today trillian_stars is making me soup, making me tea, bringing me Kleenex.

What do you do when you're sick that makes you feel better? Do you have happy memories from childhood about being sick in bed? Let's hear.




I feel like Jamie Lannister being carted back to Kings Landing.
Clickenzee to Embiggen my misery!







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Neil & I at my alma mater [Mar. 10th, 2014|08:05 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |the jane austen argument: phoenix]

I think the school of Communications at my Alma Mater, Rowan University had been plotting for a long time to get Neil Gaiman to come out and do a lecture and a master class. They wrote me months ago asking if I'd be involved if they could pull it off, and of course, I said I would. So last week Neil & I taught a master-class in storytelling, art, technique and ... making things happen, to a group of students and then Neil gave a lecture to 850 or so people in the giant auditorium where I'd seen Man of La Mancha and Van Cliburn in my youth and where I'd had at least one class during college. I walked across the campus I hadn't seen in decades and felt a bit like one of those movies where all the students come back to their college after the war and it seems different but the same and they want to touch all the door knobs they touched in their youth and stand in all the places they stood and think of the moments and people and events they haven't thought of in years.

Every doorway had a memory.

Dean of the College of Communications, Lorin Arnold blogged about our visit here and was particularly responsible for so much of the awesome that happened.

Mr. Neil Gaiman blogged about the day here and includes a few photos that I took of him.




Neil reading, me showing slides. Clickenzee to Embiggen!



The class went really well. We started out with questions and just took that as a jumping off point to have a conversation about how we worked, how we decided what to work on, and what happens when you devote your time to a thing. We went back and forth for a while, pinging back to the class to make sure they were getting what they wanted. Then we talked about The Big Book of Who Killed Amanda Palmer and I got up and showed some slides, some from the book, and some that didn't make it into the book and that Neil hadn't seen before. Neil talked about why he picked the photos he did to write stories about, how he went about writing them, and the things that he felt inspired by. This was terrific for me as well, since I not really heard him talk before about what motivated him on this and why he'd picked one and not another.




Neil reading, class watching, I'm still showing slides. Clickenzee to Embiggen!



They'd done a great job keeping the class size manageable so, I think, everybody got time and attention. I met the editor of the literary magazine, Avant, which I'd been the editor of when I was in school there, and the editor of the school newspaper, I'd been the Photo Editor while I was there and it was really great to be able to talk to them about their experiences and mine.




Left to Right, (standing) Dr. Julie Haynes, Dr. Lorin Arnold, NFG
You may Clickenzee to Embiggen!



Neil had shown up looking a bit like Ernest Shackleton, in that he'd been holed up somewhere writing for months while his wife was off in Australia working for months and he had neither shaved nor cut his hair. "I must photograph this Ernest Shakelton beard" were words that actually came out of my mouth. "Send them to Amanda!" he said cheerfully, because he's mostly always saying things cheerfully, "she hasn't seen it!"




Clickenzee to Embiggen!



They threw us a big fancy dinner with some wonderful faculty and some students who had won an essay contest and everybody called me "sir" which was a bit weird, but not necessarily in a bad way and there were an awful lot of forks and spoons in the place setting.




Clickenzee to Embiggen!



There was something of a forbidden wonder to being brought to the top of the library tower and having people buzz around. One of my English professors confided to Neil "He wasn't a very good English major, but he was certainly unforgettable," which is about the best eulogy of my college years I could hope for. I was indeed a terrible student, and it's nice to know that I was memorable.

I was seated next to Julie Haynes, the Associate Dean of the College of Communication and Creative Arts who teaches an incredibly interesting class in something that I can't tell you about because while she was talking about it I said "OMG, I'm totally working on [Top Sekrit Projekt Very Much Related] and a conspiracy began which might push something even better than I'd initially expected into the world. More on that in ... six months.

Someone ran up behind me waving a sheet of paper and said "Please! Give this to Mr. Gaiman!" -- the paper had a ten dollar bill stapled to it. It seems Neil's author bio in the back of Good Omens says something like "Neil likes it when fans give him money" which was a joke based on Terry Pratchett's bio that said something about if you see him you could buy him a margarita. It's a bit overwhelmingly wonderful how The People love Neil and how Neil loves The People right back. This is what being a nice guy gets you.




Clickenzee to Embiggen!



Neil gave a lovely lecture where he answered questions and read a few stories, there was applause, a standing ovation, and I drove back to Philly and picked up trillian_stars who had just finished a performance of Dancing at Lughnasa (where she's playing Kate) and we met up with Neil at his hotel & had a nice unwindy time unwinding and talking about friends and houses and jogging paths.





Clickenzee to Embiggen!



We parted with our heads full of things past and things future and art that we'd loved and things yet to come and plans to make things happen.

It was a good day. Thanks Neil & thanks Rowan, Lorin & Julie for making it happen.





Indeed, let's. I'm excited for the great wide world tomorrow brings.





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Goodbye Wild Bill: April 28, 1923 – March 8, 2014 [Mar. 9th, 2014|02:05 pm]
[mood |gratefulgrateful]
[music |the jane austen argument: phoenix]

We knew that it was very hard to kill Wild Bill Guarnere of Easy Company, 506th 101st Airborne, but we also knew that something eventually would. I got a call last night from our friend Barbara who was a neighbor, friend, & caretaker to Bill, that he had finally passed away.

He'd survived so long and so much it seemed that nothing could kill him.




Wild Bill in his South Philly home, 2011. Click to see this image larger.



The German army tried, again and again, and failed, again and again. They shot at him when he parachuted into Normandy, they tried again at Market Garden. He was a fighter, he got away every time, giving better than he got. His commanding officer, Major Dick Winters called him a "natural killer" -- which seems strange to the people who knew him as a jovial and friendly old man. But the war was different. While patrolling the banks of the Rhine river on a stolen motorcycle a sniper shot Bill in the leg and was sent back to England. By covering his cast with shoe polish he escaped from the hospital to return to his unit, like Lassie, he was devoted, and nothing would keep him away and let someone his friends face bullets alone. Eventually they got his leg with an artillery shell at the Battle of the Bulge. He received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, and a chest full of other medals. He went home, quietly, to Philadelphia where he didn’t talk about the war, except with his friend Babe Heffron, who’d also served in Easy company, and at reunions.




Bill on his birthday in 2012 with our nephew Oakes



Eventually, Stephen Ambrose talked to Bill and the other surviving soldiers of Easy Company and wrote the book Band of Brothers about them, which got made into a TV series and it made Bill a star. Bill was very happy being a star. He loved talking to people, he loved telling stories. He told me stories when I met him and he was the inspiration for my book War Paint: Tattoo Culture and the Armed Forces, and was on the cover of that book. When I'd asked him about his tattoo I realized that no one had before, and he talked for hours about them.




Bill on his sofa in 2007. Click to see larger.



He was funny man, a witty man, always making jokes. He was always happy to see me and I was always happy that he had Barbara and her husband Ryan to offer the help he always pretended he didn't want.

When War Paint came out I brought him a copy and he didn't seem to care so much that he was on the cover, but he paged through the whole book and talked to the pictures. "Oh!" he'd say, "a Marine! Hello tough guy!" I never saw him sad, and really not even nostalgic. He was proud of the past and liked to talk about it, even for someone who did so much, he lived in the now. He lived to be talking to you, right now.

When Babe died in December, Barbara didn't think Bill would live much longer. They'd been pillars for one another, they talked every day, they wrote a book about their friendship. With Babe gone, Bill could let go; and he did.




Bill on his sofa in 2007. Click to see larger.






Showing Bill the first proof of War Paint



I'm sorry he's gone. For me it was always the most tangible indicator of whether or not there were World War II veterans in the world. "They're not gone," I'd think, "Bill's still here." But they're going so quickly and their stories are going with them. I'm very glad that I had an opportunity to talk to some of these people and to write down some tiny bit of what they'd done and preserve an infinitesimal bit of who they were.

Goodbye Wild Bill.




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The day I became an Internet meme [Mar. 2nd, 2014|07:31 pm]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

I suppose it's destined to happen to everyone, but this weekend I posted a photo of myself photographing the Dead Milkmen as proof that I'd actually met (and photographed) them with the caveat "...although I might have been photoshopped in to this picture..."




clickenzee to embiggen the "proof" that I met the Dead Milkmen



... which somehow set the Internet off and within a matter of minutes there were photoshopped images of me flying north and south. Unfortunately there wasn't a hash-tag so I couldn't find all of them. If you stumble across one, let me know. But these were some of my favorites. I think the upskirt Marilyn might be my absolute favorite. There's something totally unsetting about how happy I look in some of these situations.

Well played Internet.





Clickenzee to Embiggen the memeness!




*** EDIT Still finding them ***



It's still going on.....








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In the Studio With the Dead Milkmen [Feb. 24th, 2014|11:01 pm]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |dead milkmen: caitlin childs]

If you don't know the Dead Milkmen, you probably should. My favorite song of theirs used to be Stuart which is weird and hysterical and funny, but in the intervening years between the album Beelzabubba and today the Milkmen have grown up (a very little) and I think my favorite song now is Caitlin Childs which is a crazy true story about a 16 year old girl harassed by the FBI and various other government organizations for protesting outside of a Honey Baked Ham factory. I'm not kidding. They're both great songs and I think they show that whole range of this wonderful band. (Ok, there's also Punk Rock Girl.)

They're in the studio right now doing a followup to their last album The King in Yellow. And, because that's how things roll, I'm in the studio with them, along with Brian Siano, whose shooting some video.




Rodney Anonymous (on the right) playing keyboards. Clickenzee to Embiggen!



I'd noticed over the years that frontman Rodney Anonymous had excellent taste in movies and music. He had a list on his web page and I agreed with everything. Later he started a radio show called Rodney Anonymous Tells You How to Live where he played amazing bands like Rome and VNV Nation, and Ego Likeness. He's not just an elder statesman of punk rock, sitting around trashing hotel rooms and being down on things -- that was never the Milkmen's style anyway (I have a feeling they might have made their beds when they left hotel rooms on tour) he's actively helping other people out and doing all sorts of fun things. Lately he's been live-tweeting Downton Abbey and if you haven't witnessed that you need to get out your whatever and follow @rodneyanon and wait for the next installment. It's very funny. Probably even funnier if you're actually watching it too. I know Amanda Palmer's played Dead Milkmen covers, and she & Brian both love them. I can't find video of it (post it in the comments if you do.) But I did find a writeup from when Rodney went to dinner with Neil & Amanda which you can read about here. The circle tightens, and all your idols end up in your living room, playing Parcheesi.




Joe Jack Talcum tunes up. Clickenzee to Embiggen!



Joe wrote (and sings) Punk Rock Girl, he's the one you remember from the video. (Though Rodney's the one who handcuffed himself to Downtown Julie Brown when they played Club MTV, so you might remember that.)




Drummer Dean Sabatino and a $6,000 AEA ribbon microphone. You may clickenzee to embiggen!



I had no idea how difficult it is to record drums. I figured you just miked every one of them, but there's a big science to microphone placement which is measured with a bunch of strings attached to each drum and then making some weird geometric shape at which Legrange point a microphone is placed.




Dandrew on bass. Clickenzee to Embiggen!



One really odd thing about being in a situation like this where most of the basic tracks are done at once with everybody in one room is that unless you're wearing headphones, all you hear are drums. You see people hitting keys on keyboards and you see people strumming guitars, but it just sounds like a drum solo with some words being completely drowned out by them, so you kind of have no idea what the song sounds like until they play it back.




It's a guitar! Clickenzee to Embiggen!



I was shooting with a Panasonic GX1 and GX7. The GX7 is a better camera and has a silent mode, which is very nice, but it's just so dang ugly I have a difficult time picking it up, so I shot a lot with the GX1 as well. I used mostly a 45mm f2.8, a 14mm 2.5 and an 8mm f 3.5 -- the 8mm was pretty useful in the booth, and also for shots that captured the whole room. Most of the rest of the time it was the 28mm and closeups with the 45mm. I did a few studio shots with a flash too but I wasn't paying attention to the focus and they're all a bit off.




View from the booth. Clickenzee to Embiggen!



They're recording at Miner Street Studios, which I can say without violating my Non Disclosure Agreement, because they're not there anymore, but it's a lovely place owned by producer Brian McTear.




They're recording on TAPE. Which is very punk rock. Clickenzee to Embiggen!



If you've listened to the song Stuart, that's pretty much just Rodney talking. Everything he says is like that. Someone just needs to put recording device around his neck 24/7. The rant I remember best was someone telling him that some old fort was haunted and him saying "Why does everybody say 'some old fort is haunted' why are ghosts drawn to some old fort? If I die and come back as a ghost I'm going to haunt the grotto at the freaking Playboy mansion and watch bunnies @#$ing. If there actually are ghosts that place should be packed so tightly with incorporeal beings that you couldn't slide a piece of paper in there and you'd have no idea where all the moaning was coming from, but no, everybody says the ghosts are in some creepy old basement." It went on like that for about 15 minutes.




Listening to the takes. You may clickenzee to embiggen!



So months after this, overdubs get added, then things get mixed and eventually an album comes out the other side, it's a long process, even for punk rockers. Which, I should point out, is why you should buy your music from artists -- because making it is time consuming and extremely expensive.

That said, what's your favorite Dead Milkmen song?




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(no subject) [Feb. 18th, 2014|07:28 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |lady gaga: judas]

"If I can put you in front of 50,000 people to tell them one thing about libraries and librarians, what would it be?"

That was my pitch to librarians at the ALA midwinter conference in Philly a few weeks back. I had this idea to introduce a bunch of people on the Internet to some librarians so they could hear about what libraries do, why they're relevant, and what they're facing in an age where most of us have easy access to an awful lot of books and information.

I figured it was going to be pretty straightforward and was totally unprepared for the Great Librarian Firestorm of 2014 that it created, and ultimately an awful lot more than 50,000 people saw it. It rapidly became one of Slate's most popular photo essays ever. I imagine radio hosts saying "you may remember him from his controversial photo essay about librarians" and it seems unlikely, but the piece, when it appeared in Slate started a fistfight that was carried out over Twitter and in blogs across the country.




Erin Berman, San Jose Public Library: Libraries are centers for knowledge
that everyone in our society can access. They provide a place for
discovery, creation and innovation. Libraries are our future
without them our democracy is lost.

Erin's photo is one of my favorite, though it didn't get picked by Slate. You may clickenzee to embiggen



In 2007 I did a really huge photographic cross section of gun owners called "Armed America: Portraits of Gun Owners in Their Homes" which, I believe, was actually less controversial. While people agreed or disagreed on guns, people pretty much got along and behaved politely in the discussions. I learned then that there is not "a gun culture", but rather that there are many gun cultures, and they don't always agree. In fact, they vehemently disagree about some things. The same is true, I discovered, about librarians.

Some people objected to the plethora of tattoos, the style of some people's clothes, and (over and over) eyeglasses. Others objected to the breakdown of jobs the various people in the story did.

One of the common criticisms was "who cares what we look like? it only matters what we do" -- which may be valid. But if I'd gone to Slate saying "I have 28 quotes from librarians about what they do and the problems facing libraries today" I doubt they would have run it. My work, for a long time, has revolved around introducing readers/viewers to people in the belief that when we see someone in front of us, we listen better to what they have to say.

But there were a lot of other criticisms and I want to draw attention to a pair of blog posts that I think are really relevant to the reaction.


Understanding what the fight is about

This blog post, from The Librarian Kate outlines why a lot of people were upset with the photo essay: Reflections on What a Librarian Looks Like. It's a very meticulous outline and covers, step-by-step, concerns that Kate, and others, had with the piece.

Ingrid Abrams, the librarian whose face and pink hair is now indelibly tied with "librarian" when you Google wrote a really nice blog post called Slate's This is What a Librarian Looks Like: This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things" about the fight and about what it's like to suddenly have a whole lot of people looking at you in a spotlight.

Have you seen (or written) other blog posts important to understanding the argument? Post them in the comments.

Is there something you liked or didn't like? Let's hear it.

(Also, I'm planning on being at the American Library Association's annual conference in late June of 2014 in Las Vegas to continue this project. Hope to see you there.)


***EDIT***
1) Librarian Andrew Woodworth writes eloquently about demographics, things that are important, and the image of librarians, in
This is what a blog post about what a librarian looks like looks like.

2) The Librarian in Black (aka Sarah Houghton, Director for the San Rafael Public Library in California) is swift and to the point with her essay Something's wrong when Sarah's quiet (plus she mentions this post, so now you can go in an infinite loop between the two).

3) PC Sweeny a branch manager in Atherton & East Palo Alto (go observatory) writes about image and public perception and what communities should do to shepherd how they're perceived.

*** EDIT: ALSO, ALSO WIK ***

The Librarian Wardrobe blog has weighed in.

Another librarian who wishes that librarians would either stop dressing like hipsters or stop getting photographed dressing like hipsters (I'm not sure exactly which) blogs about it here.




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This is not a fitness blog, but I just ran 13 miles in the snow [Feb. 16th, 2014|03:07 pm]
[Tags|, , , , , , ]
[Current Location |the antipodes]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |fields of the nephilim: psychonaut]

One of the difficult things about writing about running stuff you've done is not sounding like that dork who's always writing about the running stuff he's done.

My uncle Larry taught me a card trick once and said "Learn to appreciate it, because no one else will" and while I still pull out that card trick every once in a while and people actually seem to appreciate it, I've taken uncle Larry's advice to heart.

A year ago I came out to Chicago and watched Peter Sagal run the F^3 half marathon (ostensibly I was there to take his photo, hang out with some friends and run three miles with Peter, which was all I could run at the time (and I didn't make that, I'd pulled a calf muscle)) and this year I thought "heck, I've run 15 or 20 half marathons, I should run that crazy one in Chicago with Peter". So we registered, I got on an airplane and went to Chicago to run 13 miles along the lake in 15 degree weather with 20 mile an hour winds. Which isn't nearly as crazy as it sounds.

I got in on Friday while Peter was off at some festival of geeks. I walked his dogs, found out that I had a race number that pleased my OCD to no end and went to bed early and some time in the early hours of Saturday I was awoken by Peter shouting "dog bomb!" and lobbing the same two very enthusiastic dogs onto my bed.

We drove out to the race and I vascilated on what to wear down to the very last minute. I was mostly worried about overheating, because that's what usually happens, even when it's 15 degrees, but the 20 MPH winds concerned me. I eventually went with a shirt, a windproof over layer and a hoodie over top of that. I added gloves and a scarf thingie that goes over your nose and mouth. The down side of this is that while you're waiting for the race to start it's INCREDIBLY FREAKING COLD.




We're ready to crush it. Plus nobody told me I'd given myself a proto-beehive hairdoo.







It was ... really, really, really, really cold.



Once the race started I warmed up. I took the hoodie off around mile four when it got downright hot and the gloves came off around mile 3. The scarf thing worked pretty well, though it was too tight. It kept my face from freezing. About ten minutes after I pulled it down off of my face it had frozen solid, but when I needed it later it thawed out very quickly when I put it back over my mouth.




I warmed up and got to enjoy the view along the lakefront. It was a lovely place to run.
Clickenzee to Embiggen!







Peter passes me on the way back around mile 5 1/2. Clickenzee to Embiggen!




There was slush all over the course which meant it was sort of like running in a dream where you're not getting any traction and every step forward takes you about 3/4th of the distance you're expecting, but once I realized I wasn't going to set any personal records I decided to just treat it like a Saturday run and I came in at 2:09:22 Peter came in at 1:43:47 which meant he got to spend half an hour freezing to death waiting for me to cross the finish line. That's friendship.

I've always been impressed at how fast Peter is (his marathon time is like 3:09, which is an hour faster than Paul Ryan) but then looking at the photos of him running, I realized that one reason he's so fast is because he's working hard -- he's not strolling along, he's pushing. He's not the dude smiling and waving at the camera, he's the guy gutting it out for the best time. This was a bit of a sad revelation to me, that in order to get faster it has to hurt more. I'd been hoping it would just come by magic. Though, to be fair, my times have been coming down, albeit slowly. I started out running 12 minute miles, then 11 minute miles, now ten minute miles, and last week I was able to run ten miles at an 8:45 pace, but I thought I was going to puke for the last half mile or so. I'd like to be able to run 8 minute miles and have it not be a huge deal. Everybody tells me this means I need to do ... speedwork ... which I did once with the West Philly Runners and it was so unpleasant I didn't go back. But now I think I have to. Gah.




Clickenzee to Embiggen the agony of victory







Official photo of me finishing in 2:09:22, which I'm happy with, given the conditions. It's 13 minutes slower than my best half marathon time, but my only race goal here was not to slip and fall.



At the end I got a MEDAL and silveringridd & Molly Robison were there to watch me do my victory dance. Then there was a Top Sekrit photo shoot for Joan Dark's upcoming book #GeekKnits and then the real adventure began....




Clickenzee to Embiggen!


The F^3 was, I think, the fourth "official" half marathon I've run (I've run somewhere around twenty unofficial ones) and it was the best organized and most fun. It's kind of the polar opposite of the Rock & Roll half marathon. (My recap of the 2013 Philadelphia Rock & Roll Half Marathon.) At R&R everything's highly produced, everything costs money & I think it's billed as something of a funrun.

The F^3 was small, and the weather is so miserable I think that mostly the only people who come out are people who run a lot and though all the amenities were there, there was a "We're DIY and we're pros" kind of atmosphere to the whole thing too.


NEXT: Off to some crazy adventure!




Clickenzee to Embiggen the de-icing!










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