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kyle cassidy

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Conversations with famous writers [Aug. 24th, 2016|06:01 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |some band covering Swedish pop sensation Kent]

Me: So, I know you're writing, but are you reading anything interesting now?

Famous Writer: Funny you should mention that. Someone came up to me in a signing line the other day and said "X is my favorite book of yours." and I said, "That's nice, but I don't have a book called X. And she said "Yes you do, it's my favorite book, I've read it 40 times." And after the signing was over I got my Kindle out and went to Amazon, just out of curiosity, and sure enough, there was a book by me called X that I have absolutely no memory of writing, so I bought it and I've been reading that for the past few days and it's actually quite good."

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Dear Magic Hotel! NYC & Wisconsin [Aug. 11th, 2016|12:49 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |queensryche]

Hi folks! Two Magic Hotel requests --

trillian_stars is in Macbeth (again) in New York and she's looking for a sofa to crash on tomorrow night (august 12, 2016) after rehearsal so that she doesn't need to sleep in the theater.

From the original production. You may clickenzee to embiggen!

SECONDLY, I'm going to be in Franklin Wisconsin at some point in the next couple months to do one photo. Anybody in the area? Looking for a driver & photo assistant for Top Sekrit Projekt. It will be exciting.

rock on!

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louYou Got Me Singing - The Album Cover Photo: Behind the Scenes [Jul. 17th, 2016|04:38 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |peter yates: soundtrack for a breakdown]

So ... a few months ago Amanda Palmer texted me & asked if I could do the album cover for a new album of covers she was doing with her dad, Jack. She wanted it (for complex reasons) to look like this Bob Dylan album cover:

And, (for complex reasons) we had access to the actual set from that photo shoot. Including a lot of the props. I spent a lot of time in the days before studying the original photo and trying to deconstruct how it was done. But when we got there, Neil had done a lot of research already about the type of camera and the light effects and had compiled stories from many of the people who were there on the set. It really was remarkable. I had initially thought that the blurry circle was added as a second exposure, something that Neil agreed with but in an interview the photographer denied. After spending a lot of time with it, I think it actually was a single, long exposure with the camera rotated during it. Camera starts at 10:00, shutter opens, camera rotation begins, when camera gets to 10:30 flash is fired, camera keeps rotating until it's at the 11:00 position and the shutter closes. Most of my evidence from this is from the lit candle in the upper left and the lamp shade right under it.

In any event. I did mine in two exposures because it was easier that way.

You Got Me Singing album cover. Bob Dylan was once right in this spot.
You may clickenzee to EmPalmerize

It's a bit maddening how difficult it is to get all the right angles and placement when you have the original right there in front of you. trillian_stars doubted my placement of the chaise lounge and in retrospect she was correct.

I lit it with one light behind an umbrella off to the side.

It took about 30 minutes of shooting to redo the cover photo and after that we did some publicity shots and played with the baby. (Trillian played with the baby, I just waved at him mostly. He smiled. Ash is a happy baby.) (Here's one of the publicity shots in a video for one of the songs.)

Outtake from publicity photos. I think this one got nixed for being "too arty".
But you may Clickenzee to EmArten.

Amanda, Trillian, Jack and Me. Jack is actually a stupendously charming guy. He's one of those people you meet and you're like instant friend. I hadn't met him before, though over the past 15 years or whatnot I've met Amanda's sister and her mother. Amanda spent about 40 minutes explaining her family tree, which is convoluted and I'm still not sure how anyone is related to one another, but Jack is a great guy and during some of the publicity photo shoots he sang and played guitar and I got goosebumps. So, there's that.

Setting up the scene you can see my high tech lighting system here -- on small shoot thru umbrella with a voice activated light stand. It was pretty simple. I used a 28mm lens and a Leica M9, triggered with Pocket Wizards. I'm trying to do everything with the Leica now because it's just so much smaller than the Nikon and I find myself thinking "what on earth am I going to do with a 36 megapixel file?" You can see that pile of things on the chez that Amanda picked out as being important. They range from magazines to influential records to a dalek. (Is dalek capitalized? You would't capitalize "lion" but you would "Parisian"... Ellen Datlow would know.) The 28mm was just barely wide enough to get the shot that I needed, and I ran out of room, I had to press the camera on the back wall -- I couldn't look through the viewfinder or put it on a tripod. I was actually facing the wall, holding the camera up against it, trying not to get my shoulder in the shot (it was in a bunch of them) while Neil helped to make Ash smile -- not that he's not always smiling. So we banged away at it for a while and it was done and we opened a bottle of wine. Like you do.

If you know me at all, you know that my favorite band ever was the 80's Goth Rock juggernaut The Fields of the Nephilim -- a few months before their guitar player, Peter Yates had posted a blog about how their record company had screwed them out of their profits. I sent it to Amanda, she reposted it because she knows that Sh!t is Real and Amanda & Peter met because of it and ... hopefully they're working on a collaboration now -- this might be my greatest contribution to the history of humanity. Here are Amanda & I talking about musicians, record companies, and how you stay relevant (along with a copy of Elizium, which is my favorite FOTN album. (You can buy a copy of it here.))

I discovered the Fields of the Nephilim while working in a bookstore and flipping through a book called "1000 record reviews". And the author gave the FOTN album an F- with the review "This album is only good in a black world where David Bowie is God." And I made a puzzled face thinking well ... he is, isn't he? & bought the album & never looked back. Finding good music isn't just looking for music that the right people like, it's also sometimes finding music that the wrong people hate.

Before we left Neil helped me out with a Top Sekrit Projekt, here at this restaurant. I'm continually amazed at what a nice person he is. Even with walls of deadlines, he'll lend his voice and his talent and his sphere of influence when he really doesn't need to but he does it because he's a genuinely kind person. If I'm ever about to post something snarky on the Internet I try and take step back, breathe for a second and ask myself "Would Neil Gaiman post this?" -- most of the time the answer is "no" and I delete whatever stinging criticism I had penned.

The Top Sekrit Projket thing becomes un-top-sekrit in January or February, something like that. I'll let you know when the world is supposed to know.

Trillian Stars returning from breakfast with a wandering writer who
was always lurking about the place committing acts of kindness.
You may clickenzee to Emawesome.

So we finished the album cover, we finished the publicity shots, we finished the Top Sekrit Projekt, I met the baby that I'd known as a bump, created from two people I'd watched meet and fall in love and get married, I met the singer without whom none of this would happen, I saw gigantic wild turkeys walking around like lazy squirrels, I went for a run along roads that Bob Dylan had driven his motorcycle, I deconstructed a photograph, learned about history ... I took a long ride on a train with Trillian Stars, I slept in a tiny room made by elves from a hollowed out tree, I ran in the forest, I searched for Drow ... I tried out a steam shower which is a truly terrifying thing, it's like a shower, but you're also blind at the same time.

And on the train on the way home I got what might be the most surreal, weird & wonderful text message of my life.

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The Yellow Wallpaper: Invited Dress [Jul. 8th, 2016|05:45 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |proud of Trillian Stars]
[music |REM document]

"There are things in that paper that nobody knows but me, or ever will."
-- The Yellow Wallpaper

So, last night I went to the invited dress rehearsal for The Yellow Wallpaper at the Physick house. This is the show after tec where the lights have been figured out, the props and the costumes, and they run everything. It's possible in a dress that things will stop and back up and that happened about 2 minutes into this performance when a lighting cue was amended -- but then the show went flawlessly from top to bottom and everybody was spooked and horrified -- in different ways.

Clickenzee to get this big enough to be your computer wallpaper.

The Yellow Wallpaper is the story of a woman imprisoned by her husband while suffering what at the time was called "hysteria". She's locked away in a horrid room in a beautiful house and kept from books and people and writing. When she begs her husband to end the "treatment" he takes her in her arms and calls her a "blessed little goose". At every corner she is ignored and diminished and stripped of any autonomy.

While this is happening, things begin to manifest themselves in the room in which she's been kept, and strange things unfold.

Looked at in one way each breadth stands alone, the bloated curves and flourishes--a kind of "debased Romanesque" with delirium tremens--go waddling up and down in isolated columns of fatuity. -- But, on the other hand, they connect diagonally, and the sprawling outlines run off in great slanting waves of optic horror, like a lot of wallowing seaweeds in full chase. -- The whole thing goes horizontally, too, at least it seems so, and I exhaust myself in trying to distinguish the order of its going in that direction.
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The Yellow Wallpaper was written in 1892, but it's not any less important today. It's one of the early handclaps that lead to women's suffrage. I was happy to see such a glorious production in such a great space. The show opens Sunday July 10 and runs until the 15th. There aren't a lot of seats, so most of the shows will probably sell out so, getting your tickets ($10-15) in advance is a good idea.

After the performance, discussing lighting cues with Stage Manager Sam Wend.
You may Clickenzee to Embiggen!

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Fancy Camera Chronicles [Jul. 6th, 2016|06:02 am]
kyle cassidy
[Current Location |the antipodes]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |lorde]

So, lately, as in for the past couple of years, I've been mostly shooting everything with a Leica M9 and their followup, the stupidly named "M" (How this fits in the 50 year long naming convention scheme M3, M4, M5, M6, M7, M8, M9..." is a mystery). In the last couple of years the M has only failed me once -- when I was shooting a big poster for Amanda Palmer and the New York Public Library -- I set up the lights, set up the backdrop, hours worth of makeup happened, Amanda Posed, I pressed the button and the back of the camera froze up in purple, green, and pink stripes. I had a Nikon D800 with me and took the photo with that and the Leica never did that again.

I got the "M" (I taped a "10" to the front of it) a few months back and it's seemed reliable, so on smaller shoots I've been taking it and a lens or two alone. But this evening I was off to do production photos for The Yellow Wallpaper and when I arrived I pulled my camera out of the bag and found this.

Something is wrong here. You may clickenzee to embiggen!

What the heck? Somehow, bouncing around in my camera bag, the way that cameras do, the entire shutter release assembly had come undone. I fished around in the bag, found it and screwed it back in. Nothing happened though when I tried to take a photo. Well, not nothing, the buffer LED light flashed five times & then stayed steady for about 3 seconds. I turned the camera off, turned it back on. Nothing. I pulled the battery out and the card out, nothing. The screen wouldn't come on, I couldn't get a menu.

So, I did what anybody else would do and shot the photos with my phone. And, in a 1970's horror movie sort of way, they didn't come out half bad.

Some camera is better than no camera. You may clickenzee to embiggen

Googling around I found that other people had had similar situations where the camera was put in the bag turned on (which is how I put mine in the bag all the time) and it took a bunch of photos, filled up the buffer and locked up the BATTERY rather than the camera. Apparently the battery has some sort of software or hardware switch built into it and it can get flustered and the only thing that will reset it is placing it back in the charger momentarily.

After the shoot I took the camera back home, plugged the battery into the charger for about five minutes and put it back in the camera. It came on, showing a 55% battery charge and no blank frames.

Still no idea what happened, but resetting the battery by placing it in the charger for a few minutes worked. Which is annoying. So, my pro-tip is never take just one Leica to a shoot that's important. It would be nice if the M9 and the M took the same battery, but if, like me, you have one of each, you have to take batteries and chargers for each anytime you travel.


But, Yellow Wallpaper, it's scary. Go see it. July 10-15th in Philadelphia.

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Welcome to my America [Jul. 4th, 2016|04:31 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |REM document]

I was overjoyed today to be able to ride with the Lambda Car Club in the Philadelphia Fourth of July parade. We celebrated the fact that King George no longer plunders our seas, ravages our Coasts, burns our towns, and destroys the lives of our people, and also the fact that, at some point, this country opened up her arms to all of us when we were tired, poor, and huddled masses yearning to breathe free. We may all need a reminder that all of us started out somewhere else and were given a chance here.

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Never Not Relevant: Armed America at the Brattleboro VT Museum of Art [Jun. 27th, 2016|05:56 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

My book, Armed America: Portraits of Gun Owners in Their Homes went up for sale on the day of the Virgina Tech shootings and the issue of guns in America has never gone out of the news cycle. Last week, just a day after the shootings in the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, cards started arriving from the Brattleboro Museum in Vermont about the opening of a show featuring images from Armed America. If you're in Vermont, go see the show. I'll be there in October giving a talk entitled "1/60th of a Second of Truth: Journalists and the complex fight for unbiased reporting."

I like their blurb about Armed America: "For gun owners, Cassidy is an artist who finally shows their point of view in a positive light. For ardent supporters of gun regulation, the book provides confirmation that gun owners are the lunatic fringe."

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Librarians! Are you going to be at ALA 2016 in Orlando? [Jun. 20th, 2016|10:23 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |FOTN: Requiem XIII 33]

Hi folks --

I'm looking for librarians from the following states to interview at ALA 2016 in Orlando for my Alexandria is Still Burning project. If you'll be there and you have some time on Friday or Saturday, please let me know. & Please share w/ Librarian friends. Thanks.

New Hampshire
New Mexico
North Dakota
Rhode Island
South Dakota
West Virginia

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Trillian [Jun. 19th, 2016|05:25 pm]
kyle cassidy
[Current Location |the andipodes]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |chelsea wolfe]

Trillian Stars has returned from Russia with some high falutin' ideas about tea.

Did you ever use one of these? Does you family have one? I'd love to hear the story.

Clickenzee to embiggen the samovar!

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Project Pitchfork [Jun. 11th, 2016|06:59 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |Project Pitchfork: Lament]

So, now that I'm obsessed with Project Pitchfork and wondering if they ever sit around in their pajamas looking like normal people I realized that not only did I see them, but I hung out back stage with them when Carfax Abbey was promoting the "It Screams Disease" album (which I shot the album cover for). Looking through all my cell phone photos, I see I was in Canada that morning, then went to the show with Trillian Stars & Nicki Jaine -- there are a couple photos of a pile of Carfax Abbey albums (which had just come out), a really blurry shot of me sitting back stage that kind of looks like a ghost in a fog and this photo of Trillian & Nicki. I 100% remember now that Project Pitchfork were absolutely not wearing pajamas. They looked goth as a pile of black lace bones, but I didn't say a word to them. Possibly because they were speaking German & I had no idea who they are. The one day I seem to have taken no photos. Thanks to Patrick Rodgers for the opportunity to tell this missed connection story.

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Portrait of IFM Kiwi. [Jun. 3rd, 2016|06:15 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |black sabbath: too late]

Portrait of Missy K last night. Leica M10, 90mm f2 Summicron at f2 or 2.8.

You may clickenzee to Embiggen!

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Cooking with Roswell [Jun. 2nd, 2016|06:23 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |black sabbath: too late]

Like it or not, summer's here, which means a lot of sitting out on the back porch with Roswell, watching the birds & the other cats & listening to Smooth Jazz Lady blast horrible music into the neighborhood. But it is also tofunafish season.

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1 block extra firm tofu, mashed or crumbled w/ a fork (i use a potato masher in a colander)
1 stalk celery finely chopped
1/4 small onion finely chopped
4 sweet ghirkens pickles, coarsely chopped
1 large carrot, grated
1/4 cup Veganese (or mayo alternative of your choice)
Salt & Pepper to taste.

Eat with someone you love.

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The Garden of Allah [May. 27th, 2016|08:19 pm]
kyle cassidy
[Current Location |the andipodes]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |john carpenter: halloween]

Clickenzee to Embiggen

trillian_stars looking for ghosts.

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John Carpenter! Live! Plus Big News. [May. 24th, 2016|05:55 am]
kyle cassidy
[Current Location |30,000 feet above Texas]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |John Carpenter Band: Halloween (on repeat)]

I'm in an airplane at 30,000 feet, leaving Lost Angels after photographing movie director & composer John Carpenter's first live show -- a friends & family practice gig before he goes off on his world tour supporting the two albums "Lost Themes" and "Lost Themes II" (which I am overjoyed to have photographed the album covers for -- and which, if you're an Amazon Prime member, you can stream for free).

John directed & did the scores for Halloween, Christine, Assault on Precinct 13, They Live and others and started a whole sound of 80's soundtracks. A few years ago he thought it would be fun to make a record of original music with his sons Cody Carpenter & Daniel Davies, so they went into the studio and their first effort "Lost Themes" went to #1 on the billboard dance/electronic charts. Not only that, it's a great album with some really astounding design work by Jay Shaw. A second album and a world tour were inevitable. I came out to photograph the second album cover sometime in late 2015.

At this point, there are still seats available to the Philly show at the Keswick, Saturday July 9th, 2016. You should go. Seriously.

Clickenzee to Embiggen!

Apart from the tour, of course, the big news is that John is on board for a remake of Halloween. The franchise has had a lot of action from people who were not John Carpenter in the last few years -- it's nice to know that finally, someone who cares is back at the helm.

Trillian Stars came out too this time and she's been wandering around Hollywood looking for old silent movie stars homes. We tried to find Nazimova's old house "The Garden of Allah" on Sunset Boulevard but it's been turned into a warehouse. She wanted to find Rudolph Valintino's house "The Falcon's Lair" but that was torn down in 2005. It amazes me that a town that lives, to some great extent, on it's history is so quick with a bulldozer.

(Photo geekery: I shot the show kind of oldschool with a Leica M9 and a Leica M10 with a Zeiss 50mm f2, a Leica tele elemarit 90mm and Canon 135mm f3.5. The Canon's a stop slower than I'd like, but the M10's higher ISO sensitivity let me shoot with little noise at 1600, the M9's pretty much useless past 400.)

The show itself was incredible -- imagine those movies, and that music, but now powered by a full band, two keyboard players, drums, bass, and Daniel Davies hammer and tongs rock guitar on top of it. It was freaking wonderful. You have to see this show. They've got a projection system that shows movie clips behind them so if you don't know what movie the song is from, you've got the visuals to remind you.

Cody (left) & John (center) Daniel (right)

Eventually somebody's going to figure out (if they haven't already) how to take all these cellphone videos and make a 3d movie that you can zoom in and out of and experience a show in incredible defintion from multiple angles. I'm looking forward to that.

Daniel Davies

Cody Carpenter
At some point during the evening Adrienne Barbeau (star of The Fog, Escape from New York, and, you know, Cannonball Run) put her hand on my arm and said "I love your work!" and my mouth hung open for a second and I blurted out "I love you too!" as my 13 year old self dropped dead.

Trillian Stars, me & Freaking Adrienne Barbeau. Dh00dz.

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How to prep for the Broad Street Run [Apr. 27th, 2016|06:22 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |the killers: mr brightside]

The IBX Broad Street Run is this Sunday! Philadelphia's preeminent 10 mile race straight down the main drag that bisects the entire city East and West. It's one of the greatest races in the country -- the city comes out to cheer for you in a 10 mile tunnel filled with bands & baton twirlers and the like. Former Philadelphia mayor & Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell is always there (usually at mile 6 by the Bellevue, but he surprised everybody last year by being at mile one (he was on his way to the airport and stopped to give out some hi-5's first)). The race is one of the least expensive large scale city races (It's like $40). Suffice to say it is the race in Philly.

It's ok to cross the street to hi-5 Ed Rendell.
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This will be my fourth time running it and I have some advice for people just doing it for their first time.

1) Get up really early on Saturday I'm talking like 5 am. Get up at 5, eat breakfast, have coffee, whatever you do. Watch tv. Whatever. This will a) help you sleep Saturday night and b) get you ready for getting up insanely early on Sunday.

2) Get up INSANELY EARLY ON RACE DAY. I get up at 4 am and I have a 30 minute commute. I get up, have a nice breakfast, charge my watch and my phone watch a movie that will leave you pumped up and excited (I recommend ROCKY) check the social media for other people going and don't rush yourself. I say this because--

3) YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO USE A BATHROOM AT THE RACE START. There are bathrooms there, but the lines are the kind of lines you'd expect if Taylor Swift & Beyonce were playing a free concert together and there's only one ticket window. I'm serious, do not plan on using a bathroom at the start of the race. Or if you think you might have to get in line the second you get there.

4) There are bathrooms along the course, so, if you're not running for time, you can stop at a much shorter line along the way. If you are running for time, get up insanely early and make sure you've taken care of everything you need to take care of before you leave the house.

6) Take public transportation to the race. The subway is free if you have your race bib on. It's the best way to get there. Do not think you can park anywhere near the race. Take the subway! This isn't city folk trying to sell you on mass transit, it's the truth, take the subway. You can take the subway back after (though it might not be free, I forget, pack some cash.)

IF IT RAIN'S THAT'S OK. Rain is better than heat. You're going to be wet at the end anyway, it might as well be rain rather than sweat. Rain's not terribly fun while you're standing around though, so either bring a disposable poncho (check your local drug store) or make a disposable poncho out of a trash bag. When the race is over you really won't care about the rain.

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7) Get your playlist together now. Scientists say you will run significantly faster if you're listening to fast music. "Officially" IBX Broad Street rules say "no headphones" -- but this is completely unenforced -- to the extent that yesterday the IBX Broad Street run twitter account sent out some playlist recommendations. So, make a playlist that's as long as your projected time and then a little bit longer and enjoy it.

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8) START ALL THE ELECTRONICS YOU NEED TO START 15 MINUTES BEFORE THE RACE. This means if you're using Garmin Connect so your friends can follow you, start that, start your watch so it can find the satellites. Don't be the guy going "oh crap! I didn't start my watch!" as people around you are starting to run.

9) Get in the right corral. The race is designed so that faster people are up front and slower people are toward the back. This is so that slow people don't get constantly run over by people passing them. If you don't know how fast you're going to run this, move to the back.

10) Move to the side if you want to walk. It happens to everyone -- you get to the point where you're like screw this, I'm walking don't just stop in the middle of the street. Put up your right or left hand to let people behind you know you're making a move, look behind you, pull over to the side, hop up on the curb if you can & catch your breath.

11) It may start out cold but you're going to bake like a pie by the end. The weather is unpredictable (hope for cold) but it's often nippy at the start at 7:00 in the morning. Today is the day to go to FOOORRRMMAAANN MIILLLLSSSS! or your local thrift store and find a sweat suit, or at least an old sweat shirt to wear to the start (You can also use a trash bag with a hole ripped in the top for your head). Just before the race starts there's a beautiful cascade of clothes flying out from the crowd onto the sidewalk -- it looks like salmon swimming upstream. These clothes are collected & taken to a charity that reuses them.

12) Lay out your clothes now. What are you wearing? Shoes, socks shirt, throw away shirt, are you wearing some sort of race belt? Do you have your headphones? Your sports gu's? Try not to use the bag check if you don't have to. It's a layer of complexity. If you can just go with what you have with you, it's easier. People say "bring a change of clothes" but I honestly have never, ever, ever in my life wanted to put clean clothes on my sweaty post-race body. Here's what I bring: Money a 20, five 1's, and two SEPTA tokens. My phone, my headphones, my house key. I put all this in a race belt. You can get one at the expo if you don't have one.

13) People say you can't wear your race shirt the say of the race but I think they're just being jerks. There's a weird taboo against wearing a shirt before you've completed the race, the idea being that you haven't earned it yet, but to me, the shirt would have more meaning if you actually wore it while you were suffering through the race. Plus, the sponsors are paying to have their logos get seen, so go ahead wear your broad street shirt if you like. If anybody gives you a problem, tell them I said it was fine. If you don't finish you can burn it in a fit of shame if you feel like it. (The other taboo is that you should never race in something you haven't worn before -- that's much more valid -- it might not fit properly.)

14) Do you need to put band-aids on your nipples? If you google "bloody 11's" (don't do it) you'll see photos of all sorts of people whose nipples started bleeding during races from their shirts chafing them. (Dear god is this a thing? Yes.) Put band aids on if you want, it won't hurt (except when you take them off). Chafed nipples typically come from people wearing cotton shirts (don't wear a cotton shirt) and run much longer than 10 miles. Not necessary at Broad Street.

15) Don't drink too much before the race. Your partying life is up to you, but having four cups of coffee before you start out may lead to problems along the way (see #3). You may want to bring a small water bottle with you and sip gently before the race, but there will be water along the course. I pretty much hydrate entirely along the way.

16) Speaking of which, don't stop when you get to the water station, there are people still running behind you. If you're going to walk and drink, grab your water from one of the last cup-bearers and step off to the side behind them. If you're going to drink and run, I've found it's best to pinch the sides of the cup together while you bring it up to your mouth. You're going to spill some, but you look gallant doing it.

17) There is also gatorade along the way, typically gatorade is in a green cup & water is in a white cup. gatorade is full of sugar and will blast you full of quick calories. Drink it if you want.

18) Mile's 7-9 suck. The crowd thins out when you get to the sports stadiums and you may think you're going to die, but at mile 7 it's only a 5k and you can do a 5k. Go go go! You're almost there! Crank up your playlist, put your head down and go!

19) The finish line is not where you think it is. The navy yard has beautiful gates and you can see them in the distance and you think omg! it's going to be over soon! but those gates aren't the finish. The finish is about 200 yards behind those gates and it's the longest 200 yards I've ever experienced. However, this is where your friends are, so this is where you should start sprinting so when they see you they'll think you ran like that the whole way.

20) You finished! Don't stop! -- My first year I experienced something called "exercise induced collapse" which has to do with working out very hard and then stopping suddenly and the the blood pooling in your legs and your brain not getting any oxygen. It's not uncommon and it's not dangerous (unless you fall -- so if you feel woozy, sit down first -- at this point don't worry about being an obstruction) but you can keep it from happening by walking. Because of this lots of races are extending the chute that you have to walk through to get your goodies. There's water at the end, take it & drink it.

21) Your medal! Someone, who will look like an angel, because you'll be half blind from your effort and there will be the sun in your eyes too) will put a medal around your neck and you'll stagger down an isle where someone MAY ask you for the food tag on your bib, or they may just hand you a bag of food. It's all good. Tastykake has had stuff in there the past three years. Eat the banana.

22) There are bathrooms at the finish!

23) Find the people you ran with, take your selfies go to an after party, wear your medal.

24) Your cell phone probably won't work at the race finish. You'd think they'd have mad bad cell towers outside a football stadium (especially one sponsored by a cell phone company) but everybody going "hey where you at?" on their iPhones jams everything up like a beaver building a house on a stream. It's better to pick a meeting area before hand. There are meeting spots at the end, you'll see them in your packet pamphlet.

25) Go home, count your toenails, check for blisters, take a bath watch tv, sleep. The foam roller is your friend, if you don't have one, it might be time to pick one up. It's the way to massage the pain out of your legs. They have them at Philadelphia Runner or you can order one on-line (do that now) or borrow one from a friend.

26) You can wear your medal to the office on Monday. You just ran ten miles for crying out loud, be proud!

27) Don't let all this training go to waste. Sign up for the Odyssey Half Marathon. It's the following month. You ran 10 miles. You can run 13. And it's Philly's OTHER best race. It's low key & fun with not nearly the huge crowds.

clickenzee to embiggen!

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This is not a fitness blog, but I just ran my fastest half marathon ever! (again!) [Apr. 19th, 2016|06:52 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |evi vine: & there will your heart be also]

When a bib showed up magically the night before the Philly Love Run Half Marathon I figured I'd use it as an opportunity to test my Broad Street Run pace to see if I could sustain it. Last year I finished Broad Street at a pace of 8:05 minutes per mile -- which was a bit freaky, there wasn't anywhere to go from there but sub eight which had always seemed one of those boundaries between "fast" and "something I can possibly do". (My first time running Broad Street I ran something like 11:35's.) I ran a half marathon in January in 8:11's, almost dying but obliterating my previous best time, and I'd recently clobbered my 5k personal record, running 3 miles in 7:10's (while actually throwing up at mile 2.5) and I'd recently run a 5 mile race in 7:55's -- so my plan was to try and run 7:55's for 10 miles and then jog it in.

I'd had a recent epiphany about belief and performance and also the ability to endure -- all mental, for the most part and I've been feeling that I've turned a real corner in the sportsing. (It goes like this:I am fast, I am strong, I am so fast and so strong that I can ignore this pain for 30 more minutes because that's the difference between winning and not winning. Repeat until collapse or victory.)

For this race I was on the City Kitties team to raise money for stray cats in West Philly & the great thing about that, well, one of the great things, was that they had a tent and a table where I was able to leave my jacket (it was cooold) and not have to worry about it during the run. I wrapped myself in one of those space blankets they'd given me at another race and went off to the starting line. (Photo of me at the starting line.)

I'd run the Philadelphia Half Marathon shortly after the Boston Bombing and security was tight. They wouldn't let me say hello to my sometime training partner Patricia, who's a wheeled athlete doing all these races with just her arms. This time there was no security and I was able to walk up give her a hi-5 and promise to meet her at the end.

I found the 8:00 minute pace team (mike and lou) and settled in with them. Pacers are runners who are "paid" (usually only with free admission to the race) to run at a particular speed holding a flag or some balloons. They're typically much faster than the pace they're running so for them it's just a leisurely Saturday run. This is immensely helpful if you're trying to do something faster than you'd normally run, you have someone to keep up with, and someone who can shout encouragement, find the tangents, block the wind, & all sorts of other things. I figured I'd run with them for a while or a little ahead if I could. The gun went off and for the next two miles it was like a bunch of salmon swimming upstream. My only real complaint about the Love Run is that there were no corrals, just an announcer saying "fast runners to the front, slower runners to the back" -- which is fine if there are 300 people in your race, not 3,000, and there was no wave start, which means, after the wheeled athletes were given a 30 second head start, everybody else shot out at once. So the streets were very crowded and there was much colliding.

(Spoilers, I finished.)
Go me go! You may clickenzee to embiggen!

This all thinned out after about two miles though and I settled in with the pace group. We had to make up for a bit of lost time. Our first mile was 8:05, we did the next two at 7:31 to bank a little bit of time for the big hill at mile 6, then pretty much stayed on pace until we hit it. I was expecting that we'd run what's known as the Odyssey Hill, because it's at mile 13 of the Odyssey Half Marathon, but this was a completely different hill, it started as a somewhat innocuous looking off-ramp onto a bridge, but then turned and continued into another hill that went up, and up, and up, and up, and disappeared around a curve. I passed Patricia here, struggling. Usually nobody but the very elite ever see the wheeled athletes again after they start (at the Boston Marathon, for example, the wheeled athletes finish an hour before the first elite runners) -- so to pass one meant that the hill was pretty significant. I gave her what words of encouragement I could with my head tucked down. Finally we crested the hill, only to find a third beginning right after. I don't remember much of it, except that Lou and Mike kept shouting words of encouragement like "YOU GOT THIS HILL! THIS HILL IS NOTHING! YOU CAN DO THIS!" and my feet went up and my feet went down.

On the other side of the up hill was a giant down hill and we got a little relief for the next few miles. As we approached the 10 mile mark I ran a bit ahead, it was pretty obvious I was going to make my pace of 7:55 and break my previous Broad Street Run record, after that I intended to jog in lightly & go home. But when I told Mike & Lou this, they had different ideas, "You are not slowing down!" they said "We are going to run you in to a new half marathon PR. And by the way, your new Broad Street pace time is 7:47."

Some of the City Kitties team after the race.
You may clickenzee to embiggen!

And I thought, Well, I don't feel terrible so I'll see how long I can hang on to them.. I'd fall back a bit, then fight my way up to them again. Eventually around mile 11.5 I decided I was done & dropped back about 50 feet, where a woman in a black baseball cap gasped to her friend "we have to fight our way back to those pacers!" and I got suddenly inspired, although she wasn't talking to me, and I fought my way back. At mile 12 Mike & Lou decided that I should be running between them whenever we passed a photographer so we could make the Usain Bolt lighting bolt sign for a cool photo op. So they'd yell "photographer!" and I'd struggle back up even with them for 20 seconds, smile for the camera and then fall back a little. As we got back down onto Martin Luther King drive headed back to the art museum Mike said "We're on pace for a 1:45 finish." Being one of those sort of even-clock numbers, 1:45 has always been one of those dream goal barriers for me. Under two hours, under 1:50, under 1:45.... I'd come this far and heck, did I want to break 1:45 -- I hadn't thought it was possible that morning. So, with renewed mental energy, but still flagging legs, I powered on. And in the last half mile I became obsessed with whether or not the finish line was in the same place as the start line. I thought perhaps they'd moved the finish to directly in front of the art museum "Rocky Steps", it seemed sensible, but if the start and the finish were the same, it would mean that after we came out of the underpass to the art museum I'd still have about two tenths of a mile to go. If they'd moved it to the steps, I had about 100 yards to go. This was pretty much all I could think about. I figured if I had to go two tenths of a mile after the underpass I was done, I wouldn't be able to do it. But a hundred yards I could do.

We came out from under the overpass and there was the finish line. I finished about 5 seconds behind Mike and Lou with an official pace of 7:58. Ready to smack down Broad Street now in 12 days.

Note the mohawk on Patricia's helmet.
You may clickenzee to embiggen!

If you're curious my splits were: Splits: 805, 731, 731, 741, 752, 756, 754, 837, 738, 740, 807, 805, 810

After the race, Lady Brack encouraged me to drink this Iron Maiden beer
Yagathai got me. You may clickenzee to embiggen!

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The Bakken Goes Boom! [Mar. 30th, 2016|07:55 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |sia: chandelier ]

You probably know I've been working with some professors at the University of North Dakota for a couple of years now, helping to document life in the western part of the state during the oil boom (and now bust) -- we've had a few things come out of that, the most recent of which is The Bakken Goes Boom a book of academic papers and my photos (I did the cover too).

Clickenzee to get a free copy of the book!

There's been some great press so far about the book. (The one from Fast Co. Design is the one with the biggest interview with me if you're looking for Behind the Scenes).

As always, Jordan Techer at Slate magazine printed a big beautiful photo essay.

You can click to see this image larger, this is in case the link dies at some point.

Fast Co. Design did an interview with me and some great photos.

You can click to see this image larger, this is in case the link dies at some point.

We got a nice
writeup in the ND Quarterly where they quote me extensively at the end.

Click to see this image larger, this is in case the link dies at some point.

A positive
writeup in the Daily Freakin Mail that printed a whole bunch of my photos. Oddly enough, the comments section remained relatively civil.

I'm hoping to be able to make it back to Nodak sooner rather than later to keep working on this project.

One of my photos from there, by the way, will be hanging at my show at the Stanek Gallery opening April 1, so you can see it gigantic and up close, the way you were meant to.

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This is not a fitness blog but blah blah blah sports [Mar. 27th, 2016|07:29 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |sia: chandelier ]

In Philly every year the big race is the odd-distance 10 mile Broad Street Run that goes straight down the center of the city from north to south and the whole city comes out for it. It was my first race (read about that crazy experience here) and one that I, and lots of other people in Philly, feel an affinity to, so it's the one that I really feel I need to do well. I made significant improvements every year that I've run it and I feel like I can't let that trend down. (Given that I passed out at the finish line the first time, it's a little challenging.) Last year I ran it in a time that I thought was impressively fast (read about that here) and I was a little freaked out at how I'd go about beating that time. But I've had a couple of pretty good races lately, setting new personal records in the half marathon and 5k ... so this weekend I tested out what I'd hope to be my Broad Street Pace (7:55 minutes / mile) at the Back on My Feet 5 miler.

At mile 4 I felt pretty darn good and decided to speed up when I saw Malinda Hill (one of the Twins Run) about 400 yards ahead of me and figured I'd try to catch her. I ran the last mile faster & my average pace for the whole thing was 7:39. I didn't get a medal, but they gave you a whole loaf of bread at the end, which was pretty awesome.

After the race Trillian & I went to the after party at the Bishop's Collar (at 9 am) & then had a party for the West Philly Runners and talked about sports. blah blah.

That's the news from Lake Woebegone.

I swear I'll post interesting stuff sometime soon.

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April 2016 Gallery Show [Mar. 13th, 2016|07:46 pm]
kyle cassidy
[Current Location |the antipodes]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |amanda palmer's david bowie tribute]

I've got a gallery show coming up next month at Stanek Gallery in Old City (Philadelphia) -- which is very exciting, partly because Stanek is one of those fancy galleries, it's not like hanging your prints on a chain link fence by a vacant lot. The show is curated by Ross Mitchell from the Barnes Foundation. I've got seven prints in glorious large size, the way you're supposed to see them. You should come check them out if you're in the city.

It's a portrait retrospective going back to 2007 with one of the images from Armed America and going on to my most recent project, working with the University of North Dakota documenting oil workers in the Bakken. In the mix there's also movie director Melvin Van Peebles, some actors, some cosplayers & whatnots.

If you're a "collector" (meaning you think you might buy something rather than just chug the free wine) let me know, there's a special invite-only preview for collectors -- I can get you in. You should come to one of the openings because it's fun to go to a gallery show on First Friday.

Clickenzee to go to the exhibit preview!

April 1 5-8 pm
242 North 3rd St
Philadelphia PA

(You can see a preview of the show here.)

Show up! There will be free booze.

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Editing Hedda Gabler [Mar. 5th, 2016|11:02 am]
kyle cassidy
[Current Location |the antipodes]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |the fields of the nephilim]

In the play, Hedda Gabler just takes one pistol from the display case during her fight with George. While making the movie I thought "we have two pistols, and she SAYS 'pistol*S*' with an 's' -- so let's have her take both. And then we spent an afternoon dealing with all the butterfly effects that caused, from how does she now open and close doors with a pistol in each hand? And "how do we get that other pistol back in the box where Judge Brack has already found it in a scene we shot yesterday"? Ultimately though, this scene works better for the pair, but I realize the problems of capricious changes to the storyline.

General Gabbler's Pistols. You may clickenzee to embiggen!

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This is not a fitness blog, but I just ran my fastest 5k ever! [Feb. 21st, 2016|01:04 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |rasputina: bad moon rising]

Many students of cinema overlook the fact the Eye of the Tiger isn't about Rocky; it's about Mr. T.

By the time the third movie takes place, Rocky had lost the Eye of the Tiger -- the fierce desire to win, and Clubber Lang had it. Rocky lost because he didn't deserve to win.

I've been in a slump lately. I missed three opportunities to set a new personal record in the Half Marathon and I was feeling slow and, a bit depressed about the state of my running and was starting to wonder if maybe I'd just hit that peak where age takes over.... And then some things happened, things that are pretty much mostly because of the West Philly Runners. I started paying attention to people who were faster than me and realized that we were approaching running from very different mental places. They were all thinking very positively and I was thinking mostly about how I was slow and running hurt. They smiled when they ran, when their bodies told them to slow down, they sped up. And then I read Matt Fitzgerald's How Bad Do You Want It? Mastering the Psychology of Mind Over Muscle which dissects a number of really interesting races (from rowing to the tour de france to iron men & marathons) with gripping storytelling about the races, interviews with the athletes and then a lot of science about what makes some people able to tolerate more pain than others. I started to think that I wasn't slower than other people, I was just shooting myself in the foot with my brain. And ... I started running faster and I think my perceived effort went down. I broke my half marathon PR a few weeks ago in Chicago and felt like I'd broken out of the rut.

Today's 5k was sponsored by the Philadelphia Flower Show and I wasn't really sure I was going to go -- it was a last minute thing. Finally I figured I'd run over to the race, run the race kind of slow and run home and count it as today's long run. But when I got there I didn't see many people who looked like they were in my age group and I started thinking that placing might be possible and then I thought, Oh, hell, forget running slow, I'm just going to win this whole race.

I'm just going to run until I win this whole race.
Clickenzee to Embiggen!

My fastest previous 5k I ran at a pace of 7:19 and people were so surprised at it that I was worried that it was a fluke due to an improperly measured course. I haven't run a 5k full tilt since then (I ran one in December while I was sick and ended up having to stop and puke three times) and I wasn't really sure what my pace ought to but but when the horn sounded a cannonball of people shot past me along Martin Luther King drive and off into the distance. I figured my pace was "in between them and everybody behind me" -- after the first half mile it settled into a big lead pack, me, and then about 20 feet before anybody else. I was the entire chase pack. Around mile 1 someone pulled up along side me and to my horror it looked like he might be in my age group, so I pulled ahead. He responded. I pulled ahead again. He came back. And I remembered something Richard Pogue, one of the WPR's, said to me about a race where something similar happened. He looked over at the guy next to him, while they were both burning up from exhaustion, and said (in his head) I am going to run you into the ground and then you are going to die. So I just took off. When your body wants you to slow down, run faster. By mile 1.5 I started to catch up to the lead pack. There were four or five people way ahead and maybe twenty in a group trailing behind. As people hit the turn around and started coming back I counted them. When I got to the turn around I was in 23rd place, and they all except one looked a lot younger than me. There was one guy in a knitted hat I was worried about. He was in 15th place, about a minute ahead of me. I figured he had to go down.

I sped up after the turn around and started reeling people in. 23rd place, 22nd place, 21st place, 20th, place, 19th place, 18th place. There were two women right in front of me, and then then the guy in the knit cap. I crept up on the women trying to distract myself by looking over at the woods and trying to see squirrels nests or birds and trying to think of what street I was passing. Every time you distract yourself from the pain for a second or less it's a victory. I passed the two women with a third of a mile to go and then the awful just swept over me and I started barfing. I'd thrown up in the last 5k I ran and my nephew, who's a bona fide track star, admonished me for stepping to the side of the course to vomit. "Don't stop, throw up while you run," he said, "it discourages the competition" so I puked, vegemite toast and Irish Breakfast tea, and I ran, as fast as I could. With a hundred yards to go, the guy with the knit hat was about fifteen feet in front of me, but I was gaining slowly. I passed him in the last 10 feet, finishing in 15th place overall out of 240 people. My time was 22:12, with an average pace of 7:08 -- something like 33 seconds faster than my last best time.

Clickenzee to embiggen my victory!

I ran the same course 3 years ago, eight minutes slower. This morning smells like victory. Go me. I clobbered the guy I was three years ago because I got the freaking Eye of the Tiger back. And thanks to everybody who's been there to help me along the way.

I stayed to watch the end of the race. Everybody here won.
Clickenzee to embiggen!

*** EDIT *** After the results were published, I found out that 2 of the top 5 finishers were in my age group. I snatched third place in the last 3 seconds.

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This is not a fitness blog, but I just ran my fastest 13 miles ever (go me!) [Feb. 2nd, 2016|06:34 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |Billy Idol: Rebel Yell]

Ok, la, la, la, listening to people brag about how they did some SPORTS thing SPORTSIER than someone else it probably the least interesting thing you can read about on the Internet, but this is my diary so I'm writing it down.

About to start this madness. You may clickenzee to embiggen!

I learned about the F3 Half Marathon four years ago when I came out to watch Peter Sagal run it. It's in Chicago, on the lake, in January, and it was @#$@#ING FREEZING. In fact, the "F3" stands for "@#$#@CKING FREEZING FROZEN". It was so incredibly stupid to run this race, I thought, that I'd like to run this race. Back then I had just barely run a 5k and the thought of 13 miles was nuts. But anyway, I signed up for the next year AND I RAN IT! And it was freezing, 15 degrees with 20 mph winds howling in off the lake, and I ran (in a time of 2:09:22) and it was awesome and I signed up for the next one because it's insane to do anything like that. The next year I ran it 20 minutes faster (1:49:44) which was my fastest half marathon ever and I thought I was going to die at the end.

This year I was again ready to run hell bent for whatever -- I wanted to PR again. The weather had all the threats of being warm -- in the 30 degree range, and there was a blizzard raging at home, If I wanted to run in crappy conditions, I'd picked the wrong race. But if I wanted to set a new record, I probably picked a good one. I left Philadelphia at 5am, landed in Chicago at 7:00

Welcome to the party capitol of America I guess.
You may clickenzee to embiggen

I took a cab to meet silveringrid at her office and get keys to her apartment, then I needed to pick up my race bib about two and a half miles away. Checking the bike share app to see if there were any nearby bike rental kiosks I saw this:

Lots of bike rental places in Chicago.
You may clickenzee to embiggen!

Which brings me to a digression -- for as cold as it is, Chicago is something of a bike riding paradise when compared to Philly. We do have a new bike share, but Chicago has LOTS and, it's got protected bike lanes. But despite all the bike amenities, I walked from downtown to pick up my race number at the running store and then I had a couple of hours to kill before I was supposed to meet Peter Sagal at WBEZ to go for a short run. I was a little wary of this since he's a lot faster than me and I figured I should be saving my legs for the race, but I figured if I missed my goal by 30 seconds and I'd run with Peter the day before it would be all good in the end. In the intervening year I'd missed four opportunities to break my PR -- the closest I came was 15 second in the Rock & Roll half in Philly, where I was wearing a bathrobe and carrying a half gallon of milk, but every other effort, I'd missed by at least two minutes. I'd skipped a lot of training during the summer because it was freakishly hot and figured I was just paying for that. Anyway, after picking up my race number I decided to walk to WBEZ to meet Peter. I asked where it was and the clerk in the store told me it was "really far" and I'd need to take a train. Looking on my phone, it was only 4 miles. It seemed weird to tell someone who was about to run 13 miles that 4 miles was beyond walking distance. But I walked, met up with Peter and Eli Finkel a professor at Northwestern and, as Peter described him "probably the world's foremost expert on on-line dating." Eli and Peter were scheduled to do a run and hammer out a discussion they'd started a while back about whether or not running on a treadmill while watching TV (which Eli does) actually counts as running. (More specifically, Peter is of the belief that you're missing out on a lot that way. Eli was of the belief that he didn't care.)

I was hoping to run the race in 8:20's (meaning one mile, 8:20 minutes) and these guys started out way faster so it was pretty much all I could do to keep up. Consequently, I didn't talk much, but it was good practice for not just blurting things out. I had to REALLY think I had something worth saying. It was an interesting conversation.

Questions, interesting ones, I think formed along the lines of

* Is there a spiritual _thing_ that runners experience that makes it different from other exercise?
* Is there a proper way to be "a runner"?
* Is running outside a better way to experience "running" than inside?
* Do you have to like running to be "a runner"?
* Are you losing something of a spiritual experience if you're not paying attention to your running?
* Can one member of a club do all their runs indoors on a treadmill & meet up with everybody else for beers at the end and still be a proper member of that club or do you need to suffer through shared experiences to be a real member of a club?

Anyway. We ran two miles out and two miles back. On the way back, conversation drifted to on-line dating -- specifically things like how algorithms pair people up ("You and LonelyForU42 are a 63% match!") and how people don't actually know what they want when they fill out their dating profile.

We got back to WBEZ, I was a little worried by this point that walking 7 miles and running 4 faster than my race pace might doom me BUT, I've been having a lot of discussions about attitude & sports with the people in the West Philly Runners and I'd come to believe that thoughts like this are toxic and so I classified it in my head as a "shakeout run" -- which I'm not even sure what that means, but I've heard people say it. "This was my shakeout run before the race, it makes me stronger."

Me, Dr. Eli Finkel, & Peter Sagal, not being impressed.
You may clickenzee to embiggen

In any event, I took an Uber to Silveringrid's and hung out with her cats until she got back from work. I had my traditional dinner of mashed potatoes and went to bed early.

Clickenzee to emcuten!

The F3 Half Marathon used to start and end out in the middle of nowhere -- like in a frozen field -- but as the race has grown in size, the last two years it's begun & ended at Soldier Field, which is sort of nice because you're inside and warm right up until the race starts and then when you're done, you just go back inside. Part of me thinks this is cheating, because you're not suffering in a frozen field and, let's be honest, if you're not in this race to brag about suffering in a frozen field, why are you running it in the first place? But another part of me was happy to be warm.

At the start, it was about thirty degrees out, which is nothing as far as running long distances. I kept my jacket on until the end though and then handed it off to Silveringrid and ran in a long sleeve shirt and a short sleeve shirt over it.

A lot of running is distracting yourself and you're golden if you can find something to focus your attention on apart from how sucky it is to be running fast. I was gleefully able to distract myself in the beginning by trying to guess at what point I would be able to feel my fingers and then at what point I'd consider my hands "warm" and then at what, if any, point I'd actually start to feel hot. (By mile 3 I could feel my fingers and I was positively warm by mile 4. I pulled up my sleeves at mile 8.)

My plan was to run 8:20's the whole way and throw on a little burst of speed at the end with whatever I had left but in actual practice I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to convince myself to speed up. This is a problem with probably almost all runners -- they go out too fast thinking they can bank time. ("You cannot bank time" is one of the immortal rules of running.) But I felt so good at the beginning I figured I'd speed up a little to give myself a cushion to crash at the end. At some point I fell in behind a woman who was running perfect 8:05's, she had two people with her who looked to be pacers (people who run with you to keep your speed) -- they were all running in lock step and their speed never varied. "Wow," I thought, "here's someone doing all the work. I'll just stay with them." So I put my head down, concentrated on my playlist and kept their shoes in my sight. If their shoes moved ahead of me, I needed to speed up. At the turnaround at mile 6.5 or whatever I saw the strawberry, Joanne Singleton headed back. She was only about 45 seconds ahead of me. I wanted to text Silveringrid, who was following my race on Garmin Livetrack -- because last year the strawberry kicked my ass by a huge amount. As soon as I thought of it it dawned on me that the type of person who would text someone in the middle of a race is the type of person who's not busting their ass in the race, and the important thing was that I beat my time from last year. So I stuck my head back down and charged along. And at mile 8 I was still with my unofficial pace group and the thought crossed my mind that I actually felt pretty good. At some point in a race it starts to suck and you know it's going to happen. I was very happy that it hadn't started yet, it was just uncomfortable, and here I was, running 8:05's -- way faster than I'd planned.

The suck started at mile 10 and my mind & body had a significant battle over whether or not I needed to keep up. "You're way ahead, you can let them go and slow down, all you need to do to PR is run a 28 minute 5k, which you can do carrying a gallon of milk." Then the other voice goes, "If you stick with them, you can probably come in at 1:45 and totally obliterate your PR!"

This went on for a while and ultimately I slowed down, waved to my pacers who didn't know they were pacing me, and figured I'd try and stick to my original goal pace of 8:22. I did mile 10 in 8:13, mile 11 in 8:22 and then the wheels started to come off, I got tunnel vision, but as I came around a bend I could see Soldier Field in the distance and knew it was close. I threw in everything I had and managed the last mile in 8:29, but it wasn't fun.

I finish, victorious, but the look on my face tells the other story.
You may clickenzee to see my victory larger.

You start having this internal monologue somewhere along the lines where you're promising yourself all sorts of things when you finish. "Body! Don't stop and I will give you ice cream and beer and french fries! Body don't stop and there will be a hot tub at the end of this!" -- in any event, this time for the last two miles I was telling my body that it could lay down at the end. Someone handed me my medal, I took a bottle of water and laid down at the top of a hill where Silveringrid found me.

I finished in 1:47:56 -- knocking two minutes off of my PR which, in the running world, is smashing it.

You may clickenzee to watch my relief

I recovered in a few minutes and headed back to the finish line to pick up some food. Peter & I have had a debate or a discussion for a while now as to whether or not running clothes need pockets. I think they do. They need lots of pockets. They need pockets with zippers too. I mean, if you find $500 on the ground while you're running, where will you put it? Peter likes to be One with the running. Nothing more than a house key on his person, no phone, no music, just him and his suffering. Me, on the other hand I run with a phone, and headphones and my credit card and my drivers license and a handkerchief and bus tokens.... And also, at the end of the race, there are often an astounding number of food options -- not just bananas and bagels, which everybody expects, but all sorts of fitness bar sponsors and weird kinds of potato chips people are hoping you'll fall in love with, and if you're just trying to collect these things with your hands, you're going to get a banana and your water and then you're done. With pockets now ... well, you can sample the world.

To those with pockets go the spoils!
You may clickenzee to embiggen!

There was an after party, and there were badass looking shuttle busses (they looked like they were from Mad Max) taking people to the after party. I looked at the shuttle busses. Silveringrid looked at the shuttle busses. A runner stopped and said "Thanks for pacing me, I was staring at the back of your shirt for the last five miles." That was nice to hear. He got on the bus. Silveringrid & I decided to just go home. Getting on a shuttle bus seemed like a lot of work.

Wandering around Chicago looking for someone to show my medal to.
You may clikckenzee to embiggen!

We went out to a diner near her house. Then I took a bath that lasted about an hour and later that night we went out to a party a friend of hers was throwing. Molly Robison played.

The next day I met up with Peter who had been at Ord Camp, a sort of Ted Talk weekend style thing, and we went out to dinner. He introduced me to some really interesting people who'd been there. Schuyler Towne, who's very into locks, security and how people interact with locks and security, and another guy named Moshe Tamssot, who'd saved the museum of holography from going out of business.

Lock & security expert Schuyler Towne, Peter Sagal, thinking something, Moshe Tamssot, head of the Monks of Invention, and me.
You may clickenzee to Embiggen!

The blizzard blizzarded back home, but I got on a plane and made it out with no problems, back to the cats, back to the wife, all was good.

What's the most awful and wonderful thing you've done lately?

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Dream [Jan. 26th, 2016|07:17 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |sad I can't read this story]

I had what I recall was a pretty cool dream last night.

Like most of the dreams I remember, it was about a big building. I'd rented a house with trillian_stars and whafford. It was made with rustic wood and was nicely lit by the sunlight. There was a lot of old artwork on the walls and I was excited to be able to take it down and put up art that we had rolled up, awaiting wall space. I was trying to read this incredibly well written short story (on a kindle or some type of device) but I kept getting distracted (Lady Brack the cat was there, wanting attention). At some point I climbed a narrow, outdoor spiral staircase to a roof deck but for some reason couldn't read it there, it was also distracting and I couldn't concentrate on the words, but I knew it was a great story -- so I came down from the roof, slowly, on a fireman's pole, which was right next to the spiral staircase, because we have those in my dream houses..... When I got to the bottom I realized that I was asleep and I wouldn't be able to read and remember the story while I was asleep, so I needed to wake up and read it in waking-life. So I stared at the kindle screen and started chanting the name of the story, so I wouldn't forget -- because I knew it was going to be a dangerous trip to consciousness and I might forget if I wasn't very careful -- chanting the name of the short story ... chanting the name of the short story ... chanting the name of the short story and then when I knew I had it I willed myself to wakeup -- I felt this weird wobbling sensation, like I was bubbling from one world to another, popped my eyes open and was amazed at how tired I was, but I knew I didn't have much time before I forgot, so I turned on my phone and googled the name of the short story:

"For Gerta, the Grammerfit Cat".


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David G. Hartwell, July 10, 1941 - January 19, 2016. [Jan. 20th, 2016|08:31 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |reminiscent ]

I went to Worldcon in 2009 partly to sell a book I was working on, Where I Write: Fantasy & Science Fiction Writers in Their Creative Spaces and the timing couldn't have been better. My website had gone viral, getting more than two million hits a day, Wired Magazine had just written it up, I was at the center of everything Science Fiction.

I had a meeting scheduled with David Hartwell from Tor Books that night, at the gigantic Tor party and I was pretty confident.

The party itself was amazing. John Scalzi was there, Neil Gaiman was there, George R. R. Martin was there, the place was packed. David and I sat down on a sofa and he looked at every page of my book layout and poured over every one. He was very enthusiastic, telling stories about writers, looking over all the bookshelves. I think it probably took him half an hour to go over the whole thing. He was filled with praise. And I said, "Well, is this something you'd be interested in?" and he said "No."

The Tor Party. Click to see larger.

And I was kind of stunned. Why had he sat there saying all these glorious things for the past half hour? Why waste this block of time on me when he could be talking to George R. R. Martin or Charlie Stoss?

"For what it would cost to print this," he said, "we could publish five Jay Lake novels. The money's just not there to make this a viable book for us. It is beautiful. Thank you for showing me."

He gave me some leads and went back to the party. I realized that he'd known the whole time they weren't going to publish it, he'd known when he saw the Wired magazine article. And the reason that he'd agreed to a meeting was because he cared about Fantasy and Science fiction, he loved it, and he loved all the people I'd been photographing. He'd agreed to a meeting not because he was a bad editor, but because he was a good person.

I think most other editors would have told me on the phone they wouldn't publish it but David gave me 30 minutes of careful praise instead, because he thought it was something that deserved his kind words. Thank you David, for that.

David in Montreal for my "Fandom" collection.
Click to see larger.

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2015-2016 [Jan. 1st, 2016|01:22 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |slash: anastasia]

As you may know, ever since 1999 I've celebrated the new year with a two second long exposure that documents what I was doing in the last second of one year and the first second of the next. I have met these with varying degrees of enthusiasm. (You can find them by going back to the Jan 1 entries for my blog posts and then back to the Photo A Week archive starting in 2000).

Anyway, this year trillian_stars and I had to do a photo shoot for a Top Sekrit play that she's going to be in -- so I figured our 2 second photo could be during that and it would be a little ambitious trying to make them all work together, but Trillian didn't want to wear her costume all night (it's this frumpy nightgown) so we shot it at around 10:00 and then I worked on photoshopping the poster and I stopped upstairs about 3 minutes to midnight and Trillian hadn't changed.

"I thought you wanted to wear something festive," I said.

"I did," she said, "I'm too lazy."

"I just want to go to sleep," I said.

"Welcome to dullsville, population us," she replied.

At 11 seconds to midnight I hit the self timer and laid down on the sofa. At midnight the neighbors screamed and shot off bottle rockets.

We went to sleep.

This is our exciting world.

Clickenzee to remember the last second of 2015!

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#outlander #knitting #procrastination [Dec. 30th, 2015|01:30 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |some horrible cover of iron maiden]

Six months or a year or something ago, Joan of Dark (who wrote the book Geek Knits that I photographed) asked me to photograph this cowl inspired by Outlander were all the men are buff and all the things are knitted. We finally got around to it today.

Anybody watching the show? Anybody knitting stuff from it? Let's see what you got!

Clickenzee to embiggen!

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Race recap: Homeless for the Holidays [Dec. 29th, 2015|10:38 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |motorhead: choking on your screams]

My friend Jackie found this small 5k last year and asked me to run it with her. She'd moved to California and it was the only thing happening when she was back in town. It was a really nice race on a very flat course and I didn't run it hard, because I was planning on running home from there, and I thought it was 10 miles home (it's more like 6). So last year I came in 13th out of 168, with at time of 23:58. This time I planned to run my brains out and try and set a PR. To do that I'd need to run 7:18 minute miles.

I forgot to mention that I was really sick -- I had a fever of 100.1° and a sore throat so bad I was pretty much unable to speak. My neck felt like it had been inflated with snot, like an inner tube some insane gas station attendant had been flailing on with a bicycle pump all night. However, my plan was that as I approached insane speeds on the road, my brain would continue to heat up and begin delivering delightful hallucinations to me -- I would race along side puffy pink elephants along glittering green roads and everything would look a bit like the yellow submarine and I would feel no pain.

My friend Jackie had abandoned me but I ran into Philadelphia actors Lindsay Smiling & Krista Apple-Hodge. It's nice not being alone at a race. It's also nice to know runners outside of the running circle.

Bring on the Blue Meanies.

I got up close to the start, the gun went off and I shot out like a living arrow. A lead pack broke out of about 5 people and behind them were about five stragglers, stretched out pretty evenly, this was my group. One by one I would consume them all in the final mile. (This was the plan.)

People don't tend to think of 5k's as endurance races, but they are. If you're running it to win (there's no way I was winning the race, but I figured winning my age group was possible) it's extremely uncomfortable from pretty much the moment you start and it's a constant battle of your mind telling your body to just shut up and take the pain. And your body is doing pretty much everything it can to convince your mind that it doesn't want to do this anymore.

There's this South African scientist named Tim Noakes who's done research to suggest that a central governor exists in the brain to keep you from, basically running yourself to death. This governor's job is to keep a needed reserve for emergencies, which could be one reason that fatigue is related to the distance from the finish more than the amount of energy expended.

So, you're continually listen to this voice in your head screaming STOP RUNNING YOU ARE IN PAIN. STOP RUNNING THIS BLOWS. STOP RUNNING YOU WILL NEED THIS ENERGY LATER IF WE ARE ATTACKED BY A SABRE TOOTHED TIGER. And you can't not listen to it because it's in your brain. But, if I understand Nokes correctly, you can sort of appease the central governor by showing it that you can perform a certain task and not die. So, the theory goes, if you want to run a 5k really fast, run a 5k really fast and at the end, your central governor is like "oh, we can do this and not die. Next time I'll let a little more performance out before I throw on the agony." I had decided that today I was going to kick my central governor in the face and run like a monster until I dropped.

Something like that. So anyway, I'm running, and it sucks, and I've latched on to a couple of people who don't know it but THEY ARE RACING ME which is kind of how I do it. And somewhere during mile 2 I start to feel like I'm going to throw up.

Spoiler: I did finish.

This is not unusual. There are tons of reasons your body wants to toss it's cookies when you're running hard and typically you see how far you are from the finish line and set your effort from there. You don't want to barf before the finish line, because that screws up your time, you want to throw up right over the finish line, or, possibly right on it for a spectacular finishers photo.

Anyway. I was doing really well, My time for the first mile had been 7:14, well on my way to setting a new personal record, and I was still going fast. I backed off a little bit to let the nausea subside. My body wanted a 10% reduction in effort, I bargained for a 5. But, oh well, there's one of those bets you loose ... I felt breakfast on the way up. Nothing I could do. I jumped off the side of the track and heaved my guts up (mostly snot and tea), some people passed me while I was barfing, one of them was actor Lindsay Smiling who clapped his hands together & shouts encouragement (in my mind he shouted "you are a warrior!" but I had headphones on and was a bit loopy from the fever so who knows). If I have to barf epically, I'm glad it was at least witnessed by someone I knew. With the energy of a 10 year old on Xmas morning and a vow to pass everyone who snuck past me. I leapt back on the course and lit out at a sprint. I got about 200 feet ... off to the side ... up comes more ... more people pass me. I shake my fist at them (metaphorically) then I jump back in and start sprinting again ... and gaaah! here it comes a third time. After this, there seems to be nothing left in there. So I set off again, but not at a sprint. My second mile, with all the puking, averaged out to a rather disappointing 8:17. I managed to pull it together in the last mile to some extent, but I'm unable pass what looks like a 7 year old who's 100 yards ahead of me the whole last third of a mile. When I see the finish line in the distance I just stop trying and limp my way in to a 21st place finish in a time of 24:31 -- a whole minute and a half slower than my PR. Lindsay kicks my ass.

Click here and you can see right were I barfed.

I poured some water over my head, ate a banana and saw our friend Krista at the end. We talked about Hedda Gabler for a while and theater in Philly and I walked her back to the road (she was riding her bike home.) I considered jumping on the train, but realized I should watch them give out the awards to the fast people because there should be an audience for things like that. So I started walking back toward the finish when this guy came around the corner, running with great effort, on his last leg of the race. "Don't give up!" he said in between breaths, "you're close to the finish! Come on, I'll run you in, just don't stop." -- So I started running with him, to the finish line again. We could see the clock in the distance. "Let's get there before 47 minutes," he said, "we can do it," and he put his head down and screwed his courage to the sticking place. And we ran and watched the clock. And I crossed the finish line again and the guy I ran with hi-5'd me and I realized that this was pretty much the exact time of my first 5k three or so years ago, one that had nearly killed me and left me unable to walk for days. That in the intervening years I'd pushed so hard and shouted so hard that my central governor had changed the amount of energy I was allowed to expend, and I'd built my muscles up and lost so much weight. And now I could vomit during a race, limp to the finish, think I was a failure, and still beat the ghost of my best self from just such a short time ago.

So despite losing, I went home a winner.

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Best Christmas Movies [Dec. 24th, 2015|06:34 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

It's that time of year again. Here are the movies that Roswell and I like to watch around Xmas. Do you have ones that I missed?

Die Hard

Lethal Weapon

Rare Exports

Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe

Trading Places

The Ice Harvest

Nightmare before Christmas

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Hedda Gabler, FINIS! [Dec. 23rd, 2015|05:55 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |counting crows: round here]

It's all over but the hard work.

Hedda Gabler closed to sold out shows and standing ovations -- by any measure it was a smash. Then we shot film for three days, took a week to review footage, and had a pickup day of things we missed. Then Lovborg shaved his beard off, which is the ultimate finality, there's no going back now.

Take your last bow, Hedda Gabler. Sad to see this part end.
You may clickenzee to embiggen!

I'd like to thank everybody who backed the kickstarter, and our special guests, like NPR's Peter Sagal who hosted our cast party and made a special, secret, appearance in the Tesman's picture album, photoshopped onto the body of U.S. Grant.

Peter Sagal as General Gabler! Clickenzee to Embiggen!

Peter was awesome. He came all the way out to Philadelphia from Chicago just to do this, because he believes in theater.

Hedda Gabler cast party! Can you spot the NPR star without using your ears?
You may clickenzee to embiggen!

Also many thanks to Joel Hodgson from Mystery Science Theater 3000 who came to film a special feature for the DVD and offered some really wonderful insight about what makes a movie good, or what makes a movie bad. (One of his big keys is "consistency" -- you can make a movie that's got low production values, as long as they stay the same -- Tom Baker's Doctor Who was his example.) Hopefully I'll be able to incorporate them into Hedda Gabler.

Kyle & Joel photographed by Kevin Hollenbeck.
You may clickenzee to Embiggen!

Here's a sneak peak at the footage we got during filming.

The last time Hedda met Lovborg, she tried to shoot him.
You may clickenzee to Embiggen

It's going to be a beautiful thing.

Thank you again everyone. Thank you to an incredible cast, the wonderful crew, Josh, who brought the characters to life through these actors. And everybody who came to see it.

We edit between now and June.

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Peter Sagal is hosting the Hedda Gabler cast party and you can come [Dec. 6th, 2015|05:21 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |slash: anastasia]

Do you want to watch a play with me & Peter Sagal & then hang out after?

Peter Sagal is, of course, the funny guy from NPR's Wait Wait ... Don't tell me! and he's also a gigantic theater nerd -- an accomplished actor, director & playwright (who was in a Michael Jackson video, among other things). This Friday, December 11, 2015 he's coming all the way to Philly from Chicago to host the (almost) opening night cast party and you can get tickets. All this money is divided between the actors and to the Physick house, who are loaning us the space. $100 gets you a ticket to the show, and the cast party after with free food and booze and, of course, discussing important theater with Peter Sagal and the cast and crew of the play. Rumor has it that Amy Dickinson aka advice columnist and Wait Wait personality will also be there, so you can help her sort out the behavior of Hedda Gabler, her husband George Tesman and bad-boy Elirt Loveborg.

IF you can't afford tickets to the cast party, all the other performances of the show are $25 and if you can't afford $25, we have some free tickets that were prepaid by Kickstarter backers who couldn't come but wanted someone to go in their place.

In this video Peter Sagal explains what you need to know about Hedda Gabler, why it's a much more important and interesting play than you thought, and why he's coming to party with us this Friday. Please share.

It's Peter Freaking Sagal people, and one of the most badass woman in the history of theater! Come hang out with us!

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Lost Angels: I Ran Here [Dec. 1st, 2015|11:49 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |slash: anastasia]

I ran up some amazing hills is Lost Angeles today. I'm here doing a Top Sekrit Projekt. Some of my friends in the West Philly Runners are always going on about how great trail running is, and I never wanted to do the hills. It didn't sound like fun to me. But it was. There's something about the wilderness (so much as it is) that gave me an amazing amount of energy, after a while I didn't feel the hills, I just felt the excitement. Give me a month living here and I'll blast out my next race.

Above the Hollywood Hills is nothing but the International
Space Station and Ming the Mercilious. You may Clickenzee to Embiggen.

I ran here. You may Clickenzee to Embiggen

At the top of the world. Every movie star you know is somewhere
in the background of this photo. You may Clickenzee to Embiggen!

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Roller Derby World Championship Mysteries [Dec. 1st, 2015|10:38 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |slash: anastasia]

During the Roller Derby world championships, ESPN had a mysterious woman in a RED HAT (never the same hat twice) who would, during commercials, stand on the side of the track so that the officials knew not to restart play. When the commercials were over, she'd walk away.

This is a job that you can have.

Clickenzee to Solve the Mystery!

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Goodbye Emily the Spider [Nov. 15th, 2015|04:58 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |hopefulhopeful]
[music |tom petty: free falling]

It's been a month since I've seen Emily the Spider.

She's likely either dead or hibernating.

(photos behind a cut for the arachnophobic.)

The last photo I took of her was on October 6, 2015. She was just sitting in her web doing nothing. I saw her a few more times after that but sometime within the next week she vanished. She'd done that before and I wasn't terribly concerned, although I was worried enough that I put a box under her web so that if she died & fell out I'd be able to find her (nothing) and I've sifted through the dust on the porch but haven't found anything -- though she's tiny and would be easy to miss. It's possible she's gone into hibernation, in which case I'll find her again next year.

I first noticed Emily in May of 2015 while sitting on the back porch reading -- I'd notice her every day and started to wonder what her life was like, I got worried about how she'd weather a rainstorm one night and spent the next three hours watching her. The first photograph I took of her was on the 24th of May and after that I started watching her daily and she became a not insignificant part of my life, and in the lives of people on the Internet. She was, I discovered, a feather legged orb weaver, from the uloborid family. She was without venom -- but not without charm. Her feet were rainbows, but only if you cared to look, very, very closely.

Early this year someone weeded the sidewalk in front of my dad's place and they tore up a piece of crabgrass and threw it into the street. My father thought this was sad so he rescued it and planted it in a gigantic planter on his porch. He'd send me photos of it every couple of days: "My crabgrass is thriving!" he'd say. And it did. It bothered him that someone would carelessly, though intentionally, kill something for no reason. He really enjoyed watching that clump of crabgrass grow and somewhere during the summer I realized that was something I'd learned from him -- that you don't necessarily need to go someplace else to find something grand that you care about, you just need to care about something, and it can be something very small, and very close. There's something worth caring about wherever you are, if you just invite it into your life. He sent me photos minutes apart from before and after watering his crabgrass and you can actually see it change. (The last time he sent me a photo, his crab grass was at least two feet tall.)

Emily the spider laid eggs several times during the summer and all but once they were killed by parasitic chalcid wasps -- the wasps lay eggs inside the spider egg sack and the wasp larve eat the young spiders before they're born. It was crushing to watch, again and again, wasps hatch out of her egg sacks. Towards the end of the summer I started intervening and bringing her eggs inside and protecting them. Eventually four spiderlings hatched, only one of which survived to young-adulthood. I named him Chumley. I haven't seen Chumley since the end of October. The last time I photographed him was October 24th. By that time I hadn't seen Emily in a few days and Chumley was hunting in her web -- his web, normally very meticulous, had started to fall apart. As male uloborid spiders reach sexual maturity, they lose the ability to spin webs, so this might have been a reason for that.

I'd been worrying about this day for a while and had asked some spider experts if I should bring Emily in for the winter and they decided that her chances were best if I left her outside to deal with winter the way that spiders do. What happened/happens depends on how old she is. Uloborid's hibernate once -- if she was born this year she'll over-winter, but if she was born last year, she's probably gone forever. Chumley though, he's most likely holed up somewhere in a crack.

Emily's web is still there, and all of her empty egg sacks -- and it's a bit sad to look at them, though if I hadn't invested the time, it would just be something I'd sweep up in passing, but there are hours and days of my life in those tiny little things now.

And hope for next year. I'll be out looking, and hoping.

Emily the spider, in my life May 24, 2015 - October 6, 2015.

Emily the Spider book info coming soon.

[The last photos of Emily & Chumley behind this cut]

Last photo of Emily. Clickenzee to embiggen.

The last photo of Chumley. Clickenzee to embiggen.


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i remember when i was that guy. [Nov. 9th, 2015|07:40 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

So, we've got a house full of college students whose balcony is right by our bedroom window. Like many college students, they're completely nocturnal so they're often out there at 3 or 4 in the morning, smoking, drinking, singing, and throwing up and during the fall we usually have the window open so it's like they're practically in our room, smoking -- because they're actually only three feet away, but they think they're completely alone in the world.

We only know them by their voices, but we've named them there's Puker, the Philosopher and Daisy. Twice during the fall Puker has gotten really sick over the balcony in long, extended vomiting sessions, once with the Philosopher sitting with him and nonstop wondering if people on other stars were looking at them.

Anyway, last week at 3:30 in the morning I'm jolted awake by Puker screaming: "MY HEAD! MY HEAD! MY F@#$ING HEAD!" and then this horrible cry like he'd been stabbed. I shot bolt upright in bed.

"What! What's wrong!" says the Philosopher.
"My head!" screams Puker, "My head! I saw the future!"
"I'm psychic! I've been psychic ever since I was a little kid!" Clouds of cigarette smoke drift into the bedroom.
"Oh my God!" says the Philosopher.
"Sometimes I see the future! And it hurts! It hurts so bad! Aaaaagh! Aaaaagh! I'm seeing the future!" (they're both really drunk.)
"Oh my God!" says the Philosopher again.
"Aaaaaaaagh!" wails Puker as another vision of tomorrow tears through his skull, "I KNOW HOW YOU'RE GOING TO DIE!"

At this point I've whipped out my phone and I'm trying to record this gem but I'm so sleep starved I can't figure out how to make the recorder work.

Instead of asking how he dies the Philosopher says "Do you ever wonder about people who are suffering? Like, we're very comfortable, we have a house and sh!t and there are some people who don't have a place to sleep."

"I can't unsee the future!" Puker wails, "It's a curse!" obviously he wants to talk about his magic powers but he can't hook the Philosopher. He flings his cigarette in an arc into the back yard and goes back inside. The Philosopher drops a beer can after it and follows him back in.

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Trillian got the Gin Blossoms to Play My Birthday Party [Nov. 2nd, 2015|07:57 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

Trillian Stars got one of my favorite bands to play my birthday party.
How awesome is that? Clickenzee to experience the Hey Jealousy!

I ran a Rock n' Roll Half Marathon 2 years ago and found it ridiculously expensive and then Competitor Group which owns RnR announced they's no longer be paying Elite Runners (pro's) to run in the races which sort of turned the whole thing into a giant fun run instead of, you know, trailing along behind professional athletes and helping the actual Sport of Racing (running is perhaps unique in that everybody who wants to gets a chance to compete with the absolute best in the field -- because they're gone by the time you get there, it doesn't present a problem to have 10,000 people on the same course with you -- this wouldn't work in golf or football.) After that I thought "OK, I'm done with these guys." And then somehow last year, Competitor re-invited elites, the price of the race dropped through the floor and the the Half Marathon was scheduled on my birthday -- halloween. I figured with all this I had to sign up.

I grew my beard for two months so I could dress as a credible Jeff Lebowski and run 13 miles in a bathrobe carrying a quart of White Russians.

Clickenzee to Emduden!

There were a lot of costumes. For a while I ran along with a telle-tubby (he was yellow) here's a self portrait. You can see antenna. There was a Pappa Smurf, and a gingerbread man.

Clickenzee to Embiggen!

My Personal Record for a half marathon was 1 hour, 49 minutes and some change sent last January in Chicago. I'd gotten faster after that, and ran the Broad Street Run (which is only 10 miles) very well, but a long hot summer caused me to skip a lot of my long runs and I'd fallen out of shape, 8 minute miles were no longer as easy as they'd been last April. But I knew that I'd also ran my record-setting race badly, and that if I'd been more careful I could have gone faster. So I figured I had a chance at breaking my PR but it was all going to be psychological. I'd have to power through the pain and speed up when I wanted to slow down. As they say in the West Philly Runners, I'd need to find "beast mode" -- even in a bathrobe.

The first four miles go through the city and they were fun -- the difficult thing here is not going out too fast and burning up all your energy because, hey, fast is easy in the first few miles; It's later that someone hands you a piano.

I was in a pretty speedy corral, #5 out of 30 or so (corrals are groups of like-speeded runners they put together to avoid traffic jams -- theoretically you're always running with the same group of people who are your speed, in practice it doesn't work like this because people are bad at figuring out what corral they belong in) but in the first mile I passed a lot of people who had already started walking, either because they sprinted out way too fast or because they injured something or because they put themselves in the wrong place.

After mile 4 the course goes out onto the Schuylkill River Trail -- an 8.5 mile loop that's familiar territory to any runner from Philly. I felt a bit of a home-court advantage because I knew how far away everything was. Miles 5-10 are sort of grinding and maintaining, you settle in and it's maybe not so fun, but it's not bad. By mile 10 it had completely ceased to be fun and summoning Beast Mode was sort of like kicking a hornets nest. I'd fallen 20 feet behind the person I'd decided I was "racing". But I kept surging, looking at my watch and trying to remind myself that setting a PR on my birthday would be awesome. I was on track for this but falling apart fast. At three miles from the end though you think "ok, it's only three miles" and you start trying to do math in your head but it's useless because your head's not working so you push on. Trillian was on the course at mile 12.8, with only a few hundred yards to go and I pushed with all I had left finishing in 1:50:10 -- missing a PR by 30 seconds or so and a sub 1:50 time by ... well, 11 seconds. Someone put a medal around my neck and gave me a bottle of water. I realized that I hadn't given my all -- that those 30 seconds were out there on the course somewhere, I was just too afraid to summon the Beast that I needed because of what that beast demands in return. They call it an endurance sport for a reason -- it's all about dealing with discomfort when comfort is right ... there ... all you have to do is stop ... and ... walk ... and all the pain goes away. That's difficult and I'd slowed when I knew I should have goed.

BUT. I ran a race in my bathrobe, my wonderful wife was at the finish line, and one of my favorite bands was playing my birthday party. So I stuffed the pockets of my bathrobe with bananas, powerbars, granola, pickle flavored cashew nuts (they were actually great), channeled my inner Dude, and immediately my lost PR drifted from my mind like a tumbleweed.

Post Race. Clickenzee to Embiggen!

Better beast next time, Dude.

Clickenzee to Embiggen the medal!

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Get one of the custom vests from Hedda Gabler! [Oct. 28th, 2015|11:42 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |motorhead: choking on your screams]

When the play's over and the movie's wrapped, you can own one of the vests worn by George, Judge Brack, or Loveborg. They're available for a $75 backer reward which includes a digital download of the movie.

Get them here.

Do you know someone who'd look great in one of these? Be the best dressed person at the ball and be able to say "oh yes, it's a screen used costume."

Clickenzee to get one of these vests!

(See the photo larger by clicking here.)

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(no subject) [Oct. 27th, 2015|05:21 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |motorhead: choking on your screams]

I'm a bit giddy that when Princeton University Press was looking for a collection of posters about Hamlet they chose three by a place called the Royal Shakespeare Company and three by ... me. Two of which feature trillian_stars. Get the book here, nerd.

Clickenzee to Embiggen the state of Denmark!

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Hedda Gabler Stretch Goal! [Oct. 25th, 2015|05:56 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |motorhead]

We've hit our base goal on Hedda Gabler, which means all the actors get paid. I'd like them to get paid more and I'd like to be able to rent additional equipment for filming the movie -- so I'm going to bribe you with a stretch goal.

I'm completely overjoyed that after Top Sekrit negotiations War for the Oaks novelist Emma Bull has agreed to write a short fantasy / science fiction story based on Hedda Gabler which we'll let loose into the world for free IF we can get to $8,300 by TUESDAY, October 27, 2015. (Click here to go to the Kickstarter copies of the movie, tickets to the play, costumes, props, and a way to get your vacation photos onto the set of the play are all backer rewards.)

Click to visit the Kickstarter page

Emma's groundbreaking Urban Fantasy "War for the Oaks" tells the story of a young woman trapped in a supernatural faerie conflict between good and evil. I'd love to see how she'd bridge 1890's and 2015's Philadelphia.

Territory is her most recent novel.

The last time Emma Bull & I worked together The Strange Case of the Dead Bird on the Nightstand is the beautiful thing that came out of it.

I'd love to be able to do a short film of Emma's story featuring actors from the cast and add it in the special features. Can you help make this happen?

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Chumley the spider and his fly. [Oct. 24th, 2015|05:35 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

A big fly landed in Emily's web today and she was like "holy smokes, freaking Godzilla hit my web" and she took off. About 20 minutes later I came back and her son, Chumley, was wrapping the fly up, despite the fact that it was caught in Emily's web.

Male uloborid spiders lose their ability to make webs at some point -- not sure how long it is. Chumley's web is nearer to the outside and it's taken a hammering lately and he hasn't been fixing it. For a while his webs were immaculate. Not sure what any of this means.

You can clearly tell Chumley from Emily because of his gigantic pedipalps -- the small demi-legs it the front of his face that look like boxing gloves. Chumley's legs also have brighter rainbows.

It's getting a little chilly outside and the fly count is down, but the spider's seem to be doing ok so far.

Photo of Chumley, his pedipalps and his fly behind this spoiler cut.

Any spider news in your world?

[Spoiler (click to open)]


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NPR's Peter Sagal will host a Hedda Gabler Cast Party [Oct. 22nd, 2015|10:29 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

Seriously. Peter Freaking Sagal will be hosting an after party for the cast & crew of Hedda Gabler and the 25 people in the audience on Friday December 11th, 2015. (OMG GET ME TICKETS NOW!.) Apart from being the chief chief fart-joke teller at NPR's Wait .. Wait Don't Tell Me! Peter is an accomplished actor, director, playwright and screen writer. While he loves many things, including dogs and motorcycles, it's probably safe to say that his first love is the theater. We're over the moon to have him come out to Philly to host this party. Tickets are $100 and for that you get a ticket to the show, the after party, and a digital download of the film which will include a video of Peter discussing the importance of Hedda Gabler in the special features.

Clickenzee to go to the Kickstarter & reserve a ticket

However cool and interesting you think Peter Sagal is, he's cooler and more interesting than that. Come see a play, talk theater, support indie filmmaking and find out.

Link to the Kickstarter for tickets here.

If you've already backed the Kickstarter at another level, you can change to this one. Once the tickets are sold out, no amount of banging on the door will get you in.

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Emily and Chumley -- guarding the house, like mother like son. [Oct. 16th, 2015|04:34 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |Gene Loves Jezebel: Gorgeous ]

As the weather gets chillier outside there are fewer insects on the back porch and the flies seem to have moved into the house. Emily and her son, Chumley, have kind of a prime spot between the inside and the outside and in order to get in, flies have to go past them.

I was standing out on the porch watching them yesterday evening when a giant housefly hit Emily's web. She ran to the opposite corner of the web, which seems to be a change in behavior for her -- she'd always run straight toward Huge Dangerous Animals caught in her web, I don't know if it's the season, or if it's something she sense in the web strands. But she sat there for a while while the fly twitched and eventually she ran over, wrapped it up in silk and chowed down on it. One fly that won't get in the house. While she was still eating Chumley caught something I didn't see. It was nice to see them both doing well, even while I worry about what's going to happen when it gets really cold out.

I like that they're guarding us. These flies are a serious nuisance.

Photos of Emily & Chumley behind this cut for the spider afraid.

[Spoiler (click to open)]

Emily catches a fly! You may clickenzee to embiggen!

Chumley catches something! Clickenzee to Embiggen!

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Meet Chumley the Spider! [Oct. 14th, 2015|05:45 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

Yesterday Emily's baby was two months old and look how he's grown! He's had his web in essentially the same place since he moved out of the vegemite jar, about two feet away from Emily's. Male uloborid's stop making webs after they become sexually mature and spend the rest of their lives wandering around looking for women. With the help of the Interwebs, I've decided his name is Chumley.

His webs are much more evenly constructed than Emilys, whose creations often look like rats nests and he's already started making his own stabilimentia, the web decorations nobody completely understands. Chumley's not as friendly as Emily, or maybe his eyesight is better -- if I come up to his web too quickly he'll run away.

It's getting chilly outside and there aren't as many insects as there were a few weeks ago. As it gets colder in the coming weeks, Chumley is going to find a spot to over-winter -- at the moment I know nothing about uloborid hibernation -- not sure if he's just going to curl up in a crevice or if he's going to build some sort of silk spider house. We shall see.

Telling the sex of a spider can be a tricky thing if you only have one spider. The Pedipalps, the little feet, in the front that many people mistake for fangs, are the giveaway. In this case Chumley's pedipalps look like a set of boxing gloves, Emily's are much smaller.

Adorable baby photos behind this lj spoiler cut for the arachnophobic.

[Spoiler (click to open)]

Chumley! You may clickenzee to embiggen!

Clickenzee to Embiggen!

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I'm hosting the Kickstarter Film Festival this Thursday October 15, 2015 at the Roxy in Philly [Oct. 12th, 2015|06:02 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

Top Sekrit No Longer!

In Ye Olden Days a filmmaker would go to a Hollywood studio and say "I need a zillion dollars to make a movie" and the studio would make them do all sorts of terrible things in order to get the money. Today, filmmakers can ask a broad group of people for a small amount of money and not have to compromise their vision.

Kickstarter, the place where all this is happening, have asked me to be the host of the Philadelphia Kickstarter Film Festival. This is at 7:00pm at the Roxy, I'll be introducing Afronauts (13 minutes):

and the vampire film What We Do in the Shadows (85 minutes):

Crazily enough, the event is already completely sold out but, you know, you can pregame your celebration for next years festival by backing Hedda Gabler.

Let me know if you have tickets to the festival and want to hang out.

Thanks to everyone who's helped make something happen with Kickstarter.

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The importance of Hedda Gabler [Oct. 9th, 2015|06:25 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

George Tesman's smoking jacket has been claimed as a backer reward, so has naming General Gabler, but there still a lot of rewards, like copies of the film and tickets and we're only 1/3 of the way to being able to make this happen at all.

Here's trillian_stars and director Josh Hitchens talking about why this is an important play.

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Hedda Gabler backer rewards [Oct. 7th, 2015|07:31 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

One of the omissions in our movie of "A Doll's House" was that the costumes weren't entirely period. When we set out to do Hedda Gabler we had much more time to plan and wanted everything to be perfect. We contracted designers to create custom costumes which are also Kickstarter backer rewards.

One of these is George Tesman's smoking jacket. It's dark blue with working pockets, velour trim and frog closures, size 44 regular. It was custom made for the production by petitbout. When the movie wraps filming, this can be yours to lounge around stylishly in.

Questions? Comments? Requests? Praise? Sound off!

Click here to go to check out this and the rest of the backer rewards.

Click to get this jacket
(or any number of other cool things).

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Top Sekrit no longer! We're making a movie! (and a play!) [Oct. 6th, 2015|07:12 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

Clickenzee to visit the Kickstarter!

We're making a movie (and a play) and we need your help. Two years ago I used Kickstarter to make a movie of Henrik Ibsen's masterpiece A Doll's House and a lot of you helped make that happen. I came into Doll's House late, in the last week of an actual run of the play directed by Josh Hitchens at the Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion museum and cobbled together a movie shoot to keep a beautiful thing from disappearing. This year I want to continue that and bring Ibsen's Hedda Gabler to your screen. This time I've been a part of it from the start -- there are separate film and theatrical scripts, twice as many shooting days, a top notch cast, custom costumes, a soundtrack written especially for the production, upgraded equipment and lighting and I really think that I can make the best movie of Hedda Gabler that exists.

Here's a short video showing off some of what we have to work with this time.

Click to play the trailer

Kickstarter backer rewards include tickets to the performances in Philadelphia and digital downloads of the finished film as well as original custom costumes made specifically for the production -- 19th century mens cravats, Hedda's beautiful black mourning dress and lots more.

If you can't make it to the play, you can also buy a ticket and leave it at the door for someone who can't afford one.

Please have a look at the Kickstarter here. If you can't back the project, I'd love a shoutout, a share with your theatrical friends and some love on the Internet.

There are comparatively few great roles for women in theater, Hedda Gabler is one of those and it's one that not many people know about. I'd love the opportunity to bring it to a larger audience.


If the Kickstarter makes it to $2,000 today, I'll post a photo of Roswell dressed as George Tesman.

(If there are backer rewards you'd like to see, or questions you have about this production, shout it out in the comments. Thanks.)

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Kyle's Essential VAMPIRE MOVIE LIST [Oct. 4th, 2015|08:40 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |the gin blossoms something about chocolate]

I never eat, cat fud! Clickenzee to Embiggen Count Roswell!

Did you know that trillian_stars is playing Dr. Van Helsing in this month's production of Dracula at Hedgerow Theatre?

While they're in rehearsals, Trillian has been watching non-stop monster movies as research. I wanted to share my favorite vampire moves and ask you what ones I'm missing. Here's my list:

1994's mostly unknown story of Dracula's daughter living in New York city. Shot partly in pixelvision with music by portished. It's moody and at times funny. It stars Peter Fonda as Van Helsing, an actress named Galaxy Craze who has the best name ever, as Lucy, and the dude who played Lane in Madmen gives an awesome performance as Dracula's morose long haired son.

He's half vampire, he hunts vampires. With a sword. Duh.

Only Lover's Left Alive
2014, Tom Hiddelton and Tilda Swinton as stylish vampires with hundreds of years of history and memories who are somehow obsessed with classic guitars and motown music, but it looks beautiful and you should watch it.

The Hunger
You know this one. It's got David Bowie and Bauhaus in it. It's about as vampire as you get.

The Lost Boys
This was really the vampire movie of my formative years. It's not just about vampires, it's about being young and at the beach in the summer. This movie gave me a powerful yearning to have that summer that always really eluded me. Plus, Kiefer Sutherland and Jami Gertz, sweet barking cheese.


Possibly the best looking vampire movie, Ok, a lot of them are beautiful, but Byzantium has beautiful sets, scenery and cinematography. To women vampires making their way over hundreds of years, currently down on their luck but tired and looking for someone to trust.

Let the Right One In
You've probably seen this or the American remake. Beautiful film.

John Carpenter's Vampires
James Woods hunts vampires with a crossbow in the desert. Plus JOHN FREAKING CARPENTER.

30 Days of Night
From the graphic novel. Vampires finally figure out that they can party for a month in Barrow Alaska without the sun coming up. Great action film from Sam Rami.

Curse of the Undead
I was never a huge fan of the Hammer Dracula movies -- the sets and lighting always bothered me. Curse of the Undead I saw once on Dr. Shock probably when I was 7 or 8 at my grandparents house in New Jersey and scenes from it have stuck with me ever since. It's a western with cowboys and horses and gunfights, except one guy who gets shot all the time never goes down. And we never see him in the day. Couldn't find a trailer, but (as of right now) the whole movie is on Youtube. It's only about 65 minutes long.

What am I missing??? What are your favorites? What disappointed you?

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A long overdue entry about Emily the Spider [Oct. 3rd, 2015|07:53 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |proud grandfather]
[music |sisters of mercy: emily]

I realize that I've left everyone with a cliffhanger about Emily the Spider. When last we checked, Emily's egg sac, which I'd taken from her web like a thief after parasitic chalcid wasps had killed all of her other babies, and kept in a jar in my room, had hatched four babies. Four. I'd really no idea how many spider babies came out of an uloborid egg sac, but now we know, not many. These kids took up residence in a Vegemite jar that I'd set up a baffle of sticks inside for their web building. (You can see them here.) They were adorable glass-like creatures, translucent and soooo small maybe 1/4 the size of a pinhead. I put a banana in front of their cave and over the next two weeks that banana was turned into its exact weight in fruit flies which turned into a food cloud for the bubs.

Emily's babies got bigger -- and how could they not? The fruit flies they were eating were four times their own bodyweight. Eventually they moved out of the Vegemite cave and found their places in the world (very close to the Vegemite cave).

Photo behind this spoiler cut for the arachnophobic.

[Spoiler (click to open)]

This is actually Emily's baby BIGGER.
But still almost impossible to see with the naked eye.

Over the next few weeks three of the babies slowly vanished -- I don't know what became of them. I can't imagine something found and ate them, though it's possible. I like to think they wandered off, but I can't figure how they could have gone so far that I couldn't find them.

Right now she has one baby who's moved up very close to Emily's web, about a foot away, and taken up space of his/her own. It's about 1/4 the size of Emily. And ... it needs a name.

Photo behind this spoiler cut for the arachnophobic.
[Spoiler (click to open)]

Emily compared 1:1 with her baby.
You may clickenzee to celebrate!!

You'll notice that Emily's baby is more festively patterned than Emily is. I know nothing about what this means. Is it a boy? Does this change? Is this just genetic variation? Who knows.

So ... names for Emily's baby?

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Mayor Nutter's Unexpected Gift to Philadelphia [Sep. 29th, 2015|05:25 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |Chelsea Lankes "Too Young to Fall In Love"]

Sometimes a disaster produces beneficial side effects that could never be otherwise experienced because of the terrible cost. When the FAA shut down all airline traffic after 9/11 scientists got their first chance to study the effect of airplane contrails on temperature.

This weekend the Pope came to Philly and the city shut down virtually every bus, train, and street for three days -- the bridge between New Jersey and Philadelphia was closed, concrete barricades went up at major intersections, "Walking Dead" jokes abounded on the news media and the city got a chance to see what a life without cars might be like. Runners and cyclists spilled out onto the streets, joyfully running and biking in places that are normally both unsafe and illegal.

Running across the bridge to New Jersey.

When the Pope's visit was announced, Philadelphians were on the whole very happy about the idea. But as plans progressed and the city announced seemingly more and more bizarre security measures people got either outraged or incredulous, depending on the makeup of your Facebook feed. One of the most baffling was the plan to shut down the Benjamin Franklin bridge and have pilgrims park in Camden and walk three miles in to see the Pope and then three miles back. Early plans were to install TSA style screening on the bridge which the city said would be performing more security checks than the airport during that time. The Pope's official biographer called the security measures (which included confiscating apples) "pathological".

Clever people mocked the city's planning producing things like this map:

Certainly if terrorists had been able to shut down every street in the city, block traffic, and cut it off from New Jersey for three days they'd be pleased with themselves. We got our car free experience at a significant cost to businesses who lost untold amounts of money, some closed because workers couldn't get in to the city and others who did open found that nobody was shopping.

I'd been initially planning on locking myself into my house and watching Netflix for three days, but when initial reports started to come in from runners about the multi-million dollar limited time playground open in center city, I jumped into my shoes with the West Philadelphia Runners and we ran an amazed route through the city, proverbially slack jawed with disbelief at the pedestrian wonderland which had opened up.

No wait at the Genius Bar.
Employees at the completely empty Apple store
stand at the window and wave to people.

The city's newly formed Indego Bike Share shined during this time, setting up permanently open kiosks with people to check in bikes even if all the racks were full. The able bodied rejoiced while the most Catholic people I know stayed home, scared off by the thought of trying to push a wheelchair for six miles, navigate closed streets and go through unknown TSA security checkpoints.

Route 76, the normally jam-packed beltway around the city was shut down.

It was a runner's paradise in many ways, one of which was the installation of thousands of portable toilets all throughout the city as well as massive icebergs of free bottled water at strategic locations. These are things that runners want often, people walking miles want eventually and homeless people want constantly. By providing public amenities in vast quantities our eyes were open to how much we were missing constantly. Runners map water fountains and plan their runs around them -- access to public water is a sadly rare thing.

The race course everybody wants.

We saw for the first time how long it actually takes to get places on foot without traffic lights. I'd recently just experienced this in Wyoming, where you can point to a spot three miles away and know pretty much exactly how long it will take you to get there. I discovered that things were much closer to my house than I'd realized, that the density of the city and, especially the impact of cars, stretches miles. That much of our time moving in a city is actually spent standing still in an incredibly inefficient way. Our run to the bridge, which I think of as "There be Dragons" far from me took much less time than I'd expected.

The shutdown brought things closer together, it brought us together, even if as gawkers, to meet one another, we got to see a city as it could be, and as a lot of people have envisioned a city as being -- truly walkable, truly bikeable, uncongested.

You may have seen this photo from the Australia Cycling Promotion Fund showing the amount of space taken up by pedestrians, busses, bicycles, and cars:

This is the world we live in and for a moment, we got the chance to see other options. Years ago, playing Sim City, I designed a city with only public transportation, cars were parked in a ring outside. My city had extremely low pollution levels but the rents skyrocketed and eventually I was hung in effigy, but I do imagine this type of world where streets are limited to mass transit, delivery and emergency vehicles. I've never known though if it would work -- and I still don't. If this persisted would the Mayor become a hero or would the city just die? I don't know.

All traffic in and out of the city, shut down.

There's a huge down side to this as well. I don't know if anybody will ever be able to accurately figure out how much this experiment cost the city. I've read that among the hidden costs, 75% of the babies born that weekend weren't able to be born in the hospital of their parents choice because of transportation difficulties.

The West Philly Runners on the Ben Franklin Bridge.

Philadelphia's expanding its bike and pedestrian trails, we have miles and miles of them along the Schuylkill river, though for the most part, they go to nothing -- they're recreational rather than functional paths. What would it be like to be able to easily and safely bike to center city? Having seen free and open streets, can we now be satisfied without at least protected bicycle lanes? Is it the job of a city to encourage people to adopt healthy lifestyles? There are obvious financial benefits in terms of healthcare costs to encourage walking and biking, but should we do a thing just because it's good for us? How difficult would it be to pry us away from our cars?

This thing wasn't the thing that the Mayor thought he was giving us. But having seen it, we want it, I want it anyway. I know that the thing we have now isn't the thing that I want.

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This is not a fitness blog, but I just won a medal [Sep. 27th, 2015|07:59 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplished ]
[music |van halen: panama ]

According to my records, my first 5k was on November 21, 2012, almost two months after I'd started going to the gym. It took me 37 minutes and it was awful. I couldn't walk later that night, but I felt a great sense of accomplishment. My pace chart tells me that's an 11:55 mile.

Last week I ran the 5k for the IOA in Philly ... I did significantly better.

Apart from being a very accessible distance, 5k's are a way that many "serious" runners use to judge their progress. I hadn't run one seriously (meaning "full-tilt damn the torpedoes I'm coming in first or my heart will explode trying") for a year. Coming off my disappointment at the Philly 10k -- where a dearth of training and skipping long-runs because it was hot and I was being wimpy left me unable to do six miles at a pace I'd managed for 10 in April -- I'd decided to run the 5k for the IOA as hard as I could. It was small and I figured if I ran my guts out I might be able to place in my age group.

Running is a sport of the young, and pretty much every 5k ever is going to be won by someone in their 20's or early 30's because that's when peak fitness is (long distance runners peak later, go Meb). By letting people in their 30's, 40's, 50's and 60's run, essentially, against one another, you can add layers of competition to a race. While I had no chance of winning the race overall, I figured I had a fair chance of being one of the three fastest people over 40 if I ran until I threw up, as long as I threw up after the finish line.

Before the race I scoped out everybody who I thought was competition, our age groups were in small print on our bibs, and I stuck myself in a group with the two guys who I thought were going to be my biggest problem. "I won't let myself get more than three steps behind either one of these guys," was my plan.

I are serious.
You may clickenzee to embiggen.

We went out fast. I'd run the course the Wednesday before and burned myself out completely, barely staggering in at 26:00 I figured that if I paced myself better, I could come in possibly at 24:20, which is a 7:50 pace. I'd been able to keep up 8:05 for roughly five miles during the Philly 10k and it seemed reasonable that I could hold 7:50 for three miles. But the guys in front of me were tearing up the road. At the end of the first mile my watch said 7:10, which is only 20 seconds slower than the fastest mile I'd ever run. I knew this pace was going to destroy me so I decided to drop back and hope that my competition would burn out. I fell back to a 7:30 pace, still faster than I'd planned but I was afraid that anything slower and I'd just be too far back to matter and now it was a question of just keeping the wheels on and hoping everybody else flared out. This turned out to be a good idea. I caught up to one of the guys at about mile 1.7, he was flagging after a strong start. I passed him keeping my 7:30 pace. The other guy was about 20 yards ahead of him. I caught up to him in spurts and stuck one step behind him, he was flagging a little but I didn't want to risk passing him too soon. Once your competition is behind you, there's no slowing down because you can't see where they are. He kept slowing down by inches though and by mile 2.25 I couldn't justify staying behind him any longer because my maintenance pace was bringing me up past him anyway. So I passed and threw some extra effort into it. I was committed at that point.

It was pretty awful by this point.
Running isn't so much about being fast as it
is about being able to put up with extreme
discomfort longer than the next guy.
You may clickenzee to embiggen my pain!

I dumped on whatever I had left and passed everybody who was near me, starting to feel like I was going to puke. As I rounded the final corner I could see the clock at 22:30 which was crazy fast. It said 22:44 when I crossed. I staggered off into a field and walked in circles, dumping the water someone had handed me over my head. Everything hurt but 22:44 was a pretty respectable time. In fact, it was a completely nuts 7:19 pace.

I wandered around in a daze for a while thinking that I'd had a good chance of placing, but I couldn't be sure the guys i'd been racing against were the only ones I had to watch out for. I figured I had a good chance of a second place.

The 5k for the IOA was really well done, there was a great selection of post-race food, I ate part of a giant veggie hoagie, some pumpkin protein bars from Trader Joe's, a banana ... I texted trillian_stars to let her know I might have done well.

When they called my name at the awards ceremony I found out I'd come in first in my age group, almost a minute ahead of the next fastest person.

With some scientists who are actually doing something useful with their lives,
fighting dementia and other age related illnesses.
You may clickenzee to Embiggen

So ... a long way from November 2012.

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