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kyle cassidy

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

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

Click to go to the Kickstarter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clickenzee to see the world larger.

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

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

Click for the joy!!

Click to read the article

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

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

The Rock Star Hotel in 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4) Wait a day or so.

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

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

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

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

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

Go. Get to work.

This is where I live.

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


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

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

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

Cover art. Clickenzee to embiggen!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clickenzee to EmVictory!

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

Clickenzee to EmGorgein!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks everyone --

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

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

don't answer yet!

Edward is a conversationalist

And John is ... gallant....


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

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

*** EDIT ***

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

Ok, you sadists, stretch goal.

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

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

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

Clickenzee to embiggen


Dumb ideas always begin in a way that sounds reasonable.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Clicenzee to form a more perfect union

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

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

I'm mostly not hurt it seems.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What have you learned?

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

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

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

Making the dresses!
Clickenzee to Embiggen!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clickenzee to Embiggen!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here's my schedule:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not for Roswell! Clickenzee to Embiggen!

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

Clickenzee to Embiggen the Roswell drawing!!!

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

Clickenzee to Embiggen!

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

Clickenzee to Embiggen!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clickenzee to Embiggen!

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

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

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

So ... this conversation just happened:

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

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

Me: Excellent. That'll work just fine.

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

This is me today:

Clickenzee to Embiggen this Bosch!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Every doorway had a memory.

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

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

Neil reading, me showing slides. Clickenzee to Embiggen!

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

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

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

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

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

Clickenzee to Embiggen!

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

Clickenzee to Embiggen!

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

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

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

Clickenzee to Embiggen!

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

Clickenzee to Embiggen!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bill on his birthday in 2012 with our nephew Oakes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Showing Bill the first proof of War Paint

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

Goodbye Wild Bill.

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

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

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

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

Well played Internet.

Clickenzee to Embiggen the memeness!

*** EDIT Still finding them ***

It's still going on.....

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

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

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

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

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

Joe Jack Talcum tunes up. Clickenzee to Embiggen!

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

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

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

Dandrew on bass. Clickenzee to Embiggen!

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

It's a guitar! Clickenzee to Embiggen!

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

View from the booth. Clickenzee to Embiggen!

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

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

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

Listening to the takes. You may clickenzee to embiggen!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Understanding what the fight is about

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Librarian Wardrobe blog has weighed in.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clickenzee to Embiggen the agony of victory

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

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

Clickenzee to Embiggen!

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

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

NEXT: Off to some crazy adventure!

Clickenzee to Embiggen the de-icing!

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Goodbye Tatiana 1992-2014 [Feb. 12th, 2014|05:52 pm]
[mood |grateful for all the years of love]

Goodbye Tatiana 1992-2014

Tatiana was the best of our cats. She was polite. She was understated. She didn't start fights. She was small, and always content. Over the past few years many visitors came looking for Roswell but left loving Tatty. She wanted a lap to sleep on. And if you had some Trader Joe's chocolate pudding, that would be nice too.

She lived an extremely long life and died peacefully and we will miss her.

If you'd like to remember her, I'm sure she'd want you to make a donation in her name to City Kitties, or spend some time with one of yours tonight.

Clickenzee to see the Tatty awesomness

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This is what a librarian looks like [Feb. 12th, 2014|07:57 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

Early in January I got a message from Naomi Gonzales, ‏‪@InMediasRes_‬ on Twitter, telling me that there was going to be a convention of librarians in Philly.

She connected me with Ingrid Abrams, and eventually Christina Coleman and Jenny Levine who were all going to be attending the American Library Association's Mid Winter Conference January 24-28. They offered to book a room and put the word out that I'd like to photograph and interview people, but they could only do it on the 27th, which was right at the end of an extremely busy weekend that had me flying to Chicago late Friday night, running half marathon Saturday morning, photographing Peter Sagal for Joan of Dark's #GeekKnits book, getting up at 3:00 AM Sunday morning, flying to San Francisco to photograph Adam Savage (from Mythbusters), then taking the red-eye back to Philly that night, getting in at 7 am monday, doing various things all day Monday and then, basically on zero hours of sleep, setting up a portrait studio and photographing librarians at 7:00 that night.

Not much you can do in a situation like that but soldier through and hope you get a row to yourself on the redeye (didn't happen).

Librarian JP Porcaro snapped this behind the scenes shot of me, loopy with jet lag, setting up a studio surrounded by a bunch of awesome librarians. Clickenzee to Embiggen

Libraries and librarians have meant a lot to me throughout my life and there are specific ones that without whom I wouldn't be who I am today. Living, as we do now, in a world where the relevance of libraries is often challenged as superfluous by people with Amazon Prime accounts and reliable access to the Internet at home, I wanted to create a forum where liberians could could talk about the challenges that they're facing and the work that they're doing to an audience that might not otherwise see and hear that.

Ingrid helped me conduct interviews, I set up a studio with a single Pho-tek Softlighter II (the medium sized one) and shot with a Nikon d800.

Clickenzee to see the slide show!

When I was done some of the librarians asked if I wanted to go out and I was so giddy with jet-lag I said "sure" and had a swell time. By then I was out over the edge but I was done, there was a bed waiting for me at home and I thought about how much I'd done in the past 72 hours; it was a lot and I felt good about all of it.

From the beginning I thought that the photos should run in Slate and they were interested right away. I did a telephone interview and they talked to some of the librarians, picked ten of the images, and it sat around for a few weeks and went live yesterday. I found out when my inbox started to flood with people who had seen it. Within 45 minutes, when I finally got a chance to look, three thousand people had shared it on Facebook. Last time I checked, a few hours later, that had grown to 14,000 Facebook shares, then a Twitter fight (which I wasn't expecting) broke out between groups of librarians, but mostly love poured in. Love, and interview requests.

My plans are to go to the ALA conference this summer and keep photographing and interviewing. And, somewhere in there, get some sleep. If you're going to ALA in Vegas, keep an ear out for details on the shoot. If you think it's a cool think and would like a portrait of a librarian hanging on your wall, keep an ear out for details since I'll probably be kickstarting the trip.

In the meantime, tell me about the library experience that had the biggest impact on you.

Clicenzee to see the slide show!

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Photographing Melvin Van Peebles & Laxative [Feb. 5th, 2014|07:26 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |Burnt Sugar]

Melvin Van Peebles is a runner, and that's what we talk about mostly. Michael Gonzales, who wrote the weekly, talked with Melvin about much more.

Clickenzee to read the article!

Aside from being a runner, Melvin's been a lot of other things in his 81 years on Earth. Long before he was a celebrated filmmaker and Knight in the French Legion of Honor, he was a cable car operator in San Francisco -- until he published a short story and his employers began to think he was a bit too intellectual for their tastes so he moved to France, taught himself the language and became a French writer and eventually a hotshot French film director. That's when America started to take notice. He returned, to Hollywood, and directed Watermelon Man, a 1970 film about a racist who wakes up one morning to find himself suddenly and inexplicably black. This too was fraught with difficulty. The studio wanted Melvin to hire a white actor and have him play the role in blackface. "Why not hire a black actor and have him do the first five minutes of the film in whiteface?" Melvin asked. A long pause. "Can that be done?" they wanted to know. "People always believe the king can play the pauper, but the pauper can't play the king," Melvin said.

Clickenzee to emawesome!

After Watermelon Man Melvin wanted to make a serious movie about race in America, where a black man fights a corrupt police force and wins, but the studios wouldn't have any of it so Melvin did it on his own, with his own money and a $50,000 loan from Bill Cosby he made Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song on a shoestring budget, working twenty hour days. Without the money to hire a leading man, Melvin played the part himself and people flocked to see it. Hollywood realized that there was money to be made in black audiences, but Melvin had moved on. He wrote novels, he made records, he became a Wall Street trader (and wrote a book), he made art, he wrote plays. And he ran.

Today he runs four or ten miles a day. "It's a pain in the ass," he tells me, "but if you want to say Get back motherfucker, you have to be able to back it up." The people who run in Melvin's movies aren't running for recreation, they're running because people want to kill them. Sweetback runs through Los Angeles and into Mexico with helicopters chasing him.

Melvin has a jazz band now, Laxative, made up of members of the band Burnt Sugar (watch Burnt Sugar play here) and they're on tour, which is how I ended up photographing him for the cover of the Philadelphia Weekly and how I ended up in his Manhattan apartment with Michael Gonzales who wrote the article. (You can follow Melvin Van Peebles wid Laxative here on Facebook.) (Side note: Wunderkind bass player Jared Nickerson was in Gods and Monsters with Jeff Buckley.)

MVP and Laxative are going to be on WRTI radio this Friday night from 10:00 until midnight, and then the next day, Saturday, they're playing at Johnny Brendas. I'm hoping I get a chance to go running with him while he's in town.

To learn more about Melvin, I recommend the 2003 film Badasssss! about the making of Sweet Sweetback where Melvin is played by his real life son, Mario Van Peebles. Also there's a great documentary about him called How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (and Enjoy It). That one's on Netflix streaming.

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New play, new photos [Feb. 2nd, 2014|09:27 pm]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |John Lennon: Starting Over]

Over the weekend I was happy to be able to shoot promo photos for Curio Theatre's upcoming Dancing at Lughnasa -- an Irish play set in the 19th century about five sisters, their brother, a priest, returning from mission in Africa and a mysterious narrator.

I wanted a lobby poster that showed all the sisters and also had some action in it. A couple of years ago they made a movie of it with Merrill Streep playing trillian_stars' part and the poster for that movie, while not dreadful, looks like the Sound of Music is being attacked by a floating head. Plus it's got some sort of Little Miss Sunshine being channeled by Mary Poppins vibe. That poster gives you the idea that you're going to see the feel-good-movie-of-the-year and ... you're not. So that poster seemed a little disingenuous to me.

Anyway. It's important to tell a narrative in an image like this, but it's also important to tell an incomplete narrative -- one that asks questions as well as answers them.

So, the dancing was the first part. It's also a big challenge in a shoot like this to get this many actors on stage at the same time in a believable way -- meaning they all need to have a task and a reason for being there -- AAAND, something you never think about, they need to all have a reason for facing the camera. It's really common in movies & TV to have people "cheat" to the audience, which means they all sit on the same side of a table crowded together rather than across from one another like normal people. This drives me nuts (and it'll drive you nuts now that you know to look for it.) It seems like cheap thinking. So anyway ... if all the actors are watching Colleen dance, they all have a reason to be looking in a particular direction AND if she's spinning around, she has a reason to be facing away from them ... so that was problem #1.

Clickenzee to embiggen!

PHOTO NERDERY: I lit it with an sb80 inside a Photek Softlighter II, the big one, the sixty-three inch one, which an assistant was holding up and over. There was also a second assistant stage right (camera left) with a bare flash which is throwing some rim light onto the actors as well as being the principle light on Colleen. Just keep in mind that in a situation like this, there's no ambient light, so if you didn't put the light there, there's no light there. So without that second flash Colleen's face would be in total shadow.

Trice Baldwin-Browns and Trillian Stars

Then I wanted to do a bunch of character shots which could also theoretically fall within the play, which is sort of my way of doing production photos. I really dislike doing ordinary production stills because that's all about how someone else lights something -- and the difference in how you can light a still and how you have to light a stage is dramatic. Stage lights have to be out of the way of the actors and the audience and when lighting a still I can put lights 8 inches away from someone -- so these are more about mood and atmosphere.

Isa St. Claire (who you may remember as Juliet) and Steve Carpenter as her ner-do-well boyfriend.

I'd gone into this thinking "I'm going to shoot everything horizontally, like a movie, but every time I shoehorn myself into something like that I end up getting into trouble when someone asks for a vertical -- so I did verticals of everything too.

Trillian & Len Kelly as Father Jack

Do you like these people? Do you want to find out what happens to them? Dancing at Lughnasa opens February 21st, 2014 with previews the week before. It runs for a month. If you're in Philly, it's where you want to be.

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Fountain pens -- once again. [Jan. 19th, 2014|02:01 pm]
[Tags|, ]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |judas priest: pain killer]

Wow. It's that time of year again. That one glorious moment when the fountain pen show rolls through Philadelphia and I get to geek out. This time I convinced some other dorks from the West Philadelphia Runners that we ought to RUN to the pen show, because, hey, it's miles and miles away and it was like 25 degrees out. So Flint Weller and I zoomed off, taking the opportunity to run past the Rocky steps, though we didn't run UP them this time. It was two giant rooms of tables filled with old pens and new. Some pens are very humble, made to do a journey(wo)mans work and others are incredibly ornate.

Clickenzee to Embiggen!

Some of the ones that grabbed my attention first were these from Laban. They all look gloriously epic. The kind of thing you'd write something monumental with. Though in actuality most of the pens that actually end up doing monumental things aren't any of these, because they're not terribly comfortable to write with.

Clickenzee to Embiggen!

One of the vendors there had a collection of Presidential pens -- given out by presidents (and Vice Presidents) of the United States, lots of them used to sign bills -- somehow they manage to do this in a way that requires the President to sign it like 40 times and each time he does it with a different pen and then he can hand that pen off to someone who had something to do with it getting done. I imagine the bottom of all bills looks something like this:

Signature of the President: ________________
Please Verify here: ____________________
Sign here if you're positive you want this bill to become law: ___________________
Sign here to verify that you're positive:_____________________
Please complete this captcha 3k359Fandango

These were the absolutely cheapest pens you could get that were a) made in America and b) not a complete joke. They were half plastic Parker T-Ball Jotters -- they probably cost about 30 cents each in bulk. There are also "gift" pens that come in presentation boxes and I guess have a similar history. "Thanks for coming to the White House Mr. Billikngsplobke, here's a pen."

He also had some pens used to sign nuclear treaties and these were serious Parker Dufolds -- expensive pens for important things. I didn't ask how much any of them were, but it was interesting.

There was also this ostentatious dragon pen that I actually thought about getting for about 3 minutes. Until I thought back to the two times before I'd had similar pens and ended up giving them away because they were impossible to actually spend any time writing with. (If you're feeling sad, Flint bought it, perhaps he'll write you a letter with it.)

Clickenzee to Embiggen!

I wasn't planning on getting anything because, you know, I have enough pens. But towards the end two things jumped out at me -- mostly because they were pretty and not expensive. A Parker Challenger (left) and a red Esterbrook J, from sometime between 1943 and 1948.

Clickenzee to Embiggen!

-- if you've read any of my pen posts before, you'll know of my love for the Esterbrook. They represented, I think, the pinnacle of fountain pen manufacture. Esterbrook made millions of fountain pens and they were, every one of them, designed to be a pen that wrote -- that was it's primary function, some of them looked pretty too, but they wrote well and at a variety of purposes (you could get different nibs for, say, writing in the small spaces of an accounting ledger, or for making broad strokes -- their catalog has a bewildering amount of customization possible). I've already got an Esterbrook that I love, but I'd thought for a while I'd like to have one that was red. They're cheap too -- very often you can get a fully restored Esterbrook for less than the price of a low-end new pen. And you get to fill it from a bottle of ink with a lever. Which is very cool

Clickenzee to Embiggen!

I only have one parker pen which I got as a gift while I was in college. It writes wonderfully and it's a very well respected pen maker and has been for a long time. The vintage Parkers are mostly expensive and when faced with the challenge, I usually get an Esterbrook that writes just as well for a tenth of the price. But then, there was this Challenger and a guy who didn't want to have it anymore. So now it lives with me.

It was made in the spring of 1936, which you can tell by the date stamp on the barrel. It says "26" which means the 2nd quarter of the year 1936 -- at that time the Palestinian uprising had just begun, Italy invaded Ethiopia, forcing the Emperor to flee, Joe DiMaggio played his first professional game, the Presbyterian church was founded, here in Philadelphia, Jesse Owens sets a world record in the 100 meters and Gone With the Wind hit the stands. Also Pope Pious XI write his encyclical "On Motion Pictures" which you can read here.

The Parker Challenger was their mid-level gift pen, it retailed for $2.75 (about $38 in today's dollars) and they were typically called "school pens" -- when someone graduated from high school, grandma and grandpa would give you a fancy pen to take to college with you (but of course, not always -- sometimes you just buy yourself an expensive pen). The guy who sold it to me told me that pens were one of the visible means of displaying status and sometimes people would buy the cap for a pen that they couldn't afford and just wear the cap in their pocket like an up-ended social status iceberg.

Clickenzee to Embiggen!

So that's almost that. Since I brought two pens in, I want to get rid of two pens, since I don't want to be the guy with a thousand pens that never get used. Keep your eyes peeled in the next couple of weeks.

Clickenzee to Embiggen!

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This is not a fitness blog, but I wanted to write this down so I don't forget it. [Jan. 14th, 2014|08:48 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |counting crows - something about a raincoat]

Last month about this time we had Christmas carolers in the house and it reminded me that in December of 2012 trillian_stars wanted to go Christmas caroling and it was on the day that I first ran a 5k.

Clickenzee to embiggen, though I've no idea why you would

I ran the 5k on a treadmill it took me more than an hour and it nearly killed me. Readers, I could barely walk after -- each footstep was an agony and I missed every bit of the caroling because I was, absolutely no kidding, two blocks behind everyone else shuffling along in agony.

Then in August I ran my fastest 5k to date, which was 24 minutes.

24 minutes dh00dz

I hurt the next day after that one, but not nearly as badly as I hurt in December.

Anyway. I did some great photos this week that will no longer be Top Sekrit sometime in February. Can't wait to post them.

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(no subject) [Jan. 10th, 2014|06:45 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

Phone rings.

Sweet Barking cheese!!!

Joel: "Hey Kyle, do you wa--"
Kyle: "YES"
Joel: "I was thinki--"
Kyle: "YES"
Joel: "Do you wa--"
Kyle: "YES"
Joel: "Top sekret pro--"
Kyle: "YES"

Doot de doot de doot

Beedoo be bop de bop

La la doodle ze bop bop sekrit sekrit

sekrit sekrit sekrit

wtf? life?

great things are ... afoot.
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(no subject) [Jan. 9th, 2014|08:15 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

What do Fantasy & Science Fiction fans look like? I went to Worldcon 09 and photographed one hundred and twenty-one of them and I still think it's one of the best things I've done. Introduction by 7 time Hugo award winner Michael Swanwick.

Click to see

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The camera that changed my world (the most) [Jan. 7th, 2014|11:28 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |vah halen] asked me to write about the camera that I miss the most. And while I miss my Leicas, in the sense that I don't use them and I liked to use them, they aren't the camera that changed things the most for me. Without this camera I would be somewhere else today -- it would probably still be a great place, but it would be a different place.

While looking to see if this article had gone up I came across a fight on that I'd gotten into in 1999 by saying (after getting this camera) that film was dead. It's really interesting now to go back and read all the reasons people had back then about how digital would never catch on and all the comparisons to failed formats like 110 and Kodak Disc.

But anyway, read the article and let me know your thoughts.

Clickenzee to read the article!

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Go ahead and make a resolution - but make it one you can keep [Jan. 5th, 2014|12:38 pm]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |the beatles]

I've been reading a lot of year-end laments from people on the Internet, and I've been hearing it at the gym too. People whining that Our Refuge is going to be filled with NEW YEARS RESOLUTION AMATEURS and we won't be able to get a rowing machine for a week until they all pull calf muscles and go drown their sorrow in cheeseburgers and things return to normal.

I almost have some sympathy for people who are complaining out of selfishness because they don't want the gym to be crowded, but I'm left baffled by people who just sit at their laptops wailing "YOU'RE GOING TO FAIL! DON'T BOTHER STARTING!"

So I wanted to say; there's nothing wrong with a New Years Resolution -- or any resolution. But for a resolution to work, you need resolve, which is a difficult thing to maintain.

I want to recommend the interview I did with Hanne Blank a year ago this month. Hanne's the author of (among many other things) The Unapologetic Fat Girl's Guide to Exercise & Other Incendiary Acts. In the interview Hanne says that when you promise yourself you're going to try something*, pick a reasonable number before you give up -- she suggests 100 days. If you're going to go to the gym, go to the gym for 100 days (this doesn't mean you get a three month membership, go three times and stop, it means you walk through the door and get on the exercise bike and you ride it 100 times) and this counts for taking French lessons too -- or whatever your promise to yourself is. Because the truth is you won't learn French in a week, and you won't lose 10 pounds in a week, though it's possible you will read Moby Dick in a week, so plan realistic time according to your desired result. If you go to the gym 100 times something will happen and it probably won't be insignificant, that's true for 100 French lessons too, c'est vrai. Also, I think it's also ok to have magic be a part of your plan.

I believe in magic.

Or at least I believe that talismans can be powerful if you let them. And I have a talisman that worked for me that I want to give away.

I recently came across this photo of myself from Readercon 2012 and thought what a long, slow trip it's been, and how it was motivated by magic things and kind people.

Clickenzee to embiggen!

The Magnum Connection
The gym kind of sucks, at first it especially sucks and eventually you get to this weird place where if you don't go you feel bad, like some weird drug that makes you hurt but you want it anyway. I can't explain it, but anyway, in between the "whee! I'm going to join the gym and lose ten pounds, let's go shopping for outfits! and "I haven't been to the gym in six days and I'm going freaking crazy! there's a lot of "why did I do this? this freaking blows" -- and those are the days that people stop going, and once you stop going, you don't really ever go back and your new years resolution is over.

In the early days of my experience with The Gym I realized that I'd never seen the last episode of Magnum p.i., a show which I enjoyed in my youth but didn't have a TV when it ended. So one afternoon I thought, "I'll just watch that on Netflix" but then I thought "Well, I shouldn't just watch the last episode because I won't know what's going on, I'll watch the last season". So I started watching the last season at the gym while I rode the exercise bike and this was perfect. Because I really enjoyed the show, and it was 43 minutes long, which is a good workout and I was motivated to go back every day to see another episode because there was the goal of the Last Episode just X gym days away.

And then a funny thing happened.

I started posting about my Magnum p.i. watching to Twitter and Facebook (because it's easier with the mobile app to post to them than it is to Livejournal (I mentioned this to them years ago)) -- anyway, people started to get excited about it. And there was much conversation back and forth about Magnum and my going to the gym and then every day I felt an obligation to people who were following along vicariously so I'd do updates about the Magnum p.i. episode I was watching....

And then a crazy thing happened.

People on the Internet started sending me stuff -- random strangers who'd been following along started sending me Magnum p.i. shirts, because somehow it had gotten that interesting. So now not only was I watching TV and working out BUT I HAD MAGIC CLOTHES, clothes made out of love & support and trust. And that was a big turning point. Once I had the magic-shirt of weight-loss I felt I couldn't stop.

Clickenzee to embiggen!!

I finished the last season of Magnum p.i., and then I went back to season 1 and started from the beginning. By the time I got to season 4 I'd lost a lot of weight and my heart and lungs had gotten stronger and I was able, for the first time, to run. That burned more calories faster and, well, we all know what happened from there.

So, I have this magic shirt, it's made of love and support and trust and motivation and I lost 40 pounds while wearing it and I want to give it to you because it's helped me as much as it needs to and it needs to help someone else.

I will wash it first.

So drop me an email, or post in the comments about how a magic exercise shirt will help you with your goal. Best story by next Friday gets the shirt.

This magic shirt can be yours

And if you want, you can keep it for 12 months and then give it to someone else who needs it. That's often how magic things work best.

Anyway, have a swell day.

(* btw "something" doesn't necessarily mean weight loss -- you can be whatever size you want, it just happened to be one of my personal goals. This applies to writing a novel or going to Europe or whatever your resolution might be -- pick your goal, look for the magic, and find the thing that makes you work towards your goal every day.)

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2013-2014 [Jan. 1st, 2014|11:51 pm]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |david bowie: occasional dream]

Two second exposure beginning at 11:59:59 on 12/31/2013 and ending at 12:00:01 on 1/1/2014

I've been doing this for 14 years now. This one would have been better but there was a champaign malfunction.

Clickenzee to Embiggen the new year

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Be well [Dec. 31st, 2013|10:13 pm]
Auld Lang Syne from us to you. Nicki Jaine vox & saw, Ray Ashley accordion, video by me. Share it with your friends and hold them tight.

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(no subject) [Dec. 25th, 2013|11:08 am]
It's been a busy couple of weeks -- Ohio, Boston, new possibly book project with Amanda Palmer. Something. Anyway. More soon. Have a swell day.

Clickenzee to Embiggen!

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Ada Lovelace [Dec. 10th, 2013|09:59 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

It's Ada Lovelace's birthday! trillian_stars discusses playing her in Childe Byron.

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This is not a fitness blog: but baby, it's cold outside & I'm still running [Dec. 9th, 2013|06:22 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

Running in the summer sucks. Running in the winter is great.

A lot of people stop running in the winter which to a large extent baffles me -- especially when they've slogged through 80 degree days. Cold weather running is your reward! Trust me, you'll be more comfortable in the winter if you just dress properly.

The big downer of dressing appropriately is that you're a lot warmer after you get started so, both in summer and winter, you need to plan for how you're going to feel on the majority of your outing rather than how you feel when you walk out the door. This is a particular bummer in the winter when it may be twenty degrees out.

I've been trying to come up with some sort of formula for staying comfortable, no doubt someone's already given it a go, but my hypothesis is "1 layer for every 15 degrees below 60" -- you should also have a full zip something or other, light jacket, or heavier hoodie because you're coldest when you first leave the house and for the first mile, so you want something you can easily take off while you're running. When temperatures get down near freezing, it should be a full-zip hoodie, so you can cover your head & ears. Hoodies are better than hats because you have more variation in controlling your warmth with them. A Good running hoodie will zip up tight around your head and the zipper will stop just below your nose, this gives you a lot of variation in temperature control with the zipper.

If it's windy, raining or snowing, one of your outer layers should be weather resistant.

If you have the option, it's wonderful to have a place a couple miles from home where you can stash extra layers.

Today it was 28 degrees and snowing. I was wearing a compression base layer, an over layer and a weather resistant Sugoi top that keeps the snow from coming through while, allegedly, still letting my sweat escape. Along with that was a micro fiber hoodie that I alternately put on and tied around my waist depending on how I felt. Ultimately I was slightly warm in the three layers. This may seem a little odd considering my beard and eyebrows froze and my hat developed icicles.

But it's true. Get your shoes, go out for a run.

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STAR trek, STAR gate, lots of STARS [Dec. 6th, 2013|08:02 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

While many of you in America were chowing down on cranberry sauce & watching football, I spent the day in a rather uneventful airplane flight to Indiana to work on Joan of Dark's new book Geek Knits, a followup to her second book "Knits for Nerds".

They're both books of knitting patterns for people who were in the AV club in high school and spent their summers sitting in trees reading Madeline L'Engle and Isaac Asimov. The difference between the two is that for Geek Knits we're getting geek celebrities to model the finished pieces for this book. So I went out to Indiana to photograph some actors from Star Trek and Deep Space Nine and ubergeek John Scalzi.

You may recognize Rene Auberjonois as Odo from DS9, but he's been in a million other things as well, including the movie M*A*S*H. He was super-nice, very professional, and an exceptional model. It was great working with him because you could see that a) he'd done this before, a lot, and b) he took it very seriously, even when he was being goofy, he was being goofy to get you what you needed. We got to talk a bit about Shakespeare, and Macbeth and he modeled this Top Sekrit Thing.

Clickenzee to Embiggen father Mulcahy!

Some of the people we photographed were on extremely tight schedules and this was another "two weeks of preparation, four hours of setup, ten minutes of photography" things but it went well, even when people arrived half an hour early and surprised us. We had a lot of down time and a lot of prep time. I ran into science fiction writer Michael Z. Williamson who's in my book Armed America who I hadn't seen since I photographed him in 2007. I also got to throw a Frisbee for a corgi and I realized that I had not understood what joy was before I saw this dog experience it in it's complete distillate form.

Clickenzee to Embiggen the Behind the Scenes!

One of the great things about working on this book of roller derby portraits is that I can work on it in my down time wherever I am. And, because Joan of Dark is also a Rollergirl she hooked me up with the Naptown roller derby and we celebrated a days worth of successful photo shoots with some quick rollergirl portraits. This project has been going really great. So it was scifi geekery and rollerderby athleticism and playing tug-of-war with a dog in between. Plus having Joan and Dill's bird stare at me like she wanted to eat me a lot.

Clickenzee to Embiggen Sock 'ems Razor!

More later.

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A Doll's House from our house [Dec. 5th, 2013|10:06 pm]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |walter sickert: soft time traveler]

The DVD's for "A Doll's House" arrived today and they look wonderful. We decided to address all the envelopes by hand because it just seems wrong to print out labels on something like this. All the packages headed overseas I've been drawing little things on while we listen to Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken toys on the stereo. The house is stacked with DVD's and envelopes and photographs, which go into some of the envelopes, and it's slowly coming together, despite Roswell's help.

Thanks to everyone who backed the Kickstarter. I'm looking forward to the time just a few days now where you'll be able to sit in front of the television and see this play that only so few people were able to see during its very short run.

Brian did a great job with the Behind the Scenes, be sure to watch those too.

Clickenzee to Embiggen!

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Something unexpected! [Dec. 5th, 2013|07:11 am]
[mood |happyhappy]
[music |roswell purring]

This afternoon there came a strange and wonderful package in the mail with the return address of "Gaiman". It had the joy of all unexpected packages and we waited as long as we possibly could, looking at it, before anticipation got the better of us and we carefully opened it.

Inside was a beautiful edition of The Ocean at the End of the Lane that I didn't even know existed, with a cut slipcase and illustrations by the inimitable Dave McKean printed on paper so heavy you could crack oysters with a single sheet of it (if you needed to do that sort of thing).

Clickenzee to Embiggen!

trillian_stars has yet to read it -- I read it on my Kindle -- I wonder how her experience will be reading this beautiful copy. Wow!

Thanks Neil & Kitty!

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Top Sekrit No Longer: A more concise writeup than this bit of awesome deserves [Nov. 26th, 2013|06:54 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

Cat's out of the bag on this one. I'm photographing Joan Dark's upcoming book Geek Knits -- it's knitting patterns for geeks modeled by celebrity geeks so we're traipsing across the country spending time with scientists, writers, actors and various whatnots. The second stop was Los Angeles for a week.


My flight was early, early ... so early that I landed in Los Angles at nine in the morning. You do the math. Met up with Joan of Dark, Dill Hero & their assistant Kerrie at the airport and hit the ground running, right into a photo shoot with the always spectacular Leah Cevoli from Robot Chicken and then Miracle Laurie from Joss Wheadon's "Dollhouse". Somewhere out in the Hollywood hills where a famous skateboarder lived next door with a giant skate park in their back yard. We did Miracle in two outfits, an arm shrug and a sweater and Leah in two outfits, a wrap and a scarf -- I'm not sure if they'll both be in the book or if that was just to give us some coverage. Joan blogged about the shoot for Tor here.

I can't show you any of the outfits, but I can post some of the lighting tests.

Lighting tests! Whee! Clickenzee to Embiggen!

Dill and I set up lights for each of the shoots and then sat around drinking beer. (It's a tough life.) Somehow Joan had convinced Oaken Barrel brewery to sponsor her book, so they shipped a case to every shoot. I wasn't going to complain. Somewhere it wasn't eleven in the morning.

Most of the day was taken up by hair & makeup so I was largely sitting around doing nothing. My shoots are typically really fast and this was even faster because I had so much time to prepare while everybody was getting ready. In-front-of-camera time for each of the shots was probably ten minutes. We also spent a lot of time playing fetch with a border collie who pretty much demanded any not pressing-the-shutter-button time and who never settled for just catching one thing a time -- he wanted you to throw two balls & he'd catch them both.

I discuss important shiznit with Joan Dark while
Miracle Laurie gets her makeup done and Dill points at me.
(For some reason.) Photo by Leah Cevoli.
CLickenzee to Embiggen!

The photos came out great and I can't wait for you to see them. I'm always a bit anxious at the start of something like this so it was a huge relief to get some good photos done right out of the chute which let me relax a bit. When you're the one behind the camera, you're the one everybody's looking at and you're on the hot seat to produce. All those eyeballs always gives me stage fright until I've been able to produce something worthwhile.

The crew! Clickenzee to Embiggen!

After the shoot we met up with John and Sandy Carpenter who bought us dinner (guys! you didn't have to do that!) and then invited us back to their place to watch a basketball game. I met the Carpenters somehow on the Internet and got to know them when I went out to do a portrait of John last year but it's still a bit weird -- wait, I know John and Sandy Carpenter? Anyway -- after the game Dill & I crashed at the Carpenter's guest house and Joan and Kerrie went to Cat Mihos' place -- Cat's Neil Gaiman's tour manager, she was out of town and had a spare house and cats.

The Crew -- Dill, John Carpenter, Joan Dark, Kerrie, Sandy King-Carpenter.
Clickenzee to Embiggen!

Relatively chill day. One of our shoots got moved around and another one got cancelled which gave us mostly a free day. Normally this would freak me out and send me into a WE'RE DOING NOTHING! panic but we'd gotten so much good stuff on Tuesday I felt fine about it. Joan and I were interviewed for a Respect! Films' documentary about Neil Gaiman, I told some stories, we baked in the hot sun and we were able to take as much time as the filmmakers needed rather than having to rush off and that felt nice. We decided we'd make this the "if you're in L.A. and want to hang out" day so I emailed Michael Kwan who's a photographer for the L.A. Derby Dolls and asked if he could find me some rollergirls to photograph for the roller derby portrait book I'm working on.

Respect! Films interview. Clickenzee to embiggen!

We filled up half a bar with people from the Internet which was a grand thing and something that I really like about Twitter, it seems to be designed to do stuff like that. Shunami Bomb showed up from the Derby Dolls with her dog and a bunch of other people.

I just started photographing right in the bar with Brian C. Janes holding lights and Donielle Gross snapping some behind-the-scenes. I was a bit worried that the bar would throw us out but the bartender just ran over and instagrammed us for the bar's web page. I guess in LA this sort of thing is just what goes on.

Clickenzee to Embiggen Shunami Bomb!

I went to bed at a reasonable hour, Kerrie, Joan and Dill stayed out partying with the L.A. peeps into the wee hours and looked a bit warmed over on....

I got up early on Thursday to go running, because I had a half marathon that Sunday and I wanted to get a few miles in. I ran through the Hollywood hills and was absolutely certain that everybody I saw wearing sunglasses and a baseball hat walking a dog at 5:30 in the morning was Kevin Spacey. No doubt I was correct.

Then we went off and photographed Roman Dirge in a really bad-ass sweater. I can't show you the sweater, but I can show you the lighting test that I did with Joan the night before and me photographing Roman.

Clickenzee to Embiggen!

Roman was always one of my comic book heroes as anybody who remembers my ubiquitous Lenore t-shirt remembers. And it was great to meet him and find out that he's just a super-nice guy who likes to watch horror movies and draw things.

From there it was back to John and Sandy's. Apart from making movies they're also doing a comic book called "John Carpenter's Asylum" (Read about it on the Facebooks here) so Joan wanted to photograph them with their comic and a nifty comic book holder she's designed. We spent some time figuring out the lighting beforehand because who wants to stumble around with lights looking like an idiot in front of a famous movie director?

Lighting test for the comic book holder. Clickenzee to Embiggen!

I set up lights in their living room while Sandy made dinner. Earlier in the day she'd said: "You need pie. We're not letting you go home without pie." So they cook us an amazing dinner of vegetable soup and there's an apple pie that looked like it came out of a child's nursery rhyme, it had a huge gnarled top, and when you cracked it open inside there's a baked exquisiteness that seemed sculpted in its perfection.

We said goodbye to the Carpenters who'd made life so easy for us. It's kind of mind-boggling that in a place as nasty as Hollywood there are people who are just so dang nice.

Anyway, two more shoots after that with Whitney Avalon who's been in a bunch of TV shows plus this:

Whitney'd been out doing a TV commercial from 4:30 in the morning until sundown but she didn't seem tired. We did her in two outfits, a skirt and a superhero dress -- both of which were awesome.

It's hard to say which photo is my favorite because they're all pretty good, but if I had to choose, it might be Whitney's skirt, which we shot in ... like 2 minutes.

Three a.m.. Wake up, make breakfast. Get in the car, drive to the airport with Dill, Joan & Kerrie. Wave a sad goodbye to the Carpenter's guest house. I read Game of Thrones on the plane and wrote an article for Videomaker. Pretty much as soon as I got home, around five in the evening, I went to bed because the half marathon thing on Sunday began at five a.m. and I need to slam myself into east coast crazy time, so I set my alarm for five.

Got up early, picked up my race packet and bib, caught up on email, said hello to my wife as she left to play Lady Macbeth one penultimate time, went to bed at 7:00.

Up at 2:30am, cleaned the house, got dressed, ran the half marathon, took a fast shower, jumped on a train went to the closing performance of Macbeth, from there we went to the Ebenezer Maxwell mansion with Brian Siano and shot the final scene for A Doll's House (exterior, winter), went home and Brian and I worked on finishing the edits of the movie.

Life at 100 mph.

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This is important. [Nov. 25th, 2013|07:45 am]
[mood |gratefulgrateful]

Documentary photographer Mary Ellen Mark is launching a Kickstarter to fund a new book and film "Streetwise: Tiny Revisited" she wants to go back, thirty years after her Oscar nominated film and award winning book to document the life of Erin Blackwell, aka "Tiny" who back in 1983 when Mary Ellen met her, was a 13 year old homeless prostitute living in Seattle. Tiny's a grandmother now, with ten children of her own.

Without Mary Ellen Mark I wouldn't be where I am today, and that's not hyperbole.

I met Mary Ellen and her husband, filmmaker Martin Bell back in 1999 when I was a cocky successful guy with a camera. I was churning out work at a prodigious rate and getting gallery shows at a mind-numbing pace and fortune one afternoon tossed me into a boat and I ended up working as an assistant for one of the greatest photographers on the planet and I thought it was going to be my chance to grandstand a bit.

I showed her my portfolio and she was ... completely and utterly unimpressed. Then I watched as she took a classroom filled with people who had mostly never picked up a camera and they all shot circles around me, producing images I thought were impossible. I was baffled. I'd been working at this for years, how was I not great? And worse than that, how could she make amateurs better than me in a single day?

In that time Mary Ellen Mark gave me the first real and honest critique of my work I'd ever had, and over the years I realized that every thing she told me was right. After that I went on to have the number one selling photography book in America and to do a ton of things with amazing people that I never would have been able to do if someone hadn't taken the time to point out that it's easy to be the best photographer in the room, but you don't want to be the best photographer in the room. You want to be much, much better than that.

Since I want you to back this Kickstarter, let me tell you some of the things that I learned from her.

1) Treat all your subjects the same. Bias starts when you choose or accept an assignment. You have bias, you're a human being. You need to be aware of that, consciously, and then be as honest as possible with your camera. Resist sensationalizing your work to fit the preconceived notions of your audience.

I don't think any photograph has impacted my view of photography and the role of a documentary photographer as much as this photo Mary Ellen took at a Klan rally in 1986. It says more by not saying anything than any other photograph I think I've ever seen. That it is ordinary makes it extraordinary.

2) If you want to be a successful photographer, you don't need a fancy camera. What you need is this: The ability to go to a street corner, any street corner, or a bus stop, or a swimming pool, and be able to get someone you've never met before to invite you into their house to photograph them. Sometimes that ability comes through natural charm and a curious nature, other times it's sheer force of will. But that's what you need. Photography isn't about f-stops and shutter speeds, it's about talking to people.

This photo is from her essay about the Damm family who lived mostly in their car. (Caption from the Telegraph.)

Crissy, Dean and Linda Damm, Llano, California, USA, 1994. Mark first photographed the Damm family for an assignment on homelessness in 1987. The 1994 follow-up found them still living in squalor

Mary Ellen's third book was about prostitutes in India. She went to a notorious street corner, with her camera, and stayed there for days. Eventually she got to know the women who were working there and eventually, they invited her back to their hotel rooms and houses and she got some amazing work because she went and stayed and worked as long as it took.

3) "No" just means you haven't asked the right person.

The first thing Mary Ellen had me do when I was working as her assistant was go to the local 1 hour photo lab and arrange for the class' film to be picked up at 8:00 pm, developed over night, and delivered to us at 9 the next morning. So I went to the photo lab and I talked to the manager and the manager said "Our store closes at 8:00pm. We'll start developing your film when we open and we can have it to you by 1:00."

So I called Mary Ellen and told her we could have the film back by one. She said "That's unacceptable. Call her back and tell her we need the film at 9:00 am and if she can't do that, find out who can." So I went back to the store, the manager had left, I created a ruckus until they gave me her home number, I called her at home, she said the store closed at 8:00pm, thank you. So I asked for the number of her district manager who I called at home at 9:00 at night or so and said "We need this store to stay open all night and process our film. It's 200 rolls (or whatever) and it needs to be done by 9:00 in the morning." I said it not because I thought she would, but because I wanted to be able to go back and say "I tried, they said no." But the district manager called the manager and said "schedule people to work over night on this." I called Mary Ellen back at 11 pm or so and told her they'd do it. I was expecting she'd be overjoyed I'd done the impossible, but I hadn't, I'd only done my job. The class went on, I did more impossible things, but each time they seemed less impossible, and now I do impossible things nearly every time I take on a photo project, but now I realize that if you want things to happen, you have to be the sort of person who makes things happen.

So it stands to reason that if the documentary magazines are all dead and nobody's giving out the assignments that matter -- that no magazine is going to pay to send Mary Ellen and Martin back to make a movie about Tiny, that Mary Ellen and Martin need to find the people who can say "yes", and that's us. We're all the people who make things happen.

Reward levels between $25 and $100 get you things like a signed post card, poster, or copy of the book. Rewards go all the way up to $10,000 for a portrait sitting.

You can also Check out Mary Ellen's work here.

There are clips from Martin's film Streetwise on youtube here and you can see all the photos from the book Streetwise here on Mary Ellen's website.

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This is not a fitness blog, but I just ran the #PhillyHalf Marathon... [Nov. 17th, 2013|10:37 pm]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |the replacements: alex chilton]

This is not a fitness blog, but I just ran the #PhillyHalf Marathon...

... so I'm going to talk about it real quick, and then I'll get on to the week with George R. R. Martin and last week in Hollywood with movie people and comic book superstars and all that. So bear with me.

When I was a kid my great-uncle taught me a card trick and said "You'll have to learn to appreciate this one yourself, because nobody else is going to care about it," and that's been sound advice for life. I know most people's eyes glaze over when you start telling gym stories, but it's important to me and this is where I write the things that I want to remember.

I signed up for the Philly Half Marathon sometime after the last one because I didn't want to have an excuse not to stay in shape and I ran at least 13 miles one day a week along with two other shorter runs. This time I wanted to break two hours -- I wanted to break two hours the last time but missed it by six minutes.

The organizers said we should get to the race TWO HOURS before start and expect it to take an hour to get through security ... so I went to bed at 7:30 the night before and set my alarm for 2:55 am. Got up, ate breakfast, cleaned the house and rode my bike out in the darkness. It was an interesting time to be awake. I could see the runners creeping across town, they were awake, and maniacs driving like drunken vampires trying to get home before the sun, they were awake too. I parked my bike under an overpass because it looked like it might rain. In actuality security took, really, less than one second. I didn't even have to slow down. As I was walking to the gate some guy said "do you have any bulky bags with you?" I said I didn't -- and since I was about to run 13 miles and essentially dressed as a superhero in skintight everything it was a kind of silly thing to be asking.

I wanted to try and find my friend Patricia who was running with the wheeled athletes (she wrote a guest blog about her training) and while a bunch of people let me through barricades, I got thwarted at the last one and couldn't get into her corral. So I snapped a photo and only just now did I notice that Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter is blocking Patricia in the shot -- which might be why they didn't let me in. Anyway.....

Clickenzee to Em-hizzhonorisen!

I got into my corral ("green") and found myself standing next to the 1:50 pacer.

Pacers are people who are so freaking good at running that they can run at exactly a particular speed, so they get drafted (or possibly paid) to have signs with their pace time and if you want to finish in that time, you just stay near that person. I got this brilliant idea, which I let Twitter know about because Livejournal still doesn't have a decent mobile app.

The race started and I suddenly got a bit weepy thinking about how I felt a year ago and how far I'd come and as I crossed the starting line I forgot to start my GPS watch and then I got further distracted by award winning photographer Joseph Kaczmarek who shouted and waved from high atop a crane. He shouted, I waved, he snapped a photo, I found myself wondering if there'd be a cat in it somehow because every photo of a murder scene he ever photographs has a cat in it.

(No cat)

Thus distracted I ran an entire mile before I realized my watch wasn't tracking me, I turned it on and realized I'd lost sight of the 1:50 pacer, which was difficult because his sign had a bunch of freaking BALLOONS attached to it.

Waiting for the magic to start. Clickenzee to Embiggen!

So I got paranoid I'd lost him and I started running faster and sure enough, there he was, about half a block in front of me, so I started trying to catch him, which, in retrospect was stupid, because you're supposed to conserve your energy the first half of the race and go fast the second half (this is something called a "negative split" and all the cool kids are doing it) but try as I might, I couldn't close the gap so I kind of resolved myself to not breaking 2:00 -- this was somewhere around mile three -- and it got a little easier then.

yadda yadda sweat pain gatorade NINE MILES AFTER THAT

Someone from the Intharwebz made a sign with my name on it and was waiting at mile 12 and I figured that was where I'd make my move and I just threw all of the very little I had left into it.

Which reminds me -- I wanted to say something. Occasionally people will say "It's great that you love running" or "it's great that you found something that you love to do" and I want to point out I don't like running, it's kind of awful. I had a conversation with my nephew about this a few months ago, he's a real runner, like the cross country type with .02% body fat, and he said something along the lines of "successful running is just distracting yourself from the pain for as many fractions of a second as you can" -- and that's kind of it. It hurts, you see a lake you think "lake! I wonder if you can rent a canoe here" and hey! you've distracted yourself from the pain for like half a second and then it goes back to sucking again. So, anyway, I poured it on at mile 12 and it sucked and I tried to distract myself thinking "it's only ten more minutes, it's only three more songs, this is almost over" and then I thought I'm not fat anymore and this makes me happy, and if this is what it takes to make me happy, it's what I do. And the last mile got more bearable. I was able to keep that on repeat, more or less, (imagine that every 1/4 of a second you also think THIS SUCKS YOU NITWIT, STOP RUNNING RIGHT NOW -- that's what you're fighting against. I've wondered lately if the amount of discomfort is the same but the duration is different -- like you get the option to get all your pain at once rather than spread out. When I was heavier I was uncomfortable all the time -- my back hurt, I had difficulty sleeping, it was fatiguing to walk up stairs -- it's worse when you're running, but it stops when you finish.

Anyway, some minutes later, I crossed the finish line, Mayor Nutter, unexpectedly appearing out of nowhere, hi-fived me, and, once again, everything went white and I couldn't see. I was worried that I was going to have another "exercise related collapse" but they tell you to keep moving so I kept moving, but, of course, I was blind, which made it difficult. But someone hung a medal around my neck, and someone else wrapped me in a space blanket, and some guy saw I had my phone in my hand and he said "hey! do you want me to take your picture?" and he did.

Clickenzee to Embiggen!

And I walked for a long time in a straight line and eventually my sight came back, a little at a time and I kept walking. Since I hadn't started my watch at the right time I wasn't sure if I'd come in at under two hours, I suspected I might have, but knew it would be close. Eventually I found myself sitting against a tree with a bag of pretzels, germaphobically realizing that after hi-fiving the mayor who'd been there since 5 am I had the DNA of every person in the city on my sweaty hands and I was using them to shove food into my mouth; but I felt so good I can't really describe it.

So there's the truth.

I don't like running. But I like being someone who runs.

Official time in. I did it, knocking 8 minutes off my previous time.

(Patricia came in 1:59:17 in case you were wondering.)

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Thanks to everyone who served and everyone who loved someone who has [Nov. 11th, 2013|08:01 am]
[mood |gratefulgrateful]

As a country we all asked these people to do something dangerous and compelled some of them to keep doing it. We've broken families, we've sent people to die and asked them to do things that damaged them in ways both physical and mental. We now have a generation of people who have known nothing but a nation at war.

Thanks veterans. Come home safe and soon. And if you're back, welcome home.

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It's my party so I'll play lawn darts if I want to.... [Oct. 30th, 2013|07:14 am]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |molly robison: I Drove Your Car into the Lake Michigan and I Did it For You]

Did you know that tomorrow's my birthday?

And that the very first thing that's going to happen on my birthday, one minute into it, is that my Kickstarter to make a video of Ibsen's A Doll's House ends?.

After that I'll start celebrating. And I'll celebrate for about five minutes, and then I'll get to work making this DVD happen.

Late last night I got the first draft of the artwork for the deluxe version of the DVD which looks like this at the moment:

Clickenzee to Embiggen!

We have about ten days from the close of the Kickstarter to get all the materials to the production company so you still have time to tell me what you'd like to see in the materials (and if you haven't backed the project, you have about 16 hours to order a DVD or blu-ray.

We're going with an eight panel digipack featuring artwork from the show plus some EXTRA GOODIES. There are some production stills and some behind the scenes images. What would you like to see more of? Liner notes? Art without text? A combination of both? Fewer large images or more smaller ones? Let us know.

And if you want to move up from the bare bones DVD in an envelope to the fancy version or to a Blu Ray, there's still time.

This play was a very special thing, such a unique experience that because of it's very intimate nature was seen by so very few (and very lucky) people. Thank you so much for helping us to let it keep on happening.

If you've backed this, thank you, if you haven't, thank you just for being here. And if you can, please share this with your friends in the final hours.

You all make my heart happy.

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