31 Days of Reflection, № 1 – Escapes

I’m going to attempt to post a thought every day this month reflecting on the year overall. It went by way too fast, so I want to bring some of it back. Some of these might be surface skims, some might be deep dives…

№. 1 — Escapes

Today I’ve been reflecting on how much I like to escape to other places, people, and thoughts. I think I’ve let that happen far too often this year. A lot of it has been reading (especially after slacking off last year and early this year), a lot of it has been media consumption, and yes, escaping through people, too. But it’s also been letting busyness and distraction get in the way. I found myself getting lost in work, then checking the calendar to see what I was supposed to be going to for the evening, then running off to that without thinking. Stopping to think and reflect didn’t happen enough (if at all), thus these notes.

At least reading-wise, this year’s been great. The last couple of months have been dominated by one writer, five books, and 4400 pages. All about a cat. I read the fifth volume of The Familiar in two days because all the different plot threads that were so disparate in the first book were finally interlinking and crossing over in the catchiest ways. Waiting a bunch of months for the sixth entry is going to be tough, but hopefully it won’t fly by like this year did. As a recommendation, I’d hunt down how the book club broke each book into sections spread out over the course of a month for each volume. I’d been buying the books as they were released, but avoided reading them do to their heftiness. Appearances can be deceiving and luckily they’re not endless pages of dense text.

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Midnight Jazz at the McKittrick

It was about a quarter to midnight on a Sunday and I was wandering my way to the McKittrick Hotel. I don’t think I’ve been there since the secret Spoon concert a few years ago.1

The New York Hot Jazz Festival made its way onto my radar earlier in the week and sounded like fun, but I was pretty sure after an adventurous weekend of book launches and photoshoots that I wouldn’t be able to handle attending an entire day. Luckily, Shanghai Mermaid came to the rescue and they had a Midnight Speakeasy, perfect for my Night Owl Club tendencies.2

After entering the building and taking a short elevator ride up a few floors, I made my way down a hallway, stealing a cursory, curious glance at a sliver of light through a roped-off set of curtains: bright colors, some music fading away, and lots of movement. At the end of the hall was another doorway with the curtains parted and tied to the sides. I ducked under it and found myself in some other time and place. The scene was a jarring change from the quiet, dim hallway. Everyone was dressed like they stepped right out of the Roaring Twenties and the decor matched. There was a stage at the far end of the room, blindingly lit. A few couples were finishing dancing as the band wrapped up their set. The bar was on my left, and the bartenders had joined in on the fashion theme. I ordered an Old Fashioned and tried to scope out the room and get my bearings.

Of course I brought my camera along. I haven’t shot any music in a while, so between that, two perfect Old Fashions, and just trying to relax and enjoy the show, I still got some pretty good photos.3 Hours of good music and fancy dancing followed.

The party slowly wound down, star performers from earlier in the day who had made one last encore over the past two hours finished their drinks and said their goodbyes, wandering out into the early a.m. hours of the night.4

  1. And it was so amazing and still the best concert I’ve ever been to, to the point that I don’t need to ever go to another one.

  2. I’m appropriating this Langism that usually happens when games start after 10:30… Although now I’m just realizing that I may have heard that phrase during a Penguins game for the last time last season and I’m really sad about that! ☹️

  3. I’ll probably revisit editing these photos. I’m still getting used to Lightroom (since the end of Aperture and the inability of it to process my X100F shots). So they’re kind of rough drafts.

  4. I’m already looking forward to next year’s rendition. I’m definitely going to try to go to more of the festival. Maybe a half-day. The only way it’d have been better is if someone wasn’t missing, half a country away…

Odds & Ends // 2017.09.30 // Indian Summer

Like it says: odds & ends; I’ll try to post this once a week to track things I read, quick updates, thoughts, links, etc.


  • One last beach day…

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  • Fall hasn’t quite arrived yet and we’ve still been getting days that’re unbearably hot and humid.


  • LCD Soundsystem – Black Screen


  • Recode: Why Ken Burns won’t leave PBS for HBO

    “I’m at the dance with them that brung me and I think I’m leavin’ with them,” Burns said on the latest episode of Recode Media with Peter Kafka.

    “Every single film I’ve made for public television has been my director’s cut.”

    Onto my watch list. Thank you, commencement speaker!

  • Apple: Deep Learning for Siri’s Voice

    Skip to the bottom and just listen to the audio samples and ithe improvements in each version.
    The last set is almost on par with a generic audiobook narrator.

  • I’m still working through The Familiar Volume 2, and will then have to power through volume 3 to catch up there and start reading Volume 4 in October. And tacked on The Lost Weekend by for a book club.


Renaissance Rooftop!

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and she slept a lot

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Haiku Guys and Gals Book Launch!

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This was neat. I’d seen the list once or twice over the past couple years, but I didn’t know it’d become legitimized and is now such a Thing™.

  • TSN Original: Surfacing

    Since his retirement in 2011 after a series of concussions, Paul Kariya has been a veritable ghost, keeping his distance from a game that he once ennobled with his gentlemanly play, his speed and his scoring touch. In November, Kariya will join former linemate Teemu Selanne when they are inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, thrusting him once again into the spotlight. After a long – probably too long wait – Paul Kariya surfaces.

    It’s tough to hear what Kariya went through, but I’m glad he’s speaking up about it. He was one of the few non-Penguins I liked as a kid.

Coming Up

I’m going to write about my favorite movie…
And I might start writing on an actual schedule

Odds & Ends // 2017.08.31 // Summer Doldrums

Like it says: odds & ends; I’ll try to post this once a week to track things I read, quick updates, thoughts, links, etc.


  • Black Mountain – Set Us Free


  • Thought Catalog: 10 Ways You’re Making Your Life Harder Than It Has To Be

    3: You fast forward to apocalypse.

    I have a bad habit of fast forwarding everything to its worst possible outcome and being pleasantly surprised when the result is marginally better than utter disaster or jail time. My mind unnecessarily wrestles with events that aren’t even remotely likely. My sore throat is cancer. My lost driver’s license fell into the hands of an al-Qaeda operative who will wipe out my savings account.

    Negativity only breeds more negativity. It is a happiness riptide. It will carry you away from shore and if you don’t swim away from it, will pull you under.

    I do this too often and it’s a tough habit to break.

  • Aeon: How Camus and Sartre split up over the question of how to be free

  • The New Republic: The Rise of the Thought Leader

    The rich have, Drezner writes, empowered a new kind of thinker—the “thought leader”—at the expense of the much-fretted-over “public intellectual.” Whereas public intellectuals like Noam Chomsky or Martha Nussbaum are skeptical and analytical, thought leaders like Thomas Friedman and Sheryl Sandberg “develop their own singular lens to explain the world, and then proselytize that worldview to anyone within earshot.”

    Takeaway lesson: be skeptical.

  • Nerdist: Hear Kevin Conroy Read the Iconic The Dark Knight Speech

    When I hear Batman in my mind, that’s the voice, always.

  • BBC: Orpheus Underground

    Novelist Neil Gaiman explores the intricacies of the Orpheus myth, the timeless story of art’s place in trying to recover the dead.

  • Marlin Mann: On Chasing the Right “Zero”

    Put to best use, Inbox Zero is merely a philosophical practice of learning to be parsimonious about which and how many inputs we allow into our lives—and, then, to responsibly but mindfully tend to those inputs in a way that is never allowed to hinder our personal commitment to doing the work that really matters to us.

  • Spoon’s Britt Daniel talks latest album ‘Hot Thoughts’

    If a band is going to exist for a while, or an artist is going to put out record after record after record. what I want to see as a listener is that they’re throwing me a left turn every now and then — that they are trying something new, that they are not resting on what they know. When we came up with a song like “Us” for this record, which is a mostly instrumental piece, mostly based on saxophones … that was something like we’d never done before. When I saw that it could be something we could turn into a song, I jumped at it. I wasn’t sure we’d be able to make it into a song, but I think we did.

  • PBS: Neil Gaiman listens to these dramatic film scores while he writes

  • On the reading front, I’ve been working my way through The Familiar.


  • I got to see the partial solar eclipse. The next totality is going to swing through Ohio in 2024, so maybe I’ll travel over there and see it.

Solar Eclipse, New York City, 2017-08-21 2:43pm

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  • A bee did not appreciate my golf game.

Not quite a birdie…

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Odds & Ends // 2017.07.31 // Dog Days of Summer

Like it says: odds & ends; I’ll try to post this once a week to track things I read, quick updates, thoughts, links, etc.


  • Coldplay – Miracle


  • Caps Honored to Hoist Garbage Can

    After the Caps beat the Seals, Tommy Williams, who had two assists that night and was the game’s second star, picked up the trash can, held it over his head and passed it around the room. The Caps paraded it around the room. After all, the Caps finally won a road game!

    Sounds about right. I wonder if they raised a banner, too…

  • The RNC Files: Inside the Largest US Voter Data Leak

    This reporter was able, after determining his RNC ID, to view his modeled policy preferences and political actions as calculated by TargetPoint. It is a testament both to their talents, and to the real danger of this exposure, that the results were astoundingly accurate.

    So annoying that all our info keeps floating around out there because people are woefully negligent. Not to mention that it’s being collected and sold like this in the first place.

  • Building Mental Toughness Off the Field

  • I used to be a political cartoonist. Here’s what you should know about satirizing political assassinations.

    An artist’s job is to take risks, and taking risks means sometimes doing things that turn out to be stupid and wrong. The riskier the subject matter, the better or funnier your art had better be. If you fail, people are going to be offended and mad and call you names on the internet. They will also do this if you succeed. If your intention is to provoke, you don’t apologize when you succeed; the correct response, when you waggle a severed president’s head at the public and the public is outraged, is: “That’s right, and here’s Mitch McConnell’s, too.”

  • Ron Burkle opens up on Penguins ownership, Mario Lemieux and the future

    “The parade almost means more than that moment on the ice [after the Cup was won],” he said. “That moment on the ice is exciting, but when you sit there and you see a community like Pittsburgh, and the size of Pittsburgh, and the turnout in the community … and it was [goalie Marc-Andre] Fleury’s last moment. And seeing people holding up Phil Kessel signs, that is probably the highlight of the whole thing.”

    Definitely missing Molinari on the Penguins beat. PG would’ve been better served to aim for something like this on a bi-weekly or monthly basis rather than relegating him to the Penn State beat.

  • Redesigning Waxy

    Here, I control my words. Nobody can shut this site down, run annoying ads on it, or sell it to a phone company. Nobody can tell me what I can or can’t say, and I have complete control over the way it’s displayed. Nobody except me can change the URL structure, breaking 14 years of links to content on the web.

    Obviously I don’t have 14 years of posts, but if I had stuck to when I actually started playing around with wordpress, I’d have 7 or 8 years at this point. Facebook has 12 years of me, and twitter had 9 1

  • The Zelda-‘Twin Peaks’ Connection is Real

    Tezuka: I didn’t try to do that on purpose. About Twin Peaks. We were talking about this before you [Iwata] arrived. I was talking about fashioning Link’s Awakening with a feel that’s somewhat like Twin Peaks. At the time, Twin Peaks was rather popular. The drama was all about a small number of characters in a small town. So I wanted to make something like that, while it would be small enough in scope to easily understand, it would have deep and distinctive characteristics.

    This was my first Zelda game and it had a lot of quirks and oddities that the rest of the series hasn’t really had.

  • I read Ready Player One. The movie should be fun.

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“Only when a republic’s life is in danger should a man uphold his government when it is in the wrong. There is no other time.
This Republic’s life is not in peril. The nation has sold its honor for a phrase. It has swung itself loose from its safe anchorage and is drifting, its helm is in pirate hands. The stupid phrase needed help, and it got another one: ‘Even if the war be wrong we are in it and must fight it out: we cannot retire from it without dishonor.’ Why, not even a burglar could have said it better. We cannot withdraw from this sordid raid because to grant peace to those little people on their terms–independence–would dishonor us. You have flung away Adam’s phrase–you should take it up and examine it again. He said, ‘An inglorious peace is better than a dishonorable war.’”

Gotta get my Mark Twain in during times like these.

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  • Happy 4th of July

Doesn’t matter what the press says. Doesn’t matter what the politicians or the mobs say. Doesn’t matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right. This nation was founded on one principle above all else: The requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree besides the river of truth, and tell the whole world – ‘No, you move.’ —Amazing Spider-Man #537, December 2006, written by J. Michael Straczynski

My favorite Captain America quote.


  • Speaking of which, Spider-Man: Homecoming was fun.

  • Wonder Woman is still probably my favorite movie of the year until October.


  • Marvel: Making a Difference in the Real World
    Keeping the Marvel run going, this was a really good talk that I stumbled onto. It meant even more when I took part in a Narrative 4 story exchange and was able to share it with the person I was partnered with after we shared our own personal stories.

  1. Twitter is so ephemeral, I don’t see why it bothers to archive posts from a user-standpoint (obviously, they need the data to sell ads). I like to keep it between 3-6 months and routinely nuke everything beyond that. There’s usually nothing I’m embarrassed by or regret posting in the first place, but how often have you gone to someone’s profile and scrolled past a few weeks worth of posts? (Somewhat the same with facebook, the only time you’re going years previously into someone’s profile if trying to find something specific about them… And who does that?

Moments of Escape & Solace

Photography is about freezing a moment in time, creating a memory that you can share by showing others. There’s a lot of blanks to fill in, and I’m always happier to leave it that way. 1 Some of the answers can remain unsaid, others cannot be said.

About three years ago, I got to have some of my photos exhibited as part of a group project. 2

I was nervous when the exhibition night rolled around. I think I was actually shaking with anticipation. I hadn’t had my photos on display since high school, maybe nine years prior. It felt good to have my work up on a wall in a gallery for people to see. And we had sponsored drinks and snacks, so that made it a bit easier to pass the time. Turns out, only two friends showed up. 3

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It’s odd going back and seeing what I focused on.4 Looking at the pictures now, the set of them definitely reflect the lonely and isolated feeling I had at the time. The rest of 2014 would be a roller coaster as well, but that’s another story….


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We also had to write a didactic panel to go along with our work. This was the scariest part for me. I like to let my photos speak for themselves to the point that I won’t even give them titles if I can help it.


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This project was initially a foray into exploring the use of black and white photography in New York’s urban environment, but a funny thing happened on the way to the darkroom… Manhattan’s unrelenting hustle and bustle, brusqueness, and confinement led to exhaustion and a need to escape. I found myself searching for open, natural, and quiet locations; trying to find a small measure of peace and solace. Whether it was New York’s parks where one could almost (but not quite) leave the city behind, to the edge of Long Island on the beaches of Montauk, or far up in the Catskills in the rolling, foggy mountains, I needed to be away from everything in order to read, write, or relax. In Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino describes the concept of the city as “the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together.” These photographs are an attempt to illustrate respite from that inferno.

That was me in that moment, three years ago; it almost sounds like someone else, or at least it doesn’t sound like me now. No better or worse, just different. I think I was still coming to terms with everything I had gone through in the first year or two in New York. It was quite the tale of two cities, and this was the cap on the end of a particular phase.

  1. That’s the point of art, everyone can interpret it in it’s own way.

  2. Moments seems defunct now, which is too bad. I think I was a little advanced for their target audience, but it was a lot of fun going through it with a group, discussing our work, and having an assignment or goal every week or so to go out and work on.

  3. So heads-up if you miss out on something I do: it might take years to catch it again!

  4. Pun intended, ha!

Odds & Ends // 2017.06.30 // Green Light

Like it says: odds & ends; I’ll try to post this once a week to track things I read, quick updates, thoughts, links, etc.


I found I didn’t like doing these weekly as there was too much “churn” and not enough content.
Going to experiment with monthly ones for a while and see if I like that better. 🙂


I’m on the Lorde bandwagon.


  • I read a double feature of David Mitchell: Black Swan Green and number9Dream were both engrossing reads. I could barely put them down once I started. It must be Mitchell’s writing style, too, because I wasn’t too enamored with either plot. I tried to start The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, but it was just not for me. Too bad, since it’s the first part of the Marinus Trilogy, but I’m looking forward to The Bone Clocks regardless and hoping it’s on par with Cloud Atlas, which I loved.


  • Quest for the Stanley Cup – Episode 5
    Here’s the finale! So good. I really wonder what they’re going to do for the Championship video since they probably used a lot of content already in this and the In the Room series. 1

  • Twin Peaks: Parts 7 & 8
    Part 7 moved some of the plot lines forward 2, and Part 8 was art in the form of a direct infusion of David Lynch’s imagination. Hopefully more like it ahead.

  • American Gods Ep 8 – Season Finale
    That was too brief of a season, but ok. I think it was a little overhyped before it all aired, especially with the numerous “This is the best show on tv!” reviews. It’s good, it’s fun, it has an attitude and style, but it;’s not the best. At least not yet.

  • Into the Badlands – Remainder of Season 1
    This was an unexpected surprise. Original, fun, decent writing and acting. And the action scenes are awesome and fun, they’re like a blend of the Matrix and Highlander.

  • 11.22.63
    I forgot how much of a heartbreaker the book was. It was so painful towards the end.

Coming Up Next

Starting in July, I’ll be trying The Familiar book club. The books have been sitting on my shelves far too long because of their intimidating length, but this should have a nice, structured pace to it!

  1. Which I’ve never seen, so maybe that’ll be next for my Summer sports fix…

  2. Maybe they were… swept forward. 😎

Odds & Ends // 2017.06.16 // “I’m gonna send ya back to Arkansas”

Like it says: odds & ends; I’ll try to post this once a week to track things I read, quick updates, thoughts, links, etc.


The Penguins won the Stanley Cup!

The Pittsburgh Penguins are back-to-back champions.

Have I mentioned the Penguins won the cup?

I might be a little excited about all of this.

Back-to-Back Champs!

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Princess is ecstatic.


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Malteses everywhere. #RaiseThePup!

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  • Natalie Imbruglia – Torn

    This popped up on the radio when I was in DC for my sister’s wedding.
    20 years makes a big difference. I’d always change the station when it came on in the 90s, this time I made sure I figured out who it was and finally got around to downloading it last night. She’s pretty good at covers.



IMG 8093


  • American Gods, Episode 7

    This might be my favorite episode so far.

  • Twin Peaks: The Return, Episode 6

    Definitely better than last week, although there was a suspicious lack of certain characters and storylines…

  • Into the Badlands

    I watched the first two episodes of this. It’s surprisingly cool and catchy. I’m definitely going to keep watching over Summer while there’s not much else on. 1

  • The Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup Championship Parade

    “What can we say about this group of hockey players here? I just think there isn’t a group I’ve been around that knows how to win more than these guys. … These guys are fierce competitors. They just know how to win, they just find ways to get it done. We couldn’t be more proud of them. … I said a little something last year, seeing if we could do this again. I wonder if we could repeat, or three-peat, should I say?”

    What a leader, possibly the best coach in Penguins history. There’s no reason it can’t happen again; if they could get through this season with all the injuries, anything is possible.

  • All Access: Quest for the Stanley Cup

    Screen Shot 2017 06 16 at 10 34 50 AM  2

    I binged four episodes last night. Starts at the conference finals and episode 4 ended with Nashville taking Game 4. So tonight’s episode should be pretty good. There was a great bit in episode 4 with Sullivan and his dad playing cards in their back yard.

    Another fun fact: both Laviolette and Sullivan named their dogs Stanley.



It looks rainy for tonight and Sunday, so probably catching up on some reading. Tomorrow’s supposed to be nice; maybe some photography?

  1. Come back Mr. Robot!

The Fountain Pen Rabbit Hole

These days, I have a modest collection of fountain pens 1, inks, and notebooks. I’ve designed my own letterhead for sending mail to friends and family. I don’t profess to be a Serious Writer™, but I do make sure that I have fun in the process!

How did this happen?

I began my fountain pen journey about three and a half years ago when I was stranded at JFK while waiting for a flight home for Christmas. At the time, my parents were in Charleston, SC, and there were only two flights to there from NYC every day. I had missed the morning flight because I couldn’t afford a cab on top of the plane ticket at the time, and it was a lovely 90 minute trip at an absolute minimum, not counting the 20 minute wait for train transfers in the early morning hours, however long the AirTran takes, Christmas crowds and lines, etc. Long story short, I had seven or eight hours to burn, and JetBlue could only do so much. 2

Luckily, it wasn’t a Sunday, so in addition to 8am teriyaki chicken for breakfast, I grabbed a Sam Adams or two 3, and tried to figure out what to do while I waited.

While chowing down, I noticed that there that there was a Muji-To-Go shop nearby. I had grabbed a few gel pens from their store in the city earlier in the year, so I wandered over to browse, figuring I’d stock up on some notebooks for a few hours of writing to pass the time. I was surprised to find that Muji had their own model of fountain pen. Somewhere along the way in life, I was under the impression that fountain pens were always pricey and expensive instruments that’d be out of my reach, but this was at am impulse buy that fit into my extremely limited budget 4, so I bought one, started writing with it, and promptly fell down the rabbit hole.

First off, it was nice and minimalist, not anything flashy or fancy. This was great because people wouldn’t even notice at first that I was using a fountain pen. 5 Secondly, it was a totally different feel to writing than ballpoints or rollerball gel pens. I didn’t have to grind into the paper, it wasn’t scratching itself along, it didn’t skip. It was a totally different feel in writing. I was hooked instantly. I found myself writing a little slower and watching my handwriting shape up a touch neater.

The real fun started when I found out I could get an ink converter and use different inks in my pen. I could totally personalize it, and that’s where all the fun starts! There’s an endless variety of inks. Dark, light, saturated, shimmering, shaded… the choices are nearly endless. I think I stuck with my Muji pen for a year and a half before branching out to a TWSBI, and then getting to use different nibs. This adds yet another distinction and personalization to my writing. Stub nibs and flourishes for signatures, mediums and broads for writing cards and letters, and fines or extra-fines for quick notes and personal writing.

So that’s a brief recollection of how a missed flight home for Christmas got me into fountain pens.

Oh, and Bill Murray ended up a few rows behind me, so I had that going for me which was nice.

  1. Five so far, including the Lamy 2000 I’m drafting this post with, which I think is my favorite.

  2. They DID have Christmas carolers wandering around the terminal and singing, so that made everything nice.

  3. to start

  4. $8 as the daily special, I think

  5. Now I have flashy ones when I’m trying to make a statement.

Odds & Ends // 2017.06.09 // “Pittsburgh & Paris & NYC!”

Like it says: odds & ends; I’ll try to post this once a week to track things I read, quick updates, thoughts, links, etc.


Fishing was rained out. :(

The Penguins lost games three and four to the Predators. It made Princess very sad.

Sad Princess
Then they won game 5 last night! She’ll accept it.
Pensive Princess
One more win for a happy Princess!




  • Twin Peaks: The Return – Episode 5: I don’t know what to think at this point. This was the slowest episode so far, but hopefully it’s just one of those ‘moving the pieces around the board’ ones. I don’t feel the need to rewatch it like the first four though. That said, patience seems to be the key.

  • Logan: I want to watch it again in black and white, but not for a little while. It was a poignant sendoff for Hugh Jackman’s version of Wolverine. Superhero movies where they have grounded, personal stakes are so much better than the constant “saving the world” plots. 2


  • Snapped some photos at a poetry event at Torn Page… still getting used to my new camera, but I’m having fun with it so far:

  • Rick Snyder’s Snykus brought the humor:

  • Gracie Bialecki brought the emotion:


Always amazing. This one is worth the watch.


Probably some photowalks! And watching Game 6. Foley’s should be a madhouse.

  1. Plus the remixes are so good, too.

  2. That said, I can’t wait to see Wonder Woman!