best when viewed in low light


SPOM: The Spirit of Cycling, Alex Moulton

Yet another nugget of awesomeness from Mom:

Alex Moulton, Creator of Quirky Small-Wheeled Bike

Mr. Moulton wrote in the mid-1990s, in a pamphlet titled “The Moulton Bicycle: The World’s Most Efficient Form of Transport.”
“The contrast in the activity of motoring and cycling could not be more profound,” he continued. “The driver, who sits in a low, enclosed, air-conditioned environment or ‘cage,’ is only sensually and nervously involved and is isolated from the surroundings; whereas the cyclist, with a high sightline and in the open air, is physically involved, and proceeds in that miraculous way entirely by his or her own effort of health-giving exercise, with nervous relaxation and spiritual uplift even!” 

I couldn't have said it better myself


I wouldn't be who I am without you: Carter

"There once was a boy named Milo who didn't know what to do with himself--not just sometimes, but always." 

- Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

The Phantom Tollbooth is one of the books that has defined my life, and continues to shape the way I think about stories and writing. I can credit Norton Juster for many things, among them: enhancing my vocabulary, teaching me to play with words, and encouraging me to see even the most mundane aspects of my life with excitement and curiosity. Milo's journey from mental stagnation to empowerment is both inspiring and instructive - a fable for the 21st century, whose essence could be captured by the phrase: seize the day!

Carter George introduced me to Milo on the Westport porch when I was just old enough to understand and still young enough to fall in love with someone for giving me a book (although that's probably still true). I last saw Carter at a farm in Portland, finally settled into love with Carol, and even before their son was a proverbial glimmer. I'm grateful for that memory and for everything else Carter gave me that he likely never knew. 

Carter, I have always loved and missed you. 


The Girl Hero: Where is she leading us?

For centuries since the male takeover of theology, society and industry, there has been an established precedent of young girls leading us through the darkness (whether that darkness is emotional, intellectual, or philosophical).

In Western literature, the female hero--those like Alice, Dorothy, Katherine Bennet, and, more recently Beatrix Kiddo, Merida, and Charlie (of JJ Abrams' & Jon Favreau's "Revolution")--has been on a quest to find...well, ultimately, herself.

I'm always in favor of girl heros...but without respect and clearly defined goals, where is she taking us?



Microsoft's game room game changer

This is the step that will make console gaming relevant for the next generation: 3D landscapes projected around the 360 degrees of your (now the term actually seems apt) game room.

Cheers, Microsoft! Looking forward to seeing where this goes...


Future tense research

  • Must expresses the highest degree of obligation and commitment (I / you must go) and is temporally nearest to present time in its expression of futurity ("I must go now.")
  • Should (the subjunctive form of shall in this context) implies obligation or commitment to the action contemplated.
  • Can implies the ability to commit the action but does not presuppose obligation or firm commitment to the action.
  • May expresses a relatively low sense of commitment (I may go) and is the most permissive (You may go); it can also suggest conditionality (I may go [if I have time]).
  • Might expresses a very low sense of commitment or obligation (I / you might go if I / you feel like it).

thank you, wikipedia, i feel that i gain so much more than my $5/month support buys.


On some other ish

There's a reason why they call him "The Genius"...

Can't wait to hear GZA's forthcoming albums: Dark Matter (inspired by the universe), Liquid Swords 1.5 (yeah, that's right, the awesome original revised with a live band), and then a water-world collaboration with marine biologists, including Phillippe Cousteau!

Personally, I think "Pro Tools" got slept on... but I'm thrilled to see that GZA's got a whole line-up of inspiration coming our way. And it frustrates me that space, or science, or anything that makes up the awesomeness of existence should be relegated to some second-place, as if the discussion of tits and cash is more enlightening/relevant/inspiring/accessible to "the audience."


If we continue to hold low expectations for ourselves, can we expect anything but mediocrity?

(I'm obsessed with Gordon Ramsey and his portfolio of reality shows. I think people want to be pushed towards greatness, but we lack the discipline to demand it of ourselves...hence the drive towards mediocrity, where we don't have to work hard to meet expectations, especially our own!)

My boyfriend (aka Fuzzykins McGrath), asked me this morning if GZA ever pictured himself in the Wall Street Journal, or lecturing at Harvard or meeting with MIT professors. I think not...literally. But if he didn't picture himself in the stratosphere, how did he keep making the choices that would lead him to those people and places?

Reach for the stars, right?


Bike vids make great background

Mercury! Nicely done, James Lantz

Downloading in progress...

Mercury is, in its own words, "an experimental winner-generated arcade roguelike."

Really, it's a play on a game design grail: the player-created experience. Can systems do that?

I'm wary, impressed, and looking forward to playing...I'll report back.


Yeah, but Kanye's had a revelation

Kiese Laymon's Gawker article, "Kanye Is Better at His Job Than I Am at Mine (But I'm Way Better at Being a Fake-Ass Feminist", is a thorough homage to Ye's widespread ideological influence - both good and bad.

"...Kanye wants maligned folks to get what they deserve. Poor black folks from New Orleans deserved more so Kanye said, "George Bush doesn't care about black people."
Beyonce deserved more, so Kanye said, "Taylor, I'ma let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the greatest videos of all time."
Queer brothers deserved more, so Kanye said, "I been discriminating against gays … and I wanna come on TV and tell my rappers, just tell my friends, Yo, stop it, fam ..."
Black kids in Chicago deserved more, so Kanye said, "Man, killing's some wack shit."
Listeners of American popular music deserved more than formulaic noise so Kanye West offered us eight years of GOOD music. In those eight years, Kanye managed to collapse, carve and distort disparate sounds rooted in the black musical traditions into newly shaped inescapable musical experiences. His work did more than challenge conventional composition. Whether it's College Dropout, Late Registration, 808s and Heartbreak, or Watch the Throne, Kanye's work literally dared us to revise our expectations of sound."
But then...

"Kanye West, that box-jawed American virtuoso who told the white man the truth, is eons better at his job than Les is at lying and I am at writing, but when it comes to exploring women (you know, "females," "cats," "bitches," "hoes," "pussies," "Kelly Rowlands," "hood rats," "good girls," "sluts," "light skinned girls," and now "Perfect Bitches"), Kanye West ain't really using his voice or his art right. This actually makes him just like almost every other virtuoso and mediocre American man I've read, watched or heard.
Kanye West is better than those jokers, though.
He's good enough, brave enough, conceptually genius enough, compassionate enough and now rich enough to use his voice to explore with prickly honesty, and dramatic irony, what black women are and the ways he encourages, and is encouraged to, obsessively dismember, soulfully mutilate and straight diss the fuck out of women in order to move units and feel like a manlier man.
At what point does listening to artists obsessively encourage manipulative relationships, sociopathic deception and irresponsible sex with women doubling as accessorized pussy become not just destructive, but really, really boring? If Kanye West won't, or maybe even can't, explore the meat of that question, isn't he too great to exploit it?"

All fair points.

And I agree...but then, the revelation

I think in his rap in this song, Kanye is the most honest about, and with himself, than he's been in much of his misogynistic narrative. Because it's here that he rejects society's assumptions about what "healthy" relationships are - admits the truth about what he wants and can offer to a woman. For that, I applaud him.

And even though Laymon veers off on a different rant, he illustrates from his own experience the nugget of what makes for a real feminist: being honest about how you relate to women; admitting that you are a shithead like everyone else, and that you still need to be loved and held in an intimate relationship. "Deserving" just clouds the issue. If you want to relieve yourself of the burden of real equality in your intimate relationships (and, because you're a shithead just like everyone else, of course you do), you can make yourself a martyr or a murderer of women. But don't think for a second that women aren't coming to the table with their own distrust, deception, and desire to avoid accountability for those truths about themselves.

The goal isn't even moral propriety (how archaic). Cause even your selfish do-gooding is morally questionable, right? (At least, you think so.)

As Ye says: "We formed a new religion/No sins, as long as there's permission"

I'm glad Kanye knows what he wants, he (just like all us other shitheads) deserves at least that.


Seurat, you futurist, you

I never realized until today how prophetic Seurat and the other pointillist painters were. But...pixels?

More Moon mythology

Kickstarter is an emotional rollercoaster

I contributed to the Blink/Steady project - how could I not?

As an experienced manufacturer might expect, the production has been plagued with minor problems, all of which delay the completion and shipping of my awesome new theft-proof bike light!

Every time I see an update email from them I'm all a-twitter...and today there's yet another minor delay (etchings are backwards)...I swear, it's like every time they tell me it's gonna be longer, I get annoyed and then reminded that soon, eventually, finally I will actually get this awesome thing, and I even helped it come to life in a tiny way. Hooray!

You should Kickstart something, too.


Here's how to preserve disappointing stereotypes

Hollywood heroines: Here to stay?

I'm so isolated in an imaginary world that I rarely read "professional" articles in my industry. I guess this is why: this man, who--with all due respect--has been a great success in the gaming industry shares knowledge that, intentionally or no, preserves the lame assumptions and low standards we set for media aimed at girls and women.

Why tween girls aren't playing your games

"So, what makes these girls tick, and what will get them playing your games? Here are some insights on how to create games that tween girls will love…
Understand the psychology: An informed approach to developing for this audience means understanding tween girls’ behavior and what motivates them. Between the ages of 8 and 12, girls are just starting to become aware of and experiment with their appearance, which explains why beauty and dress-up games reign supreme. They’re also interested in imagining and acting out their future lives, making role-playing games a great fit — particularly those that enable them to try various jobs on for size, like playing veterinarian or head chef. Self-expression is another hallmark of this demographic, making personality quizzes and creation games especially popular."


Memoirs of the Twentieth Century

Haven't seen anything this ridiculously awesome in a while:


Great Man

I love you L. Frank Baum. I think I love you, too, James Franco.


The Girl Who Flew Away

One morning, Ella woke up, stretched and yawned lion-like, and threw back her covers. She swung her legs over the edge of the bed and hopped onto her feet. 

She looked down, wiggled her toes, and saw that she floated. 

How odd, she thought, and tried several times to touch the ground. She crouched as low as she could, straining for the floor with all her might. She poked a finger into the rug with no trouble - there it was, solid as usual, but no matter how hard she flexed her big toe towards the floor, it stayed just a millimeter or two in the air. Next, she tried to get heavy. She picked up Marshmallow, her stuffed stegosaurus, but she was mostly fluff. She tried adding her precious blanket, but Blanky weighed almost nothing at all. She grabbed a book, a shoe, and her nightlight, but she was no closer to the floor. So she put it all down again. 

Ella rubbed her nose thoughtfully and considered. She put one foot out not too far in front of where she stood and took a step. Slowly, she let her weight shift forward, testing to see if she had stumbled upon some strange patch of faulty gravity. But there she was, suspended just above the deep purple rug of her bedroom. 

She tied Marshmallow to her chest with Blanky, and walked slowly, carefully out of her room, down the stairs, and into the kitchen where her parents sat eating Cheerios. 

"Good morning, Ella dear," her mother sang, dropping a kiss on her head as Ella skimmed by. "Have a seat, sweetheart, and eat some cereal." 

Her father greeted her from behind the wall of the Washington post, turning down just the corner with a pair of long fingers to show her his smiling left eye. 

Ella ate her breakfast quite normally, except for the funny floaty feeling just under her dangling feet. When she finished, she got up, put her bowl in the sink, and went about her day. She got dressed, got in the car with her mom and went to school, sat down at her desk, and went through her lessons. It wasn't until lunch--recess, really--that anyone even noticed that she didn't reach the ground. It was Nicholas, her math partner and dodgeball rival who noticed first. 

"Ha ha! Look you guys! Ella's feet don't touch! She's growing up! Get it?" 

Suddenly Ella was in the middle of a group of oggling classmates. Their awe mixed with a touch of jealousy, and a bit of danger. However cool it might be that she was, technically, flying, their intuition for rejecting such an oddity overwhelmed even that. The comments slowly turned from wondering to hostile, and Ella felt the press of their budding violence uncomfortably. 

She stepped back. To her dismay, it was not simply back, but up. Before this new observation could be processed by her peers, the bell rang and the sensation was forgotten in the giggling, pushing, jostling of line formations and teachers' rebukes. 

But Ella hung back. In the fray, she was left in the yard to wonder at her new outlook on the world. Now she hovered about four inches from the cracked pavement. 

Wishing for her dear, loyal Marshmallow, she drifted away from school, and turned towards home. Her mother would be there, painting in her studio and humming over the low buzz of NPR. 

Ella's eyes were full of tears and desperation when she appeared at her own front door, and her mother's face was full of concern. She hugged Ella close and murmured soothing things amid the questions: are you hurt? are you ok? oh dear, what happened?!

She sat back on her heels and looked Ella over. And then her face went white and filled with panicked disbelief. She screamed, covered her mouth with her hand to muffle it--eyes wide--and screamed again. Terrified, she turned and ran back into the house, leaving the door ajar.

Befuddled and disturbed by her mother's reaction, Ella poked her head carefully inside and went to her room. She could hear the radio in the basement, but no sounds from her mom. Why was she so scared, Ella asked Marshmallow, but there was no answer. Grown ups were strange, Ella thought, and understanding them far beyond her ambitions. 

Troubled and exhausted, Ella cuddled close to Marshmallow and Blanky and dozed. When she woke again, she heard the familiar sounds of dinner preparations, and felt warm all over. Soon her father's car would crunch into the gravel driveway, and her mother would call her to dinner. For a moment, her floating was forgotten in the comfort of home. 

Eager to put it all behind, Ella jumped out of bed, tumbling forward as her feet hit the air just below the level of her mattress. She looked, dumbstruck, at the space between her feet and her lovely purple rug - she was at least 18 inches from the floor. 

Ella took a moment to absorb this new reality, and steeled herself against the fear she'd surely encounter if her parents saw her in this state. So she made up her mind - she would have to leave. She didn't know where to go, and she didn't know what to do, but she felt much lighter now that she knew she was on her own.

With Marshmallow and Blanky strapped across her chest, she took a quick inventory of her other prized possessions: the Tinkerbell nightlight would have to stay, along with Raggedy Ann and the duck family. Her books would be too heavy to carry, but she changed her mind and put Goodnight Moon into her Star Wars lunch box, next to her emergency astronaut ice cream (stashed away after the last rainy day trip to the Air & Space Museum with her dad) and the Delorean picture she'd drawn after seeing Back to the Future. 

Having gathered what she needed, she crept slowly down the stairs just as Dad came in and kissed her mom hello. Ella watched this ritual lovingly, but more cautiously than she had before, knowing now how delicate these two were, and that it was her job to protect them from the things they couldn't comprehend. 

In a few minutes, dinner would be done and they would worry when she didn't come clomping down the stairs in her usual hurry. Instead, she slipped out the open window and melted into the night.

As she scooted along in the sticky summer heat of DC, she felt herself rising further from the ground. By the time she found the Mall, she was floating from tree top to tree top, kicking at the leaves for leverage. She floated over the Lincoln Memorial, paused for a moment to touch the shiny golden tip of the Washington Monument, and caressed the feather crown of Freedom, at her post atop the Capitol. 

Further and further she rose above the city, watching as first the Supreme Court building on Capitol Hill, then the Armory, and, finally, the Anacostia River grew tiny under her. This was all the world she knew until this moment, and she marveled as it dissolved into an unrecognizable grid of roads and lights and roofs, which gave way to the endless dark of woods and, eventually, water.

Ella whispered a few words of encouragement to Marshmallow, snuggled into her fuzzy warmth, and saw the horizon stretch away beneath her. 

Higher and higher. She saw the sun rise over China, and nearly missed colliding with a satellite. Outside the Earth's atmosphere, she got very cold, but managed to wrap Blanky tightly round her shoulders, while keeping a hold on Marshmallow and her lunchbox. 

Further on she passed the moon, and then each planet, though she couldn't remember all their names. Beyond that, through the Milky Way and out into the dark, star-speckled universe she floated. And on, into the space between universes.

For all we know, she floats there still, seeing past the reach of our imagination.



You know why fashion sucks? Because it's about dictating to other people what is beautiful or flattering or sexy or desirable. And really, wtf does anybody else know about what makes you feel beautiful or fit or sexy or desired? Or for that matter, what does anybody else know about what makes you look beautiful or fit or sexy or desired?

STYLE is another animal entirely. It is as much internal as it is external. It is as much about who you are as it is about what you wear.

Funny thing about style, though, is you can tell on first glance when someone has it. It doesn't even matter what they're wearing, because you can tell they feel confident and comfortable in whatever they've chosen...

Maybe that's the nugget: fashion is about accepting other people's choices; style is about making your own.

One of my favorite blogs in the whole world -- Advanced Style -- is a perfect illustration of what I mean.

Also, I'd totally wear that!
Fanny Karst Trouble in Paradise collection, 2012


Moon dust

The Moon's Peculiar Dust Gets More Peculiar Still

The moon has never had all that much. It doesn't have atmosphere, it doesn't have water and it sure doesn't have life. What it does have though is dirt -- lots and lots of dirt -- and it's some of the coolest stuff you ever saw. Now it's gotten cooler still, thanks to the discovery this week of a wholly unexpected ingredient stirred into the lunar mix.

Even before astronauts landed on the moon, they knew the soil would be something special. With no atmosphere to intercept incoming meteorites and micrometeorites, the lunar regolith -- or surface covering -- would have been subjected to a 4.5 billion year bombardment that would have produced a layer of dust far finer than confectioner's sugar. That dust, the Apollo crewmen found when they went out to play in it, did some strange things: it rose above the surface when disturbed and hung there far longer than could be explained by the moon's weak gravity; it crept deep into the weave and cracks of virtually anything it touched and clung there as if adhesively attached. What's more, it was filled with exquisitely fine green and orange glass beads -- the products of the superheated melting and cooling that followed impacts.


The Bacheolorette: Emily and the Package Deal 5

'Ere we are in Londontown with Emily and the suitors in Episode 5...

One-on-one with Sean -- "love takes no prisoners" -- and within minutes, "it's safe to say [he's] falling for this girl."

Meanwhile, the episode's primary conflict is set up, as Kalon, Jef, and Arie sit around the hotel commiserating about group dates. When Kalon says "pretty much every date is going to be a group date - it's going to be you, her, and Ricki," Jef and Arie are not amused.

As Sean and Emily tour downtown London, she's "having, like, the perfect day." At Speaker's Corner, Sean steps onto the soap box to declare his hope for "great love," and Emily's "didn't know you had it in ya," confirms that she's impressed.
Dinner's at the Tower of London, and Emily's increasingly hoarse. She's "surprised" that he's "like, perfect," and even when she tells him she wants "lots of kids," like, "asap," Sean is gracious and wins the rose. When Emily hands it over, even she seems tired of the official pantomime: "Suitors Name, would you please accept this rose?" 

Group date card appears -- "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet" -- and Kalon's pissed, cause the list narrows down to Jef for the week's second one-on-one. They're playing Shakespeare of course, and all the guys miss the point: have fun! By this time, Emily's hoarseness has started to undermine her typical "sweet girl" voice, inadvertently making her sound way tougher...foreshadowing the dramatic end to the night. Alejandro stands out, John and Chris score the best costumes by far, and the producers show us, reluctantly, how devilishly charming Ryan can be. Arie dies of fear, but really commits to the humor, and unwittingly nails the part of Juliet's Nurse, even though he's "not a thesbian."

At the party, word spreads about Kalon and his "Ricki's baggage" comment [did he say that?], and the men ally against him. Doug is [self?] nominated to break the news. Emily's momma lion comes roaring out, and she threatens "to go West Virginia hood rat, back woods on his ass." In the confrontation, she finds "the most ladylike way" to handle it, but at least drops a healthy "get the FUCK out" on him; even better, she uses one of his own lines to throw Kalon's arrogance back in his face. We're left, somewhat anti-climactically, with Emily promising that if she had a voice, she'd "tell him what she really thought." Doug's attempt to comfort is brusquely thrown off, and Emily takes a walk to collect herself. Angry that none of the men told her, or bothered to stand up for her, she punishes all by refusing to hand out the rose. In the post-departure chat, Emily's mad cause no one "has [her] back."

Jef's one-on-one -- "?" -- starts off with a lesson in tea-time etiquette, which both he and Emily bumble through uncomfortably. It unites them in mutual awkwardness, though, and when Jean the etiquette maven "goes to the loo," they make like a tea and leave [sorry. no, not really]. At the pub, Jef admits he stood up for her honor, and Emily "feels there's a lot of attraction" between them, but still finds Jef "hard to read." She "needs him to show [her] he's into [her]," and, miraculously, at the very end of their date, he does. He actually says, "I feel like I missed some opportunities to kind of show you why I'm here, not just tell you," and they kiss. Finally.

The rose ceremony party is tense: "guys are starting to realize she's not playing around." Arie disappoints for the first time, and Emily "finds herself liking [Ryan] more and more." Sean's big muscles make Emily feel like, if he'd been there, "something like that would never have happened." Handing out the roses, Emily's pensive...leaving Arie to sweat til the last rose, and [you've been waiting weeks, I know] Ricky Spanish is sent packing, for no particular reason.

Until next time, watchers!

[Back to Episode 4]


The Bachelorette: Emily and the Package Deal 4

Episode 4!

This week, the tension is thick. The men are set up for competition, and they start to determine who's "there for the right reasons."

It's a brilliant twist that no man could ever truly understand: Each one must prove that his reasons are "right" by winning without competing. Compete actively and openly, your alienation of the other souls reads as cruel, ugly, unseemly. Fail to win -- openly competing or no -- and you don't care enough, you're "not there for Emily."

Best of all, the whole crew's off to Bermuda (Ricki included of course)! It's the first place Emily gets to prematurely sentimentalize as she envisions her future with husband and babies...pushing a pram along the beach.

Of the suitors, Travis (the egg guy?) is straggling at the start of this week - he hasn't "had some of the time ...that these other guys have," so he's clearly missing his chance to make a more intimate impression.

Daddy Doug wins the one-on-one date -- "let our senses lead the way" -- and his lack of certainty about returning with the rose brings the dogs out, Arie leading the pack. Emily sniffs the tension, and Doug's version of the pre-date drama charms Emily enough to lean her head against his shoulder. Poor Dougy, he gets the I'm-probably-gonna-dump-you-at-the-end-of-this-date shopping excursion amongst the locals, which is especially laughable cause Bermuda's so chock full of tourist traps, they really could be back in Charlotte, strolling around with 6 kids and a pair of frappuccinos.

At dinner, Emily is skeptical - can Doug possibly be as perfect as he appears? His dutiful daddyiness inspires her doubts, but when he puts her on the spot, she's "uncomfortable," and decides maybe Doug's "just that perfect of a person." But at the crucial kiss moment, Doug dredges up grandpa and Emily looks petulant. No man's done the she-has-to-make-the-first-move thing and moved on for too long, so unless Doug can get it up, it's likely he'll be getting axed in a week or two.

The group date -- let's set sail on the sea of love -- is anticipated more because it narrows down the candidates forced to be on the infamous two-on-one date. As if they couldn't guess, the guys are going sailing! Teams are chosen and the course is set, and the surprising results send the football players packing, Ryan captaining the motley crew -- Arie, Jef, and Kalon -- to victory. (Oddly, Kalon the rich kid looks just as clueless as the nerds and the jocks...what kind of a rich kid is he?) At the climax of the race, Emily confides to us: "To be honest, I hate to watch guys compete." But she looks forward to a more intimate group at the evening party.

The losers head home, with Emily's sympathy, at least.

At the party, Arie's the first to jump at alone time, and the couple "can't wait to spend more time," and, evidently, make out. Jef's up second, and finally "starts to open up," though Emily nearly flubs her attempt to coach him subtly. He should have attempted a kiss, doesn't, and Emily looks on the bright side of holding off. Ryan's convinced that, "as the Bachelorette, she's been given a great responsibility," and thank god he's here, because, he wants to make sure she'll "do a lot with it." Fortunately, Emily confronts his sensational arrogance...and ends up being as titillated by it as he intends for her to be..bringin' her southern out.

And then OUT OF NOWHERE, they're having this fourth wall breaking conversation -- Emily's "not just any Bachelorette," and should be playing herself as a role model for young women. Basically it boils down to Ryan covertly calling her a slut for kissing Arie at last week's rose ceremony. She's graciously apologetic about "throwing it in [his] face," but her interview clips belie a deeper frustration. Jef gets the date rose, and Ryan continues to talk about "the depth" between them as evidenced by Emily's political savvy (and his recognition of it? whatever he thinks they're in on together, it's clear the production team is not into his penchant for meta game play analysis).

Meanwhile, the four left at home -- Doug, recovering from their romance, no doubt, Alejandro, Mike, John and Nate -- dread the arrival of the two-on-one date card. Predictably, the back-of-the-pack John "Wolf" and "Last Rose" Nate are selected. The men are invited (cautioned?) to -- "explore this Bermuda triangle" -- on the date that all three parties are dreading. In interviews before the date though, Emily resorts to terrible cliches about anticipated heartbreak, and neither of the guys can look into the camera when they say Emily's name. (Maybe they should all go home?) By the dinner portion of the date, it's clear that the suitors have held up admirably, and Emily (as always) is brave and cheerful in the face of finality. She sends tearful young Nate home, with "I just can't see us together forever," and he's a respectable gentleman all the way out the door.

At the pre-rose ceremony party, the tension among the suitors starts to come to a head: the scuttlebutt is that Ryan, who's "confident about everything" is going home, but Ryan just feels "sorry for 'em," and makes such an obvious ploy for the spot of Bachelor-to-be, it's easy to sympathize with the rest of the guys. Arie's become more and more enamored. What he's got with Emily is "real," and Emily seems to agree - telling him "you're the person that I think of" when alone. Their finger-kneee flirtation is a little intrusive. Meanwhile, the gorillas have been rubbing chests: Doug & Ryan pull the you're-too-young-to-handle-it card, and Chris is really miffed; when he throws down the fake card in a tete-a-tete with Doug's unruffledness, he's easily out-smoothed.

Emily & Chris Harrison's prep-talk is unusually candid. Emily "never wants to hurt anybody," so she still struggles with letting them go. Thunder, long looks, and nodding heads punctuate the ritual, as Mike and Charlie go home, tearfully.

And they're off to London!

Question: Does genius demand consciousness?

Lemme break that down a bit:

In order to claim a superlative like "genius," must one accomplish the "genius"-worthy task intentionally?

Does genius demand consciousness? Intention? Or is it the recognition of the proper value of the "accident" the real work of genius?

I don't know. Do you?


What do you have to say for yourself?

Dear readers (yeah, all nine of you!),

I need your help. I have been trying to write a gol derned bio for, oh, forever, and I'm really having a tough time figuring out what to say about myself.

First, I am one of those 21st century workers they keep telling you about - I have a job that didn't exist 5 years ago, and my resume reads as schizophrenic to anyone born before, say, 1976.

Second, I started my first company at 24, and I've never worked more than a few months in an office setting before I was like, "Wait. You want me to show up here every day at the same time for, like, ever?! Uhhhhh..."Don't get me wrong: I love the principle of an office, I just think it's a disincentive to tie performance to presence.

[It's like paying creative people by the hour - inspiration is what you're paying for. If it happens, it happens in minutes or in months, but either way you're not getting what you pay for. You're getting way more than that...and I'll save the rest of this rant for another post.]

As an outgrowth of this entrepreneurial mindset, and the polymathematical requirements of adaptive creativity, I've also got a resume that reads as a list of experiments more than finished products. And it's true to conclude that I'm experimenting. Indeed, I have no idea what I'm doing next, I just know that the core values that inform my life will inform my work and the final product.

To make it even worse, I'm one of those idiots who really believes in changing the world. I look at the systems of life around me, and I see room for improvement. That doesn't preclude profit-making (shit, man, I want my Tesla, too!), but that's a tough sell to some.

This DIY experience has, however, necessitated my multi-valent skill building. Look, when you have to create something from nothing, you learn how to do everything. I know about magazine distribution models, feminist economics, and political theory. I know about myths, folk and fairy tales. I'm an expert in something called "creative management," and in organizational design. I've designed, produced, and developed content for linear, single-player educational games, multi-player virtual worlds, and Alternate Reality Games. My dream job is to relaunch Wonder Woman as a cross-platform, immersive story world. My two biggest contributions to the planet are probably my tan, and a brain that thrives on strategy and synthesis.

So here's where you come in. I've drafted a couple bios, neither of which I'm happy with. But I need a direction, and I'd like you to tell me where to go from here.

Here's the funny one:

Phoebe Hitchcock Elefante was born at the age of 35 into an endearingly dysfunctional family. Shortly after deciding to become President, she ordered the delivery of a younger brother, and has made consistently world-changing contributions ever since.

Armed with an education spanning political science, economics, media studies, organizational design, and years of experimental entrepreneurship, she embodies the multi-skilled, adaptive worker of her generation. 

Her career as a writer and world designer began at the tender age of 7, when she submitted a heavily plagiarized derivative of Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove for an enthusiastic A+. Cognizant, then, of the power of stories to move and inspire, while requiring little to no commitment, she set about inventing a uniquely 21st century lazy labor model.

Motivated by a religious belief in the representational value of imaginary worlds, she has developed several methods for bringing them about, games being by far the most lucrative. She's created content for mature and new media, and made several inconsistently exceptional attempts at producing.

Most recently, she revised her middle name to more accurately represent her maternal heredity.

For a more objective take, click on one of the links at the top of this nonsense.

Here's my attempt to be straightforward and informative:

Howdy! I'm Phoebe.

I'm looking for ways to use networked, digital, and traditional media to draft the fairy tales of our future, and to explore new educational arenas for learners of all ages. Sounds cheesy, but it's true: I want to change the world.

I've got a masters in telecommunications (I don't really know what that means, either), and my "thesis" was actually the organizational, financial, and creative model for a boutique game design company of stay-at-home moms. I'm not one of those, yet, I'm just planning ahead. 

I've experimented with storytelling in a number of different forms: single-player, multi-player, and alternate reality games, as well as web and print. I've built and managed small and large project teams for live events as short as 3 days, and for virtual collaborations as long as 2 years. I've founded and folded a couple of companies. I've taught at the elementary, middle-, high-school and college levels. I've made a few stabs at advertising, but I'm just not that cool, or perhaps too rigidly idealistic. I've written character designs and dialogue, game design documents, academic articles, business plans, research briefs, interviews, pitch decks, and some pop culture fluff.

Most recently, I've worked on the narrative world, character development, and dialogue for several game start-ups. 

If you want to try something new, I want to hear from you!

Ok, readers. Now it's up to you!


The Bachelorette: Emily and the Package Deal 2 (or, technically, 3)

It always takes me an episode or two to remember why this show is ingenious:

The Bachelorette is a poem of gestures - facial expressions, physical proximity, symbolic language. It ritualizes the modern dating experience by codifying speech and actions.

The editing is sinuous...static interviews given in locationless, timeless voids inform our perceptions of the "real-time" clips of interaction. Eye contact conveys connection. Seating arrangements imply intimacy and attraction. Lip licking, eye rolling, fidgeting and preening are captured and repeated to create character profiles.

Most significantly, The Bachelorette is about emotional economics - I like you this much, you give me a kiss, let me go a little farther. Compared to discount bin bikini-calendar dreck like Temptation Island, this show is the Pride and Prejudice of the reality genre.

We join Emily and the suitors in Episode 3 (I'll be more timely next round)...(no I won't)

The field is predictable: the single dads (Doug, Tony), the cute guys (Chris, Ryan), the cool guy (Jef), and a dark horse (Kalon). There are a few exotic choices (Alejandro, Alessandro), and the guy who's overcome a health-related obstacle (Charlie).  There's a race car driver (Arie), which stirs up Emily's tragic past, but is still "pretty hot."

Tension among the suitors stems from two sources: Kalon's alienating of the rest of the field, and varying levels of sensitivity vis a vis forced fatherhood. Territoriality starts to weave into the suitors' narratives.

First date - "love is a slow climb" - is with Chris: He's "the luckiest man in the world," she thinks he's "really cute." The point of the date? Emily gets scared...can Chris comfort and command her?  Emily wants a man that will "stay by [her] side when the going gets tough." Of course Chris passes the test! Chris is polite enough not to seize his first opportunity at arm's length from the girl to kiss her...but at the end of the date, they kiss...lightly. She "could fall head over heels in love with Chris," he "can see [himself] falling in love with Emily." Sigh.

Group date - "let's play" - is at the park. The twist? The girlfriends get to meet the guys! Oooooh. Time to "grill'em!" The girlfriends look amused, the guys avoid direct eye contact. To add a little spice to the "interviews," girlfriend Wendy tries to take Sean home. And the double twist? The kids arrive! While the guys "walk the walk," the girlfriends deliver their verdicts: Sean, Doug or Ryan.
The party component gives Sean his first face time, impresses Emily with his family-first focus, and wins the rose. Doug shares his sob story...and Emily is moved to tears. Tony and Emily connect as his fatherly fortitude falters...but she sends him home in a pity move that solidifies "that Emily takes this really seriously."

Second single date - "love is a wild ride" is with Arie. And they're off to Dollywood - outside of Arie's "comfort zone." Surprise, surprise! Dolly arrives! Emily "could die!" And after a little ditty, Dolly pulls Emily aside for some "girl talk." Emily is told (again) that she "deserves" true love because of her tragic past.
(probably the most charming part of the episode -- in an aside -- is Emily's admiration for Dolly's asskicking independence)
At dinner, Emily toys a bit but gives up the rose, and says, "I know I think you might kind of like me" (is that a sentence?). And Arie thinks "this rose symbolizes the start of something great." She's so into him, in fact, she "doesn't want to screw it up."

In the rose ceremony party, Kalon gets his first face time, and Emily goes straight for the guts - can he handle the package deal? Kalon's response fails to impress. The egg guy gets crushed, but finally loses the schtick. Alessandro gets the same "are you father material" question...and fails miserably by calling little Ricki "a compromise," prompting Emily's anger and a premature exit. Arie comes in for some timely compassion...and the suitors are offended by his comforting kisses. Sean's back on the scene with exactly the right phrase at exactly the right time, and gets a kiss for his trouble. Before the roses are handed out, Emily is "confident that the man [she's] sposed to spend [her] life with is in the room." Awww.

In the rose ceremony, Emily lets Ryan & Kaylon sweat - leaving them til the 4th to last and 2nd to last roses, respectively. Predictably, she selects Nate over Stevie at the final rose -- Stevie was a sweetie, but Nate's so much cuter!

til next time

(last episode)

The Bachelorette: Emily and the Package Deal

I'll admit it. I've watched several seasons of the Bachelor/Bachelorette mega myth-machine, and I've finally decided to undertake a laywoman's content analysis-of-sorts in an attempt to answer some of the questions I have about this simultaneously awful/awesome slice of contemporary pop culture.

Here are my questions:

1. How does the Bachelor/ette define love and romance? And is this definition anachronistic? Progressive? Both?

2. What archetypes of narrative and character are represented? Are they universal?

3. Is it real? Does that even matter?

Season 8 is about Emily. For those familiar with the show, Emily was the "winner" of Brad Womack's predictable and annoying Season 15 of The Bachelor. Ugh, Brad Womack.

More importantly: Ugh, Emily.

(btw, favorite scene/episode of this entire series was when Will roasted the skin off Ashley by saying what everyone was thinking: "Gee, I hoped it was gonna be Emily." nice. and anyway, girl, you wanted to be roasted...)

Lucky for Emily, everyone wants to buy her schtick, so she's back. And in her hometown of Charlotte NC, no less!

Emily's story is essentially: young love lost, blessed with child, lonely and searching for the man to take her hand and lead her and her daughter through the difficulties of (celebrity) life. They're "the package deal."

And the big mystery is, essentially: Are you man enough to love me and my daughter? Are you gonna buy the two-for-one?

She's a momma lion with a cub to old story, certainly. But a woman with money, a career, and the power to select the man she oddly progressive position for a gal with such "traditional" values.
thx zap2it

Let's check back at Episode 3 when we narrow the field of suitors...


Maya Moon Cheat Sheet

Reuters 2:42 p.m. CDT, May 10, 2012 

 * Ancient scribe's wall inscriptions deciphered

 * Buried in a rainforest, pictures of a king

 By Deborah Zabarenko

WASHINGTON, May 10 (Reuters) - On the wall of a tiny structure buried under forest debris in Guatemala, archaeologists have discovered a scribe's notes about the Maya lunar calendar, which they say could be the first known records by an official chronicler of this ancient civilization.

 These notes pertain to the same Maya calendar that is sometimes erroneously thought to predict the world's end on or about Dec. 22, 2012. The researchers who helped uncover and decipher the wall's inscriptions said the Maya calendar foresaw a vast progression of time, with the December 2012 date the beginning of a new calendar cycle called a baktun.

 "They were looking at the way these cycles were turning," said William Saturno of Boston University, an author of an article on the find in the journal Science. "The Maya calendar is going to keep going and keep going for billions, trillions, octillions of years into the future, a huge number that we can't even wrap our heads around."

 The faint numerical inscriptions on the wall in Guatemala measure out time in approximate six-month increments, based on six lunar cycles, with small stylized pictures of Maya gods to indicate which deity was the patron of a specific slice of time, the researchers said Thursday in an online briefing.

 "It seems pretty clear that what we have here is a lunar calendar," said David Stuart of the University of Texas at Austin, another author of the Science article. The findings will also be published in the June issue of National Geographic, which funded some of the research.

 The numbers on the wall were likely written by a scribe or calendar priest, who would have been an important figure in the Maya court, where monarchs were keenly interested in astronomy and sought to harmonize sacred rituals with events in the sky.

 The wall was used the way a modern scientist might use a whiteboard, to write down frequently consulted formulas instead of having to look them up in a book, he said. The fact that these calendar details were inscribed on the wall preserved them better than any book would have, since no books remain from the period when the inscriptions were made, probably around 800 AD, the researchers said.

 In addition to the inscribed numbers, there were pictures on other walls of the structure, including an image of a king in a feather headdress, seated on a throne, with a white-garbed person peeking out from behind him. A painting of a scribe holding a stylus was on another wall. These paintings were the first Maya art to be found on the walls of a house, the researchers said.

 The structure, covered with vegetation, was detected in 2010 at the ruined Maya complex at Xultun in a rainforest area of Guatemala. Xultun, once home to tens of thousands of people, stretches over 12 square miles (31 square km), and thousands of the remaining structures have not yet been explored.

 "It's weird that the Xultun finds exist at all," Saturno said in a statement. "Such writings and artwork on walls don't preserve well in the Maya lowlands, especially in a house buried only a meter below the surface."
(Reporting By Deborah Zabarenko; Editing by Eric Walsh)


Damn Suzanne!

Fellow IU alumna Suzanne Collins wrote the best trilogy I've read this century. She's got all the details of Theseus wrong, but...



Consider this a brain warm-up. I'm aiming for sense, but I'm not promising anything other than a tangent. This is what happens when I ride my bike.

You know that expression "there's nothing new under the sun"? People say that, as a way to excuse innovation. Or as a way to avoid disappointment, maybe. I know what it means, and then I'm not so sure.

But my question is, what's the innate value of "new," anyway?

I think we get excited about "new" because we're looking for a certain kind of chemical reaction in our brains. What teachers call the "aha! moment". When you perceive a problem (and I mean "problem" could be a way to fish, or a beautiful way to cover the body, or a need to let your mind travel away from the bonds of day to day navigation), and then you are presented with a solution (be that a fish hook, a robe, or a story), your mind feels a sort of symmetry. The mice rest for a moment, satisfied, and then start the wheel up again in search of another nibble.

But as this impacts storytelling, I'm not even seeking the "new." Because stories are symbol processors, like the mathematical equations that combine and recombine elements in such quantities that they produce a variety of reactions: explosions, state changes, nothing at all. What I find vastly more challenging than generating a "new" reaction, is knowing the qualities and characteristics of each element so thoroughly that I can produce the same reaction - the "aha!" symmetry of problem and answer - repeatedly. In small ways from moment to moment, and in large narrative arcs that change the way you think about everything in a very subtle way, and which culminate in deep-seeded blossomings of perspective-shift.

This process relies on consistency more than novelty.

This is where the layering of history and culture provide an invaluable service: our minds work as referencing machines, digging up all the connections to one thing.


Immediately there are a multitude of qualities and characters associated with this word, this proto-character, this "being" suddenly exists in the mind of the reader.

I think of: old, gray, mean, deceptive, responsible. I think of Cruella de Ville, Catcher In the Rye, Cinderella's Step-Mother, and Anne of Green Gables. I think of Carol Burnett in the bathtub singing about "lavooooliers!" And A Little Princess, Facts of Life, Battle Royale...

When I create the character that "Headmistress" will become, I use all these - and the layering of others that I can't even think of right now - to gather and juxtapose qualities that create together a predictable moment of: "I know what to expect, and then I don't, and then it all makes sense...aaahhhhh."

I want this character to be both recognizable and remarkable, but not "new." I want you to know her when you meet her, so that as the story unfolds, you will be surprised by the choices she makes, but understand immediately why she's made them.

I'm not even sure we are seeking "new." I think we like it better when we are surprised by our own experience of recognition. Of seeing something again that we've seen before, which massages all those previously stimulated nodes and makes us feel the intense pleasure of those same sparks again and again.

There it is.


Mooning about

Nice touch

#4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
#5: Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
#6: What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
#7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
#8: Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.
#9: When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.
#10: Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.
#11: Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.
#12: Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
#13: Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.
#14: Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.
#15: If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
#16: What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.
#17: No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on - it’ll come back around to be useful later.
#18: You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.
#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.


Water is life

Mild drought killed Maya civilisation - study
2012-02-24 09:32 Washington -
The collapse of the Mayan civilisation was likely due to a relatively mild drought, much like the drier conditions expected in the coming years due to climate change, scientists said. Scholars have long believed that a major drought brought on severe dry conditions killed off the ancient culture known for its mastery of language, mathematics and astronomy.
 But researchers from the Yucatan Centre for Scientific Research in Mexico and the University of Southampton in Britain said their analysis shows the drought only caused reductions of 25% to 40% less annual rain. The smaller amounts of rain meant that open water sources in pools and lakes evaporated faster than could be replaced by more precipitation, said the study in the journal Science. 
"The data suggest that the main cause was a decrease in summer storm activity," said co-author Eelco Rohling of the University of Southampton.
Water shortages
 The study is the first of its kind to attempt to assess exactly how much rainfall decreased between 800 and 950 AD when Mayan civilisation went into decline, and bases its modelling data on records of past rainfall changes from stalagmites and shallow lakes. The analysis showed that modest dry spells could have sparked major water shortages in an area with no rivers, and no source of water other than rain. 
"Summer was the main season for cultivation and replenishment of Mayan freshwater storage systems and there are no rivers in the Yucatan lowlands," added Rohling. "Societal disruptions and abandonment of cities are likely consequences of critical water shortages, especially because there seems to have been a rapid repetition of multi-year droughts."
International experts have predicted that similar dry spells in the Yucatan region are on the way due to climate change. While modern societies are expected to be better equipped to handle drought, risks remain, said lead author Martin Medina-Elizalde of the Yucatan Centre for Scientific Research in Mexico.
"What seems like a minor reduction in water availability may lead to important, long-lasting problems. This problem is not unique to the Yucatan Peninsula, but applies to all regions in similar settings where evaporation is high."
[It doesn't take much to bring down a civilization. Assumptions and expectations of consistency are fatal.]


all pink and cuddly inside

this episode is better than any other, and the nugget is this: it may take ten years or more, but eventually the us military will respectfully reward people for time served with effort and honor. be nice if the rest of society could do that.

In the past...