best when viewed in low light


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!

In the past...