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Fiction in a Flash at SmokeLong

A piece of Flash Fiction from some of my talented colleagues debuted yesterday on SmokeLong, a weekly and quarterly Flash Fiction anthology.

Stephen Gardner’s The Booking of La Gianconda is a noir-ish snapshot from a 1936 jail-house that could easily fit into the fictional universe of Chicago. It’s accompanied by an illustration by Throwaway Horse founding partner Josh Levitas.

Illustration by Josh Levitas - visit for the full version and accompanying fiction.

Here’s about 5% of the the total tale:

“Hey, Glass Eye,” Walters called over to me as I fiddled with the Kodak slide film. At the name, I gritted my teeth hard enough to chip an incisor. Walters never let me forget the war wound. Like I said I’m a camera guy when I’m not riding a bucket and a mop, not even a cop.

(Visit SmokeLong for the full story!)

Flash Fiction doesn’t have a formal definition, but it’s about brevity and efficiency. SmokeLong’s limit is 1,000 words. While other outlets have much shorter word-count requirements, the common element is that good FF should consist of lithe, streamlined language that puts every word to good use.

I asked Josh if his accompanying flash illustration included any self-imposed restrictions: his finished picture was done in a single sitting with limited tweaks or digital post-production – all completed in less than an hour! It’s worth viewing the larger version at SmokeLong to see some detail that’s lost at the smaller size.

Kudos to Stephen and Josh for being featured, and for their evocative 1,000 words and single-hour image!

breaking the painful cycle

I have mentioned my dermatological struggles in the past on the blog. While the potential disintegration of my epidermis seems to have been staved off at the moment, my skin-care needs are (ridiculously) one of the major worrying factors about my health care and costs.

Yesterday, one of my favorite Twitter friend, @JerseyShoreJen, mentioned she had booked another media appearance from her recent EdOp on Eczema. Being a fellow lifelong battler of it and its fiendish cohorts, I congratulated her and asked her to share her article from the NYT Health Section – “The Painful Cycle of Eczema.”

In the bathroom, I try not to dwell too long at the sight of myself in the mirror before patting my skin dry and slathering it with lotion. I wrap bandages over the raw and weeping patches in the crooks of my elbows — a stopgap, really, since the bandages will soak through in several hours. I take Benadryl to calm the itching, and ibuprofen to temper the swelling and pain, before heading to meetings in an antihistamine haze. I hope no one stares, but they do.

I wore long sleeves and pants to school, even on the hottest, most humid days. … When I passed through puberty and still had outbreaks, I viewed my eczema as a character flaw, something I brought on myself for not being perfect.

After I read her story, Jen and I got into rapid-fire exchange on Twitter, gushing over our challenges and successes with our conditions. Though my collection of problems do not manifest as violently as Jen’s, I see so much of myself in her story. I never once wore pants to gym. I’ve ruined pillowcases and sheets when my medications have bleached out their color. When I have an outbreak I worry that people will stare and judge in meetings.

There’s not an immediate happy ending here – Jen and I are both continuing our respective struggles and our treatments. However, the silver lining is the connection that Jen created, and the relief I felt in talking to someone who relates to what I’m going through.

Jen writes at Down The Shore With Jen.

Remainders, 11/10 Edition

Things my network of friends and blogs shared that made me think twice, at least.

Shared by James Gunn on FB.

(via @brimil. See the end of the post for the finished product. I think this is cooler, personally.)

The INFMETRY DIY Romantic Star Projector

I am totally buying this star projector as Arcati Crisis’s first official stage lighting equipment. Bonus points if I can figure out how to turn it on from my pedal board (via NotCot).

Seth Godin posted the only job interview questions that matter. Seth’s is a “every post is amazing” sort of blog.

An efficient post on how beginners and experts are the same. (via Karl Martino)

A solid and realistic plan for an indie, DIY band to begin promoting themselves via social media. A lot of familiar conversations and steps portrayed here. From How to Run a Band,  fantastic blog.

A brilliant kerning game made its way around our office recently; Kottke posted its sequel – a letter shaping game that simulates typed design.  Also via Kottke, we totally had this 1970s Chevy Nova  when I was a kid. Maybe this is why I am so obsessed with speedometers.

Shared by the artist, Leon Keer, I think it was cooler when they were invisible soldiers.

I thought The three biggest myths about women in tech was an interesting read, partially from a feminist perspective, but also because I have been alerted as recently as today that I rely too much on non-existent meritocracies to promote me and my creative work. (via

 The handy “Is It Old?” website helps you keep up a supply of freshly caught links by sussing out the dusty ones. I plugged in this week’s popular and it informed me: “Reall old. How did you miss this? DO NOT SEND. It has been tweeted 1981 times already, and the first time was 4 days ago.” (Via Meg’s Tumblr)

Monday Morning Remainders

I performed with Filmstar for the first time on Saturday, but you have to wait a day or two to hear about the results and if I’m still feeling conflicted about playing with the band.

First, here are your Monday Morning Remainders – eight blogs I’ve enjoyed or tweets I’ve flagged.

1. Philly (and the internet at large) got up in arms last week about a so-called “Philly Blogger Tax,” which was really just the city’s business privilege license being applied to Bloggers. My virtual friend JoeBeta sussed out a sensible explanation and critique of the policy, from Technically Philly co-founder Sean Blanda.

It’s certainly a horrible waste of resources to pursue blogs with revenue in the hundreds when some companies and individuals owe the city millions in back taxes, forcing the city to do things like offer a tax amnesty to the dead beats.

2. Rocking local blog Phrequency had a flash concert for TJ Kong on the freaking Broad Street Subway. I love TJ Kong and my old promo shots were from the Walnut Street station, so in my opinion this is approximately the best thing ever.

Do not hold your breath waiting for me to do one on the El, though.

3. A Vancouver realtor’s Facebok page gained over 4,000 fans in 12 days. Crazy pyramid scheme for iPads? Nope – good old fashioned content that people give a shit about. (via @morganb.)

4. I’ll just repeat what Torrez said:

Imagesoak is a fantastic application for finding things to read and look at based on the interesting photos and images that accompany them. Nevermind what I just said, just go there.

5. Matthew Leone, bass player for the Chicago based band Madina Lake, sustained life-threatening injuries while trying to defend a stranger from brutal domestic abuse. Sweet Relief, a fund that supports musicians in times of illness, is raising funds to pay for his treatment and rehabilitation. Matthew’s band member and brother has been blogging through the ordeal.

6. Leslie Hunt was one of my favorite recent American Idol Semi-Finalists – she had a real identity and real taste in music, but was quickly kicked to the curb for her quirk. blogs a video from her new project, District 97

7. Amanda Palmer’s life is so serendipitous. On break from her hectic schedule, she sees a random trio of teens whose photo she feels compelled to take. Almost after she’s gone, one realizes who she is, and catches her to tell her that he’s a big fan. One thing leads to another, and suddenly he’s playing a concert to thousands of internet viewers from her apartment.

8. Amanda’s fiancé is super-famous comic, fiction, and film writer Neil Gaiman. Neil has been in a legal struggle with Todd McFarlane since 2002 regarding unpayed royalties on creator-owned characters he developed for McFarlane’s Spawn. Neil blogs part of the judge’s new decision, which contains delicious text like:

Much as defendant tries to distinguish the two knight Hellspawn, he never explains why, of all the universe of possible Hellspawn incarnations, he introduced two knights from the same century. Not only does this break the Hellspawn “rule” that Malebolgia never returns a Hellspawns to Earth more than once every 400 years (or possibly every 100 years, as suggested in Spawn, No. 9, exh. #1, at 4)…

I hope your Monday is going well. More news (and video) on my weekend as a Filmstar coming up!

Monday Morning Remainders

A collection of some of the links that have captured my attention in the last few weeks:


Breaking yesterday, The Guardian reports an unprecedented leak of US military documents on the war in Afghanistan – 92,201 internal records from January 2004 and December 2009 exposing “hundreds of abuses.” You can see for yourself on


ReadWriteWeb goes behind the scenes of the recent viral Old Spice videos. You can force something to go viral but, as the article shows, you can certainly plan to make your content sticky (see also: Tipping Point).


This is actually from two months ago, but it continues to capture my attention: Caitlin Moran may have penned my new favorite piece of rock journalism, “Come Party with Lady Gaga,” in The Guardian.

(My old fav was a Courtney Love article in RS where she gives herself accupuncture, but my Google-Fu is failing me at the moment. Speaking of Ms. Love, ExploreMusic conducts a multi-part interview with a sharp-tongued Courtney, who sounds more coherent than she has in years.)


(Man, I guess I need to subscribe to The Guardian, eh?)


I delight in seeing @SmallBizLady Melinda Emerson speak – her mission in life is to make sure no small business ever fails again. I’ve never visited her blog before, but it dispenses great advice like How to Turn a Hobby Into a Small Business and 7 Questions Hobbyists Should Consider When Starting a Small Business. Something to consider if you’ve contemplated turning your fun into freelance.


Tynt is a small piece of script that helps you track who is copying and pasting text from your blog.


IP addresses are 340 days from running dry, because governing protocal IPv4’s four billion unique IPs are about to run dry. We’ll be rationing IPs unless the entire industry adopts IPv6, and that includes both ISPs and hardware/software manufacturers. A great quote about IPV4:

It seemed to be a reasonable attempt at providing enough addresses, bearing in mind that at that point personal computers didn’t really exist. The idea that mobile phones might want an IP address hadn’t occurred to anybody because mobile phones hadn’t been invented [and] the idea that airconditioners and refrigerators might want them was utterly ludicrous.


A disturbing collection of images from the BP spill zone – more photos like these need to find their way to the public to keep the outrage and support alive. (this and the IPv4 article via @valerieeev)


Audobon Magazine goes behind the scenes to explain how many nature photos are staged. (via @themartorana)


The elephant in the middle of the Glee club is a glance at the hidden copyright issues behind the fiction of Glee. The article goes a bit over-the-top – plenty of college acappella groups do mashups with few legal reprecussions.  (via @Level3Media)

Wednesday Morning Remainders

I could write a post about each of these links, but in ten years would that be interesting to read? Maybe they need the context of each other to create a narrative beyond their end destinations.

Here we go.


1. Ever fantasized about being a globe-trotting musician headlining your own tour? Amanda Palmer does just that, and her no-holds-barred look at managing the business of her music while on tour via email will either thrill or terrify you.

2. On the way back from our aborted-by-clouds skydiving attempt Wes played a hilarious NPR show/podcast called Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, an hour-long quiz show that’s part Daily Show part Whose Line Is It Anyway. As I’ve recently mentioned, I can be a humorless curmudgeon, but the show’s mix of news, puns, and grammatical humor struck a chord with me. Derek Powazek discusses how the Wait, Wait formula is crowd-sourcing done right.

3. Skydiving was my present to Wes for graduating from Temple Law. HuffPost interviewed Nikki Johnson-Huston, who went from homeless to college-dropout to award-winning graduate of Temple Law. (via JoeBeta)

4. My friend and fellow sky-diving companion Chris is the glassblowing apprentice at Old City’s Hudson Beach Glass, where they are having a design-your-own-pint-glasses special through this Sunday to commemorate Philly Beer Week. I’ve been remiss in not dropping by for one of their open-studio days – an issue to be amended soon. (via UWishUNu)

5. Reminiscent of my blog-buddy Unsolicited Analysis, You Are Not So Smart tackles common misconceptions with detailed take-downs. Their recent “Misinformation Effect” addresses a recurring theme of CK, the persistence and reliability of memory. (via Kottke; on a related note, see his post on “mesofacts”)

6. Also in the UnAnal vein, Flowing Data blogs data visualizations, like heat-mapping tourist routes based on the volume of photographs by location.

7. Are you a worry-wart about things like burglaries, shark attacks, and plane crashes? Meg’s Tumblr provides a handy graphic to divert your fears to identity thefts, dog bites, and automobile accidents. The greater, more probable danger is often in plainer sight than the more fearsome, relatively exotic danger.

8. Do you wield your iPhone or iPad outdoors and while mosquitoes enjoy your pale, savory flesh? Grab an anti-mosquito iApp that broadcasts high frequency noise that’s a total buzz-kill for the pests. (via MightyGirl)

9. Speaking of iPad, imagine if every seat at your longest meeting had one. Seth Godin did just that. Would meetings really become more efficient? Seems like it would apply favorably to political processes as well (and I know some congressional or parliamentary bodies use a similar system).

10. Last month Danny Brown presented a post of his 17 top WordPress plugins, many of which I’ve added to CK in the intervening weeks. Now that I see them in action, it turns out they’re as ubiquitous as they are ingenious, and thanks to them my quality of blogging-life has greatly increased – thanks Danny! I’ll add the suggestion ofAfter the Deadline – a proofreading plugin for both WP and your favorite browser.

11. Design blog NotCot presents a detailed look at the farcical Pre-Handshake Handshake Device from artist Dominc Wilcox. I need Dominic to design a body-suit in a similar style for me to wear on the El…

12. … and/or, when I am all hot post-hypothetical-triathlon, I can buying some Matrix-style gear from Ego-Assassin. (via Warren Ellis; I’ve been reading his Planetary)


Wow, they really did end up as a narrative … for me, anyway.