Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Get the most out of old calenders!

For Christmas one of my friends gave me two 12 x 12 picture frames so that I could hang two of my vinyl records on my wall. The problem? The frames were too small. It turned out that frames must be 12.5 x 12.5 to accommodate your records. Instead of returning them, I decided to wait until I found a good alternative use for them.
Two weeks later I found this really great art calender for $5 (after the new year they pretty much give them away). Using the cardboard insert from the frames, I was able to cut the images from the calendar and fit them into the extra frames fairly easily. Here is a step-by-step for any curious parties.

1. Remove staples from calendar and separate the desired sheet. You will also want to make sure you have a 12 x 12 piece of cardboard, a marker, and scissors.

2. Using the cardboard insert as a guide, use a marker to trace lines on the top and bottom of the desired image. This is by far the hardest part. Make sure that the empty space above the image and below the image are equally spaced (this is tricky). You will also want to lean both the image sheet and the cardboard guide against a straight piece of wood in order to get your lines straight. Take your time, if you mess this up you could mess up the whole print. Repeat this process with the left and right sides as well.

3. Cut straight along the marked lines.

4. Once you have finished cutting out your 12 x 12 image, you can now place it in the frame.

5. Finally, hang the artwork in a desired location.

The best part is that I still have ten extra prints that I can switch out of the frames whenever I want.

Speak easy,

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Eleanor and Park (Book Review)

I just finished reading the book Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell [released in early 2013]. A while back I remember John Green saying some good things about it, and so I thought I'd give it a try. The book that I started writing for NANOWRIMO is a young adult (wrote a solid 45k words) and I have been trying to get a more solid grasp on the genre.

Eleanor & Park is a love story involving two 16 year-old kids from Omaha, Nebraska circa 1986. The cover of the book led me to believe that it would most likely be a smart and quirky little teen drama (the art looks similar in style to something by Wes Anderson or Demetri Martin), but I actually found that it was much more down-to-earth than anticipated. A lot of teen novels I've read in the last few years featured characters that were either too bland, or much smarter and funnier than any realistic teenager (I know some teenagers are smart but it gets annoying when author's make them all talk like they belong in a Noah Baumbach film). In Eleanor and Park, the characters aren't only fleshed out, but also very average. Neither Eleanor nor Park are distinctly attractive in the conventional sense. They aren't specifically that smart (apart from Eleanor's good grades) or that popular either. This book is a true teen love story "warts and all" (I really hate this phrase but it does fit here). Rowell makes many allusions and references to Romeo and Juliet, and tries to present an alternative and fleshed out counterpoint to the classic Shakespeare tragedy. Park is a Asian-american kid who loves martial arts and comic books. Eleanor is the frumpy and poor new girl who comes from a big, problematic family. And neither of them can really imagine a life outside of the suburbs of Omaha, Nebraska.

The plot of Eleanor & Park, like its characters; is also realistic. Not much that happens feels out of the realm of reality. There aren't any crazy, rich aunts (i.e. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson) or 19 ex-girlfriends all named Katherine (An Abundance of Katherines by John Green). Eleanor & Park gives the audience something more personal and reflective, with a lot of breathing room. It reminded me of another young adult novel that dealt with similar issues of poverty and class differences; The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. The narrative switches back and forth between Park and Eleanor quite often throughout the text, giving you a good idea about what is important to the characters and what their day-to-day lives are like. Also, given that Eleanor & Park takes place in the '80s, there are no cell phones or social networks. If a character can't call another on their land-line, they either walk to their friend's house or just wait to see them at school on Monday. These kind of outdated communication restrictions were a nice change of pace from most contemporary novels that work to keep up with how teenagers interact through new technology. This time period also makes way for plenty of great references to music, movies, and comics of the time.

Of course there were certain parts in the middle where it felt a little aimless and slow. And like any other young adult love story it had its share of sappy moments, but the book isn't really targeted at my demographic to begin with (Male 18-34), so I tried not to let that get to me. 

Overall I believe it is an interesting read and would be a great fit for any 10th grade summer reading list. If you are at all interested in young adult fiction, I would highly recommend it. If you don't think this book is for you, I highly recommend picking up The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. It is possibly the best thing that contemporary young adult fiction has to offer and gives a great insight into the difficulties of growing up on an Indian reservation.

Speak easy,

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives." is one of my all time favorite quotes. In an attempt to take this to heart I will try to keep up on a lot of things on a day-to-day basis in order to better myself. To make sure I read more I am going to try to read at least ten pages a day minimum. To make sure I write more I am going to try to either blog or work on my novel once a day. I am having a difficult time writing this because there are three other people in the room and Return of the King is on TNT. I have decided right now that I will also make an effort this year to cut multitasking and distractions out of my work time. Trying to do anything while attempting to pay attention to something else is so harmful to the creative process, and even doesn't help me to get anything done faster. Focusing your attention and working in shorter spurts can be a tremendous way to be productive. Anyway, it's New Year's Day and I'm trying to be optimistic about what I will be able to get done this year.

Speak easy,

Monday, November 18, 2013

Novel Writing Month

I am participation in National Novel Writing Month and have been spending most of my time either applying for work, working a temp job, or writing thousands and thousands of words towards my NaNoWriMo novel. The goal is to write 50,000 words by November 30th, which breaks down to 1,667 words a day if you are diligent and consistent. I am at 23,000 words in and quite happy with what I've come up with so far. It's a project I've wanted to do four years and haven't given it a serious attempt until now.
Two weeks ago I also started teaching English to inner city 4th graders on Saturdays. It's pretty fun but I never realized how absolutely draining it is to be a teacher. For my class I'm pretty much talking and moving around for three hours straight.
The weather is absolutely amazing today and has encouraged me to go to a coffee shop. Leaving the apartment will be a nice.
I will update the status on my NaNoWriMo novel as I get closer to completion.

Speak easy,

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


It's that time of year when we don't have to turn the heat on in the evening but don't have to leave the air conditioners on (although we still haven't gotten around to taking them all out). That time of year when you can wear those sweaters that have been sitting at the bottom of your drawer all year but can roll up the sleeves. That time of year when it feels out of place to be listening to all those summer jams but too early to be dusting off your copy of Charlie Brown Christmas by the Vince Guaraldi Trio.
I am currently unemployed and spend the majority of my time reading and applying for work in coffee shops. Although it doesn't sound all that bad, I assure you it is neither a life nor a living. 
In a previous blog post I mentioned that I like to make the 45 minute commute to Cambridge to hit up the public library and work in their beautiful Starbucks. My trek to the public library includes a nice walk through the Harvard University campus, something I hadn't actually visited until recently. The campus itself meets any expectations when you walk through it. It's the same school you saw in Fincher's 2010 film The Social Network. It is what you would imagine Harvard to be. Green grass, brick buildings, well dressed young co-eds, Macbooks and textbooks. What I've realized, though, walking through Harvard is that for me it's campus almost represents all campuses. It reminds of Princeton in the late 1940's depicted in A Beautiful Mind. It reminds me of Monsters University and Dead Poet's Society.

I think it's probably because on some level Harvard is the school that encompasses what school brochures and films want to portray; a rich history, a proud and intelligent student body, beautifully tended yards and money. There's also always a huge batch of Asian tourists visiting the campus pretty much all the time.

Speak easy,

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Books and Public Transit

This afternoon I went to the Cambridge to visit the library and get some work done at the Starbucks in Harvard Square. The Cambridge Public Library is by far my favorite library of all time right behind UMass Amherst's W.E.B. Du Bois library (tall, quiet, and oddly labyrinthian) and the Boston Public Library (beautiful and old in the way that a lot of stuffy European buildings are beautiful and old). What really makes the CPL my favorite is the graphic novel section. Tucked away in the basement beyond romantic fiction and right across from science fiction, their graphic novel section is so large and so comprehensive and so very incredible. Since you can take out up to 150 books at a time, I am merely limited by the size of my messenger bag.

Today I decided to also try something different and take out a few 'word' books. These are books consisting of hundreds of pages of text and often only one large graphic (on the cover).
1. Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
2. I Wear the Black Hat by Chuck Klosterman

The Starbucks in Harvard Square is a very pleasant and cozy place to work. So many electrical outlets. So many leather seats. And just across the street is the Harvard campus.

Around one o'clock, when I first got to the T station, the main lobby was entirely empty except for one woman and myself. Before I put my ticket into the machine to get through the woman asked if she could double-up on my ticket since she couldn't afford her own. "Yeah, sure" (with an implied "Whatever") was my response since you'd have to be pretty self righteous not to I suppose (or assume). By holding up my end of the deal I had to do literally nothing, which is just as much as I would have done if she hadn't asked me. The whole thing sat with me in a funny way.

When I did get on the orange line I ended up sitting in a cart full of southern tourists. They were talking loudly and being tourists. Five woman and one man. Middle aged. One of the women told the other one that her biggest mistake in life was getting married at eighteen. She didn't say it like it was something that made her sad. It was more of an offhand remark. Her friend replied by saying "Yeah, but that's not something you should say to people". And I suppose it isn't.

Speak easy,

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Past

The other day I found out that one of my good friends from college is pregnant. She is expecting. It is a boy. I found this out through Facebook and not only did it make me realize how completely out of touch I am with a lot of friends I made in college but also how I am suddenly at an age where it is now socially acceptable to have a child. Be a parent. Raise a human being. (something I may or may not get around to)

I have heard some people say that it will be weird in the year 2030 when children of this new generation are able to look back on their mother's Facebook status update regarding their conception and then trace their progression from that first ultrasound to their birth to their first steps. It seems strange now but maybe no less strange than the introduction of video cameras and home movies of the 20th century and their ability to capture moments. Well, not entirely. Maybe the strangeness lies more in those personal artifacts floating around in the open ocean of social media that is such a different concept for people to get used to. Perhaps.
This blog itself is an artifact of my own and I have decided to add to it instead of starting a new blog. I am out of college now, living outside Boston with my girlfriend and trying to find work. I started this blog with the presumption that I was on the cusp of life and something greater. I still feel that way.

In other news I got the chance to stay at the Juniper Hill Inn up in Vermont a few weeks ago. It was featured on the short lived reality show Hotel Hell. Jordan and I got to stay in the same room Gordon Ramsay stayed in when he was filming the show. This boar was hanging around outside the entryway. He was pretty cool.

Speak easy,

P.S. It took me twenty minutes to figure out my login and password for this account. I had apparently used a my high school email address as my backup for some reason and had to access that before I could reset me password.

P.P.S. The extent of my refence to it being "socially acceptable" to have a child at twenty-seven is an entirely subjective opinion (as opinions often seem to be) and I'm sure the statement tells someone more about me, my socioeconomic background, my upbringing, and my own feelings about children than about parenting itself.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Future

Never climb a limbless tree without an exit strategy. Learned that the hard way. Sprained my ankle, kind of sucks.

Somehow Cape Cod completely missed the spring season this year. It went from hoodie weather to t-shirt and shorts weather in just about a week or so. Funny how things can change that fast. The pollen isn't making my life too fun though. Pretty much fatigued or sinus pressured all the time. It is raining at the moment though and my dad said that rain will wash away the pollen. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Watch the French animated feature film L'Illusioniste the other day. Here's the trailer for any interested parties:

Some interesting news in technology:

The film works pretty much without any dialogue, a difficult feat considering that they are trying to keep your attention for an hour and twenty minutes on visuals alone. Bittersweet and fantastically beautiful. Check it out.

Really tired so I'm going to stop it here. I start camp in two weeks! Pretty excited for it.

Speak easy,

Friday, May 6, 2011


Been working 40-50 hour work weeks which hasn't proved to work well with my writing schedule. A few weeks ago I hit the 90,000 word mark and decided that that would be a good a time as any to start trimming the fat. Since then I haven't got a great deal of work done (without daily goals I find it terribly hard to be productive) but I hope for that to change in the weeks leading up to camp.

Quick list of things:
- 127 Hours: Terrific film, watch it right now.
- Twilight Zone: If you have Netflix instant watch I highly recommend watching "Masks", "Five Characters in Search of an Exit", "Walking Distance", and "It's a Good Life".
- Everything Will Be Okay is now available for free! (One of my all time favorite short films)
- Stay away from the book Film Club by David Gilmour (not worth the read. hours wasted)

...and without further ado...I give you the house of the future.

Speak easy,

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I've been working hard, 36 hours a week at Stop & Shop doing construction type work and rigorousness working on my novel. Earlier this evening I passed the 80,000 word mark. I will probably have the rough draft done by the end of April (approx. 120,000 words) and a first draft completed before I leave for camp towards the end of June. Not sure what I'm going to do from there. Honestly by then I'll be so busy looking for career work that the whole project will have to go by the wayside.

I went to the Penny Arcade Expo a few weeks ago with my Dungeons and Dragons crew. Basically it is a video game convention/exposition run by the guys who make the popular gaming comic Penny Arcade. Apparently it got a lot of publicity this year because I have actually met a lot of normal people who know what it is.

For anyone who wants to know what this thing is all about, I recommend this video here to explain all that I don't feel like explaining.

I even got to play the very arcade machine that was featured in one of my all time favorite documentaries King of Kong.

Speak easy,