Archive for January, 2017

“Cynicism … makes you into an extremely boring person”

Joseph Gervasi, who I met through Exhumed Films 16 or 17 years ago, recently did a short introduction to a double feature of Killer Klowns from Outer Space and Deadly Spawn. The show was a benefit for James Harris of and the Horror Sexy podcast, who is battling Ewings Sarcoma.

It’s not what I would have expected to come from introducing such a double feature. You should watch. It’s really good.

It’s easy to malign or laugh at small subcultures or communities that form around niche interests (here, fans of horror and cult films). It’s easy to dismiss them as wastes of time. But in almost every case, these groups are so much more than collections of people with a common interest. They’re groups that can support and lift up members during times of need.

Additionally, he speaks on the importance of hope and generosity:

Cynicism, I think, is the worst possible attribute that anyone can have. It makes you into an extremely boring person, a very ineffective person, and someone who is in no way artistic or creative.

Be sure to also check out Joseph’s interview with James on episode 60 of the Cinepunx podcast.

(Update: Sadly, James passed away in April of 2017.)

2016: My Year in Review

Like most other folks I know, I’m ready to flip the bird to 2016 and move on. In April, I officially shuttered my tea shop, which was a tad depressing. It was a rough summer with kidney stones that never seemed to leave. September was about as eventful as could be. And we closed out the year on a somewhat stressful and less than healthful note. But there was a lot of good stuff, too. Made some big time breakthroughs on the family tree and connected with a lot of new family, did a lot of running, had a great anniversary trip with Huyen, and enjoyed some really fun times with our kids and dogs.

And now, the year past…

(Previous years-in-review collected here.)

The Year, By Month



  • Surprise birthday visit to Mom for her, uh, landmark birthday.


  • Sent Huyen off on a birthday weekend away with her two best friends from high school and experienced what it was like to watch four kids for a weekend.
  • Went to a Family History Center and scrolled through actual microfilm. I felt so old school.


  • Rasine v. Huyen in “The Mousing Cat” on the Odyssey^2
  • Saw Archie Shepp, Pharaoh Sanders, and others at the Jazz Masters Tribute
  • Officially closed up shop on Asacha


  • Took the kids to their first concert: Babymetal
  • PR 5k race time (21:51, 7:02/mile pace, 34th out of 399 overall)
  • Major genealogy breakthrough taking my maternal grandfather’s roots back deep into Lithuania


  • Caught up with my freshman year RA Sye for dinner
  • Mother-in-law arrives to start an awesome (really!) three-month visit


  • Completed our first Exit Plan escape room adventure in under 45 minutes
  • First kidney stone attack. “Oh, they’re just small, so don’t worry about the fact they haven’t come out.”


  • Trip to Philadelphia to dig through an overgrown section of Mt Moriah Cemetery for my great-great-great-grandparents (first pic below)
  • 15th anniversary trip to St. Thomas (stayed at an Airbnb)
  • Several more kidney stone attacks, in the middle of the night while on St. Thomas


  • Doc says, “Oh, hey. So that kidney stone? It’s actually huge.”
  • Kidney stone surgery. Never again.
  • Rasine’s Minecraft-themed party
  • Lee “Scratch” Perry concert
  • Boss and boss’ boss move on
  • Became “management”


  • Shepp pulls his back, resulting in a panicked late-night emergency vet visit
  • Digging for artifacts at the Ashburn Colored School community cleanup event
  • Dinner with BeFyne
  • Turned 41


  • The end of America is scheduled for January 20th
  • Family battles Hand, Foot, and Mouth. I come away mostly unscathed.
  • Saw Lakshmi Singh walking around doing a story about Poplar Spring for NPR


  • Thanks to thin walls, I hear an older gentleman getting a hernia check followed by a prostate exam
  • The kids and I fight various stages of walking pneumonia
  • More visits to the doctor and imaging centers than I’ve ever had in one month


Based solely on the folks I RIP’ed on Twitter (or FB). People (and “people”) I knew personally in bold. Dates are when I tweeted/posted to FB, not the actual death date. Lots of commonly-eulogized folks omitted.

  • 1/10: Mitsu Suzuki
  • 1/18: Iron Mike Sharpe
  • 1/27: Angus Scrimm
  • 3/8: Mr. Edwards (2 months late)
  • 6/22: John Reynolds
  • 7/20: Rose Dooley
  • 8/16: Bobby Hutcherson
  • 10/26: Bob Browne (three months late)
  • 11/8: America
  • 11/18: Sharon Jones
  • 12/29: Mini-Moo
  • 12/31: Huston Smith

Books I Finished Reading

Listed in order finished.

  • A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
  • Essays After Eighty by Donald Hall
  • Preserving Your Family’s Oral History and Stories by Thomas MacEntee
  • Sky Above, Great Wind: The Life and Poetry of Zen Master Ryokan by Kazuaki Tanahashi
  • Finding Samuel Lowe: China, Jamaica, Harlem by Paula Williams Madison
  • Ferdydurke by Witold Gombrowicz
  • Don’t Be a Jerk: And Other Practical Advice from Dōgen, Japan’s Greatest Zen Master by Brad Warner
  • I Travel by Night by Robert McCammon (novella)
  • The Jazz Loft Project: Photographs and Tapes of W. Eugene Smith from 821 Sixth Avenue, 1957-1965 by Sam Stephenson
  • Lotus of the Heart: Living Yoga for Personal Wellness and Global Survival by Tracey Winter Glover
  • Black Fire! New Spirits!: Images of a Revolution: Radical Jazz in the USA 1960-75 by Stuart Baker
  • The Ark Sakura by Kobo Abe
  • Organize Your Genealogy: Strategies and Solutions for Every Researcher by Drew Smith
  • Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin
  • Spoiled Brats by Simon Rich
  • The System of Dante’s Hell by Amiri Baraka
  • On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
  • Elliot Allagash by Simon Rich
  • The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder by Charles Graeber
  • The Family Tree Polish, Czech And Slovak Genealogy Guide: How to Trace Your Family Tree in Eastern Europe by Lisa A. Alzo
  • Time Travel: A History by James Gleick
  • Letting Go: The Story of Zen Master Tōsui by Menzan Zuihō, translated by Peter Haskel

Total number of books finished: 22 (three less than 2015)

Books re-read: 0

Books written by someone I know or have at least spoken more than a sentence to: 1

Books featuring a footnote referencing a woman whose kids I used to babysit: 1

Physical / Ebooks finished:
Fiction / Nonfiction / Poetry:
Buddhism / Music / Preservation / Genealogy:

Books in progress at the end of the year: 2

Movies I Watched and Re-watched

Listed in order watched.

Number of movies: 54

Number of those movies I’d already seen: 9

Movies from this year: 10

Average year: 1993.76

Average rating: 3.60

… more fun stuff at Letterboxd

The Year in Numbers

Number of miles run:

Gallons of liquid consumed from 10/4-12/31 (approximately):

Movies watched:

Books read:

Songs listened to: