Photography, Travel

Picture Perfect Breakfast in Montana

If there’s anything I love more than breakfast food, it’s my friend Kate’s pictures of breakfast food.

In her reluctant hometown of Helena, Montana, Kate has captured some of the most delectable pictures of dark diners I have ever encountered. For years I have lusted over her beautiful photographs — which you can find on her blog Ze Photographist —  but it wasn’t until this summer’s road trip that I was finally able to experience her favorite haunts first hand.

Behold, No Sweat Cafe, with its handwritten menus, motown music and strict “no cell phones allowed” policy

DSC_1196

DSC_1197

This breakfast table was crowded with multiple cameras and good friends.

DSC_1198

DSC_1202

The most picturesque buttered toast I have ever seen.

DSC_1204

DSC_1206

DSC_1207

Walking away from the cafe, Kate pointed out downtown Helena’s restored brick wall advertisements and the spot where the used bookstore leaves free romance novels out on the street.

DSC_1211

DSC_1212

 

Standard
KQED

Ed Drew’s ‘Native Portraits’ Drawn from Talking Circles, Fixed on Tintypes

On July 21, Spayne Martinez walked into the California Historical Society at the corner of Annie and Mission Streets in San Francisco. As an Academy of Art University alumna, she probably walked past the building countless times on her way to class in SOMA, but never with a 12-foot picture of her on display in the front windows. Inside, Martinez enthusiastically greeted Ed Drew, the photographer of behind Native Portraits: Contemporary Tintypes, on view at the CHS through Nov. 27.

"Spayne"2014-2015 Tintype by Ed Drew. Courtesy of the artist and Robert Koch Gallery, San Francisco.
“Spayne”2014-2015 Tintype by Ed Drew. Courtesy of the artist and Robert Koch Gallery, San Francisco.

Martinez beamed as she pointed out her son strapped to her back in the portrait and her cousin’s portrait a few frames down. As a professional portrait photographer herself and a tribal community member of the Klamath Basin, Martinez has a unique insight into the photographic representations of Native people.

Continue reading on KQED Arts

Standard
KQED

Primer Stories Saves the Internet from Itself One GIF at a Time

When was the last time an animated GIF left you breathless? (And not just because you were laughing so hard you couldn’t breathe.)

Whether you pronounce the file format with a hard G or a soft J, the medium is undeniable. GIFs often feature a series of still images ripped from popular videos to create an animated loop. The result is easily shareable and usually hilarious, but rarely an example of fine design.

Joe Alterio. Courtesy Primer&Co.
Joe Alterio. Courtesy Primer&Co.
Tim Lillis. Courtesy Primer&Co.
Tim Lillis. Courtesy Primer&Co.

This is where Joe Alterio and Tim Lillis hope to challenge your idea of what the internet should look like. The designers created Primer Stories in 2015 to share thought-provoking articles that integrate text and visuals for an interactive dual narrative. Based in San Francisco and Seattle respectively, Lillis and Alterio both draw inspiration from the Bay Area’s fusion of art and tech culture. . .

Continue reading on KQED Arts

This article was originally published on KQED Arts on 27 June 2016.

Standard
Arts & Culture

So You Watched Stranger Things and Want to Play Dungeons & Dragons?

30 years from now, will there be a cinematic ode to childhood in 2016 that revolves around Pokémon Go? Probably not.

Here’s why: children staring into their phones is not a compelling visual. You know what is? The opening scene of Stranger Things, showing four boys animatedly playing Dungeons and Dragons.

stranger-things-netflix-dungeons--dragons-1

Stranger Things follows this group of boys as they grapple with supernatural happenings in their small town. Drawing heavily from D&D mythology and ethos, the entire plot of Stranger Things could have easily been a collective creation of these boys’ table top role playing.

But you don’t have to be a prepubescent boy living in the 80s to appreciate Dungeons & Dragons. If you’ve never tangled with a 20-sided die, there’s no better time than the present.

Dice_(typical_role_playing_game_dice)

Photo by Diacritica via Creative Commons

I began playing D&D in 2014 after watching Freaks & Geeks and listening to the Harmontown podcast. I even wrote an article for KQED Arts about how Judd Apatow and Dan Harmon have rewritten the roleplaying geek through their television characters.

I was lucky enough to have not one, but two amazing Dungeon Masters in my life, but not everyone is so lucky. So how can you start playing Dungeons & Dragons?

If you start talking about D&D, friends and family may come out of the woodwork to show you their old character sheets and pass along their materials and wisdom. Maybe no one has ever given them the opportunity to share their nerdom before!

qVFd3MK

But if you and everyone you know is removed from nerd culture (AKA too cool for school), you can bet there’s a comic bookstore or hobby shop in your area that has its finger on the pulse of the local D&D scene.

Often, these stores have a bulletin board where you can find calls for D&D players and Dungeon Masters. This is a great way to join a campaign or game or seek a seasoned Dungeon Master.

v0QojlD

But if even this fails, buy a Dungeon Master Guide, a Player Handbook and a Monster Manual and start your own campaign from scratch. It’s definitely not easy, but if 12 year-olds in the 80s could do it, so can you!

Here’s A Step-By-Step Introduction D&D for Total Beginners. It includes 7 articles that cover the following:

“Article 1: Introduction – Deals briefly with game philosophy, the basic mechanic, the adventuring party, and some important terms

Article 2: Character Creation: Mechanics – A step-by-step guide to building a first-level character

Article 3: Character Creation: Story – Some tips to building a well-rounded and interesting character

Article 5: Leveling – A check-list of things to remember when leveling up

Article 4: Basic Combat – The basics of combat: attacks, damage, armor class, movement, saves, skills

Article 6: Advanced Combat – More advanced combat techniques, spell usage, situational modifiers

Article 7: Beyond the Core – A brief discussion of non-core classes and systems (psionics, Tome of Battle, Magic of Incarnum, etc.)”

Have fun and try not to summon a Demogorgon!
649c40e0-3499-0134-0660-062f3a35be5f

 

 

Standard
Arts & Culture

The Fan Art That Made Me Watch Stranger Things

As an unabashed scaredy cat, I willingly admit that I had reservations about watching the “thrilling” Netflix original series, Stranger Things. And while I knew the series was inspired by Spielberg’s PG movies, do you remember how much scarier PG movies were in the 80s?! So I hid from my needling Netflix suggestions.

But that didn’t stop Stranger Things from infiltrating my social media channels. Scrolling through Instagram I was snared by the charming illustrations of Laura Manfre, who I recently started following.

 

I liked this post without realizing it had anything to do with that creepy show I was intent on avoiding. I do like cute dresses and Eggo waffles! *Especially* when I was a eleven. How did you know?

 

Next, I assumed this was a portrait of a dear friend of Laura’s. That Barb certainly has a flair for fashion, doesn’t she? So retro!

 

It wasn’t until I scrolled back through Laura’s feed for more of these delightful illustrations, that I began questioning the context. A walkie talkie? Christmas lights? Headwear? What could these things possibly have in common?

STRANGER THINGS.

That’s when I knew, I had to watch.

If you haven’t watched Stranger Things yet because you’re afraid it might be too scary, put some Eggo waffles in the toaster and get ready for a treat. Maybe just leave the lights on . . . especially if they’re Christmas lights.

 

Follow @laura_manfre on Instagram. She posts lots of pictures of her cats, which would be another good thing to look at if you’re a scaredy cat like me and need some help falling asleep after watching Stranger Things!

Standard
Arts & Culture, Books

Love Stranger Things? Read Paper Girls

Rage_of_demons_-_Demogorgon_-_D&D_5

If you’re like me, then you started Netflix’s original series, Stranger Things and couldn’t help but binge-watch it in one sitting. And while those 8 hours were certainly glorious, now there’s a demogorgon shaped hole in our lives.

PaperGirls_Vol01-1Luckily, Paper Girls, a comic written by Brain K. Vaughn and drawn by Cliff Chiang offers similar 80s nostalgia and sci-fi intrigue — but with the added bonus of multiple strong female protagonists!

I don’t want to give too much away, but walkie-talkies and bicycles are just as important in this story, which all begins with a paper route in the wee hours after Halloween night.

The first trade paperback, or Volume 1, of this comic is available and well worth purchasing from your local bookstore. If you enjoy Paper Girls, you should also check out Vaughn’s award winning Saga comics, which offer more hours of sci-fi meets fantasy entertainment.

Standard
Photography, Travel

Road Trip Travelogue Day 5: Last Day in Yellowstone

Once Philip and I found the best campsite in Yellowstone (see Day 4), it was hard to face that we would have to leave the park.

Here are some photos from our last full day, which we spent hiking and fishing. We had no luck with the fish, but we did spot a buck and wrangled a small snake!

DSC_1062.jpg

DSC_1070.jpg

DSC_1074.jpg

DSC_1077.jpg

DSC_1083.jpg

DSC_1091

DSC_1092

DSC_1093

DSC_1096

DSC_1102

DSC_1104

DSC_1105

DSC_1109

DSC_1113

DSC_1117

DSC_1123

DSC_1133

Read my other Road Trip Travelogues here:

Day 4

Day 3

Day 2

Day 1

 

Standard
Photography, Travel

Road Trip Travelogue Day 4: The Best Campsite in Yellowstone

Finding an available camping spot in a National Park during peak season may seem impossible, but Philip and I proved through experience that you can get one of *the most beautiful* campsites in Yellowstone, even when you fly by the seat of your pants. I would say third time’s the charm, but in our case it was our fourth night in the park that we found campsite W6 at the Norris campground.

DSC_1067.jpg

After days of finagling last minute reservations with confused concessioner campground staffers, we finally decided to give the first-come-first-serve campsites run by the National Park Service a go.

We woke up early, drove to Norris, parked in a line of cars and waited in front of the camp office. Even though we were sixth in line, the wait was long. It turned out to be well worth it when the woman helping us beamed and said, “Can I offer you the most beautiful campsite in all of Yellowstone?” Walking out to our site, we could see exactly what she meant: a winding river and open meadow invited us to set up camp and enjoy the scenery. Perched on the edge of the campground we felt like we had the meadow to ourselves. The sounds of the river and singing birds overtook the chatter of nearby campers. I was so happy, I changed into my “cute camping” outfit to celebrate.

The day’s first order of business was paying Ol’ Faithful a visit. I didn’t take any pictures of that geyser but I did document some of the other geysers we saw.

DSC_0956

DSC_0959

Chromatophores or colorful bacteria give this hot spot its vivid colors.

DSC_0965

I ate a tiny pizza, this seemed noteworthy.

DSC_0966

When we returned to camp, Philip decided to go fish along the winding Gibbon River. I went out with my camera to capture the last bit of daylight. Even the scary bear signs looked more picturesque at this campsite.

DSC_0984

The camp office looking very much like a cozy cabin.

DSC_0987

A peek at the Gibbon River.

DSC_0989

The meadow catching the last bit of light. I think it was nearly 10 PM at that point.

DSC_0999

DSC_1009

The view from W6.

 

DSC_1031

DSC_1039

Thank you Yellowstone Firewood!

DSC_1061 (1)

Philip’s hat on our campsite picnic table.

DSC_1050

Read my other Road Trip Travelogues here:

Day 3

Day 2

Day 1

 

 

Standard
Photography, Travel

Road Trip Travelogue Day 3: Reunion at Lost Lake

After saying an abrupt goodbye to my college friend Kate in our second year at Franklin College Switzerland (now University), I wish someone could have told me that I would be reunited with her in Yellowstone 5 years later! It wouldn’t have softened the blow of her absence, but it would have given me something to look forward to, aside from her amazing blog post updates.

Kate’s stories about her home in Montana had always captured my imagination, and I knew I wanted to visit her there long before I made the trip a reality this summer. But before Montana, there was this little pit stop Philip and I wanted to make at a place called Yellowstone. So Kate and Logan, her gentleman caller, obliged us by meeting us for night of camping and a day of hiking in Wyoming!

After a night of catching up over s’mores and Montana brews, we ventured into the Northern reaches of the park. We stopped by Tower Roosevelt for a peek at the falls and some incredible basalt formations. Then we went on to hike the Lost Lake trail. Our first inclination was to hike towards a waterfall. When the trail petered out, we doubled back to find the Lost Lake, but not before catching sight of the fall we sought.

DSC_0934

Kate took photographs on this hike as well, which you can find on her blog Zephotographist under “Foxes, Frogs, and Hiking: A Day in Yellowstone.” I think it’s really interesting to compare the different subjects we chose to photograph on the same hike! She’s much better at taking photographs of people!

DSC_0938

DSC_0939

DSC_0940

DSC_0941

DSC_0942

DSC_0947

DSC_0952

After Kate and Logan left, Philip and I continued on to Mammoth to see the hot springs. We stopped to eat ice cream on a patch of grass not occupied by lounging elk.

DSC_0954

We also ate some pretty disappointing food in a cafeteria. Luckily, these old pictures of tourists in Yellowstone hanging on the walls more than made up for the bland meal.

IMG_1495

IMG_1498

After a long day of driving around the park and spotting wildlife (a mamma black bear and her two cubs!) along the roadside, we settled into yet another new campsite. I found this little face on a log and it made me smile.

IMG_1499

IMG_1507 (1)

It was a great day.

Standard
Photography, Travel

Road Trip Travelogue Day 2: The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

After driving into Yellowstone park in the middle of the night and cuddling my bear spray all night long, I had no idea what to expect upon waking up. I know it definitely wasn’t Philip telling me we had to move our tent because the campsite we had snuck onto was reserved for the day.

Luckily, the nice folk who worked at the Madison campground were able to find us another reservation at the Bridge Bay campground. After setting up our tent and making breakfast, Philip and I set out to take in the park. Driving past Yellowstone Lake, it was hard to believe that what we were seeing was real.

IMG_1422

IMG_1423

And it didn’t become any more real after we saw our first bison. They may look like lumbering creatures, but the alacrity with which they crossed this river, proved just how swift they really can be.

 

DSC_0758

DSC_0763

There is nowhere else I have experienced such wide open expanses. What struck me most about Yellowstone was the grand scale of this wide open nature. You really did feel closer to the clouds at this elevation.

DSC_0789

DSC_0798

DSC_0806

Our first hike was a loop through the back country starting by Artist Point at the rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, where there are beautiful views of the falls.

DSC_0821

In the back country they tell you to hike in groups of 3 or more, make noise and carry bear spray. Thinking about all of this while walking a trail close to the edge of canyon made me a little nervous, but the views were worth it.

Luckily, there was a loud prepubescent boy walking on the same trail with his family, so all that made me nervous was watching him walk too far out onto the cliff’s edge.

After noticing trees with scratched and worn away bark, I began to realize that Yellowstone may be the first place I have ever been to that has been shaped just as much by wildlife as it has been by humans.

If you look closely, you may seem some hairs sticking to these claw marks. Philip and I assumed at the time that it must have been grizzly bear hair, but it could have been brown bear or even another animal altogether. I like to think it was grizzly though.

DSC_0830

DSC_0827

DSC_0842

Later, we would learn from my friend Kate that the larger markings were most likely created by a horned animal like a bison or male elk.

We also saw some tracks! A Google search leads me to believe that these are Bison tracks, feel free to correct me in the comments!

DSC_0919

As we followed our trail loop away from the canyon we entered a wooded area towards Clear Lake. And of course I had to stop to take some pictures of the wild flowers.

DSC_0916

DSC_0918

It was pretty marshy where we were headed.

DSC_0863

DSC_0878

DSC_0876

We could see the natural gases bubbling underwater. And when we arrived at Clear Lake, the water was a vivid turquoise blue caused by chromatophore bacteria.

DSC_0913

DSC_0912

I really liked the driftwood on the beach of this small lake. Philip and I sat for a minute on one of these logs but were driven away by the pungent sulphur smell.

Shortly after, the landscape changed completely and we walked along an ashy white plane with very little growing. We walked past this hole in the ground and listened to what sounded like boiling mud. We tried recording the sound but it was too hard to capture the fullness of each plop.

DSC_0904

Overall, it was an amazing first day in Yellowstone National Park!

DSC_0920

Standard