Buying coffee

This is a lovely story that made me smile:

It all started two years ago at Corner Perk, a small, locally owned coffee shop, when a customer paid her bill and left $100 extra, saying she wanted to pay for everyone who ordered after her until the money ran out. The staff fulfilled her request, and the woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, has returned to leave other large donations every two to three months.

“People will come in and say, ‘What do you mean? I don’t understand. Are you trying to buy me a coffee today?'” the shop’s owner, Josh Cooke, told the local news. “And I say, ‘No, somebody came in 30 minutes ago and left money to pay for drinks until it runs out.'”

It took a while, but word has started to spread around the tiny coastal town, home to about 12,000 people. Now, more and more customers have been leaving money to pay for others’ food and drink. Cooke says some people don’t even buy anything when they come in; they just stop to donate and head right back out.



There are days when I am a bit overwhelmed by the PhD process and life in general and I spend about thirty seconds wondering why I keep doing the sound production for PodCastle when I have so much other work to do. Then I quickly remember a) I really enjoy the work, b) I really like my editors, and c) I take a lot of pride and joy in being part of an organization that gives stories to people, each and every week. Here are a few links to some of my favorite stories that PodCastle and our sister organizations, EscapePod and PseudoPod:


The Behold of the Eye
Some Zombie Contingency Plans


Impossible Dreams
Edward Bear and the Very Long Walk


The Music of Erich Zann
Flash on the Borderlands III

I am really proud to be part of this organization and if you like stories, I highly, highly recommend checking out our work. These are perfect for daily commutes or long trips and I promise that you will be transported far further than your physical destination.

The start of something new

Starting a new story is like starting a new relationship: all giddy and exciting and fumbling. For my writing today (I’m trying to get back into writing at least 300 words every day—not ambitious but manageable while doing grad work), I started a new story called “The Lock”. I don’t think it will be a genre story, though most stories I start find their way into science fiction or horror somehow, but I think this one might be more, oh, I don’t know, New England Gothic maybe? We’ll see. For my daily sharing of joy, I’m going to give you the very beginning of a new relationship, a new story. It’s rough draft material and I won’t necessarily be sharing the process of writing the entire thing, but starting this made me feel good. A story is a fragile thing, however, and there is some risk in my posting this as often a story shared too early can self destruct. But I think the story has enough urgency to take that risk.

The Lock

Betcha you won’t. Betcha I will. Nuh-uh. Yuh-uh.

I was ten that day, or eleven. She was a year older than me. I can’t remember what I looked like then, not really, not without a picture. But her, I remember her like a story: skinny and always in motion. Even when sitting, she was jiggling her left leg or twirling her sun-bleached blond hair that was always wild and tangled except for Sundays when her mother took a brush to it before Church. Or she’d be picking at scabs from whatever recent scrapes she’d accumulated running around the woods behind her house or down at Lander’s Beach which wasn’t a beach but rocks that she loved to explore and was too impatient to not slip and fall on a regular basis. Her skin was darkly tanned and often bruised. Her nose was small, slightly upturned at the end and her grin … Her grin was wide, electric. The kind of grin that made you excited and brought butterflies to your stomach and made you want to do something to make it happen again. I loved her. I realize that now, but I never thought that then. She was just Julie and we hung out a lot and yeah, her older sister would tease us, saying we were in love and we should get married, but back then Julie was just so much herself and I was far more naive than kids now that … Well, I just didn’t know.

I used to think she probably didn’t either, but sometimes I remember looks, small things she said, and wonder. There are days, now, when I wish desperately I could again love a person with such an unconscious clarity. No sexual baggage. No expectations. No hopes. Just a day to day exploration of the world with her at my side, leading me on, urging me to run faster, climb the tree just a little bit higher, swim out just a little bit further.

Brendan’s short movie

When I was in high school, and later at the University of Rhode Island, Brendan O’Malley was a huge figure in my life. We weren’t close friends, though we did hang out occasionally. Mostly our interactions came through drama club in high school and the theatre department at University of RI where he was consistently a much better actor than me, and someone I both looked up to and was very, very jealous of. Since I no longer consider myself an actor, I don’t mind so much that he’s much better at that then I am. Of course, then he goes and becomes a kick-ass essayist and makes my essays look like rank amateurism. But honestly, I’m just really happy we are still in sporadic, Facebook contact and that I can look at his work with sheer, unadulterated joy at watching someone I knew a long time ago make really cool things.

Oh, and he is also a musician. You can find his iTunes single here.

God Damn King Kong from Ben Barnes on Vimeo.

Perspective under the ice

It may take bit to work out just what you are seeing, but when you do, it’s kind of magical:

Fishing under ice from Juuso Mettälä on Vimeo.

Via IO9

It really is all about perspective isn’t it? The world, our lives, our understanding of each other and ourselves. We spend so much time taking for granted that up is up and down is down when we might discover a whole new world by simply looking at things from a different direction.

2012 blogging plans

This past semester has been a rather slow blogging one for me, but, more troubling, I’ve also done relatively little writing of any kind. As I considered some of my desires and goals for the coming year, I realized that this blog deserves a bit more attention, but I also needed some kind of focus for it. I know, I know, I’ve tried focus here any number of times and it never seems to stick for very long. Well, if it doesn’t this time, it doesn’t. Nobody loses. That said, I do plan on posting here every (or most) weekdays. However, I’m returning to an attempt I made a while ago: I’m going to post positive things. No politics, and no oh-gosh-but-the-world-is-so-very-fucked-up. I hope to spend the bulk of this coming year sharing joyful moments, music and videos that make me smile, photos that speak to the beauty around us, and even simple, short affirmations of something good that I am looking forward to or that happened to me. This isn’t about comedy or easy fun, though I may very well post things that are just funny, but more an attempt to share things that reflect the many and varied positive creations and attributes of our species.

So, yeah, that is the blogging plan for LtL in 2012. Hope you’ll join me.

Oh, and also, I’ve got a new theme. What do you think? If you have any troubles with it, let me know.