Travel Log

Tracking where I've lost my mind...

July 2023


I think of all the 90s Tomb Raider comic art (aside from the original concept art), Andy Park's is my favorite. They seem the least T&A as far as I can tell – she has some spunk and humanity to her. I'm not, by any means, interested in seeking these comics out to read – 90s comics, and even today's comics, are rarely made with readers like me in mind, to put it lightly. I wish they were, but...

anyway, I'm a sucker for simple, black and white sketches, whether it's Matisse, Warhol, Picasso, or Andy Park. These aren't groundbreaking or anything, but they're so pretty.

I love the nerdiness on the first one. Honestly, she's just an extreme nerd...
Original 1996 concept art by creator Toby Gard. I love her noodle legs!


He Needs Me, Nina Simone (Little Girl Blue, 1957)

I have suffered. But there's a Bösendorfer here, so let's see what happens.

Most people would probably consider "He Needs Me" a footnote in Nina Simone's catalog. Even so, I think it is one of the most perfect recordings ever set to wax. "He Needs Me" was in turn a footnote in Peggy Lee's catalog, and Simone's artistry elevated it into something truly heartfelt and haunting, through the grace of her operatic voice and magical piano. The warm, fizzling ambience of the recording just adds to its tenderness.

Her solo on "My Baby Just Cares For Me" remains one of my (sidenote: John Lewis leading into "I Cover the Waterfront." Michel Graillier on "Estate." ) Her approach to jazz piano was so unique, because she was not a jazz pianist. She was a lover of Bach and didn't truly care for jazz at all.


"i've known you as a goddess", Ava (

i've known you as a goddess
venus alike botticelli

You have to cycle through to find this one.

Selected Poems: Volume 2, Jason Love

A little self-published chapbook I found in a local Little Free Library. Very brief, several haikus by a local writer. I love finding random free art, so I'm so happy that this lovely little book is now in my possession.


The Playlistification of Music (Venus Theory @ YouTube)

Perhaps the most pragmatic solution is the John Mellencamp approach: you work on some music that would likely perform well on streaming services for the sake of getting discovered and building an audience, and then you can leverage that audience to release whatever you want to release, however you want to release it. ... The danger with this approach does become pretty obvious: if you don't remember why you're making music in the first place, you end up just making music for an algorithm.

What begins as a discussion on Spotify's influence on pop music builds into a talk about what it means to be an artist in our current capitalistic, online landscape. I related this video to my experience as a writer - the question of how to get your words out there, how to market yourself, how much, and whether you should in the first place.

McMindfulness: When Capitalism Goes Buddhist (Elliot Sang @ YouTube)

Anything that offers success in our unjust society without trying to change it is not revolutionary – it just helps people cope. However, [McMindfulness] could also be making things worse. (sidenote: The same problem that one runs into with stoic philosophy. ) And yet mindfulness zealots believe that paying closer attention to the present moment without passing judgement has the revolutionary power to transform the whole world. It's magical thinking on steroids. (Ronald Purser)

Buddhist teachings on mindfulness have become secularized and popularized. Whether that's good or bad is hard to say. On one hand, mindfulness' popularity can help more people feel its calming benefits; on the other, it can discourage critical thinking and encourage (sidenote: A.K.A., the "Do-Nothing Zen" that Hakuin railed against centuries ago. ) But there's plenty to be critiqued about the way corporations and neoliberals have stripped mindfulness from the dharma, to create a set of shallow rituals that Ronald Purser has dubbed "McMindfulness."

This video basically comes to the same anticlimax I always find myself reaching when discussing religion. We come into a religion already being who we are, and we use what we find in that religion to support that. Still, it's a fascinating video. Elliot touches on the intersections between Buddhism and capitalism, Buddhism and activism (Engaged Buddhism), and the orientalism inherent in secularizing mindfulness.

Video Games

Tomb Raider II (1997)

I woke up one morning thinking about this game from my childhood. I would watch my dad and brother play it as a young child. I was always too scared to try and play it myself. But I decided to try it.

And OMG, I'm still scared. The game basically operates on the premise of exploring creepy, liminal spaces. Villains jump out from corners. You can easily get lost in the maze-like maps. The level design is seriously amazing.

And then there's Lara. These games came out slightly before my time, so I grew up unaware of the controversy around her. I didn't think her being a woman was unusual, and I loved her. Of course, I learned about it later.

But if you play the actual games, 1-3 at least, they're not nearly as (sidenote: The 4th and 5th games are a little worse with this. 5th especially. I'm not interested in TR after those games. ) as the 90s marketing would lead you to believe. Hardly at all IMO. & one thing I really like is despite her being hot and hyperfeminine, it doesn't affect the story or plot or action at all in-game. She's a woman without being punished for it. The ultimate female power fantasy.

She's a total missed opportunity who deserves better than male-gazey comics, a dull movie adaptation, and later "realistic" sequels tying SA to her character development. Give me camp. Give me cheese. Give me (sidenote: It goes without saying, but I'm going to see Barbie instead of Oppenheimer. ) that I can see myself in.

I love this concept art, she looks so spunky and quirky, and I imagine she's wearing the artifacts she snatched as jewelry. ("I only play for sport.") She's a rare fun, campy female protagonist. I want more female action/sci-fi protagonists whose femininity/hotness are neither invisible or emphasized, but instead just (sidenote: The same way handsome male protagonists have been portrayed since... the beginning of time. )


Captain Alban

A francophone Tomb Raider fansite with a purdy web design. Very early 2010s vibes, but the latest update was in last Spring. I like the little Instagram widget they have on the right. Running since 1998.


An extremely pretty website I found through Melon Land. I loved discovering Ava's random poetry page. Also, sweet pixel aesthetic, colors, & sewing project showcase.

June 2023


Cover of Silver Surfer vol 3 issue 99 Cover of Sleepwalker #31


HBO's The Idol should just be funny (Vox) TW: bad sex

[Tesfaye] asserted that the sex scene was supposed to be cringey and purposely bad. It was supposed to cause discomfort, he claimed. Tesfaye's about-face feels like a pivot in response to the critiques, waving away the failure to thrill as purposeful camp instead of an intentionally kinky sex scene. It feels neither kinky nor campy but rather like it was conceived by someone who's only ever had awful sex.

Themes of beauty, sexuality, and fame mixed with dark undertones – what a fresh new concept! /s

There's something hilarious about the way this play-by-play is written. I think it's the use of phrases like "nipple-forward."

I'm not usually one to take part in schadenfreude, but I'm happy to see this shit being panned after they overhauled its female-led direction because its co-star and said it had too much of a "feminine perspective." The show then, unsurprisingly, went from satire to the thing it was satirizing.

Let women get the chance to tell stories about women. I'm not saying they'll automatically be better, but they'll probably have more interesting things to say about what it's like to be us.

The Smartest Women I Know Are All Dissociating (BuzzFeed News) TW: eating disorders, misogyny, dark humor up on progress is perhaps the epitome of white feminism, and promotes a nihilism that is somewhere between unproductive and genuinely dangerous.

Although it makes up most of the article, I'm not really here for the TV analysis (I've never seen either show), and it's BuzzFeed, so it's chock full of buzz words – but the first half of the article felt like it was getting at some trends I often see from people of my generation, especially on Twitter & social media: the "injustice → dark humor → insensitivity, nihilism, & inaction" pipeline.

Using humor to cope is human. But sometimes we need to back up and let ourselves get sensitive to anger and pain and sadness again. It reminds me of an uncomfortable memory where [TW: transphobia, domestic violence] a friend was cracking up about about this Twitter thread that he thought was hilarious: a rightwing bigot posts the percentage of transgender people who commit suicide, & then someone on the left replies with the percentage of cops who beat their wives. So here I am thinking about transgender lives and violence against women, and he – a cis-het guy, a self-professed leftist – is cracking up. I still don't get it. I think it's just something about the Twitter algorithm: constant exposure to horrible facts and debates.

Sometimes we need anti-inspirations. I don't want to be like this. I don't want to be numb to human suffering to the point where I'm always laughing at it – not even my own.


Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Persichetti, Ramsey, & Rothman (2018)

Spider-Man? Do I look like I fuck with Spider-Man? Well, it turns out I do. I've been conditioned to turn my nose up at Marvel movies but my boyfriend insisted I give this a try. It's a sweet movie with a sweet message, and the animation is truly unique, fresh, and wonderful.

The villain is hilariously (sidenote: Being that I am one, I'm kind of fascinated with media portrayals of Italian-Americans. Look at the controversy over the kid's movie Shark Tale. ) oh no! My wife in da fridge with da meatballs! That scene where his wife and son got resurrected just in time to see him doing the same thing they left him for in the first place was so classic.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Dos Santos, Powers, & Thompson (2023)

Kickass animation. An awesome viewing experience. And surprisingly deep questions and political themes on top of that – is suffering really preventable? How much are we in control of our destiny? Can we trust everything our elders say? The majority of Spiderpeople turning on Miles as an "anomaly" was my favorite part of the movie. Reminded me of liberals vs. leftists. When Spider-Punk made the DIY transporter I had such a big smile on my face – he's antifa. Fuckin love Spider-Punk.

This movie is soooo close to being leftist but the problem is... it doesn't end. And therefore it hasn't taken a stance. I'm afraid the sequel is going to frame "both sides" (Spider-Punk + Miguel & the elders) as going too far and end up being disappointingly centrist.

Werewolf by Night, Michael Giacchino (2022)

Another recommendation from my boyfriend, the Marvel buff. Two decently funny (sidenote: The dead husband and the... uh... forgot the second one. Okay, one funny gag. ) separated by a story that arouses nothing in me except an urge to yawn. Yeah yeah, I can clearly see they were going for the Universal monster movie aesthetic, the visuals are interesting, but I want to watch a film, not a homework assignment. Thankfully it's a pretty short run-time. I was wondering if I had to be a fan of the source material to fully enjoy this.

I think the problem with Werewolf by Night is that it doesn't seem to know how to laugh at itself – and there is so much it should be laughing at.


Arrivederci, Chet Baker (Soundtrack to Urlatori alla sbarra, 1960)

Kiss me again for the last time
Darling, forgive me, forget me

A pop tune recorded for a cheesy musicarello film. Unusually cold lyrics for a love song. Baker's voice is young and cute, the solo's fine, the melody is not far off from the pop songs he would compose himself while in Italy. I wish a better recording existed. The song was originally sung very dramatically by Umberto Bindi.


"I never kept sheep / but it's as if I had," Alberto Caeiro (Paris Review)

Being a poet is not my ambition.
It's my way of being alone.

An extremely satisfying poetic manifesto / (sidenote: A poem about poetry. ) Caeiro is actually one of many different identities of Fernando Pessoa. He wrote under different names, all with different personalities and obsessions in their poetry... Caeiro seems to be all about "vibing."

"I didn't want to think," Joanne Kyger (Paris Review)

How many people can hear my natural relatives
die anyway the rain was coming down. Outside it's like clear air

Stillness & empathy in a time of enormous grief. Form-wise I admire this poem's use of space, syntax, and line breaks. I found more Joanne Kyger here.

After Reading Sappho, Aza Pace (The Adroit Journal)

A red-winged blackbird
shrugging his glory by the lake,
and us, noticing him.

Tiny, beautiful bubbles of Sapphic daydreams.

Men, Rita Mookerjee (ANMLY)

A simple poem with a clever conceit. It reads like a tenderly-told joke.

The Hourglass, TaJuan Ciel (BarBar)

at this point i don't care if i graduate as long as i do what i love before the sand runs out

Sometimes, I'm hungry for poems that are frank – off-the-cuff – written like thoughts or speech. This poem is honest. I'm inside a young poet's mind.

The Animal Dialogues: Uncommon Encounters in the Wild, Craig Childs

On a great blue heron: You cannot look at this bird and decide who is superior and who is not. The encyclopedic vocabulary of a raven is no more admirable than a red-spotted toad's ability to drink through its skin. The human penchant for deciphering the world has no geater merit than the unusually large eyeall of a pronghorn.

The Katha Upanishad, trans. Eknath Easwaran

As the rain on a mountain peak runs off
the slopes on all sides, so those who see
only the seeming multiplicity of life
run after things on every side.

As pure water poured into pure water
becomes the very same, so does the Self
of the illumined man or woman, Nachiteka,
verily become one with the Godhead.


Whose Line Is It Anyway? (YouTube)

Watching clips of this show puts me in a good mood. I was able to make some revisions on poems that I felt really happy about the night after I watched some clips of this show, and I don't think that's a coincidence – I think this show stimulates the part of my brain that values spontaneity and wordplay. But it's also just plain hilarious & it's really lifted my spirits.

Stephen Colbert and Anderson Cooper talk about grief. (YouTube)

— They say, "I'm sorry to bring it up" ... what they don't realize is, I'm thinking about it all the time. It is an extension of who I am. There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about it.
— To the point that sometimes I ask, "Why is nobody asking me about this?" Honest to god! My brothers died 45 years ago, and sometimes I go, "Why is nobody asking me about Paul?"

20 minute interview between two men that had to process grief at very young ages. Very beautiful and relatable as someone who has experienced trauma and PTSD. It's like listening in on a productive talk therapy / support group session. They talk through thoughts and questions that feel very familiar – the "who we could have been," the "why," the (sidenote: See: "Michiko Dead" by Jack Gilbert. )

Websites TW: SA, drugging

What happened was not only a betrayal to me, to my life, a violence that nearly killed me, it stole a lot from other people too. I was just not the same person for so long. Rape is like living murder, you are alive, but dead.

This is a very raw, heavy piece of writing by the singer Duffy, explaining her sudden disappearance from the music industry after a hit album. It's a story of survival and recovery. She shares thoughts that many survivors can relate to: escapism, wanting to be a new person, wanting to run away from it all, isolation.

Neat DIY website I found through the Surf Club with a Trekkie theme and cool dithered images. There's just something I really love about this site design.

May 2023


A Truck Driver Attacked Wall Street's Iconic Charging Bull Statue With a Spiked Banjo, Leaving It With a Huge Gash (Artnet News)

New York City's bronze Charging Bull, a symbol of Wall Street power, was damaged yesterday when a man repeatedly attacked it with a metal banjo while cursing President Trump's name.


Bell, Book and Candle, Richard Quine (1958)

Surreal colors, movie magic, Kim Novak looking utterly bewitching... you'd think, who'd want anything more? Me. I'm a ravenous slut for more.

This film lured me in with the premise of being about a witchy woman, but from the way she's written and framed, it's clear this film wasn't made for me: it's a male gaze fantasy of being bewitched by Kim Novak. Because from the female gaze, it's far less appealing: it's an antiquated romance suited to patriarchal 50s norms, the heroine relinquishing feminine power to become the housewife of 50-year-old-but-looks-older Jimmy Stewart.

I get it's an old film, but old shit still stinks. I can forgive the film for being dated, but I can't forgive it for being dull.

As Good As It Gets, James L. Brooks (1997)

Hulu tagged this as a "feel-good" film and I am considering suing them for emotional damages.

Feel good for who? When the bigot's neighbor was assaulted, I did not feel good. When the bigot called him homophobic slurs while he was in a wheelchair, I did not feel good. When he shooed Jewish patrons out of the diner because they're Jewish, I did not feel good. When the woman's only option for getting her son the healthcare he needs is to accept money from a man she is afraid of, I did not feel good.

This is a horror movie about an asshole without any reason or accountability, shot as a rom-com. Once again, old shit still stinks.


When You Walk into My Dreams, Gary Wilson (You Think You Really Know Me, 1977)

When you walk into my dreams
Sometimes I feel like god forgot me

Gary Wilson's lyricism is so erratic.


Ishmael, Joshua Aiken (Rumpus)

Dark-skinned boys in
a field. On one.

A narrative poem with a masterful twist. Setting begins abstract, becomes more clear, & ends up being something completely different than I expected. A sense of watching a scene in slow motion. Themes of masculinity, homosociality, homoeroticism.

Reminds me of this video.