Recall Springtime

Springtime Cherry Trees

Recall springtime:

crows circle on the sweet wind.

you trudge along the slippery gravel-mud road under

fragile blue sky, clover springing up around you

feel the honey gold sun landing

on your arms lighter than butterflies;

take heart. Spring is coming back again.



I felt the water, same as always,
but the light was gone.
pinned down like a moth
under the warm cascade,
both eyes and mind
struggling to adjust.
uncharted territory,
new decisions to make,
freedom and confusion
in the unexpected dark.


Cranes at Twilight

A midnight puddle

lounges near the water bowl

– he just wants tuna.


As each door opens,

others close, my decisions

trap and set me free.


A flock of small birds

fill the lavender evening

flowing like black silk.

Bird Leaves

it’s not very wonderful when the leaves escape,

skittering over the muck hand in hand with the wind.

we need to pin their fragile bodies down

and shove them into stiff brown paper leaf bags.

is it odd that we entomb these tree-children in

the pulverized entrails of their cousins?

would it be better if we left them, soggy and dissolving in the mud,

interlaced with grass, to liquefy and pass away from us?

to nourish the sprightly greenness of a spring lawn

to weave into the food chain rightful place, to feed the worms!

better? that is questionable. but every time the wind comes calling,

I do what I have always done, and see the brave few leaves that leave,

away across the pastel evening, singing through the chill blue rush of air

escaped from the rake like birds set free

Alto’s Odyssey

I like games that look and feel good. Crisp, artistic graphics? Intuitive controls? Either one of those would sell me on a new app, but when they’re combined, they blow other options out of the water. Alto’s Odyssey does a great job of integrating gorgeous scenery and easy controls into a genuinely fun and uncomplicated time-killer.

Alto’s Odyssey is basically a running game with snowboarding. Tapping makes your character jump, and holding down makes them do a backflip. This simple mechanic is tested by the terrain and features of the game. Alto and his friends can grind on vines and ruins, boost off of waterfalls, and slide on the sides of canyons in the desert environment of the game. Combining tricks can get you an extra boost, but if you misjudge a landing, you will lose it all. There are mischievous lemurs to avoid that will knock you off your board. And if you forget which character you’re playing, the individual strengths, weaknesses, and abilities of the six characters can trip you up. It’s not hard to remember what to do, but gameplay is just tricky enough to make achievements rewarding without making them frustrating.

This game was based on an earlier and simpler app with the same mechanics called Alto’s Adventure. That game was set in the snowy Andes, and although it had largely the same characters and moves, it lacked the new terrain and biomes that have made Alto’s Odyssey so fun for me. Odyssey sends the snowboarders from Adventure into the desert. Their snowboarding moves translate well to sliding on the sand (Sandboarding? Is that a thing?). The best part of the new game is the biomes. You can only find vines and ruins in the Temples biome. Floating hot air balloons (great for bouncing on to make combos!) appear more often in the Dunes, and canyon walls show up in, uh, the Canyons. Biomes gradually shift over a single run. The variety makes every run fun.

Characters and power-ups are perfectly balanced – just helpful enough to make them interesting and useful, but not so pricey or overpowered that they ruin the experience. Speaking of pricey, it is possible to buy in-game currency, but you earn it rapidly enough through normal gameplay that it’s not really necessary! It’s kind of refreshing.

And it’s pretty! The scenery is gorgeous and as the weather changes and the day slides into night, the shifting colors make the game feel entirely new. It can be a bit hard to see in sandstorms, though. The lighting is calm, chill, stress-free, and beautiful.

If you’re looking for a low-stress running game, this one’s probably one of the best out there – and my new favorite. 4.5 out of 5, because Nothing is Ever Perfect. 🙂

Alto’s Odyssey – iTunes, Google Play

Alto’s Adventure – iTunes, Google Play

night swimming

bright full moon in a dark, slightly cloudy sky

wet tinted goggles give the moon a fractured halo

of faint chaotic cobwebs spinning white and gold

the water is full of dancing flashing shadows

faint songs drift over from the carnival next door

the soft smooth darkness blurs the leaves

that whisper through the windlessness

you drip on the deck in the empty air

in a clammy towel, water slips down your spine

around the porch light doomed moths spiral

their quiet wings flash across your eyes

and fireflies surprise you in the night.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

poster from movie Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Review by TJ Lawrence

This movie has plot holes you could fly an X-Wing through, contagious stupidity on the part of some characters, two substantially weaker side plots, and about thirty minutes of unnecessary run time. However, it is also graced with gorgeous cinematography, well-thought-out character development, good acting, and a strong, engaging central plot. The verdict: The Last Jedi doesn’t measure up to expectations in many areas, but makes up for its weaknesses with impressive strengths. It’s flawed but fun and certainly worth at least one watch. 7/10

My personal likes and dislikes about the movie are below.

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What I liked:

Character development: Poe’s earlier characterization as a reckless pilot influences his decisions throughout the movie, skewing them toward good immediate results with no real thought for the tactical disadvantages of those results. He learns better through Leia’s chastisement for his early-movie sacrifice of the entire bombing fleet and the events that follow. Finn tried to run away from the battle. I was ridiculously disappointed in him until I realized that a) this fits with his characterization from The Force Awakens and b) he redeems himself later. I still think this decision made it a lot harder to sympathize with or root for him as a character, so the results were mixed. Kylo Ren’s internal tug-of-war and his eventual choice of sides fit in perfectly with his character. And don’t even get me started on Luke Skywalker and his heroic sacrifice—I will cry right here on this keyboard, I swear.

Rey, Luke, and Kylo: This plot was the best part of the entire film. The character clashes between Rey and Luke, Rey and Kylo’s Force connection, Rey’s seeming tilt toward the dark side, and Kylo’s absolutely awesome assassination of Snoke/fake turn towards the light…I could go on about this forever. It was amazing. If this plot had been the entire movie, I wouldn’t have complained at all.

Cinematography/Why is everything so pretty: The battle scene on Crait was so beautiful it made me want to go there, except that I didn’t really want to be in the middle of a battle anywhere. I loved the animation of all the animal life except that weird pink cow-thing. The CGI shields around the Resistance cruiser were impressive and laid to rest my consistent quibble—”why can’t I ever see the shields?” Admiral Holdo’s last flight scared me.

What I didn’t like:

Plot holes: If Admiral Holdo had just told Poe what the plan was, the entire last half of the movie could have been avoided. Come on, lady! I expected a little more maturity and rationality from a hero of the Resistance.

Plot-induced stupidity: See plot holes.

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