A few of my clips…

Here are a few of my clips from various publications that I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to write for:

Nieman Reports

Yahoo News

Christian Science Monitor: Tyson Tattoo and The Hangover II, Zambian Banana Plantation

MyRecipes.com

 

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Mom is goo goo for Gaga

The almost metropolitan city of Grand Rapids, MI–my adopted home town–played host to the musical maven of meat herself, Lady Gaga, last night.

While my fifty-something parents boogied down to Gaga’s tunes with friends, I studied for my mid-terms in Brookline, MA.

This seemed terribly backwards to me and had me wondering if Gaga’s fan base tended toward the older generations or if it was my parents who were the anomaly.  Was I wrong in assuming that her fans were tweens, teens, and twenty-somethings?

According to Musicmetric, a music marketing and sales research group focused on the web, my parents are the odd-balls.  Only about .15 percent of Gaga fans are around their age.  The majority, like I assumed, are in their twenties.

However, the Seattle Times reported that at a show in Aug. 2010, her fans “seemed to range in age from 9 to 70.”

Now, Lady Gaga is not quite my cup of tea (another Kim family anomaly since I fit her average fan demographic) yet it seems she has an extensive and varied fan base.  I suppose most people already knew or assumed this, but hearing about my parents rockin’ good time at a Gaga concert threw me for a loop.

Maybe Emerson should lighten up the work load so I can get out more!

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Through my lens

Below are two slideshows of some of my photography work. Enjoy!

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A Spring Slideshow

Click the image below to view the slideshow.

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The Musician Next Door

Blues singer/songwriter, Berklee graduate and Brookline resident Elise Hayes will perform for the last time in Boston June 24 at the Middle East Restaurant and Nightclub.

Hayes, 23, sits cross-legged on the couch in her living room, steaming mug of tea in hand and talks about her time in Boston and her plans in Nashville, TN.

“I’m just excited to get down there and meet the community and keep getting better at writing and touring and all that good stuff,” Hayes said.

Her voice, when she sings, is lower and more soulful than when she is speaking. The bright, energetic woman only exudes a haunting quality when performing.

The Keene, NH native graduated from Berklee College of Music in 2010 with a degree in Professional Music. She recorded an EP (short for “extended play,” kind of a middle ground between a single and a full album) called “Steady the Pace” after graduating and has been touring up and down the East Coast to promote herself.

“I’ve just been doing the music thing,” Hayes said. “I really love performing. Just being able to go and perform my songs for people and connect with the in some way is definitely the most rewarding part.”

Playing the piano and belting out her own words, Hayes is in her happy place. The songs themselves, however, tend to be a little less happy. A bit folkey, a bit bluesy, Hayes sings about heartache and loss.

“I draw inspiration from life experiences, not always my own,” Hayes said. “Definitely watching other people in their lives, what they go through, and certainly, you know, my own experiences get tossed in there, too. It’s just watching interactions and writing them down.”

Hayes beautiful, haunting music is available on iTunes and Pandora Radio.

Click here for a video of Hayes.

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A look at the Suffolk Country Superior Court…Be Afraid!

Convicted sex offender Alfred Williams was found to still be a sexually dangerous person in a Suffolk County Superior Court trial on April 25, 2011. He was placed back into the custody of the Massachusetts Treatment Center (MTC) for the care, custody, treatment and rehabilitation of persons adjudicated as being sexually dangerous.

I  sat in on his trial presided by Associate Justice Douglas Wilkins in the Unified Sexually Dangerous Person (SDP) Session of the Suffolk County Superior Court.

Basically, as the court clerk, Charles Kalell, explained it to me, SDPs are repeat offenders guilty of some pretty awful sex crimes. Once a year they can petition the court to be released from the MTC, however it can take a few years for the case to be heard.

In the case of Williams, is first offense occurred in 1965. He sexually assaulted his 9-year-old sister-in-law. He was convicted of indecent assault and battery on a minor.

In October 1968, he sexually assaulted his other sister-in-law, a 7-year-old. He was convicted of indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of 14 and assault on a female child under16 years with intent to commit rape.

In 1981 and 1982, Williams sexually assaulted a male child who was seven-years-old. He was convicted of three counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of 14 and two counts of rape of a child with force.

In 1983, Williams was found to be a sexually dangerous person (SDP) as defined by Massachusetts State law and was civilly committed to the MTC.

The reason he was at court this April was to determine whether the Commonwealth of Massachusetts could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he is today, 28 years later, a sexually dangerous person.

There has been some question of the constitutionality of Title XVII, Chapter 123A, but much of that was resolved in the US Supreme Court case Kansas v. Hendricks, which was about a similar statute in Kansas.

The Williams case was both horrifying and interesting to me. During the trial, they went into some pretty specific, awful detail of exactly what Williams did to those little kids.

At the end, when it was time for the jury to deliberate, Judge Wilkins gave them instructions about their role as a jury. They were to “determine the facts and apply them to the law…through a cool, reflective, impartial sifting of the evidence.” He spoke about not letting any personal feelings or biases get in the way of their deliberations. Personally, while I was listening to his instructions, I was thinking, “No way would I let this guy back out on the streets.”

While the jury went into deliberations, another SDP case, for petitioner Hiriam Gonzalez began with the jury selection process. His sexual assault convictions were more varied and prolific than those of Williams.

The Clerk, Charles Kalell told me that these are “Section 9 cases” because section 9 of chapter 123A is the section pertaining to examination and discharge of a SDP from the MTC. He also said that in most of these cases the petitioner is sent back into the custody of the MTC, as was the case with Williams.

“A lot of it has to do with the jury,” Kalell said. “I mean, nobody wants to be responsible for putting one of these guys back out there and having them repeat, especially since they are already repeat offenders.”

He also explained how the jury had a different sort of role than in most cases. Instead of looking at the evidence and saying, yes, this proves that this person broke the law of was wrong in some way, the jury must decided whether or not this person is likely to commit future acts of sexual deviance. I found that very interesting and a bit troubling. But then again, these petitioners are all repeat offenders, and I’m quite cynical about whether someone can really change his/her ways.

Most of the court workers were very helpful and open. The court officers especially were helpful. I started out in one courtroom, where people were just waiting around. One lawyer asked if I needed some direction. He took a look at the daily docket list I was carrying around and pointed me to another courtroom that should have more “action.” They didn’t, but the court officers there called around to find out if any of the courts were actually in session. Eventually, they helped me find the SDP Session.

During breaks in the proceedings, the clerks, officers, and lawyers talked about their Easter vacations, joking and laughing with each other. I had a conversation with one of the court officers about running shoes (I work in a specialty running store). He had been talking about how wonderful his run was this past weekend in his new shoes. We bonded over the trials of finding the right running shoe for one’s feet.

It was interesting how much waiting around there was. As one lawyer who had been working there for 32 years said, “90 percent of the time you’re waiting for that exciting moment, waiting for things to happen.”

It was also weird to see some of the people attending the trial, mostly Williams’ two buddies. They were both scraggly old men who had been released from the MTC. Honestly, I tried my best to stay far away from them. Maybe that was prejudiced and wrong, but I was absolutely disgusted with all those dirty old men.

While I understand that every human being is entitled to his/her civil liberties, these men did terrible, terrible things to small children who will grow up scarred and probably pretty screwed up. I don’t think they deserve freedom. I know, harsh, but it was awful hearing about what Williams did and then hearing his excuses and lies about it. He’s also planning on getting married and seeing his children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews if he gets out.

That is just so unbelievably wrong.

I suppose, based on the outcome of the trial, I have faith in our legal system, however Gonzalez was up next, and who knows what the outcome of that will be.

I suppose I should be happy that our legal system is as fair as it can be and even the worst people are given due process, but I’m a little horrified at how many chances these people got. Williams tied-up and raped his seven-year-old sister-in-law when he was on probation for raping the nine-year-old.

Then, he got out again, and raped a little boy named Jimmy, who he targeted because the boy had a bad relationship with his parents. He also grabbed the little boys testicles, squeezed them, and told Jimmy that if he ever told anyone he would rip them off. The reason Jimmy’s parents figured out something was wrong was because Jimmy was walking strangely after Williams’ assault on his testicles.

He deserves to rot in jail, not be rehabilitated and put back on the streets.
I guess this little trip to the courthouse left me really disturbed. Of course, I suppose I know sexual crimes occur, against children and adults, but I’ve never been exposed to them this way, seen rapists in the flesh—maybe on TV or in movies and books, but never standing right in front of me.  The trip did, however, affirm most of my pre-conceptions about our legal system.

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The most amazing dessert…ever.

Hot, flowing, sweet gooiness surrounded by a decadent, dense chocolate cake doesn’t sound all that bad, right?

The first time I made this cake, my mom cried. Okay, well maybe she didn’t cry, and she more yelled at me and demanded that I never make this again lest she put on all the weight she had been trying to lose, but it really is that good.

I also wish I could say I hooked my man by baking this for him, but again, that would be a bit of a stretch. However, he did thoroughly enjoy it.

So, if you’ve got a pantry with some extra bittersweet chocolate, try this on for size:

The Ingredients:

  • Five Eggs
  • 5 oz. Bittersweet Chocolate
  • 1 oz. Semisweet Chocolate (6 oz. of just Bittersweet works as well)
  • 2 sticks (yes, 2 whole sticks) of butter
  • 2 tblspn. Cake Flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
How to make the magic happen:
Preheat an oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease four ramekins and place on a baking sheet.

Melt the butter and chocolate together over a double boiler; cool over an ice bath.

Mix the sugar and eggs in a bowl until combined. 

Slowly pour the egg mixture into the chocolate, making sure the eggs don’t scramble. 
Fold the flour in lightly until it just combines. 
Pour into the ramekins and pop in the oven for about 8 minutes. Watch them carefully. The outside should have started to pull away from the edge slightly, but the middle should still be shiny and viscous. 
Devour!
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An afternoon with Elise Hayes

I sat down with New Hampshire Native and Berklee School of Music graduate Elise Hayes to talk about her music. She’ll soon be moving to Tennessee to further her career. Here’s a video from our afternoon together.

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My Cool Cucumber Salad

For some reason, while shopping at Trader Joe’s, I bought a cucumber and no other salad fixings.  The oblong, mottled green vegetable sat among my usual staples of instant oatmeal and bananas, and by the time I got home I really regretted my decision to spend $1.56 on it.

And then, brilliance struck. Cucumber salad. I’ve watched my mother through a few ingredients together with some thinly sliced cucumber, and magically something delicious on our plates. Thank goodness, I had made another impulse by weeks earlier and had added shallots to my minuscule pantry of ingredients. Yes, shallots, another ingredient I had very little use for at the time.

Anyway, here’s the amazingly delicious, oh so nutritious salad I managed to create:

  • One cucumber, thinly sliced (easily accomplished with a box grater or mandolin)
  • Two shallots, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3-4 tablespoons Vinegar (I prefer rice vinegar, but that could just be the Korean in me)
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar (or diet sweetener of choice)

Mix it all together and enjoy. Although it is much tastier if the ingredients are allowed to chill together in a refrigerator for at least a couple hours. 

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Shape-ups and other “toning” shoes both ridiculous and ineffective!

According to an American Council on Exercise, the latest craze in exercise, those bulky, weirdly rounded, rather hideous “toning” shoes, are entirely ineffective.

“There is simply no evidence to support the claims that these shoes will help wearers exercise more intensely, burn more calories or improve muscle strength and tone,” reads the ACE study.

So, to all of those people wearing these shoes, not only do you look rather ridiculous, you shelled out upwards of $100 for something that doesn’t even work.

And honestly, its a testament to how lazy so many Americans are that they hope simply wearing a shoe is going help them get a rockin’ pair of stems. Put on a regular pair of trainers and jog a mile! Shortcuts will never be the answer.

Also, these shoes so alter the normal walking gait of a person, they can actually cause problems.  As a person who does gait analysis and fits people for proper running shoes for a living, these shoes are really a bit of a menace.

If you’re really looking to make a healthy lifestyle change, hop into your local running store that does running shoe fittings (yes, even you walkers) and get yourself a good pair of shoes that will make walking and running enjoyable.

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