Well folks, it’s been about a month since I walked away from Chadron State College with a Bachelor’s degree in Literature with a minor in music. I’ve done what few others in my family have managed to do. I should feel proud, shouldn’t I? Shouldn’t I feel like I’ve accomplished something?


To be honest, rather than feeling accomplished, lately I’ve been feeling tired. It’s as if 4 years worth of determination and hard work emptied out of me and left my old bitter self behind. People ask me about grad school. People ask me about a career. I have no answers for them.

What I want to do is jump up on the table and scream at the top of my lungs: “I don’t fucking know, okay?! I’ve done nothing but take tests and write papers for the last 16 years of my life, so how the fuck am I supposed to have it all figured out? I don’t even know where I’ll be next Tuesday, let alone 5 goddamn years from now, so get off my fucking back!”

I don’t do that though. I mention writing. Getting a decent job. I say what I think will give me the least amount of pain in the ass explanations and lecturing. You’re told all through high school to go to college, that you’ll amount to nothing otherwise, make no living for yourself. You finish college and you get a slap on the back and a “well, that’s nice!”


I’m tired of my efforts being seen as a “good start.” I’m tired of my band not being taken seriously or considered a priority. I’m tired of my writing being rejected by all but the same 2 publications. I’m tired of people having phones for the express purpose of ignoring them. I’m tired of classic literature, I’m tired of Jazz elitists, I’m tired of the ignorance of news media and conservative Christians, ladies and gentlemen, quite frankly I’ve had my fucking fill of the world today.

I told myself I would take this summer to work on my writing, and I haven’t. It’s completely my own fault. I discovered a bad habit that I’ve taken on. I only “feel like” writing when I’m in a shitty mood. This is pretty counterintuitive to wanting to be able to write every day. My guitar sits lonely in the corner because I feel like picking it up, trying to learn something new with it is just a wasted effort. I’m going to be disappointed in the results, be them from me or from others.

Maybe I’m just bitching. Maybe I’m just in a funk. Is post-grad depression a thing? I don’t intend on feeling this way forever. Frustration isn’t a good look on me. Do I feel like shit because I haven’t done anything new, or have I not done anything new because I feel like shit?



As part of our DigiLit class, we were tasked with a 30 day endeavor involving the Internet-lauded Daily Create challenges. We were also (rather helpfully) given the qualifier that we didn’t necessarily have to do the ones posted that particular day, we could choose whichever ones we liked, we just had to do a month’s worth of them.

I may or may not have procrastinated on these. So, they’ll be arriving in 3 groups totaling 30 at the end. Each Daily Create will also have the link to the page from whence it came. This third one will feature the category Video.

TDC362: A Letter to my 13 Year Old Self:

TDC674 – Water:

TDC959: Slo-Mo:

TDC997: Water (wine) and Glass:

TDC370: Unusual Story Item:


As part of our DigiLit class, we were tasked with a 30 day endeavor involving the Internet-lauded Daily Create challenges. We were also (rather helpfully) given the qualifier that we didn’t necessarily have to do the ones posted that particular day, we could choose whichever ones we liked, we just had to do a month’s worth of them.

I may or may not have procrastinated on these. So, they’ll be arriving in 3 groups totaling 30 at the end. Each Daily Create will also have the link to the page from whence it came. This second one will feature the categories Audio and Drawing.



A Movie in Two Panels: 


A Flag for my Very Own Country:


Anti-Keep Calm Poster:


A “Special” Letter:


Face a Fear:





As part of our DigiLit class, we were tasked with a 30 day endeavor involving the Internet-lauded Daily Create challenges. We were also (rather helpfully) given the qualifier that we didn’t necessarily have to do the ones posted that particular day, we could choose whichever ones we liked, we just had to do a month’s worth of them.

I may or may not have procrastinated on these. So, they’ll be arriving in 3 groups totaling 30 at the end. Each Daily Create will also have the link to the page from whence it came. This first one will feature the categories Writing and Photography.


Fast Fiction:

It was her favorite.

It was a small, black, lacey sort of top with three stone buttons. I mean, it wasn’t really a top, it only covered her bust, but I’m not fashion-savvy enough to know what else to call it. She would wear it over a tanktop, usually. Red or black, sometimes silver. It was her favorite. Or at least, I think it was. Maybe it was actually mine. I picked it out whenever she asked me to choose an outfit.

The closet is really offset now, without all of her stuff. It’s just my small, lonely corner with a few suit jackets and a pair of dress pants. There are no shoes lining the floor. No scarves tossed about like confetti. It’s empty.

I bring it up to my nose and breathe in deep. Her scent is long gone from it – it’s been washed too many times, and she hadn’t worn it again before the accident. Still, I can pretend. Try to squeeze some of her out of it. Her voicemail inbox is already full of blank messages from me. I keep calling just so I can hear her voice again. All I have to hold on to are these little scraps: a top, a voicemail greeting, a stray hairtie or bobby pin. Maybe if I find enough of them, I can piece her back together somehow. Have her here with me.

But I know that isn’t how this works. They say time heals all wounds, but they don’t account for all the empty space in between. The time spent dicking around, talking about nothing – the time spent picking out outfits and laying together.

5 in 1 Story (Grab 5 books, make a story out of certain sentences from each): 

In The Shadow of the Mountain

On July 16, 1923, I moved into Exham Priory after the last workman had finished his labors. I mopped it up with napkins from the dispenser and tried not to cry. Henderson stood up with his spade in his hand. In the night a storm broke in the mountains above them and came cannonading downcountry cracking and booming and the stark gray world appeared again and again out of the night in the shrouded flare of the lightning. Through this he passed with his rose.

[Rats in the Walls by H.P. Lovecraft]

[Jumper by Steven Gould]

[War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells]

[The Road by Cormac McCarthy]

[The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers]

Virgin Haiku (for first-timers to The Daily Create):

Wait, you’re telling me

They expect me to draw stuff?

No fucking way, man

Creepy Two-Sentence Story:

Well, that’s strange. I could have sworn I shut this window…

Life in 7 Words:

I have no idea what I’m doing.

TV Guide Remix (re-write the synopsis for a movie to make it sound like something totally different): 

A man and a woman lead a witch hunt for a monster who has plunged their village into an eternal winter.


Urban Landscape:


Horrid Selfie:


Eye Selfie:


Awkwardly Placed Object:


Joy in a Photograph:


Inspirational Poster:



It’s been a tough one, boys and girls. I’m not gonna lie. I have most certainly run out of “give-a-fucks” here for my last semester at CSC. Soon, I’ll officially be a college-educated fool. I’ve done a lot of typing over the semester. Blogs, tweets, papers, comments, etc. etc. I suppose I should feel somewhat grateful since I type about eight hundred million miles faster than I can hand write anything. That being said, as part of our DigiLit final, we were asked to go back through our blogs and comments and analyze them. Find some commonalities, some changes, some surprises, etc.

So, for the final time, let’s get this freakshow on the road.

Marc Palm Photo CC-by Marc Palm, tangentially relevant

Repeat Offenses

A lot, and I mean, a lot of my blog posts this semester tackled problems I found in my own and in others’ education. I’m definitely not a proponent of traditional “sit down and shut up” classroom etiquette. We need to shake things up, identify alternative strategies, and figure out how to incorporate them into classrooms. The problem here is the immense amounts of bullshit teachers have to deal with. Curricula being designed for them, not by them, as well as stuffy administration or government mandates requiring they continue to recycle the same busted-ass methods are doing no one any favors. Oh, that’s another common thread: I despise closed-mindedness, tradition for tradition’s sake, and pretty much anything remotely resembling an authority figure imposing its will over others. I’m so edgy (this is sarcasm).

Another thread that joins a lot of my posts and comments together is a contrarian viewpoint. Call me a hipster, call me a douche, whatever, but in most facets of our education this semester, I did my best to look from all angles, and not just take everything at face value. Sure, I can read 15 articles and listen to 12 TEDTalks about how this new innovative idea is so great and will change the world, but I don’t need a pat on the back, and I don’t need idealism. I need results. I need proof. If you want me to believe that your idea is fullproof, I’m going to try to find the holes that can be poked in it and see how you plug them. I’m not trying to be edgy or be “that guy,” I’m really just trying to cover all bases here. A great idea is great.. in theory. Can it hold up to practice? Can it hold up to peer review? These details do matter. Ideas are good. Acting on them is better.

Photo CC-by Sean MacEntee

Sean MacEntee

Takeaway Points

A key point that a few of my blogs mentioned that I feel is worth mentioning again is that we need to abandon the fetishizing of ideas and of innovation. People walk away from TEDTalks feeling good and optimistic for the future, mostly because somebody else has a good idea. What TEDTalks have you actually put into practice? Good for them, they’ve reached a successful point in a career and are coming to share their results with us. What does that do for us if you don’t act on it? If you don’t incorporate it into your own life in some way more than a Facebook share and a “oh hey this was really cool”? I’m a hypocrite, because I think talk is cheap. Words are my favored medium, and still, I get tired of them from time to time. I get tired of soapboxes and causes. I want something I can see – not yet another person like me, rambling on but doing little in practice to implement any differences.

Hypocrisy aside, that’s one of my favorite things about these weekly blogging exercises. I’ve got a week’s worth of Tweets, articles, blog posts, and so much more bubbling in my brain, and I’ve gotta let it out in some manner. I also, oddly enough, love attention. My blog is my soapbox. I can write about social injustice and feel less like a shit person when I fail to notice instances of it in entertainment because, hey, I wrote about it! It’s like the whole “being an asshole concept,” where people believe that by somehow prefacing being a dick by “Hey, I’m kind of a dick,” that makes whatever offensive thing said okay. I feel like writing is one of the few things I can feasibly do to make a difference. I can at least raise awareness about causes. That’s something, right? I like to pretend so. It makes me feel better about myself.

Shawn Carpenter

Photo CC-by Sean Carpenter


One thing I noticed as the year went on, in my blog posts, my bravado and usual “funny sarcastic guy” schtick began to fall in favor of unfiltered cynicism or flat out boredom. I won’t lie, certain blog posts this semester just did not have my attention. They were definitely cranked out for the sake of an assignment. As we went, I became more and more aware of my own flaws, more conscious about the things I didn’t like about myself or my work, and rather than try to cover them up with a fascade of humor, instead decided to let the truth be the truth. I’m thankful for my education here. I’m thankful for the things I’ve learned, the people I’ve met, and the things I’ve seen. Still, I’m left with a sour taste in my mouth at the end of the day. Do teens really need to commit 4 years of their life and thousands of dollars of money they don’t have for what is essentially a repeat of a high school education? The government sure wants them to think so.

I think the gradual change in demeanor is equal parts the inevitable exhaustion that accumulates for students and teachers alike over the semester, as well as the pre-graduation jitters. I’m going to have a Bachelor’s Degree. I’m going to be expected to be a functioning adult. I’m already being harangued about grad schools. I don’t want to go to grad school, goddammit. At least not yet. I’ve been in academia for a good 16 years straight. I’m calling a time out. I’m done for now. I’m going to experience life a little, be it mundane or absolute chaos. Besides, I have no desire for a higher degree besides “it would make me feel good about myself.” I don’t want to teach, okay? Stop fucking asking. Maybe I’ll give substitute teaching a try, but for now, it’s not in the books.

I know a lot of people whose senioritis kicks in and gets them excited about graduating. I don’t think I could be more lethargic. I took my last hand-written final this morning, potentially ever. What was my first thought after?

“Shit, I need a nap.”

emdot Photo CC-by emdot

Truth Time

In all honesty, my growing cynicism and lethargy aside, I’ve loved this class. I’ve loved (almost all) of my blog posts. This class has forced me to look a lot of things I’ve never considered, and consider a lot of viewpoints I’d never known about. I actually learned something in an online class. Holy crap.

Despite the fact that for the last 8 weeks solid I did the dumb thing and waited until 10 Sunday night to do a week’s worth of homework, I always did my best. I always tried to put some substance in my work, never opting for lame “I agree!” replies or bare-bones blog posts. That’s something I’m proud of. To my classmates: it’s been fun. New perspectives, and a lot of new faces. To Dr. Ellington, thank you for showing me that the ideas regarding innovation and shaking up the classroom aren’t all just blown smoke. To Fish, you’re awesome, and I love you.

Continuing the theme of truth, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some Daily Creates to catch up on.


“Unlearning.” That word by itself kinda hurts my brain. Isn’t that the opposite of what we want? Don’t we want to grow? Isn’t the way to grow to expand, to intake, to gain? Well, yeah, of course, buuuuuut…

A lot of people, educators and learners alike, live by the doctrine of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

That’s a problem.

Bindaas Madhavi Photo CC-by Bindaas Madhavi


Will Richardson’s article about “unlearning” mostly deals with throwing out old misconceptions or outdated methods of thinking, particularly in classroom settings. Verbatim, Richardson claims “it’s simply learning to see things differently or to at least be open to it.” I’m going to kick this section off with the last of Richardson’s claims, and say that the most important thing that needs “unlearned” is that real change can happen just by thinking it into practice. This is not a thing. Action needs to happen for change to happen.

Unlearning simply means re-evaluating old concepts, and being open to new ones. In education, this is probably the most vital piece of advice that can be given. Too many times I was at the mercy of teachers who utilized tired-out techniques they learned in school, and were unwilling to budge in any way, shape, or form. Each person learns differently. Each person has different passions. In order to harness all of this potential, flexibility needs to be a key factor.

This semester, I’ve unlearned quite a few things. I’ve unlearned that no one is making a charge to reform education. I’ve unlearned that social media is useless for anything besides cat videos. I’ve unlearned that blog posts are useless, because there are people somewhere out there paying attention. I still have a ways to go, though. I need to unlearn that most authority figures are pompous assholes who have no intelligence or empathy. I need to unlearn some of my cynicism and be a little more willing to believe in the good in humanity. I’ll get back to you when this happens.

Don’t hold your breath.

Thomas Hawk Photo CC-by Thomas Hawk


In George Couros’s look into the mind of an innovator, he writes himself a mission statement:
“I am an innovative educator and I will continue to ask “what is best for learners”.  With this empathetic approach, I will create and design learning experiences with that question as a starting point.”

As an educator, Couros wants to focus on new ideas. He wants to focus on open-mindedness, much like Richardson, and above all else, he wants to focus on what’s best for learners. For educators, this involves quite a bit of humility and searching.

It means acknowledging that even if you are an expert in your field, you don’t know everything there is to know. It means acknowledging students as people and accepting the fact that they have things to teach you as well. It means figuring out how to work with each individual learning style, and doing your best to realize that teaching a group en-mass using the same technique is a busted-ass idea from the get-go. Couros understands that these things mean going out on a limb, upsetting an established status quo and taking risks for a reward that involves maximizing learning output for students.

Couros also heavily endorses technology as a medium for learning. He claims innovators can do their best by connecting to others globally, gathering , comparing, and discussing ideas from all perspectives. That being said, Couros also claims we no longer need to throw the title of “digital” on everything: literacy, storytelling, learning, etc. It’s now all implied. Learning is changing. It all ties back together in the fact that we need to “unlearn” the traditions of old in favor of innovating. As I said, learning is changing.

I’m not sure I’ve done much in the way of innovation this semester. If anything, I’ve played it close to the chest and stuck with what I know. Same routines, same attitudes, same techniques.. because they work. And because I’m afraid of change. Soon I won’t have the crutch of academia as an excuse anymore, and we’ll see what kind of innovator I really am.



Well, we’ve reached the end of the line. The end of the rope, more like it. The bell does indeed toll for me, and I figure there isn’t much of a better way to go than to bring it full circle, and evaluate the (sizable) list of graphic novels I’ve chewed through this semester and semesters prior. I wouldn’t call myself an expert on graphic novels by any means, more of an enthusiast. Thanks to Scott McCloud, I know how to analyze them a bit better, and I know a bit more about the components that make them up. Ms. Fish has expressed an interest in writing for graphic novels – I wonder how one breaks into that. Maybe that’ll be my next pursuit of knowledge.

Regardless, I figured after hours of reading, I would go back through the list with my newfound knowledge. Here are my (personal) favorite top 5 graphic novels of all time.

#5: Watchmen by Alan Moore


I struggled with whether or not to throw Watchmen on this list. It’s by far the longest and one of the most difficult graphic novels I’ve read, regardless of having capes in it. It’s some seriously dark, heavy stuff. Watchmen tackles what happens when superhero teams fall out, the United States government bans vigilantism, and is essentially a “whodunnit?” murder mystery between superheroes. Couple that with the constantly recurring theme of “who watches the Watchmen?,” in other words, who polices superheroes, and you’ve got quite a lot going on in this one.

Part of the reason I debated throwing it on the list was sheer length: this one is long from beginning to end. This is by no means a 20 minute breeze. It’s tough to press through. The cast of characters is diverse and infinitely messed up, each “super”hero is a human at the core with problems and dark personal places they are trying to run from. Another reason I considered axing this one from the list is simply because the author, Alan Moore, has said some pretty outlandish and foolish things in recent years about the recent surge of comic books and their popularity. Though, I felt it would be unfair to punish the work for the creator’s flaws, so it made it. This is not for the feint of heart.

#4: In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang

Jen Wang 2

To be honest, I didn’t expect In Real Life to make the list. It had a beautiful and charming art style, but was a relatively quick read. However, the more I chewed on it, the more I grew to appreciate it. In Real Life is about a lot of things: teenage nerdiness, video games, other cultures, economics, social plight, and friendship. There isn’t an overly sexy or overly homely protagonist: she’s a normal, everyday girl who happens to be into some dorky stuff.

In Real Life landed on my list because it portrays real gaming by real people, and doesn’t propagate the “gamer girl” stereotype. Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang have done their fair share of gaming, or at the very least, research on it. There aren’t any complete jumps in logic to make the “video game” segments of the novel work. TV shows and movies are infamous for absolutely butchering any attempts to include video games in a storyline. They’re often unrealistic in terms of actual games, and I can’t stand when some actor sits with a 360 controller and pounds on the buttons like they’re playing a game.

Being a gamer with an MMO gaming girlfriend, I appreciated these details. Short as it may be, In Real Life makes my list.

#3: Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman


If there is a literary canon for graphic novels, Spiegelman’s Maus is definitely at the top of the list. The book is both about Art’s as well as his father’s tale: his father retells how he became part of and survived the holocaust, and Art is depicted grappling with the seriousness of the subject and frequently butting heads with his father. Their relationship is somewhat strained, but still loving.

Maus’s art style is simplistic, but highly effective. Different ethnicities are depicted as different animals: Jews are mice, Nazis are cats, the Polish are pigs, etc. etc. The animal characters allow Spiegelman to play with symbolism he wouldn’t have access to otherwise: there are cats wearing mouse masks and things of that nature all over the novel. Obviously, the subject matter is an extremely heavy one, couple that with the tale being true, and you have a must-read for anyone looking to break into graphic novels. Think it’s all superheroes and capes? Think again.

#2: This One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki


This One Summer is a novel I was introduced to during this semester, and of the new ones I’ve read, it is most definitely my favorite. It’s a coming-of-age tale between two teenage girls at their own little summer retreat, but it’s so much more than the quintessential “both characters learn a lesson and have a happy ending.” It deals with some pretty heavy themes: miscarriage, teen pregnancy, friendship, maturity, societal pressure, and awkward first love. It has its feel good moments, but ultimately, it’s about relationships between people as you age and mature. Friends, parents, etc. People grow apart. They come together, Adolescents discover things about themselves that they aren’t sure how to feel about.

The thing that really sold This One Summer for me besides the unique story, was the phenomenal artwork. This very well might be my favorite artwork in a graphic novel, bar none. The whole thing feels very dreamy, memory-esque, but never bleak or dark. The art style is highly detailed, yet flows effortlessly into simplicity when the moments call for it. The dark color used is a shade of blue, rather than black, avoiding the noir-like flashback feeling. I understand it also made Dr. Elisabeth Ellington’s list of the top books in 2014. I see why.

#1: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Millar, Klaus Johnson, and Lynn Varley


This isn’t your mom and dad’s Batman with Adam West in it. No, no, no. This is a much darker, and a much different take than one we’ve seen in television or movies before. The Dark Knight Returns follows Bruce Wayne 8 years after having given up being Batman. Gotham is more run-down than ever, dominated by gangs and half-witted politicians, with news anchors of FOX News caliber constantly spewing nonsense about whether it’s Batman’s fault crime exists in the first place. When Bruce reaches a breaking point, he’s back in the game, but there’s a problem: he’s old.

He’s old, and his body only has so much left to give to this kind of work. Robin is long gone, and Batman must work his way back into favor with the people. Batman is more brutal than ever in this one, fighting to survive rather than just to dish out justice. He’s fighting a passive public, incompetent police force / politicians, and most of all: his own doubts. Things get even more jumbled up when a teenage girl in a Robin costume saves him from certain death. Batman here isn’t just about beating the bad guys: it’s a social commentary from the 80’s. The president is a grinning fool who sees only his own agenda to forward, the media is filled with fluff and pointless debates, the public either blame Batman for everything or depend completely on him for protection, there is no winner in this one. This is all before “gritty superhero reboots” were all the rage. This one pushed the Bat’s envelope to somewhere it had never been before.

In case you’re wondering, a few familiar faces do show up. In particular, one with a ridiculous grin, and another with a red cape flowing from the back…


Well folks, that does it for me. As I said, this is my list of personal favorites. Pick and choose as you see fit. I would recommend any of these as a read in a half second. I think my list really reflects the diversity that can be found in graphic novels: we’re not living in a world of solely capes and superheroes. There are graphic novels on nearly every subject under the sun. You’ve just gotta look for them. We may have reached the end of the road, but the journey isn’t over for me.

Catch you all on the flip side.