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An Unexpected Encounter with Tony Fitzpatrick

By miscommunication I ended up at the Poetry Foundation. I didn't realize this until twenty minutes into my visit. I had perused Tony Fitzpatrick's collage-print-drawings of birds, on exhibition until August 31 . Each specimen distinct and yet of its species. I sat down to read/write wondering what was taking the ppl I was supposed to meet so long. More ppl came. None were who I was expecting.


(Bird for the Daughters of Juarez by Tony Fitzpatrick 2011)

Across from me, a man sat down with a small book of poems. Within minutes a woman came up and introduced herself. He sounded gruff when he asked her to repeat her name. They were maybe acquaintances. She spoke of her most brilliant student to date. They talked of Chicago. Both were trying to get out. Both sobered up here. He was from here but began his career in New York. He wrote on politics mostly. She was from New York. She was moving to Guatemala. The man remarked that it was a great destination for bird watching. She excitedly remarked what a coincidence. That she had recently purchased every book there was to own on bird watching in Guatemala. I thought of Jonathan Franzen. She promised to give him a copy. In return he'd give her an etching. She insisted no and he insisted yes. They exchanged contact info. His email was Tony Fitzpatrick something at something dot com. I nose-laughed at the coincidence. 

Go see this exhibition while you can!  You just might see Fitzpatrick himself.  

If you can't make it.  Check out this multimedia presentation: listen to Fitzpatrick read poems for each art-bird.  



Connor Goodwin can't stop.  His work as appeared or is forthcoming in HTMLGIANT, Chronopolis, and Sliced Bread.  He tweets and blogs.  


The Five Best Spots to Write in Chicago


1.     The Wormhole Coffee

1462 N Milwaukee Ave

Located in the heart of the Wicker Park neighborhood, The Wormhole is everything you’ve been dreaming of for the ultimate coffee and writing experience. Who wouldn’t want to sip delicious lattes underneath a Back to the Future style DeLorean car and an original Ghostbusters movie poster from the 80’s? If you get sick of writing, you can take a break and play Super Nintendo games until the inspiration starts flowing again (my favorite drink here is actually called the “Peanut Butter Koopa Troopa”). Snag a pastry and a chai tea latte and grab a seat in one of the plush chairs in the back. Stare up into the face of Freddy from A Nightmare on Elm Street, and you may discover you have a great science fiction story welling inside you.



2.     Chicago Botanical Garden

1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, IL 60022

Although it’s a bit far north, the Chicago Botanical Garden is a must-see, must-be-written-in stop on your list. With over 380 acres and 26 gardens to stroll through, plus waterfalls, a renowned bonsai garden, and stone-walled English greenery reminiscent of The Secret Garden, you are bound to find an agreeable place to take up your pen. The expanses of flowers and colors feel like a surreal, magical dream. Admission is free, but parking is twenty-five dollars per car unless you are a member (if you’re a bad kid like me, you can park at the mall off the Lake Cook Road exit and walk over for free, but let’s pretend like I didn’t tell you that).



3.     Logan Square Public Park

 Logan Square’s Public Square: North Milwaukee Avenue and Logan Boulevard

 Bric-A-Brac: 3156 W Diversey Avenue

The quickly growing neighborhood of Logan Square features a charming public park from which its name is derived. Sprawl out on the grass or next to the memorial pillar monument and write, and when you’re done head over to Bric-A-Brac Records and Collectibles. This Friday 6/17, the rock/garage-pop band Primitive Hearts is playing a free show. Last time I went to Bric-A-Brac, my boyfriend found a one-dollar vinyl recording of Pride and Prejudice. This is either the coolest or the most pretentious thing I’ve ever seen. (It’s still there, if you are a book-on-vinyl kind of person.)



4.     Heritage Bicycles General Store

 2959 N Lincoln Avenue

Another coffee shop—can you tell I’m addicted to caffeine? “Write caffeinated, edit sober” Hemingway once said. Or something like that. Heritage sells coffee, and also custom-made bicycles. There are bike mechanics in the back fixing up and making bikes with beautiful craftsmanship. Fun fact: their most expensive bike, after checking out the website, is a three-person tandem bicycle that costs five grand.



5.     Chicago Lakefront Trail

Located East of Lakeshore Drive, along Lake Michigan.

After your cup of coffee, bike over to the trail. Find a bench or a grassy spot along the Lakefront. Take in the view of Lake Michigan over the top of your notebook. The skyline of the city. The myriad of people walking, running, and biking along in front of you. See what kind of people you come across and work on your character development. Occasionally just being somewhere, writing by yourself, can open the door to new possibilities.



Meredith Maltby is from Glen Ellyn, Illinois and is a rising junior at Tulane University. She studies English and Linguistics, and is on the Tulane women's tennis team. She is the poetry editor for the Tulane Review and an avid reader/ writer of poetry and fiction. 


Chicago Humanities Festival Literary Highlights

by: Connor Goodwin

The Chicago Humanities Festival is here. Events began October 13 in Evanston with Junot Diaz, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

If you didn't get the chance to see Diaz there's still many more writers featured in this year's festival. Here are a few highlights:

1. Lemony Snicket, the mystery man behind the popular series A Series of Unfortunate Events, will be in Chicago for his first and last stop on his book release tour for When Did You See Her Last?

2. Anne Carson will be reading from her latest work red doc>. red doc> is a sequel to Autobiography of Red, a verse novel well received by critics.

3. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of the novel Americanah, will be receiving the 2013 Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Fiction.

4. Jonathan Safran Foer will talk about his recent venture into nonfiction and food writing with his new book Eating Animals.

5. Sherman Alexie is a novelist, poet, and film maker. I read The Absolutley True Diary of a Part-Time Indian in one sitting on a couch, where the rest of my family sat watching a funny movie. I laughed more than them—I didn't look up once.

6. Nicholas Baker will recount his literary career in conversation with Sara Levine.

Besides writers, there are several lectures scheduled for October 19 at the University of Chicago in Hyde Park. You can read an overview of the program here.

6 Top Places to Read ACM This Summer

Lurie Garden & Jay Pritzker Pavilion

by Jamie Perry

Summer isn't over yet! Check out these top places to read Another Chicago Magazine before the fall season hits Chicago!

1. Chicago Cultural Center 

For a rainy day, bring your copy of ACM to the Chicago Cultural Center, where you can enjoy the architecture of what was once Chicago's first public library. To supplement your reading, check out Stefan Sagmeister’s exhibit, The Happy Show—adelightful culmination of adecade long happiness project that utilizes typography and the artist’s writing.

2. Southport Grocery and Café

Perfect for the individual craving a good read and good eats, this Roscoe Village staple is a restaurant, café, and grocery store that sells locally made treats good enough to take home. But with an outdoor patio, a great latte, and your copy of ACM, why would you want to leave?

3. Montrose Beach

Chicago has a large selection of beaches and lakefront destinations to enjoy when it’s sunny and scorching, but for a relaxed reading environment, check out Montrose Beach. Whether you want to camp out near the water or underneath the shade of a tree, this spot is quiet, and offers free wifi, so you can tweet about your copy of ACM!

4.& 5. Lurie Garden & Jay Pritzker Pavilion

Be a tourist for a day and visit this garden on the south end of Millennium Park, which was built to be a sanctuary for the “City of Big Shoulders.” Bring your copy of ACM, and enjoy the peacefulness of this spot among the flowers. If you visit on a weekday evening this summer, stay late for a free concert or film next to the garden at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, as shows are scheduled nearly every night.

6. J. Parker Rooftop

After a long day, head over to this rooftop bar in Lincoln Park and bring along your copy of ACM. With breathtaking views, delicious drinks, and a not-too-scene environment, the J. Parker offers the avid reader some respite from the usual bar scene. Or, grab a friend and discuss your favorite ACM pieces over drinks with names like The Lazenby and Wise Fool.

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A Conversation With Dan Shapiro by Cassandra Gillig

If you’ve met Dan Shapiro, you remember.  It’s like 9/11 or the JFK assassination.  His figure is impeccable (think Carl Weathers in Predator) and at 7’4” he’s hard not to notice.  If you turn to leave the conversation too fast, your elbow might accidentally brush against Shapiro’s bulky washboard abs, creating among the ten most heavenly sounds to be heard outside of the pearly gates.  He’s all manners and pleasantries and a cretin in Chicago comedy writing.

If you live in Chicago, Dan Shapiro or that awful awful man Mason Johnson have probably tried to get you to go to their entirely ageist reading series, P. Fanatics (which, not even remotely sadly, ended this month).  P. Fanatics took place at the Logan Square butthole Cole’s bar and was mostly composed of Chicago writers getting just a little bit too drunk and reading things that make you uncomfortable.  (Not that I would know, because Cole’s would never let me in because they love crushing the dreams of innocent 19 year olds who just want to see their friends make asses of themselves.)

If you still live in Chicago, Dan Shapiro wants you to come see his new reading series.  Which seems to me will end up gathering the same type of crowd and promising the same type of show.

Dan Shapiro’s first Rigged Open Mic will take place at Cole’s on September 9th (all information on the facebook page).  To really get people talking, Dan and I sat down in Oprah Winfrey’s abandoned Harpo Studios last week to talk about the life of a true artist and scholar.

CG:  Dan it is a delight to have you in the studio today. So, the Dan Shapiro open mic night was originally a P. Fanatics reading theme. For those familiar with P. Fanatics, how would you say it will be different/the same?  Less Mason Johnson? (We can only hope.)

DS: Thanks for having me, Cassandra.  Might I add that you look just darling in your pink leotard and tutu with matching S and M mask and cape.  This is all just the product of Mason Johnson bossing me around.  He's like, "Do this.  Do that." And I'm like, "Okay."  P. Fanatics was a good opportunity for Mason and me to showcase our talented friends as well as our own work every month.  Whereas Dan Shapiro's Rigged Open-Mic will be more of an opportunity to showcase my "Home Improvement" fan fiction.  There'll be an open mic too probably.  But it'll mostly be a showcase of my fiction in which Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor continues to bumble in the world amatuer carpentry in a post 9-11 environment.

CG: What exactly is a rigged open mic?

DS:  It's like any other open mic only more so.  I'm honest about it.  I'll say it.  If you're good you get to go before everyone else and perform as long as you want.  Hours if you want.  As long as it doesn't cut in to my three hours of "Home Improvement" fan fiction.

CG:  Do you have any plans to use a big hook to drag bad acts from the stage?

DS:  That's definitely something I've thought about.  I know that if someone sucks I'll walk out in front of them and start dancing.  No music.  Just me dancing.

CG:  Will there be body contact or will you give them space? I definitely know what I'd like to see.

DS:  Every performer is encouraged to rub one of my breasts for luck before they perform.  In fact I kind of insist.  No squeezing.

CG:  Tell me more about your Home Improvement fan fiction. What kind of fic are we talking? Romance, erotica, slash... Is there a Home Improvement OTP?

DS:  I don't know.  I think I've said too much already. My "Home Improvement" fan fiction is hardcore.  It will probably get me shot.  I put my "Home Improvement" fan fiction online, and the government "strongly suggested" that I take it down.  I sat back and meditated to the words they said.  Skipped town for a month and grew some dreads.  Had a friend tell my family I was dead.  I'm sorry.  Those last few sentences were by Killah Priest from the GZA song Beneath the Surface.  I have a disease where I suddenly burst into Wu-Tang lyrics.

CG:  Will this disease affect your ability to be a good open mic host?

DS:  I have a plethora of diseases that would affect my ability to be a good open mic host.  Sometimes when I'm onstage in mid sentence I'll just stop and yell, "Shut up! Shut up!" at no one in particular.  That's because the voices in my head are heckling me.  Stuff like that.  It's fun.  I've deliberately stopped taking my pills in the lead up to the show.  It should be fun.

CG:  Who are your hosting influences?

DS:  I saw a collection of Ed Sullivan clips, and he was like, "Congratulations for being on the show."  He was congratulating someone for getting to appear on his show.  That was pretty pimp.  Other than that Kermit the Frog and Chuck Barris from the Gong Show.

CG: Dan, you are very mysterious. Could you tell me a little bit more about your childhood? Open up?

DS:  I was a wild animal.  When I was five and six I had my hand down my pants all the time.  In kindergarden I was bigger than the other kids, so I was a bully.  Then I was the class clown.  I was always getting in trouble.  When I was seven I molested my uncle.  Other than that it was the typical American childhood.

CG:  Beautiful, Dan.  One last thing:  If you had to say one final thing to get people to come to your new series, what would it be?

DS:  That's a good question.  I have no idea what the answer is.  You've stumped me.  Damn it.  You're good.  [laughs maniacally]  You!  I knew you'd get me.

CG:  Thanks again for joining me in the studio.  I'm sorry we had to break in here.  I didn't mean to get my blood all over you when I smashed that security camera.


Cassandra Gillig can do more push-ups than your mother and has a blog.

Dan Shapiro can be seen every second Sunday of the month hosting his rigged open mic at Cole's. Here's the facebook invite for the upcoming show. Find out more about Dan's writing here.

CCLaP Virtual Book Tour: Mark R. Brand Edition

ACM's love-affair with CCLaP continues today with tour stop #3 of Mark R. Brand's Life After Sleep virtual book tour. 

Today we get an all-access inside peek at Mark R. Brand's personal work space, a true delight. Brand has just recently been named [along with ACM publisher Curbside Splendor] one of the top 5 Chicago indie authors & publishers to look out for, so this is your last chance to see Mark's space before he ends up on MTV Cribs.

Ever wonder what inspires this amazing Chicago writer to write (I'll give you a hint, it rhymes with "cheese")? Ever wonder how long it takes Mark to solve a rubik's cube (I'll give you a hint, 2:26 flat, HAPPY NEW YEAR!)? Check it out:

I acquired the monolithic slab of mahogany that is my writing desk in 2004 when my wife's parents moved from their large house on Lawndale in Evanston to a smaller home in Wilmette. This desk belonged to my father-in-law (the artist, Dennis B. O'Malley) when he was a vice-president of a now-defunct Evanston bank several years ago. Their new home had no space for such an admittedly massive desk so, being the opportunist I am, I snatched it up, and with me it has remained ever since. I took some photos when we moved it into our former home and I went through about two bottles of Liquid Gold making every surface of it glow.

(FUN FACT: ACM Editor-in-Chief Jacob S. Knabb also owns an old, massive, wooden desk inherited from his father, who used it as a work desk when he employed by a now-defunct coal company. Old, inherited wooden desks are the way to go it would seem.) 

The desk is 3 feet deep and 5.5 feet wide, made of solid mahogany with brass drawer pulls. It has nine full-width drawers that pull 3 feet out to reveal several large interior storage spaces. The top, as you can see from the photos below, is removable, which is good because by itself that piece probably weighs around 100 lbs. I use a regular protective office blotter pad over the top of it because it's of the variety that will instantly show marks if anything cold or hot or wet is left on it, let alone scratches from my metal-bottomed keyboard.

My computer is a  2010 MacBook Pro i7 that I use with an external Apple keyboard and mouse and a 

23" Samsung HDTV as a monitor that also handles the XBOX 360 nestled behind it. I have a Brother wireless laser printer that I got when I enrolled at DePaul, and KOSS headphones so I can listen to music at suitably high volume and not disturb my wife or son when they're sleeping, which is when I mostly work. 
Can I solve that Rubik's Cube? Yes I can.
When we recently moved into our new home, I picked up a set of bookshelves at IKEA that hold roughly half of my book collection if double-stacked. The rest are, regrettably, in storage, but God-willing someday I'll have an entire wall-sized bookcase to get them all out. Our space is limited at the moment since we live in a relatively small two-bedroom apartment, but I like to keep a few things out that inspire or amuse me. If you happen to have been around in the 80's, and you look closely, I'm sure you'll recognize a few friends from that era, plus pictures, a couple of sculptures, a first-edition printing of Jack London's The Iron Heel (My personal all-time favorite book), and my grand-uncle's binoculars brought back from the European campaign of WWII. Those babies are incredibly rare and interesting because while the binoculars themselves were made in Japan, they were carried by a sailor or officer of the German Navy, and an identical sea-case can be viewed in the U-505 exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry.
One of my most treasured workspace ornaments is a hand-written letter from Mrs. Joan 

Thomas, widow of the early 20th century Catholic anarchist Ammon Hennacy who was quoted in the epigraph of my first novel, Red Ivy Afternoon. Mrs. Thomas, who was in her early 90's at the time, is a delightfully friendly and kind woman who corresponded with me a number of times about the book and who followed it with some interest after giving me permission to use his work in my own. 
(From left to right, postcard print by Dennis B. O'Malley, mid-80's vintage Star Wars Gonk Droid, postcard from Joan Thomas, pewter castle, and wind-up Robby the Robot from "Lost in Space")
One fun fact about my workspace that doesn't have much to do with writing (or maybe everything, depending on how you look at it) is that I like to eat when I write. Typical combinations include Shiraz and almonds, Corona Light with chicken wings, or--and my fellow writer Amy Guth loves to tease me about this--white cheddar cheese and orange juice. I have no idea why these particular combinations seem to be inspirational or helpful, but they are.
by R. Kelly Pearce, web-editor

TONIGHT Ear Eater #15: Paratext Edition

Tonight! Ear Eater has a reading at Paratext books. Hear stories by Diego Arispe-Bazan, Megan Milks and Rebecca Elliott!

Facebook Event.

TONIGHT: Write Club Chapter 26

Tonight! One night only (until next month, at least)! Ian Belknap's devil child, Write Club, is at The Hideout (1354 West Wabansia Avenue, Chicago)!

Facebook event. Write Club's website. A photo of Ian and I hugging sensually.

Write Club is Fight Club for the literary cowards among us. Watch six writers go head to head to see who truly is the best wordsmith (and, occasionally, the worst human being).

Tonight's contenders:

Ian Belknap VS Jeff Miller

Lindsay Muscato VS Noelle Krimm

Jim DeWan VS Chris Schoen

- Mason

CCLaP's Online Book Tour Stops in at ACM w/ a Novel Excerpt from Katherine Scott Nelson's HAVE YOU SEEN ME

The cops came to my front door at about eight in the morning. I didn’t recognize either of them. The older one had a full belly that he practically used to wedge the door open, and the younger one, who stood behind him, had a jarhead haircut that made his whole face look pudgy and prepubescent. I’d been sitting at the kitchen table with one of my library books, and I jumped when the front porch stairs creaked. The older cop knocked on the screen door and said, “We’re here about your friend, Amanda Mayward. May we come in?”

Like everyone else, the cops refused to use Vyv’s real name. Vyv and I were used to this. I glanced toward the living room, where my mom was still asleep on the couch, and toward the hallway to my parents’ bedroom, where my dad would be pacing and muttering to himself. I put on my hoodie and stepped outside to talk to the cops.

I leaned up against the wall while the older one flipped through his notes, loudly and slowly. I crossed my arms and ran my fingers across the leaves of my mom’s potted ferns. I knew their game was intimidation and I knew that you could win by coming prepared.

I had spent the last few days perfecting my lines. “I haven’t seen her since the end of the school year,” I had whispered to myself, as I ran hot water in the kitchen and worked on the stack of crusted pots and pans. I practiced a concerned expression in the bathroom mirror while brushing my teeth. “If I had to guess, I’d say she ran away,” I’d think, as I wrote a draft of a letter to the food stamp office for my mom.

He asked me, “When was the last time you saw Miss Mayward?”

Around the end of the school year,” I said. “Why?” It flew out of my mouth like a tape-recorded message. I stuffed my hands into my pants pockets. I knew I couldn’t do this.

But the cops didn’t flinch. They went on to tell me what I already knew: not home since Sunday, missing persons report filed, foul play not currently suspected, and so on. I confirmed their physical description of Vyv: five-foot-five, about 150 pounds, just enough weight for inconvenient curves that she hid under long jackets and baggy sweaters. Hair: red. Not natural red, but the kind of purple-red that comes from two boxes of L’Oreal Feria that she’d bring home from Grand Island every month. A thick sheet of semi-curls that reached to dye-scorched ends at her waist. Wrist-Cutter Red. Blowjob Red. Girl With Problems Red.

Did she ever talk about running away?” the younger cop asked.

She talked about it all the time,” I said. “But I always figured it was just talk.”

Anyplace in particular?”

Everywhere, I thought. Vyv and I were walking barefoot down our town’s main street, and she was telling me about the beaches in Tangier, where writers arranged their future classics and the best weed on the planet got passed around. We were picking clover out of the grass on the school playground, and I was listening to her go on and on about Siberia, where the trees exploded in the sub-zero winter and the trains hurtled on through the darkness for weeks. We were at the mall, and she was trying on black clothes, like suits of armor, to prepare herself for New York City.

She’d been talking about Seattle a lot,” I said.

One of the cops whipped out a pen and wrote SEATTLE? in block letters. “Does she know anybody out there?”

I shook my head.

The younger one cleared his throat and said, “What do you know about her friends in Lincoln?”

I never really met them.” I crossed my arms. “Besides, she hasn’t talked to them since this winter.” I considered adding more, but held my breath. It wouldn’t do any good to bring up that whole mess with Sonia and Grant. I thought of that morning in homeroom, when Vyv had lifted her head from her desk and moaned, “This weekend was so fucked.” She never went into specifics. Something about heroin and screaming at the driver of a car as he blew through red light after red light.

The cops nodded and took it down. One of them asked, “Was she having problems at home?”

I swallowed. “She doesn’t get along with her stepdad. They’re always fighting about something.”

Why were all of my words so inadequate? “Doesn’t get along with” to illustrate the cloud of rage that followed Vyv around on some days? The weight that seemed to settle on her whenever she bit back tears from another long row? “Always fighting about something” to imply that she often spent afternoons staring at the shotgun mounted above her parents’ couch, loaded with potential vengeance?

What exactly happened at the end of the school year?” they asked.

We had a falling out,” I said.

The older one flipped through his notes. “Uh-huh. Did you and Amanda fight often?”

Oh shit, I realized. They think I’m Vyv’s boyfriend. Or at least one of those guys who hung around her for sex. It explained why I, the former Eagle Scout, would associate with Vyv, with her antique boots and top hat and alleged Satanism.

I tried hard not to squirm. If Vyv were here she’d be collapsing in laughter, right on my front porch. “No, we were pretty good friends,” I insisted. “I was gonna call her and apologize soon.” I thought I could see it in their faces. I wondered if they knew.

But they didn’t say anything. The older one handed me a business card and said, “Most of the time they come back on their own, once they see what it’s really like out there. Give us a call if you hear from her.”

I put the card in my pocket and promised I would.

Hey, I grew up on this block,” said the younger one. “In that yellow house.”

Oh,” I said.

Was a great place to grow up. Different then, of course.”

I said nothing. I’d always rather liked the shuttered houses, the distressed yards, the sinking pines, and I hated it when people shook their heads over the state of my street.

The cops turned and loped across my front yard, back to the cruiser. I went back inside. My mom was curled up on the couch under the heavy wool throw blanket, where she’d fallen asleep in front of the TV last night. I pressed her shoulder. “Hey Ma. I’m making breakfast. You want anything?”

Just coffee,” she yawned.

I put on the coffeemaker and set up two mugs with milk and sugar waiting in the bottom. I cracked two eggs into a clean skillet and sliced chunks of potato into sizzling fat. Hey Vyv, I thought as I stirred the potatoes. Did you see that? I sent the trail out to Seattle for you. I pictured her on the Greyhound, riding east into the hills. She’d be looking out the window and listening to The Gits in her headphones, or reading the copy of Jane Eyre she’d swiped from Goodwill. I was happy for her.


Katherine Scott Nelson is the author of the novella Have You Seen Me, a current nominee for the Lambda Literary Awards. Hir work has either appeared or is forthcoming in Confrontation, make/shift, and Fiction at Work. Ze lives in Chicago, blogs over here, and is currently on a 'Virtual Book Tour' online as a lead-up to an actual physical tour, along with other CCLaP authors, in New York City!




Chris Bower & Matt Test's 'Birthday Boy'

I saw Birthday Boy last night. You should too. Here's the facebook event, here's the website.

A play about a boy who's forgotten and ignored and generally treated like shit on his birthday, it's pretty hilarious. Even if you're not a miserable person like me. Even if you're, say, a happy person. Basically, you'll enjoy this miserable play regardless of what kind of person you are.

The play's written by Chris Bower and Matt test, who are also in the goddamn thing, along with Cat Jarboe, Kevlyn Hayes, and Troy Martin. It is playing for the next two Fridays (June 1st & 8th).

Here's a picture of me and Bower inside of a heart. It is not a real heart, I put it there with photoshop.

<3 Mason