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Wayman Barnes 5.5.02
Grand Slam Winners

Congrats to ...
1st Place: Tara Hardy
2nd Place: Nathan Ramos

And to Jeremy Richards and Morris Stegosaurus who will be rounding out the team that will represent Seattle at Nationals in Minneapolis.

Wayman Barnes 5.5.02

The last few days we were in Seattle we caught some of the other shows and did the whole tourist thing. Lotsa fun.

Frankie Drayus 5.3.02
Quality of Life Notes on Seattle

Quality of life notes: Great draught beer everywhere and everybody lets you try before you buy, and not only in fancy places - also normal run-of-the-mill bars (I am in love with every Seattle bartender now including the women), great coffee everywhere - even the little espresso carts in cheesy malls have great coffee - I don't know how they do it. And as far as okay (but not great) coffee goes, Starbucks is on average 50 cents cheaper than in LA. Please understand - I was with Wayman, and Wayman knows how much I loathe Starbucks so of course we had to go there everyday. My goat has been gotten so many times it's amazing I have one left to get... Yes, that *is* my photo in front of the original Starbucks by Pike Street Market, holding their product in my own two hands... but that smile on my face is an ironic smile - do NOT infer that I am enjoying myself. Wayman, you can stop laughing now. That goes for you too, Jelena. Jelena does not drink coffee. She thinks we are addicts. I have no response to this, as I resemble that remark.

Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 5.3.02
All Good Things Must Come To An End

Today is our last day in Seattle. Why do all good things end so quickly? It feels like we just arrived yesterday...

Don't get me wrong, the Festival is not ending (some big names are performing on Saturday and Sunday), but we must return to our daily L.A. drudgery. That means we won't get to see Sekou Sundiata, Fran Castan, Willie Smith, Rich Forster, Karen Finneyfrock, Kinnie Starr, Christian Swenson, Sarah Jones, Steve Coleman, L.A.'s own Pat Payne, CR Avery, James Whetzel and the Poet Populist in performance. That also means I had to say lots of dreaded good-byes tonight. If the saying about home being where the heart is really stands, a part of my heart will be staying in Seattle, and a big chunk will be traveling to Rochester.

So, today I practically blew everybody off because I wanted to do what I wanted to do on my last day in Seattle. 'Cause I'm a poet (damn it)! I even missed the discussion panel Frankie and Wayman were participating in. I was late for the evening featured reading... Heck, I think my behavior even started some rumors among poets. And what did I do to cause all of that? I attended a "private feature" by Rich Forster. No, no, you dirty little minds!!! It's not what you think! I just indulged myself in spending a lot of time talking to one of my favorite people. Those things happen to poets, you know.

I did make the featured reading tonight. And it was good, and the theater was packed, and everybody looked great on stage, from the Emerging Voices (three teenage poets), over surprisingly solid and funny Michael SPAM Hall, to always soulful Paul Harding, the Philipino turned New Yorker Jessica Hagedorn, and the Port Angeles noted native Tess Gallagher. (By the way, Ms. Gallagher, you are not the first one to write a poem about orange, and I have witnesses to prove it!)

Still, all I could think of was saying good-bye to my new poetic family. A hard thing to do... So, if I forgot anyone tonight, it was not on purpose. And Danika (Dinsmore), did I say "thank you" for inviting us enough times? I had a great experience. Still, I have to look forward to conquering new territory. Taos, here I come! Or so I hope...

Wayman Barnes 5.3.02
Spish & Spam

I saw a lot of poets I loved this week, but my favorite, by far, was Spam. I loved, loved, loved his stuff. If I'd had any money at all, I'd have bought all his chapbooks. I swear! He even has a website devoted to poems about fish. Pretty cool, hunh?

Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 5.2.02
Biased Skirt, I Mean Short

What can I say?!? I was on the Poetry In The Midst Of Crisis panel this afternoon. Can't talk about that -- I'd be biased. The evening poetry reading started with Cloud Sparrow as the very first reader, and I was completely blown away by his performance. I'm probably biased when it comes to Sparrow, but who cares?!? Consequently, after he was finished, I was pretty much out of commission for the rest of the evening. So, writing about other featured poets is pointless (and would be quite biased). The most I can do is mention their names: Joann Farias, Casey Bush, John Kistner, Martin Farawell, and Tory Dent. I really, really wanted to pay attention to what Tory was saying, but I was (as Wayman put it) "stoned on poetry." Hopefully somebody else took good notes about tonight's reading so I can catch up on events later.

Frankie Drayus 5.1.02
Sit n Spin

Karen Finneyfrock, our saucy, gorgeous, and talented host, warns the crowd that they'd better give us LitRave folks from LA a warm welcome because we write about this stuff on our web site. A heckler shouts out how lucky we are to have escaped LA, to be in Seattle, where you can actually "breathe" the fresh air.

Jelena and I look at the thick oily smoke cloud densely hovering over the club, say nothing, then burst out laughing. Seattle is by far the smokiest city indoors I have ever visited. This includes Tokyo, Paris, and NYC. The people there are incredibly sweet - even the punks on the street say "no thank you". (No one in LA would ever say "no thank you" if you offered them poetry appetizers on a silver tray. They would ignore you or tell you to go away.) But boy do those seattlelites smoke up a storm. And when you've been living in California for years your second-hand nicotine tolerance goes way down. Think I had a nicotine hangover the next morning. I do not want a cigarette. I do not want a cigarette. Repeat: I do not want a cigarette. Ahem.

Side note which ought to take precedence: The people at Sit 'n Spin were by far the nicest, most attentive audience I have ever had the privilege to perform for. And they did give us an extremely warm welcome. I do not expect people in a club drinking massive quantities of alcohol to pay a lot of attention to what the people on stage are doing, but these cool Seattlelites were leaning forward, closing their eyes, nodding their heads - and I don't think they were sleeping either. :) I think they were soaking up every spoken sound coming through the speakers and feeling it with their entire bodies. And the jazz band was so tasty and hot I couldn't stop dancing around (luckily I was in the back), and the other poets - both the locals and Scott Vetsch all the way from Minnesota - were on fire. To anyone from that night reading this: You people impress the hell out of me. Thanks.

Paul Harding (clarinettist, performance poet extraordinaire, and all around nice guy) walked away with the 50 bucks in Jazz Jam Poetry Slam, but not before Sarah Zane left me crying silently, feeling the door to my secret fears creaking open. Hey Sarah, you are anything but a Broken Girl. You are not flailing. You are falling upwards in reverse.

Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 5.1.02
If Your Head Is Spinning, Sit-n-Spin!

Yes, yes, yes! The one and only Bashful Dragon has finally had a perfect power day. And she (i.e. moi) got to play, too. I love people. Especially people with whom I connect on more than one level. And I definitely found my "connections" today. Now, I know I might sound to you like an enamoured teenager, but I don't care 'cause I absolutely LOVE Rich and Sparrow. I got to spend half of the day with them today and I enjoyed every second of it immensely. Too bad Rochester, New York is not an L.A. suburb! I'd be hanging out with them every day reading poetry, playing shakuhachi (no, this is not a board game), and philosophizing on a street corner. So, if at some point in the future LitRave launches a Rochester branch, you'll know who is behind it. But enough self-indulgence and back to the Festival events...

I'm ashamed to admit I was a whole hour late for the Open Livingroom hosted by Urban Scribes. So, I appologize to everybody as I think I can't make authoritative comments on its quality. Still, I have to say, the second hour sounded much more like an agit-prop political meeting than a poetry reading.

The afternoon discussion panel with the theme of Poetics of Identity and panelists such as Tori Dent, Paul Harding, Fran Varian, Marta Sanchez and Kevin Allen sounded promising but only until it began. Unfortunately, Moderator didn't bother to moderate at all, and the discussion was swayed in a completely unexpected direction by some misplaced and self-serving questions from the audience. Panelists did their best to try and keep things moving and they deserve to be recognized for that, but let me just say it wasn't the best of panel discussions I heard.

Then, as 8:00 p.m. rolled around, it was time for LitRave big stage entry. We were featuring at one of the best known Seattle poetry spots, Sit-n-Spin. Sit-n-Spin is the official home of the Seattle Poetry Slam. It is also a funky little joint: a laundromat, cafe, bar and performance space all in one. So, as you are catching the latest in performance poetry, you can do your laundry, munch on a slice of pizza and drink some beer, too. The open mic and slam are hosted by the vivacious Karen Q. Finneyfrock, and music is provided by the amazing Three Legged Cat band. The night of our feature began with Cecilia, Lori Christiansen, Morris Stegosaurus and Roberto Escalan on open mic. Then, the lights went down and the stage was taken by Frankie the Dynamite Drayus, Jelena the Audacious Andjelkovic, and Wayman the Blazing Barnes in rapid succession. Frankie admitted to being Homesick, shouting This Poem Is Not About You, only to end up burning up the mic with hotter than hot Iccarus. Jelena followed preaching about Time and serving Holy Communion to finally Lament Over My (her) Nation, while Wayman tested his luck by giving a piece of his mind to the audience on the topic of Corporate Coffee. (That man has balls -- he dared badmouth coffee in Seattle of all places!) He continued with a sweeping statement on Filth Like This, asked Are You Real Scooby Doo? and ended with a tale about Saltiest Meat. Needless to say, he had the audience laughing their heads off. When the applause aimed at the featured poets died down, the evening continued with the Jazz Jam Poetry Slam. I'm sure the seasoned slam poets are asking themselves, "What the heck is a Jazz Jam slam?!?" Well, it's almost a regular poetry slam, with the difference that each poet must perform with the jazz band accompanying the performance. Tonight at Sit-n-Spin, there were only six slamming poets: the resident heckler Thomas Hard, the sassy Carina McLean, the canabis cultivating Scott Vetsch, the jazz-and-butter Paul Harding, the Urban Scribe Ionas, and not-at-all-zany Sarah Zane. Sean Shea made a perfectly funny calibration poet, and after two rounds of neck-to-neck competition, Paul Harding came out the big winner by only 0.2 points over Carina McLean. We cozied up to him hoping he'd share his $50 prize and feed the starving L.A. poets on some chocolate salmon mentioned earlier in the evening, but Mr. Harding couldn't be swayed. After the night of poetry was done, we walked over to the first washer and tried to stuff Frankie in for a spin, but she fought tooth and nail, so we had to change our plans and head home instead. Aaaaaah! What a day!

Wayman Barnes 5.1.02
Sit-n-Spin Jazz Poetry Jam Slam

This was the night of LitRave's big feature and you'd have been proud. We did Good.

In fact, the entire night was top notch. The band, Three Legged Cat. The slammers. The host, Karen Q. Finneyfrock. The audience. The beer. The pizza. The laundromat!

We had a very, very good time.

2219 4th Ave.
Wednesday nights at 8 pm
$4 at door only, 21+

Wayman Barnes 4.30.01
Richard Hugo House

Most of the festival events were in the Richard Hugo House. A very cool place to check out and support.

Richard Hugo House
1634 11th

Wayman Barnes 4.30.01
St. Solena

There are some people who are so cool they deserve sainthood.

Thank you Nena for you know what. Hope to see you soon.

Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 4.30.02
Living Rooms and Hosting Guests

Today, LitRave goes down in history for hosting an open mic. Yes, we did it! And if you are wondering what happens when guests become hosts, in Seattle Poetry Festival language, it is called an Open Livingroom. Ours even had a theme to it: poems written for a specific person and/or group aimed at eliciting their response. And let me tell you, our living room was quite full of people, both local poets and Festival performers. Still, the only thing I can remember (blame it on a bad case of hostess amnesia) is the line from Sparrow's poem: "The fox is lonely because he has forgotten how to be alone." I'm sure all you students of Oriental thought out there would know what he is talking about. And for you who don't know, it's too complicated to explain in a single diary entry anyway.

The evening featured reading at the Hugo House Theatre was a mixed bag of tricks. I must say that the features in the first half of the evening didn't quite impress me (Todd Peterson, Mary Lou Sanelli and Kevin Mooneyham). What can I say?!? I am just a picky, spoiled L.A. performance poet! In the second half, consistently good (if you like that type of poetic "stuff") Adeena Karasick served her spicy linguistic salad again while she was sipping on some perfectly matched red wine. Still, another kind of red stole the night: Maggie Estep red. Funny, mouthy, little red bundle of energy, she deserves every bit of reputation she has in poetic circles. If she ever comes to perform in Los Angeles, I'll make sure to go see her again. And anybody else reading this should go see her, too.

Wayman Barnes 4.30.02
Open Livingroom

Theme: Poems / Stories written to get a reaction from a specific person (from your mother to your ex-lover to George W. Bush what have you got to say for yourself?)

Host: LitRave

Yep, you read that right. LitRave hosted it's very own open mic. And now that I have gotten a taste of MCing ... watch out! There may be a new venue popping up sometime soon.

Wayman Barnes 4.29.02
Mile High Bliss

We had to get up in those mountains. They'd been calling our names ever since we got here.

Wayman Barnes 4.29.02
The opening night festivities (which were done on the second night. Very Seattle.) were at a gallery with a very cool poetry installation. Here is the info: Northwest Concrete & Visual Poetry Exhibition

Location: OSEAO Gallery 1402 E Pike St. [above the American Artificial Limb Co.] enter on Pike

Time: Runs from April 8th through May 31st in conjunction with the 2002 Seattle Poetry Festival

Hours: 4 PM - 8 PM Monday - Saturday
FREE to the public (donations accepted)

This exhibit, curated by Nico Vassilakis, will feature a sampling of contemporary concrete/visual poetry by Northwest poets/artists alongside practioners from around the country and the world. Also, a computer slideshow of the historical origin of TEXT AS IMAGE {medieval patterned poetry, typographic dada experiments, and concrete poetry of the 50's - 70's} and an audio presentation of 20th century SOUND POETS [such as Kurt Schwitters].

The basic idea of 'concrete'/visual poetry is that the alphabet (thus language) is not only fraught with meaning, but its elements are immersed in visual possibilities.

Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 4.29.02
Waterfalls, Senses, And Artificial Limbs

Yippie! We have a free morning today! So, what do the LitRavers do when there is nothing to do? They go for a hike... literally. It was not just any old hike, mind you. We visited the Snoqualmie Falls (for those in the know, the place is famous as the location of the "Twin Peaks" Lodge) and ate some "Twin Peaks" cherry pie at "Tweede's." Fire walk with me!

Apart from remembering the good old spooky series, we hiked up through the forest to Twin Falls and got to breathe some crisp mountain air before returning to the city for the next installment of the Festival.

In the evening, we mosied down to the OSEAO Gallery of The Senses located right above The Artificial Limb Company (sic!) to witness the new era of poetry: multi-media poetry. From installations to computer animations and video poems, the event presented quite an interesting and thought provoking peek into the future of poetry. The evening was hosted by Bob Redman and featured six poets, including the unavoidable Morris Stegosaurus who was the 4th place winner at the last year's Poetry Slam Nationals. The event started with Shon Sarringar and his alternative poetic performance that reminded me of the Tower of Babylon. Random (and not so random) words were thrown at the audience from three different directions, overlapping, clashing, colliding like thoughts on human mind: mind overload, insanity, humanity... Adeena Karasick gave us a taste of her linguistic salad by reading in a nasal New York accent from the brand new "Arugula Fugues." She also took us to her "Alphabet City," where she dwells between C and D, dangerously close to falling D-own. Two of her exceptionally professionally produced video poems were also shown: "Belles L'etres" and "Mumbai Ya." Now, if you are asking yourselves what a video poem is, the easiest way to describe it would be to say that it basically looks like a music video with poetry in the mix. Adeena's reading was followed by two video poems by George Aguilar: "An Uncommon Ghost" (with a realy funky computer animation) and "What I Thought I Heard in Philadelphia While Drinking An $8 Glass of Wine." And if you are wondering what he thought he heard, it was a poem and the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" at the same time. Then, Alex Keller took the stage with his toy toucans asking, "Where is Ann?" The last poet in the line-up was the Canadian Cass King, who quickly became the audience favorite for the night. She started with a slam poem followed by a poem written for somebody from the slam world. And then, the romance hit us full force in the form of a poem about Vancouver that Cass read over some sassy tango music. It was like she danced with the audience cheek to verbal cheek. Then she talked about "Horse Raven" over her own music mixed with Dizzy Gillespie's, and finished with an absolutely moving linguistic computer animation titled "A Kind of Silence" devoted to the memory of Paul Michael Semple who was killed trying to save another's life. All in all, the skirt-wearing King ruled the night.

After the show, most of us moved to the nearby Elysian Brewery and mixed some conversation into this poetic brew. Meeting poets from all over the U.S. as well as the local volunteers was a perfect way to end the night. My personal favorites among the "features" at Elysian (no offense to all other "participants") were bearded bookmaker Marty, Nena the merchandise princess, "shrubbery" smoking Scott Vetsch, Minnesota's own Michael SPAM Hall, soft-spoken Sparrow, and tall-as-a-tree-in-the-forest Rich Forster. Needless to say, I had fun. Still, Seattlelites, what's up with smoking in bars and restaurants?!? Azikiwe Andrews somehow comes to mind: "I choke on my secondhand smoke."

Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 4.28.02
Globe, Red Sky, And Poetry On A Toothpick?

The big day is here! We get to do our guerrila poetry "tasting tables" first thing in the morning: each juicy fresh poem nicely pricked with a toothpick, placed on a silver platter, and offered as mid-day snack to passers-by on Capitol Hill. Well, not exactly a SILVER platter but a decent enough serving tray. "Sir!?! Madam! Would you care for some tasty poetry to go with your morning cup of java today? And how about a juicy poetry cuttlet for lunch?" Now I know how those supermarket merchandising grandmas must feel! This can get pretty exhausting pretty fast. Luckily, my "partner in crime" behind the tasting table is as an eloquent merchandiser as I am. Come to discover he is one of the most respected Seattle poets, too. And a downright nice person... Hats off to Paul ("Juju") Harding!

In the evening, Frankie and I have a feature at one of the longest running (21 years strong) poetry venues in town: the Red Sky Poetry Theatre at the Globe Cafe. With names like "Red Sky" and "Globe," we expect to see a veritable display of magnificence. You can imagine our surprise when we found out Globe (vegan) Cafe looked like an old, and I mean very old, hippie hangout. Our co-feature, Scott Vetsch from Minnesota, doesn't seem to be phased at all. He must have been here before... But I don't want to compromise my all-knowing poetic reporter dignity by asking, so we only guess. Scott seems to be quite comfortable in our company even though it was the very first time we even laid eyes on each other. Rich Forster and Cloud Sparrow (from Rochester, New York) sit at our table, too. We just met them that very morning and it already feels like we've been friends forever. Looks like poets are friendly not only in Los Angeles but all around the globe. (And no, this pun was not intended!)

The night starts with an open mic hosted by Paul Hunter. Local and visiting poets follow each other on the mic giving us the opportunity to somewhat "size up the competition." Every city seems to have its own Laughing Larry, and his Seattle name is Bruce. He is followed by Charlie Burks, and a little more poetic poetry of Bill Swigert. Then, there was Gary Lee Johnson, country-looking (and as I later discovered, country-singing) Percy Hilo, the self-proclaimed Eugene hippie Kevin Mooneyham, Litrave's own former Seattlelite Wayman Barnes, and the woman from the picture - Fryma Mentel. Then it was the dinosaur time... I mean Morris Stegosaurus time. He was followed by Kathleen, and Jim Porter. And then, fanfare please! It was the time for the feature. More precisely, the time for one and only, unforgettable, unYielding, Sleeping in Coral and Dreaming in Green, This-Poem-Is-Not-About-You Frankie Drayus. She was so good that, after her performance, one of the open micers fell down on his knees and proposed to her only to discover (to his dismay) that she was already happily married.

Frankie was followed by yours truly, poetic fire-spitting Bashful Dragon who had the audience quite perplexed by her uncommon (draconian Yugoslavian) accent. Then, Scott Vetsch stepped up to the mic to finish off this one-two-three punch. And he did it quite successfully, I must add. It was getting so hot at the Globe that we all had to take some time to cool our poetic jets.

When we returned to our seats, more open mic readers followed: Arlo Smith, Scott Becker, Frank Jenkins (a 77-year old, born in Seattle and currently living in Los Angeles) who claimed he "did't start out to be a poet," followed by Mike Claus, Diane Westergard, Michelle, Stephanie Skura, Clarice Keegan, and "back then we were just weather" Danny Boy. (No, not the LA Danny Boy! This one was a REAL poet.) They were followed by Loraine Campbell, a Poet Populist nominee Belle Randall, the Seattle Poetry Slam finalist Roberto Escalan, followed by Ken Chaiewitz, the Red Sky Poetry Theatre founder Marion Kimes, then Andrew Lake, Ashley Sullivan, Paul Nelson, and Martin Marriott. Whew! 29 open mic readers and three features! Quite a night under the Red Sky.

Wayman Barnes 4.28.02
Red Sky Poetry Theatre

It's their 21st year and they are still going strong. Not too many poetry venues can make that claim. And they have excellent vegan victuals, too.

Poets*: Bruce, Charlie Burkes, Bill Swaggart, Gary Lee Johnson, Percy Hilo, Kevin Mooneyham, Wayman Barnes, Fryma Mental, Morris Stegasaurus, Kathleen, Jim Porter, Frankie Drayus(F), Jelena Andjelkovic(F), Scott Vetsch(F), Arlo Smith, Scott Becker, Frank Jenkins, Michael Claus, Diane Westerberg, Michelle, Stephanie Stewart, Clarice Keegan, Danny Boy, Lorraine Campbell, Belle Randall, Roberto Esquival, Ken Chaiewitz, Marion Kimes, Andrew Lake, Ashley Sullivan, Paul Nelson, and Martin Marriott

*There is a good chance that most of these names are spelled wrong.

Red Sky Poetry Theatre
The Globe
1531 14th Ave.
Sundays at 8pm
$3 at door

Wayman Barnes 4.28.02
Poetry Sampling Tables

The set-up was simple enough: we'd put sampling tables outside of several different bookstores in the Capitol Hill area, stand there with trays filled with poems on a toothpick, and serve them to unsuspecting people as they passed by.

Since people like free stuff, they'd grab them without thinking and WHAMMO! ... they're reading poetry.

Now, if that's not guerilla poetry, I don't know what is.

Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 4.27.02
Tour Guides And Free Rides

Thanks to Tom Cooper's generosity (three cheers for Tom!), we get to ride in his neat black Passat and do some rubbernecking before we get down to poetic business we came here for. With a battle yell of, "Let's roll!" Wayman takes us on a very personal tour of Seattle. We get the inside scoop on his true-story piece "How Not To Break Up With Margaret," which actually took place on Capitol Hill some years ago. Despite all of Wayman's amazing tour guide skills, the question of the day for Frankie and myself still remains, "What body of water is THAT?"

Now, here is the inside scoop for all you Litravers. Listen up! Wayman actually started his "Funny Man Barnes" career in an improv comedy group in Seattle. And we actually got to see them perform live. Now I know why Wayman moved all the way to Los Angeles. Let's just say the group was not up to ... e-hem... his personal performance standards.

In the evening, we finally get to meet Danika (the woman behind the SPF - no, not SPF15 but Seattle Poetry Festival) face to face. Boy, am I glad I'm not in her shoes! It takes not only hard work but some major guts to pull the Festival off.

We are going to "get our feet wet" with a guerrila poetry event tomorrow. Somebody who put our schedule for the event together had a strange sense of humor: they assigned me to "Revolution Books." Do I look like an anarchist to you?!?!?

Wayman Barnes 4.27.02
A great author (can't remember who) once wrote that "you can't go home again," and even though that is probably true ... you can certainly visit. And that's what I did.

You are probably asking, "Aren't you from Oklahoma?" And, technically, you're right. But, since I spent my hipper years in the Pacific Northwest, I claim Seattle as my own.

It was great to see my old improv group, Off Limits Improvisational Theater, eat at Dick's and Ivar's, and walk around my favorite neighborhoods. I even got to see Mt. Rainier. A rare treat. And I am happy to report that Rainier Beer tastes as bad as ever.

Wayman Barnes 4.26.02
Seattle Poetry Festival

Tis true. A few of us LitRavers (Frankie, Jelena, & myself) went to the Fifth Annual Seattle Poetry Festival and had a wonderful time. We dabbled in some guerilla poetry, panel discussions, open livingrooms, a Jazz Poetry Jam Slam, and, of course, our own features.

We'd like to give a very big LitRave thank you to Danika Dinsmore and Eleventh Hour Productions for inviting us.

... and Tom Cooper is the coolest guy in the world.