What Happens When an Emoji Is the Word of the Year?

December 7th, 2015 by Kathy Drasky | Comments Off on What Happens When an Emoji Is the Word of the Year?


Like everyone on the planet with a blog, I was feeling so past long overdue making that post that apologizes for the length of time between blog posts.

You know that post you see on just about every blog you land on – the one that tells you it’s been a while (like six months or four years or whatever), you’re a committed blogger/writer/communicator but you’ve just been busy with other projects (oh, like checking Facebook or aimlessly scrolling Twitter searching for the meaning of life) and/or you’ll be re-dedicating yourself to posting in the future (a promise you can toss off with that certain aplomb that not-so-secretly says you know no one is reading this blog post or any other, actually).

But then I came across an annual news item that I typically blog about – the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year, and it absolves all of us who’ve not been pounding out the words this year. Why? Because for the first time the word of the year is not a word – it is an image. The Face with Tears of Joy emoji image, to be exact.

The Face with Tears of Joy was chosen because it was the most used emoji globally in 2015. SwiftKey identified that 😂 made up 20% of all the emojis used in the UK in 2015, and 17% of those in the US: a sharp rise from 4% and 9% respectively in 2014.

What’s that mean? Well, you probably only need to look at your own communication habits over the first half of this decade to see that you’ve chosen reading a news post via a link on Facebook rather than slogging through an online version of a newspaper, you’ll send a text message now instead of an email and there’s no reason to listen to a tedious voicemail when just hitting “call back” will kill two birds with one stone (sorry, Mom).

In defense of words, there were some contenders for Word of the Year. They included lumbersexual, ad blocker, sharing economy and they (as an all-inclusive singular pronoun). Perhaps there’s a good reason why an emoji beat them all out?

I doubt there are many writers (myself once included, twice removed) out there who will be posting the Face with Tears of Joy emoji accompanying any tweet, link or text celebrating our lack of need for words. But for those of us who at the turn of the century saw our need and use for words changing, and who have stayed in the communications game over the past five years or so by using less words, enhanced with an image – be it a photo or an emoji – well, I suppose we knew this was inevitable.

What happens when an emoji is the word of the year? We get a pass on not blogging and maybe killing these apology posts that no one reads anyway. We who write these things know that the Internet is basically a wasteland of misinformation, click bait and crap. This gives us the reprieve we need to stop cluttering it and maybe do a little more curation in 2016.

Photo courtesy of Oxford Dictionaries.

Jeanne and Mike: Original Art

June 17th, 2015 by Kathy Drasky | Comments Off on Jeanne and Mike: Original Art

For the past year I have spent all my free time (and then some) making a short documentary about my parents, Jeanne and Mike Drasky, and the art in their house.

The movie is called “Jeanne and Mike: Original Art”, and you can play the thumbnail version below, or click over to Vimeo to watch on a full screen.

I was not a filmmaker when I started this project. I’m not sure if I can actually call myself one now, because I made this 14-minute film with my iPhone.

It started simply enough. I recorded my parents, first just on audio, then later on video, talking about how, over the course of their 56 years of marriage, they have never bought a piece of original art for their home. All the art and craft and photos and memorabilia on the walls, the shelves, the kitchen countertops, the back porch, has been created by them and other family members. Three generations (and counting) of self-taught artists.

Favorite Shots from 2014

December 17th, 2014 by Kathy Drasky | Comments Off on Favorite Shots from 2014

Enjoy the Road AheadI’ve been compiling my favorite photo shots for years for family and friends – travel, birthdays, that sort of thing. But starting in 2013, I took a more serious look at the images I make all year long and how they tell a deeper story of where I’m at in the work/creative/life process. The challenges. The triumphs (as small as they may be). The questions. The sometimes circuitous way I come to answers, solutions or shifts in focus.

What I can tell from compiling my 2014 favorite shots is that what I chose to define my year was the epitome of all that went right. Obviously, the year was not without its personal and professional challenges, difficulties and stumbling blocks – those play into the images one makes all year long. But where I chose to portray those more in 2013, I flipped the coin in 2014.

View 2014 vs. 2013 on Flickr.

As I move from the freelance career that has spanned nearly three decades in publishing, journalism, public relations and marketing into one that employs all this into a creative agency that tells stories with digital media, you’ll see that in 2014 I got to travel fairly extensively, spend quality time with my 80-year-old parents, watch my paying work begin to merge with the image making and writing I’ve struggled with for so long, and enjoy the freedom of living life with my Australian wife in the afterglow of equality, justice and simple fairness being granted in the United States.

I also got a new camera.

Wishing all of you who read this far continued breakthroughs in your creative process in 2015! Enjoy the road ahead.

“Enjoy the road ahead.” Photo by KT Drasky. Hipstamatic, taken with an iPhone 5S, Helga Viking lens, Blanko film. Savannah, Georgia, March 2014.

Marsala Is the Color of 2015

December 5th, 2014 by Kathy Drasky | Comments Off on Marsala Is the Color of 2015

marsalaNot to be outdone by recent press heralding the word of the year (2014: “vape“) or other famous food-themed colors before it (“eggplant”), the color sensation predicted by Pantone to be on every interior designer’s palette next year is: Marsala.

I’m of two minds upon hearing this. Why, of course, is one of them. Tanya Basu writing for The Atlantic pretty much covers off all those reasons. Specifically, a quick social media roundup:

Social media has questioned what Pantone calls “a naturally robust and earthy wine red color” as “a color that makes you want to go to Olive Garden or order Tampax in bulk.”

My second inner voice wants to cook up a batch of a dish I used to make a lot (back in the ’80s, I think – which is fitting, since the color Marsala per the above cited article is also associated with nearby decade “’70s-era carpets that lined offices and industrial spaces, created to disguise wear-and-tear from foot traffic and errant crumbs from desk lunches.” Yum.

But, if you feel like I do (Peter Frampton) about the Internet, writing, color schemes and food, you have quickly blocked such images out of your head and are ready to cook. Here’s my version of Chicken Marsala, adapted from one of the best cookbooks I ever scored at a yard sale: Italian Cooking for Pleasure by Mary Reynolds (pp. 70-71).

Petti di Pollo al Marsala (Chicken Breasts with Marsala)

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves: 4


4 chicken breasts (pounded to be thin, like fillets – or just buy fillets)

Seasoned flour (i.e., salt and pepper)

3 oz. butter

4 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

4 Tbsp Marsala wine

4 Tbsp chicken stock

Juice of 1/2 lemon


Coat the chicken in seasoned flour and fry in butter. When golden pour over Marsala; let bubble for a minute. Cover each breast with grated Parmesan cheese, moisten with chicken stock. Cover pan; cook gently for 5 minutes. Add lemon juice, then serve with pan juices poured over the chicken.

Photo courtesy of Pantone.


“Vape” Is the 2014 Word of the Year

December 3rd, 2014 by Kathy Drasky | Comments Off on “Vape” Is the 2014 Word of the Year


There’s a new habit in town, one that’s skyrocketed to the top of the English lexicon faster than last year’s “selfie” (which took an estimated 3 years to be crowned “Word of the Year”).

The 2014 word of the year, “vape” blew away its competition thanks to two simultaneous trends converging in well…a puff of vapor: e-cigarettes and legal cannabis. Both of which are consumed in what is believed to be a healthier way than evil tobacco or janky weed.

The esteemed Oxford Dictionary defines vape as both a verb and noun:

the verb means ‘to inhale and exhale the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device’, while both the device and the action can also be known as a vape.

According to Oxford, you are 30 times more likely to encounter the word vape today as you were two years ago. While most of the research crowning vape the word of 2014 hails from the e-cigarette community, which has brought back nicotine without the tar in a big way, there is no denying that the growing legal and medical cannabis industry in the U.S. contributed to the word’s high profile. Runner-up “budtender” as well as the growing popularity of the term “cannabusiness” support that angle.

Other 2014 runners-up included: bae, slactvism, contactless and normcore (all of which my spell-check is highlighting as I type).

Source: The Oxford

Photo credit: Katie Orlinsky for The New York Times.


A More Imperfect Photo

November 18th, 2014 by Kathy Drasky | Comments Off on A More Imperfect Photo

lofi calendar cover 2015My 2015 Lo-Fi Love calendars have arrived. This is the second year I’ve put together a selection of the photos I take all year long using lo-fi apps like Hipstamatic on my iPhone. Why do I find the lo-fi look so appealing?

“There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.” – Ansel Adams

I grew up in a Kodak moment – occasionally punctuated with a Polaroid. Those images from the ’60s and ’70s – their colors, their unlimited list of imperfections – have always resonated with me. In my office there is a shoebox full of childhood snapshots, fading more each year. And yet, when I pull them out for Throwback Thursday or some other fun Internet game, I am overcome with experiences I don’t remember. How so? That shoebox is not really filled with snapshots. It is filled with emotions.

“When we are nostalgic we take pictures.” – Susan Sontag

The endless stream of images we are bombarded with each day, taken with smartphones and then slapped on the Internet fail to give us the chance to reflect. There is rarely any delay from photo snap to share – the worst offenders are those who post-process on the spot. Trying to make that photo of the Grand Canyon you just took two minutes ago look exactly like it does two minutes later siphons the emotion from the image and then badly attempts to resuscitate it.

If the only emotion you can conjure looking at someone’s Facebook photos of a destination vacation is “meh,” then something has definitely been lost in the translation. Or, in cases of random slapping (no editing of image or sequence – not even taking the time to rotate an image to its rightful right side up) there has been no translation.

“Seeing is not enough; you have to feel what you photograph.” – Andre Kertesz

Using lo-fi apps on my iPhone (current fave is Hipstamatic, which is hard to beat, but I’ll also occasionally edit photos taken with the regular iPhone camera and run them through Camera Bag 2) allows me to create what I call more imperfect photos.

The lo-fi look takes me back to a time when what you saw when you took a picture wasn’t necessarily what you got when you drove up to the FotoMat a week later to pick up the developed film.

At which time you may have experienced a feeling called “disappointment”.

Years later, though, you look back on that disappointment as any number of emotions: lessons learned (i.e., confidence), what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger (i.e., survivability), and my favorite, it didn’t really matter after all (i.e., nostalgia).

Lo-fi apps on your iPhone can regenerate all that with a color scheme that reminds you of your grandparents’ Naugahyde seating arrangements and the way the lake looked that day you got caught skipping school.

Or, maybe you want to pretend what life was like that time you accidentally bought a roll of black and white film, or loaded film back-ass-wards (twice) and got a range of multi-exposures that horrified all concerned back in the day, but in shuffling through the shoebox turn out to be the coolest pieces of art you could ever possibly own.

“Industry is best at the intersection of art and science.” Edwin Land

Photography in all its forms has always been the blending of art and science, and over the past 10 to 15 years that pure science has given way to technology. It’s no surprise that Steve Jobs was greatly influenced by Edwin Land. The guy behind the iPhone + the guy who invented the Polaroid = why we all have “instant” cameras in our pockets today.

All digitally competent photographers now have the power at our fingertips to make perfect photos. But some of us choose not to.

Buy my 2015 Lo-Fi Love desktop calendar for just $12 USD. Click here.

Leslie Feinberg’s Screened-In Series

November 17th, 2014 by Kathy Drasky | Comments Off on Leslie Feinberg’s Screened-In Series

6151364693_dddd21aa12_oLeslie Feinberg was a writer, most famous for a book called Stone Butch Blues, which I never read. But I was aware of Feinberg’s transgenderism and all-around activism from my own many years in “that life” I call writing for LGBT publications. You could not call yourself a person who wrote about LGBT issues and not know about Leslie Feinberg and Stone Butch Blues. But I suppose you could drift away from that work and receive the news of Feinberg’s passing on Twitter and be jolted back to a time and place when AIDS was devastating a community, gays and lesbians had few – if any – rights, and a lot of folks in “that life” had major problems with the “T” (and heck, even the “B”) being tagged onto the “L” and “G”.

Enter Leslie Feinberg, competing for space in the Advocate alongside lipstick lesbians and Elton John. Feinberg, whose wife Minnie Bruce Pratt, submitted her obituary using the pronoun “her” (so, I will, too), described herself as “an anti-racist white, working-class, secular Jewish, transgender, lesbian, female, revolutionary communist.” Notably she left out “writer”, less notably, she left out “photographer”.
For those who wondered “Whatever happened to Leslie Feinberg?” or, those who didn’t, in reading the Advocate obit, we’d learn that she suffered from decades of illness related to “multiple tick-borne co-infections, including Lyme disease, babeisiosis, and protomyxzoa rheumatica.” Further,

During a period when diseases would not allow her to read, write, or talk, Feinberg continued to communicate through art. Picking up a camera for the first time, she posted thousands of pictures on Flickr, including “The Screened-In Series,” a disability-art class-conscious documentary of her Hawley-Green [Syracuse, NY] neighborhood photographed entirely from behind the windows of her apartment.

The Screened-In series is a remarkable look at life from the point-of-view of a confining illness. Life goes on, outside your windows, mundane as it may seem. Yet imagine not having the strength to go beyond that window and participate. View the Screened-In series here.

And then, remember Leslie Feinberg not as a writer, activist and/or photographer, but as she requested in her last words, “Remember me as a revolutionary communist.” Done.

Photo by Leslie Feinberg via Flickr.

Source: The Advocate: “Transgender Pioneer and Stone Butch Blues Author Leslie Feinberg Has Died”.

Break the Internet

November 15th, 2014 by Kathy Drasky | Comments Off on Break the Internet

kim-kardashian-paper-coverIf it was broken, it was repaired quickly.

Although Kim Kardashian, her siblings, her mom, her stepdad and of course, her husband, have been doing their damnedest to break the thing for the past half decade (maybe more, maybe less – in Internet time the amount of it is always too much).

Earlier this week “butt”-ery photos like the one to your left of Ms. Kardashian may not have broken anything, but they did at least temporarily do a hurting on the social media front with the accompanying hashtag #BreaktheInternet.

It’s long been an easy opt out for people who write tongue-in-cheekily about communications overload to toss in the phrase “Internet explodes” or “breaking the Internet”, typically when something suddenly swells and creates that perfect social media storm – an Instagram of President Obama, an arrest of Justin Beiber, or something to do with the Kardashians. I refrain from calling the Kardashians a talentless lot here, because, they do indeed have a talent. The talent to overexpose themselves (um…see photo to your left again) and get significant attention for that beyond the E! channel. Fleeting attention, at best, but attention for those who crave it is attention, nevertheless.

Good news, though. The Internet is not only apparently unbreakable, print journalism showed a heroic gasp for life in scoring the coup that was a naked photo shoot with the most famous-for-nothing person of the early 21st century. Published by Paper, for $10 you can hold these photos of Kim Kardashian in your hands and own your own little piece of print, which the Internet still hasn’t finished off completely, as long as it is supplemented by a full-blown online operation.

And by the way, the photos by Jean-Paul Goude are indeed quite fascinating. They’ve got an ’80-esque New York City-style appeal, if the 1980s been infiltrated by either Kim Kardashian or Twitter.

Photo by Jean-Paul Goude, for Paper.

We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live

October 24th, 2014 by Kathy Drasky | Comments Off on We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live

joandidionI don’t think I’ve been this excited about a documentary in a long time! (And I get excited easily about documentaries.) Actor/director Griffin Dunne is producing a documentary about his aunt, the mighty literary legend of a generation – Joan Didion.

Not only is Joan Didion my favorite living writer – heck, she might be my favorite writer – period. The way she captured the ’60s and ’70s in her essays in books like Slouching Toward Bethlehem and The White Album showcased to me, at the time, a different type of journalism than the one I was studying. Perhaps, it was, way back before her groundbreaking memoir on life and loss – The Year of Magical Thinking – her mantra in action: “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”

Which, aptly, is the title of the documentary being produced. Its Kickstarter campaign reached its goal within 24 hours (no surprise there), but you can still get in on the action. There’s some great “freebies” you’ll receive for making a donation which is nice. But being a part of this film, even for a small donation, is probably what it’s going to be all about for you if you are a fan of Joan Didion’s work.

Watch the trailer here:

Then, give until it hurts – or you get your pdf copies of Joan’s 12 favorite books and recipes, signed postcards or a t-shirt. It’s up to you. Click here to contribute.

Photo courtesy of the Kickstarter campaign.


August 19th, 2014 by Kathy Drasky | Comments Off on Ferguson

fergusonIThe images coming out the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, ignited in protests since a white cop shot an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown 10 days ago, are eerily echoing the kind of photos we associate with the Deep South in the years leading up to the Civil Rights Act 50 years ago.

Civil rights protestors are attacked with a water cannon.ferguson5

This time around, it’s a little different. We are a nation led by a black man, in spite of the kicking and screaming of less than half the electorate (and probably half of those who could vote but were not uninterested enough to bother). We also have become a global society where the image – delivered in nanoseconds via Twitter, Facebook or any of the thousands of online news sites – enables us to see the bigger picture without reading any of the facts.

If you want facts, click here (as of Tuesday morning August 19).

More will be forthcoming, no doubt. In the interim, the pictures will continue to flood our feeds and Americans (and the rest of the world) will continue to draw conclusions and wonder. Why, 50 years after the Civil Rights Act is racial unrest still a problem in America? Will Ferguson finally be the end of it? Could social media and online coverage as well as instantaneous (and nearly constant) imagery play a healing role? Or will it just fan the flames more glaringly?

Image credits: St. Louis Post-Dispatch cover by David Carson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Civil rights water cannon, 1963 by Getty Images; Police fire device at protestors by Jeff Roberson, AP.