Music: Whiskey Please by Whissel

This theme of Whiskey Please isn’t anything new, in fact, songs about your man and his liquor is pretty standard in both country and rock genres. And songs about your man being taken by someone else, well that’s just a good 90% of all female-led lyrics (a rough guesstimate).

Whissell’s song here, Whiskey Please, gives those themes a little mashup in something that’s a little reminiscent (to me) of Dolly Parton’s, Jolene. This isn’t a song of complaining or even of anger. This is a song where a women is begging for her man back, begging for the alcohol to let him go. We know it doesn’t work like that, but as someone who has some first hand alcoholics, I very much the understand the wish that it did. And it doesn’t at all hurt that Whissell has this deep voice, something that reads as strained from tears or something more.

I’ve been listening to a lot of her stuff lately and just really enjoying her voice and the sort of badassitude that comes across in a lot of her songs.

 

Trying for Joyful; I’ve Got This Round by Mamrie Hart

Recently I finished reading I’ve Got This Round by Mamrie Hart, a popular YouTuber. This is her second book and in both her first one, You Deserve a Drink and this one, she shares humorous personal stories about her life. In her first book many of her wacky adventures can be written off by her youth, or her drinking, or both. In the second, the stories all take place within the two years since her previous book. So she’s older and more successful than before but her stories don’t feel that different. She’s still telling stories about wacky adventures that don’t sound much like she’s changed.

But really this isn’t a review for her book. (Or it kind of is, and it’s kind of more.)

I mean, if you like her or her humor, read it. She’s an engaging writer and you’ll find her new round of stories fun and on-brand. I just don’t think it’s for everyone, which I’m sure even she understands.

However, reading it did get me thinking. Mostly because I recognize how strange it can be to read the stories of people that have more money or time or influence. When they do crazy things like purchasing tickets to Paris, or going on a cruise all on a whim, it’s hard to imagine yourself in their place.

Mamrie is a person in a uncommon position of privilege. Her status as an influencer and as a YouTuber personality grants her opportunities the rest of us don’t get. So connecting to stories about being fabulous places where she can drink and have fun adventures, is difficult.

Here though, is where I started thinking about what else her stories have in common, and where it’s not necessary to read her book to grasp the concept.

This about finding the joy in things. What she does is say “yes” to new opportunities. She reaches out to friends and loved ones to share in her adventures. Sometimes, when life is hard or we don’t feel good, this is the sort of thing it’s hard to do.

I find it difficult to lean in to new experiences.

And that’s the thing I found most often in her stories. Sometimes there would be a turning point… that moment where it’d be really easy to kick back. Sure, I find a day at home with video games or movies enjoyable. I’m a homebody and an introvert and once I’m in comfy clothes it’s hard to get me out of the house. But this isn’t just about getting out of the house. This is about getting out of a comfort zone.

Sort of like I talked about in my post about going to Omaha recently. I was there for a purpose – to see my favorite poet. But several times I tried to talk myself out of it. I tried to avoid going by myself somewhere fancy for dinner. In the end, I had an extremely enjoyable dinner and saw a great show.

I think reading this book was a little reminder that it’s worth it sometimes to push yourself a little more. And it’s doesn’t have to be big moments either. It could be saying yes to little things, like singing loudly in your car, or inviting someone to have lunch with you at work. I’ve also been considering how easy it is to hide the things we’re passionate about.

There’s a story Mamrie tells about going on the Backstreet Boys cruise. And I couldn’t help but admire the joy in that story. Not only do she and her friend just completely lean in to enjoy the shit out of that cruise as best they can, but there’s a whole cruise ship full of women doing the same thing. Sure, maybe their all there for different reasons but if you’re buying tickets to the Backstreet Boys cruise, you’ve really embraced your love for that band. And I kind of love that.

We talk a lot about this kind of idea in fandom circles; how not to yuck someone else’s yum, and letting people enjoy the things they enjoy whether it be a certain type of story or character or art. I think there’s more to that we can apply to just every day life. Being present for the things we love and opening ourselves up to opportunities to love more stuff.

Really it’s part of why I wanted to do this blog, or any blog again. I’m a huge fan of video games, comics, music… and it’s fun to be able to talk about them more, or share them to people who might not otherwise know about them. So, I’m really trying to embrace that whole concept of being present for the joy I have in the things and people I love, and being open or confident enough to do it even more.

February Mixtape B-side: Schwarmerei; dudes edition

I really love the ladies edition of this mixtape theme that I put up last week. However, it left out a couple of songs that I really wanted to include somehow. So, I’ve got a dudes edition (male singers) that hopefully has the same kind of badass attitude that the ladies side had. And really, if you only listen to one song from this playlist? Make sure it’s the last song.

You can grab the ladies version of this theme I put up at my post here.

As a reminder these were put together as part of the February mixtape challenge put together by Eve @ Twist in the Taile and Evi @ Adventuring Through Pages, The word for this month’s challenge is schwarmerei. You can find the prompt post for this month here.

Tracklist: i. temperature – machel montano; ii. do it – tuxedo; iii. happy – c2c; iv. harder better faster stronger – daft punk; v. champion – fall out boy; vi. someone new – hozier; vii. don’t stop me now – queen; viii. two fux – adam lambert

Opening Night at Black Panther

My completely spoiler-free review.

1) IT’S AMAZING

2) See #1

I want to say that I hope this media trend continues wherein we have these Gen Xers and older Millennials making media for audiences, but especially younger audiences, saying we don’t have to keep doing things the same way they’ve always been done just because that’s the way they’ve always been done. We can change. We can leave the past where it belongs, in the past.

We can look at our forefathers mistakes and we can do something different.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at The Truman

My hand has a stamp of Harry Truman’s face on it. Such is my life after having attended a concert at one of the newer concert venues in Kansas City, The Truman. It’s really a glorified warehouse, a big open concrete room with a bar in the front and a bar in the back and a stage that doesn’t offer much line of sight unless you’re standing in the front. Or, if like me and my concert pal, you find some bar stools and a cocktail table. From there, perched uncomfortably on metal stools, I could sort of make out the head and shoulders and the occasional peek of a drums and a guitar or two of the two bands we went to see Tuesday night: Night Beats, and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.

Really, we went for BRMC. As one might expect if you’re at all familiar with the band. They’re a rock/rockabilly kind of band complete with heavy drums and the intermittent use of a harmonica. I was somehow, through the musical browsing I often do, introduced to BRMC by their song “Beat the Devil’s Tattoo”. Which at the time became an anthem of sorts for a Dragon Age story I was writing with a good friend of mine.

War is Never Cheap Here is a post-Origins Dragon Age story about the disgraced war hero, Cauthrien and the distrusted Bann, Teagan Guerrin. I couldn’t get enough of that song when we were writing it and as the title might give away, we leaned in heavy to the theme and lyrics. In fact the whole playlist was pretty thematically monarchist and war heavy. Rightfully so. It’s still one of my favorite stories. We wrote more after that, but even many, many years later, I’m still very proud of that one.

So that was my introduction to them years ago and since then, while I’ve put that song in a pretty regular rotation along with a few others from that album, Beat the Devil’s Tattoo, I don’t listen to much of the rest of their catalog on a regular basis. But, I’m a fan of concerts and this seemed like such a good opportunity to hear one of my favorite songs in a new way.

I’ll say this, most of the shows I got to are metal or goth concerts. Occasionally, I’ll stray outside those genres for a show, but the vast majority are one of those two. BRMC isn’t far off, but it’s just enough off that the crowd for this show was different. Older, for one. Quieter, for another. They weren’t as rowdy a crowd as I’d expect from a rock concert, nor did many people seem to be singing/shouting along as I’d expect.

The song I came to see was the third song in, which surprised me a great deal, given it’s popularity. But it became quickly apparent that this band was in it for the long haul. They went from fast to slow, from old to new, and there was very little talking between. This is a group of musicians that are just up there to play, and the audience was really just along for the ride. I appreciate that.

We had to cut out a little early because it was a week night, but man, after two full hours they seemed to only just be getting their second wind. If I had to rate The Truman, they’re a solid 2/5 out of all the venues I’ve seen concerts at. But BRMC was amazing and totally worth the discomfort of concrete floors and metal stools. If they come back, I’ll see them again — hopefully they’ll show up a different venue if there’s a next time.

Poetry: Alternate Universe by Olivia Gatwood & TedxABQ “We Find Each Other in the Details”

“Alternate Universe” is a strong poem. It speaks to the nature of emotional investments not just in relationships but in ourselves and the effects of misogyny on both. It’s simple, it’s funny, and Olivia’s performance of it is awesome.

I think my favorite line is this: “I have so much beautiful time.”

I found Olivia’s poetry through this TedxABQ talk she did about finding each other in the details. Personally, I’m a big believer in small moments. Small moments where we give thanks, or love, or support or just memory to someone or something. She speaks there about a simple interaction between her and her best friend that she turned into a poem, and uses it to show the audience how she teaches others to write poems too.
In this, she tells us it’s about the details. We can tell stories about small things that are also about big things too. How a story or a poem about a bikini can also become a story about fat-shaming or body positivity or self-acceptance. If you’re a writer, it’s a really good way to think about framing devices. If you’re a human, it’s just a good way to think. 

Music: Judy Blume by Amanda Palmer

Yesterday was Judy Blume’s 80th birthday.

Judy Blume’s stories were the sort of human stories that we needed as kids, the stories that told us we weren’t alone with our weird thoughts… or we were but maybe we weren’t as weird as we thought we were. For those of us who grew up with the works of Judy Blume, I think we each have a book that hit us harder than others, one story that really spoke to us.

For me, that was It’s Not the End of the World.

My parents were already divorced by the time I was old enough to read It’s Not the End of the World, but that didn’t make it any less profound to read for me. The way Karen thinks about being at her parents houses when they’re separated, the way she deals with thoughts about her own future relationships, and what you feel like your house must look like to other people.

For Judy’s birthday, Amanda Palmer has written this really lovely tribute to the way stories change us, how reading books like the ones Judy wrote make us who we become. The video is full of Amanda’s piano playing, singing and a lot, a lot of people reading Judy Blume books. It’s amazingly sweet.

Music: Walk on the Wild Side by Lou Reed (Cover by Jordan Mackampa)

If you’re not super into YouTube or music, you might not know about this great channel called Mahogany. Since 2010 the Mahogany channel has been putting together these great studio sessions for indie music creators. Their videos are beautifully shot, with amazing sound and they’ve introduced me to some really fantastic creators.

Today they launched a new series: Covers. And it started with this really soft and amazing cover of the popular Lou Reed song, Walk on the Wild Side by Jordan Mackampa. This first video is shot in a really fantastic profile, half-silhouette and based on their teaser it looks like that might be the standard for these sessions, which is cool. It also looks like you’ll be able to keep up with the Covers sessions on Spotify here, if that’s your kind of thing.

If you like Jordan’s voice, check out a session he did with his original song, Open Arms, which has been one of my favorite finds from Mahogany for a long while. 

Artwork: Libro de Pequeñas Manchas de Tinta

My friend Summer runs a poultry sanctuary, A Flock Between Pastures, where she’s been caring for roosters, hens and peacocks for the last three years. She’s also an artist, creating wonderful drawings and unique handcrafted pottery. Recently, she’s collected her works from Inktober (last October) into a handcrafted a book full of awesome ink drawings and a collection of rituals, spells and practices to go along with them.

From her shop description
Completely handmade booklet of my Inktober 2017 project, Libro de Pequeñas Manchas de Tinta has 31 illustrations, plus background information on each. Also included in the booklet is a brief explanation of my thought process in making this booklet and putting the theme for Inktober 2017 together.

  • Cover is card stock with embossed logo
  • Interior pages of the booklet are all handmade
  • Lokta paper from Nepal 
  • Binding is waxed linen thread, hand bound
  • Each copy is handmade, signed, and numbered.

This book is for sale now at her storeenvy shop: http://uzisuzuki.storenvy.com/products/23013543-inktober-2017-booklet. For $15 you can help support an artist and get an amazing handcrafted book.

While you’re there, check out her other awesome drawings and ceramic work.

And please check out her website to learn more about her sanctuary, A Flock Between Pastures and the Patreon she’s set up to help keep it running.

As a patron, you will be helping to feed the animals of A Flock Between Pastures on a monthly basis and get access to merchandise and artwork at a discounted price, exclusive one-of-a-kind digital artwork, videos, and more. You can also “sponsor” any of the birds and get a monthly care package from them, if you want.

Book: How to Be a Bawse by Lilly Singh

I’m way behind. Bawse came out last year, and I just finished it yesterday. Though truthfully, I’ve been reading it about a chapter or two at a time since I got it on release day.

This book is beautiful: thick demi-gloss pages, giant high quality pictures of Lilly at the start of every chapter, and bright, colorful graphics for pull quotes and end of chapter checklists. It’s not exactly what I expected, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You know, by the look and feel of this book, it seems very much like it wants to be a coffee table book. It does make an impact.

Through fifty chapters, Lilly outlines her values and ideas on achieving success in very clear, simple language. Given her YouTube audience, I’m not really in her demographic… but I am a regular viewer of her content because I find her brand of positive and confident hustle inspiring. Which it’s meant to be but not just for her audience but also for herself. And I’d be willing to be that’s exactly what her actual demographic finds so attractive as well.

Her ideas aren’t new, not groundbreaking, but they are presented in a way that makes them easily digestible for her audience. And at the end of each chapter she provides a little space to write your own checklist of people, things, places that will help you achieve whatever idea she’s just presented.

I’ve read a few self-help kind of books in my time and this one definitely breaks out from the norm. Mostly due to the way each chapter is presented. But also, Lilly’s brand of positive reinforcement and her very easily accessible brand of humor makes it feel like a conversation. I’ll also say that I think the fact that if you do watch her videos or her vlog, you can see that these aren’t just words she’s written down. This book doesn’t break from the person she shows so openly in her vlogs. You can see that this kind of positive hustle is the same thing she applies to her own success, daily.

I say that, and I think that two decades ago, this book might’ve really changed my mind. However I think that at my current age, having struggled to get to where I am in my own life, a lot of her values are things I’ve already learned or applied. They’re concepts that you learn with experience. If you take them to heart early in life though, maybe you’ll be a step up from the rest. Will you have 13 million YouTube followers? Probably not. But, maybe you could have a good start on where you want to be someday.