“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I woke up this morning and for some reason was really, really missing a comedy pop culture video series that sadly ended pretty abruptly last December. Until recently, the Cracked website also had an active YouTube channel where every month for the last few years (since around 2011) they’ve produced a series called, After Hours.
After several active years on YouTube the staff and producers for the Cracked website were fired, effectively ending the run of all their YouTube series in order to focus more fully on the website. Now I don’t know what must’ve gone on behind closed doors over at Cracked, but I think cutting all their YouTube shows was a pretty fucking stupid idea. But, I’m probably biased.
What I can say is that I really miss their brand of humor, their political statements and the stabs they took at analyzing and making light of pop culture. Specifically, After Hours.
The After Hours series showed four friends sitting around a diner table debating pop culture questions. Like crazy internet theories about The Simpsons, or which movie about ghosts was the best for the ghosts. Or, which movie has the best version of Hell. These weren’t always funny but they were always insanely well researched and well argued.
This morning when I was getting ready for work, I realized how much I really missed that series and that group of characters (and writers). Daniel O’Brien, Soren Bowie, Michael Swaim and Katie Willert all portrayed these friends and pop culture fanatics with a great deal of charm. After Hours was a great series and it’s really only one of the many series Cracked produced on YouTube that were charming, interesting and memorable.
Anyway. I thought since I was missing it and rewatching some old favorites, I’d share them with you and hope that if you never watched one before you give it a try now. [Also, I don’t necessarily want to advocate for a company that literally fired all the video staff I loved, soooooooooooooo idk, watch with adblock on. Or don’t, because that would be WRONG? Who am I to say.]
PS. And let me do a little legwork for fannish people. If you like like After Hours, you might find yourself here someday.
If you start with the video below it goes right into the playlist.
Also, if you’e got a minute, go give Starline Hodge some love. She often wrote for the show and did background acting as the waitress, which were always great bits. She created a great web comic called Rubi Whipple that more people should read.
I don’t have anything much to say about this video except that it’s super cool. It’s a dubstep medley of The Force Awakens, Duel of Fates and Imperial March done on a bagpipe, accompanied by a violin and a DJ on a launchpad. Also, this badass piper has the coolest horned dragon skull on her bagpipe and I love it.
I’ve already written about how much I love the new Fall Out Boy album and specifically the song, “Champion”. I don’t want to spend a bunch of time talking about all the songs on the album that I am loving, especially since every time I listen to it all the way through I’m finding something new I like. Some of the songs didn’t strike me at first but have definitely become more interesting and enjoyable upon repeated listening.
However, more than any other songs on the album, even more than “Champion”, I love the songs “Church” and “Heaven’s Gate”. I have a strong affinity for media that works with Christian mythologies and symbolism. Both songs heavily rely on Christian or church themes to talk about love. Plus, they’re just pretty enjoyable pop songs, with catchy lyrics and melodies. I have a hard time getting either of them out of my head once I’ve started listening.
But instead of going in-depth about the songs themselves, because I’m not about to breakdown the lyrics or anything like that, I thought I’d share this video I found from Rolling Stone’s series, Levels. In it, Patrick Stump gives an interesting look at the musical makeup of “Church”.
As much as I love lyrical analysis, I also really enjoy listening to artists talk about the process (both pre- and post- studio work) of putting a song together. I especially enjoyed learning about how a song can progress from Patrick’s original, which was more of a downer, to the finished version. If you’re a bit of a music nerd like me, check it out.
I mentioned the other day when I was talking about the new Fall Out Boy album and the song, “Champion”, a poet, Andrea Gibson. Specifically I wrote about a line from their poem “I Sing the Body Electric (Especially When My Power’s Out)”. I can’t even remember the first time I heard this poem but it was many years ago now, and the video of it I’m pasting below came out after I’d seen a live recording of them reciting the poem at some school. So I’m guessing eight-ish years ago or so. I included a picture in that other post of the tattoo I have of a line from this specific poem. I’m not the only one to have had that line tattooed on themself either, but I think it speaks differently to different people.
A few years back I was finally able to see Andrea live at a bar about 45 minutes from my house. To say the experience was meaningful to me would be a severe understatement. See, what I didn’t know when I fell in love with this poem was that Andrea wrote it in dealing with a chronic illness of their own. But, I felt that connection something powerful because my own battle with Fibromyalgia was the main reason I wanted the tattoo in the first place. So imagine my complete shock but also incredible thankfulness at hearing the story behind that poem just before I heard them recite it in person.
After that show, I was first in line to meet them at their merch booth, having purchased their latest book at the time “Pansy” prior to the show.
(An aside: I consider myself a pretty level-headed person. Pretty even-keeled. I don’t freak out about much, it’s not an act… it just takes a lot to illicit an emotional reaction from me, especially about things I enjoy. It doesn’t mean I enjoy them less, I’m just generally not easily excitable. That’s just me. I say that so you know what it means when I write this next part.)
I went to that merch table, first in line, and Andrea came up from the stage to sit behind it. I took one look at them and I think I lost my fucking mind. I handed Andrea the book I bought and tried desperately to show them the tattoo on my arm through a face full of tears. I cried like a baby as I attempted to explain what exactly it all meant to me. I failed miserably of course, though Andrea was gracious and extended a hug to me over the table. Thankfully my friend Amy gently guided me away with my signed book in hand a moment later.
Now maybe it was different because I’d just spent the better part of two hours on a fantastic emotional roller coaster of their own making, as I listened to them recite some of my favorite poems in the world. As well as a ton of new ones I either hadn’t heard or were brand new to the book in my hands. So it’s a fair bet that my emotional stability had faltered quite a bit by the end of the show.
Their book, Pansy, I of course devoured over the next day and a half. And fell in love with a poem about Andrea’s dog, I think most dog-lovers can feel pretty sappy about, “A Letter to My Dog: Exploring the Human Condition”. It makes me cry every time.
Listen, I know that spoken word poetry isn’t for everyone. That freestyle poetry isn’t for everyone. That political, gender, lgbt poetry isn’t for everyone. That poetry… isn’t for everyone.
That’s cool. It doesn’t have to be. But if you’ve not listened or read one of Andrea’s poems before, give it a shot. Doesn’t have to be one of these. There’s pages all over the place to find their work. And there’s not just “Pansy” or their newest album “Hey Galaxy”, or newest book, “Take Me with You”, there are others. Books, albums, videos… poems in a format easy to consume but maybe not so easy to digest.
If you want to try others, start with the artists at Write Bloody and see where it takes you.
I have tickets for Friday to see Andrea speak live again. And I’m already freaking out about it.
I go to a lot of live shows. I LOVE live music and comedy and I have many favorites. And many of them have helped me through some pretty dark and tough times. But there’s something magical about spoken word poetry heard live. And for me, even more so about Andrea’s poetry, not just because I enjoy it but because I find so much of myself in it.
There are several new songs off the new Fall Out Boy album that I’m in love with, namely “Church” and “Heaven’s Gate” which have themes I tend to really like it songs. They’re also catchy as hell. However, those aren’t the ones I want to share.
Instead let me share with you a song for all the bad days that if you’re like me, get a little bit better with a good song. Champion is a song about making it through. About coming out stronger on the other side of something. About knowing you can live through something tough.
It reminds me a lot of my tattoo, which is a line from an Andrea Gibson poem, “I Sing the Dream Electric, but Only When My Power’s Out”. I have on my arm a portion of this line:
“I said to the sun, tell me about the Big Bang The sun said, ‘It hurts to become.‘”
I like that line because it reminds me that we all go through tough times, but it’s the moments we experience and get through that shape us and make us what we are.
I’m kind of a huge music nerd. Not a snob, because I like just about anything you put in front of my ears. I pride myself a little on having an ear for what’s good or bad. In fact, when I was much younger and was buying tapes and later cds as they were released, I used to challenge myself to figure out which would be the next song released from the album for the radio. I feel like I did pretty well.
Although my access to new music was more and more restricted as I grew up and my family got more and more into the church. By high school, I only kept up with as much new music as I could pack into every other weekend at my dad’s, since my parents were separated.
In recent years, I’ve really enjoyed having access to streaming services and YouTube. I signed up for a Google Music account pretty much as soon as it was possible. And I became a subscriber when that became an option. My Google Music subscription gives me YouTube Red access and whatever mess YouTube has going on currently, I like being able to have ad-free access to new and upcoming artists.
I used to do this thing on my tumblr where I boosted videos from YouTube that I was really into and I think I want to bring that over here.
Here’s my first one. I’ve turned a bunch of my friends on to this guy through his metal covers of Disney songs (which are fabulous). Jonathan Young has an absolutely amazing voice and a really great ability to make a song his own. I’ve been enjoying this latest cover from him: “Unravel” from Tokyo Ghoul. Give it a listen.