The literary community is mourning: poet Maya Angelou passed away today at the age of 86. What a smart, lovely person she was; what a comforting thought it is to envision her soul rising to the Heavens.
Today Conor Oberst released a music video for the single "Zigzagging Toward the Light." I watched it as soon as I woke up this morning and I must say that it's quite brilliant. But wait--isn't everything that Conor releases brilliant? The answer is yes.
Watch the video here and see what I mean by that compl "b-word":
So far, 2014 has been a productive year for me. I'm enjoying the time and flexibility I have to work on my creative writing outside of my day job, which involves writing columns and feature articles for two newspapers in my hometown.
In case you're wondering, here are the projects I'm currently working on:
1. A manuscript of essays that I want to take you around corners and by surprise (I'm hoping to have this manuscript ready within the next few months; from there, I've got a great publisher in mind).
2. A super kick-ass art project that soon you'll be able to purchase via my website (anticipated release date: summer-fall 2014)
3. Another kick-ass project that I'm pretty sure no one has ever done before. It is bound to make you stop, drop, and roll (by this I mean that it's on FI-YAAAAAA!).
Conor Oberst's latest album, "Upside-Down Mountain," was released yesterday. I spent my afternoon listening to it on repeat, and I intend to do the same today. Get to know it a little bit more, you know?
In the meantime, here's the song that stood out the most for me during the first listen:
I would argue that this is one of the sweetest songs that Conor has ever written.
My friend Andy moved to Colorado and joined a band called Vetta Star. Like the good friend that he is, he lets me know when they release new songs and videos. Here's the latest; enjoy!
P.S. Andy's on bass :)
So everyone's talking about the MJ hologram that performed at this year's Billboard Music Awards in Vegas. After having seen Cirque du Soleil's spectacular "ONE" show at Mandalay Bay and how they also incorporated a hologram into that performance, I must say that I don't have a problem with this overall idea. Many fans may disagree, saying that the Billboard performance was "upsetting" or "disappointing," but . . . honestly . . . I think Michael would've gotten a kick out of all this. Besides, what better way to honor and feel Michael's presence than a lifelike hologram? We can't have the real thing anymore, so this must be the next best. (Right?) And whoever put the performance together made sure that every move was on point. Sorry, but that performance was MJ through and through--every step, every finger point, every turn of the head. (Trust me--if it weren't, I wouldn't be writing this nod of approval.) Was the hologram a little strange to see? Yes, sure. It wasn't perfect, but it was respectable, and I am thrilled that MJ is still getting the love and attention that he deserves. We can't let anyone forget about him. It would be a disservice to the world and to the music business.
To watch Hologram MJ do his 'thang, click play below:
Have 30 seconds to spare? If so, check out my new published piece on theNewerYork's Electronic Encyclopedia of Experimental Literature (theEEEL). It's called "The Evolution of Punctuation," and you can access it here :)
I love this song by Passenger:
The lyrics that caught my attention while I was writing in my favorite coffee shop were these:
"Well we wish we were happier, thinner, and fitter / We wish we weren't losers and liars and quitters / We want something more, not just nasty and bitter / We want something real, just not hash tags and Twitter."
I was automatically reminded of last summer, when I spent an entire month "unplugged." It was wonderful. In fact, I would recommend it.
Likewise, this song by Phosphorescent is spectacular. Please, if you do anything today, click on the play button. If you regret it, send me an email. I look forward to not hearing from you ;)
Main Idea/Thesis: It was as crazy and as good as I expected it to be.
Did Amber and I meet a bunch of cool kids in the ginormous line outside of Consol Energy Center on Thursday evening? Yes. Did Gaga have numerous costume changes? You betcha. Did she play all the hits for which she is known? Yup. DID SHE PLAY "ALEJANDRO"? YES! Check it out:
NOTE: THE ABOVE VIDEO IS NOT ENCODING. MY WEBSITE IS JUST BEING A DORK.
I would go see Gaga again (the lady CAN sing), BUT she needs to appear on stage way sooner than 9:15 p.m. Waiting so long--especially while having to stand the whole time (one of the joys of general admin, friends)--was starting to get tedious. Just sayin'. Everything else about the show was great. Gaga seemed grateful to her fans in a really genuine way, and the stage layout was convenient in that anyone who had a general admission ticket got a pretty spectacular view, thanks to the installed runways. Besides, I must say that it was quite fun to see lots of boys and girls go goo-goo over Gaga. Hehe :)
Today Pittsburgh Gives is raising money for a number of wonderful charities. The Challenge Program, Inc. is one of them.
The Challenge Program, Inc. is a non-profit organization that awards 10th, 11th and 12th grade students in five categories: Attendance, Academic Improvement, Academic Excellence, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and Community Service.
When I was in high school, I received three Community Service awards (cha-ching!). But The Challenge Program, Inc. gave me more than three checks for $250; they gave me something much more valuable: a first class ticket to the beginning of my career as writer. Without TCP, I wouldn't be where I am today. It was through this wonderful organization that my career as a writer traveled skyward . . . and I am forever grateful.
Also, as soon as I graduated from high school, I was given an internship at TCP. This turned out to be a wonderful work experience for me, and, again, I had the opportunity to meet new people and make additional connections. How wonderful it was to know that so many people believed in me; I was only 18.
I also feel compelled to mention that at the beginning of this year, I had the opportunity to travel to Seattle to read my work at an event hosted in conjunction with this year's AWP Writer's Conference. The executive director of this organization opened up her own personal checkbook and gave me a small donation, writing in an email, "You are still one of the family," and "You are one of my best investments!" Case in point: the people running this organization are INVESTING in these students BEYOND high school. They believe in them. They want to change their lives.
I know this because The Challenge Program changed mine.
Please, if you can, show your support by making a donation today (you have until midnight to do so). Here's how it works: any contribution TCP receives ranging from $25 to $1,000 will be partially matched by The Pittsburgh Foundation, meaning all
contributions will ultimately count for more!
To donate to TCP or other organizations hoping to raise funds for all the good work they do throughout the year, click here. And to learn more about TCP, click here.
Fiction, poetry, and all that good stuff . . .