Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Power of Music

Music - the universal language, expressed beautifully by Ji-Hae Park. I will let her tell her story in her own beautiful way. It's a story of the power of music.


Reading and writing are my passions, but very close behind is music. It does all the things that reading and writing do, without a word. It carries us away. It takes us back in time or to a future that we dream of. It takes us deep within ourselves and beyond ourselves. It expresses our sorrow and our joy. It's the expression of our hearts. It unites us regardless of who we are, where we are from, or what our journey has been. It unites us as human beings that share the same emotions.

The following video is another of Ji-Hae Park. In this one she performs some gospel music. I don't think it matters that the words that go with the music are religious, you don't know that just from watching the video. What you do know from watching the video, is that the music is so very important to her. Her passion, her connection with the music is obvious, and contagious.

"You don't have a soul. You are a soul". - C. S. Lewis

Music touched the soul of Ji-Hae Park. Such is the power of music. 


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Passion Makes All the Difference

I agree completely with Ms Graham. It is passion that makes a dancer great. I would extend that to any kind of artist. Great musicians aren't great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion. The same for great singers, painters, writers, any kind of artist. Which is not to say that technique is not important, it is. But it's the passion that makes the artist stand out.

I was never by any stretch of the imagination a great musician or dancer, but I have done both. I miss both greatly and want to do both again.

I was very good at both, not great, but very good. One thing I learned has really stuck with me over the years. There were songs I knew by heart and loved to play on the piano. I practiced them over and over and over until I didn't need music.  I didn't think about it. I just put my hands on the keyboard and played. It was at these times that I was my best.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Precious Gift I Received 17 Years Ago

My little girl turns 17 today. In a year, that girl that thought the little tea set with pink flowers all over it was the best thing on the planet will be 18 and out in the big world on her own. It simply doesn't seem possible. 

I'll never forget her second Halloween when she dressed up like Piglet or how she always wanted to sit on the kitchen counter and watch me cook. I'll never forget going on walks and having to stop every few yards so she could squat down and watch the ants on the ground or watching tears fill her eyes when her Elmo balloon slipped off her wrist and floated away.

When she is out there on her own I will worry as every parent does. But this is a strong girl.  

"It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! Now if you know what you’re worth then go out and get what you’re worth. But ya gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain’t you! You’re better than that! " 
My girl is no coward. She is strong. She has had some hits in her life already and they have shaped her into the beautiful person she is. But she is young and life will hit her hard many more times in years to come. And I will be there for her every single time. I will always love her, no matter what. No matter what happens. I will always be there to help her find her strength and to help her stand again when life knocks her on her backside.

She has a strength that inspires me every day. On those days that I'm trying not to let my struggle to just put one foot in front of the other show, she sees it and hooks her elbow in mine and encourages me or hugs me and tells me she loves me. And when I see she is having one of those days she sits on my bed and we talk and go to Starbucks for one of her favorite drinks. 

She's special and strong and beautiful in every way. On the day she was born 17 years ago I knew I had been given a precious gift. I had no idea what an amazing and blessed experience being her mother would be.

Happy birthday Panda. I love you more than I can say.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Frank X Walker - Kentucky's Youngest and First Black Poet Laureate

On Wednesday, April 24 Frank X Walker, age 53, became Kentucky's youngest and first black Poet Laureate. He is an associate professor in the University of Kentucky's English Department and Director of the school's African American and Africana Studies program. He received his journalism  degree from UK. Walker's "Affrilachia" was published in 2000 and is was responsible for spreading both his name and his message of the role of African Americans in the history of the Appalachian region internationally. Walker has written six books of poetry, his latest being "Turn Me Loose: the Unghosting of Medgar Evers".

Walker was raised by his two sisters and his late mother in the projects of Danville, KY where he got more excited about the bookmobile's visits to his neighborhood than other kids got about the ice cream truck. In fact, as a child, he considered the driver of that bookmobile to be his dream job.

Governor Stephen Beshear described Walker in this way:
“To read Frank X Walker is to sometimes leave yourself emotionally exhausted. His poems take you to uncomfortable places – cemeteries and prisons, street corners, mountain hollers, playgrounds, poverty, the kitchen of an angry mother, the heart of an anxious father," said Beshear. "And you leave these scenes both drained of energy and a little bit more enlightened. He helps you recognize things about yourself, including things you'd rather not embrace. And he does this in the context of Kentucky's complex history.” 
Below is one of his poems from "Affrilachia". It is titled "Statues of Liberty" and honors the strong women that raised him.
mamma scrubbed
rich white porcelain
and hard wood floors
on her hands and knees
hid her pretty face and body
in sack dresses
and aunt jemima scarves
from predators
who assumed
for a few extra dollars
before Christmas
in dark kitchen pantries
they could unwrap her
aunt helen, her sister
took in miss emereen’s laundry
every Sunday morning
sent it back
hand washed, air dried,
ironed, folded
and cleaner
than any professional service

she waited patiently
for her good white woman
to die
and make good on her promise
to leave her
a little something
only to leave her first

aunt bertha, the eldest
exported her maternal skills
to suburbia
to provide surrogate attention
to children of money and privilege
and spent every other moment
preaching about
the richness of the afterlife
before the undertaker
took her
to see for herself

washer women
a whole generation
of portable day care centers
traded their days for dimes
allowing other women
the freedom to shop
and sunbathe
the opportunity to school
or work

this curse-swallowing sorority
dodged dicks
and bosses
before postwar women
punched clocks
they birthed civil and human rights
gave the women’s movement
sacrificed their then
to pave the way for a NOW
their hard-earned pennies
sent us off to college
and into the world
our success is their reward
are their monuments
but they
are our statues of liberty

You can check out Mr Walker's web site by clicking here.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Souls and Bodies

“You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body” 
C.S. Lewis

When live sucks my self-esteem down the drain, I sometimes have a little talk with myself. (Don’t judge me, it works). One thing I may tell myself during one of these talks is

“I am not _____ “,

and I fill in the blank. Such as, when an unexpected expense comes along and drains my bank account after months of scrimping and saving and finally getting to a point where I was beginning to see a glimmer of light at the end of the dark tunnel, I may tell myself – 

“I am not my bank account”. 

Sounds silly, right? Of course I’m not my bank account. We are separate from each other. We sometimes define ourselves by things like bank accounts however. 

Do you like to “people watch”? I do. One day when you are in a crowded place, look around at the bodies moving all around you and think of them as what they are - containers. The body
of that sweet little girl isn’t who she is. She is the innocent joy that fills the soul within her. She may also be the hurt that comes from losing a parent at a tender age.

That boy’s teenage, clumsy, pimply-faced body is not who he is. He is the persistence within that deals with the constant conflict between his desire to fit in and his desire to do what he knows is right. That woman is not her 80-year-old body. She is the spirit within that body that was shaped by living through wars, losing friends and relatives over the years, witnessing things you never imagine when you look at an 80 year old body. The souls that are these people are contained by the bodies you see.

“You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body”.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Writing Prompt - Dear Father

I should begin by saying that this is in no way based on my relationship with my own father. He was, and is, a wonderful, loving father. This is not about him. And now the writing. 
When I was six years old I had the nerve to go outside to play with my friends, leaving a messy room behind. You screamed in front of my friends “get in here you spoiled brat”, then made me stand in the corner of my room as you threw every toy I had left out at me. I’m sorry dear father.

At ten my failure to wash the dishes and vacuum the den earned me a race around the house with you yelling at me that I was useless and a poor excuse for a daughter. You sprayed your beer-infused spit in my face as you screamed at me, tears running down my face. I’m sorry. It won’t happen again
dear father.

At twelve, you couldn’t find your precious coin collection and were convinced that I stole it. You yelled at me that you were going out to get shit-faced and that if you died that night it would be my fault. I ran out after you to stop you. If I had not moved in time you would have backed right over me in your haste to get to the bar. Please don’t die tonight dear father.

Now, at 16, you were drunk by noon, again. Going on and on to me about how ugly I was, that no one would ever want me. And why don’t I put some clothes on because I look like a tramp. I’m sorry my shorts and t-shirt offend you, you SOB. It’s 85 fucking degrees outside. I turned to go to my room and you stumbled your way down the hall behind me. I was leaning over next to my bed when you walked in. You slapped my ass you pervert. I’ll never forget the look on your face when you felt the end of the barrel of the gun in your chest. Go to hell dear father.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Boston Marathon Tragedy

There is so much to say about the Boston Marathon. The world is both infuriated and heartbroken by such senseless acts of violence. These things become politicized. Politicians and interest groups use them to support their cause. Beneath all that though are humans. Yes, there are larger issues related to such occurrences and we can not overlook them. We divide ourselves because of religion or race or ethnicity or political views, but in the end we share a human experience. We all mourn terrorist acts that kill and injure so many people. 

In the video below John Greene speaks to this. The video isn't about politics or any agenda. It's about people. About our shared humanity and what it means to be an American.

In Mr. Greene's face, voice and body language I see the variety of emotions we all feel - anger, sadness, and frustration. I see him reminding himself and all of us that even when violence like this that we can not begin to wrap our minds around happens, good continues in the world

Sunday, April 21, 2013

I'm Baaaack!

 Well, my friends, I've been away for a bit but I'm happy to say I'm back. When things creep into my life that keep me from focusing on the important things, I feel scattered. I was getting that feeling recently and knew I had to re-evaluate things. I planned to take a few days away in order to do this. The rest was a handful of unpredictable things life likes to throw our way now and then.

My team at my day job recently developed a vision statement. What do we aspire to? Why should others care about us and the work we do? When I apply these questions to my blog, I know the answers right away, but my actions haven't been supporting my vision. 

There are some very good indie authors and I am very happy to promote them and their work in any way I can. I was in overdrive on this though. I was doing nothing but promoting
indie authors. This is important to me, but my blog is about more than this. 

In one sentence, my vision for my blog is to brighten your little piece of the earth and make you think.  I want to do this through art, music, humor, books, or something I write. I will spend more time on this from now on. I miss it. I love getting comments or emails that tell me what you think - good or bad. Communicate with me in either of these ways so I can give you more of what you like and less of what you don't like.

Time to get back at it. I'm glad to be back. Happy dance!


Thursday, April 4, 2013

My Fascinating Interview with the Author of "Blood Related" - William Cook

William Cook, author of the great "Blood Related" was kind enough to answer a few questions I had about his book, horror, and the writing experience. He had some fascinating answers. Enjoy!

1. Well I guess I have to ask the question at the top of my mind first. I loved "Blood Related", I thought it was a fascinating read. It is very graphic and very violent so I must ask about where all that came from. I'm assuming you aren't a serial killer so you must have done a great deal of research. Wondering about where you went for that research.

I don’t know why but I’ve had a fascination with the darker side of humanity ever since I was a teenager. I am a huge Horror fan; movies, books, art, theory. I’d say that this obsession comes from the same source. In fact if I hadn’t channeled my predilection for darkness into the writing of Horror I would hate to think where it would’ve taken me otherwise! ‘Blood Related’ is a story about a family of serial killers, each with varying degrees of psychopathology. The two central characters are twin brothers, one who is of the psychotic variety and the other a more organized and cunning psychopath, and yes there is a difference. I researched as much about abnormal psychology as I did about serial killers and their methods and characteristics. Most serial killers are basically psychopathic, of reasonable intelligence, appear normal when occasion calls, and so on. And of course this is one of many aspects to a complex and evolving criminal psychology. I read both fiction and non-fictional accounts of these fiendish characters in order to get inside the mind of these killers. I’m not sure if I’d write another first-person narrative from a serial killer’s perspective; at times it was quite harrowing and disturbing to envisage the kind of thought processes these people operate with. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

"Blood Related" by William Cook - Review and Giveaway





"I remember looking at Charlie and noticing he was visibly erect as he stood there staring, trembling with excitement and fear.
The sick fuck.

I would never stoop to be so obvious.

How tactless!
My curiosity got the better of me and I made the mistake of asking Pa why they had to die and, just before he knocked me unconscious, he said that they were a ‘present for a pig.’ Later on, I would find out for myself exactly who Ray Truman was and what he was capable of."

My Review

“Blood Related” is a fascinating journey through the mind and life of a third-generation serial killer. He is both a victim and a victimizer. He is deeply damaged and mentally ill. He embraces and is turned on by his murderous lifestyle.  He finds fulfillment in it and sees it as an expression of who he is. But he also knows it’s wrong and dreams of “one day becoming a better person”.