My Pop Culture Digest – September 2020

Music

For music, along with sprinkling in a whole host of other albums, the ones I’m listening to over and over are largely unchanged from last month. folklore, Gaslighter, Such Pretty Forks in the Road and Petals for Armor are my mainstays.

Taylor Swift

Earlier this month, Taylor performed “betty” for the Academy of Country Music Awards ceremony. This was the song that got to me most on my first listen to folklore and has stayed one of my favorites off the album ever since, so of course I tuned in. I don’t have cable, but, there are ways around that.

Her performance was pitch-perfect, from the music to her voice to the outfit to the guitar. Here it is:

Since this was on TV and all, she had to change “Would you tell me to go fuck myself?” to “Would you tell me to go straight to hell?” and it most definitely doesn’t have the same punch as the original line. God I hope we get live concerts again before too long because I want to scream this line, the real line, along with Taylor and tens of thousands of fans. I miss live music.

I hope one day, I can play this song on guitar. I reeeeeeeally want folklore guitar and piano books!

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Believe You Can – A Virtual Talent Show

believeyoucanflyer

On October 17th, myself and several other blind and visually-impaired performers are taking to the virtual stage to showcase all kinds of talents. There will be singers and musicians and spoken word artists and even, I’m told, a clogging tutorial. I’m not even sure what clogging is, but I’m excited to find out!

For my part of the show, I’ll be reading a prose piece. I’m deciding between two (and both are ones I’ve read at other events). I just have to read both over, pick one, and edit out the swearing. I’m assuming this is a family-friendly audience, while most of my live reading spoken word type stuff has always been among adults.

The event benefits the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania and is part of Meet the Blind Month, which happens yearly every October.

I’m looking forward to sharing my work, and to experiencing the varied talents of the other performers.

Here’s the flyer in link form:
Believe You Can Flyer

And here’s a link for tickets and info:
Believe You Can website

I hope to see you there!

-April

Creativity Goals Check-In September 27, 2020

goals9

Goals from Last Week – How Did it Go?

Welllll, the fact that I’m writing this post a day late should say something. It was probably the roughest week yet.

Writing

  • work on Moonchild (writing project) all seven days – four.
  • work on blog at least five days – three.
  • at least seven sessions of digitizing old writing – I don’t think I did any?
  • craft and send an important tweet – I did this one. Now that it’s done I can say what it is. I tweeted my leaving med school post at Taylor Swift. I knew it was a long shot that she would ever see it, but her album, and especially “exile” has become so inextricably linked to me leaving school, and to me telling people I’m leaving school, that I wanted to share. I think that years in the future when I look back and think of folklore, I’ll think of leaving school and telling my story.

Music

  • seven guitar practice sessions – two.
  • get up through song 100 of Book One of my Hal Leonard Guitar Method Complete Edition book – which means FINISHING BOOK ONE! – nope.
  • seven piano practice sessions – two.
  • Continuing on my quest to catch up on Technic and Composition sections previously skipped in Keyboard Musician for the Adult Beginner book, I will do the composing for Unit 4, technic and compositing for Unit 5, and technic and composing for unit 6. Then I’ll be all caught up and can continue forward – nope.

Lifestyle

  • sleep without the phone (a struggle you can read about here) – this will put me at 189 nights (27 weeks) in a row – yes. Getting extremely tenuous.
  • write Morning Pages every day – four.
  • don’t look at phone until after Morning Pages – this is back on – four.
  • Finish The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd – I’m very close to the end – and start a new book. Not sure yet what I’ll start with, as I’m in a few different book clubs and have so much I want to read – DONE, and I also read 11/22/63 by Stephen King, which is 850 pages, this week.
  • do an Artist Date – maybe? Maybe some of the reading counted? I don’t know.

Reflections on the Week

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Better Call Saul Episode 104 “Hero” Recap

Summary

Teaser

bcs104As these teasers like to do, we once again take a little trip to another point in time. This time, the time is Jimmy’s old days in Cicero, IL. Or I should I say “Slippin’ Jimmy’s” old days? For the first time, we see a con start to finish from Jimmy’s younger years.

It starts with Jimmy a guy walking about at night, talking about picking up girls, and howling like werewolves. Which like shouldn’t actually be tried as a pickup line (howl?) because I think most responses would like, umm what? and a blank stare and then a retreat. But anyway, they’re walking and talking, and then they come across a wallet. And it’s full of cash. A thousand bucks or so. Looking at the ID in the wallet they see it belongs to a guy who they see passed out in the alley.

Jimmy tries to awaken the passed out guy who grunts, flips them the finger and mumbles some beautiful drunken nonsense poetry about how he’s going to fuck them up, go into McDonald’s and get them fired (what) and it just sounds like the babbling of one very drunk dude. He quickly passes out again.

Jimmy sees his watch and takes it off the passed out man and pockets it himself. His howling friend wants to see it and reluctantly Jimmy shows it, a Rolex. Jimmy pretends not to know what that is but the howler wants the watch, saying it’s worth way more than the money. He gives Jimmy the wallet full of cash, plus $580 of his own money and Jimmy gives him the watch. The howler thinks he has won the night.

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The Artist’s Way Reflections – Synchronicity

astronomySynchronicity takes up a big section of Week Three: Recovering a Sense of Power (you can read about the rest of the chapter here). Enough that I thought it deserved its own post.

I can see why Julia Cameron put it in this chapter on Power, along with Anger and Shame and Growth. Synchronicity is the power of manifestation, of making things happen, of initiative and setting things in motion.

It’s also an aspect of this book that I struggle with. It goes back to my basic struggle with belief. With one side of me being the most hyper-rational skeptic and the other side believing (or at least wanting to) in magic and miracles.

There’s a task in one of the later chapters to record yourself (she was probably thinking tape recorders at the time) reading one of the essays in the book, and I chose this one because I struggle with it so much. (Next time, I’m picking a shorter section to record!)

Synchronicity, and My History Playing With It

When I was doing AW when I was younger, I believed in this synchronicity stuff more, and generally believed in things that could be believed in more. I was maybe a little skeptical but eager to try it out. And the results were…mixed at best.

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Seasonal Living – Autumnal Equinox – Goodbye, Summer 2020

purpleflowerOne thing I’m really trying to incorporate into my life more, and have been for, like, at least a decade, is living in tune with the seasons.

For whatever reason, seasons have always been so important to me, from when I was a kid onward. Maybe it’s the nature as spirituality part of me. Maybe it’s part of my ancestral DNA or epigenetics (I haven’t done my genealogy, but my parents have and both are very, very Irish). Maybe it’s just something that got ingrained in me at a young age and inscribed deeply. It feels pre-verbal, this love of seasons. Primal.

But it’s hard to live in tune with the seasons even if you live in them (and I don’t think I could live somewhere without them) when you’re a med student. Or a premed student juggling school and a job and research and volunteering and extracurricular activities all the time.

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The Twenty-First Anniversary of Euphoria Morning

EMTwenty-one years ago today, the twenty-first of September, Chris Cornell’s first solo album Euphoria Morning came out.

Somehow, I sorta knew it even then, in the early days of getting to know the songs, that this album would change my life. It felt epic in a way that you think, at eighteen, albums might not feel epic anymore.

In many posts, especially in recent goals posts, I’ve talked about a book project I’m working on called Moonchild. It takes its name from a song of the same title, track 8, and takes place the year Euphoria Morning came out.

Euphoria Morning has had far-reaching impacts far beyond just that year, though that’s when everything was set in motion. So many things, and people, in my life wouldn’t be the same without EM.

I always thought I’d dedicate Moonchild, if and when I ever get it published, to Chris Cornell. I thought that for years, and since I started working on this book project in 2003, for most of those years I never imagined that he wouldn’t be alive anymore and that the dedication would be to a dead man.

I still think of Euphoria Morning as the album that had the most profound, and the most tangible, impact on my life. Today, on it’s anniversary, I will listen. It’s been different listening to Chris Cornell after his death. Sometimes that’s all I can think about and sometimes it’s like it never happened.

The original title was Euphoria Mourning, and I think that fits too.

And here’s “Moonchild” the song:

The whole album is worth a listen, in full, because as cliche as it is to say this about Chris, no one sings like him anymore.

If you had to only pick a couple to listen to, I’d personally pick, along with “Moonchild” of course, “Sweet Euphoria,” “When I’m Down,” “Follow My Way,” “Disappearing One,” “Steel Rain,” and you know what, just listen to the whole damn thing.

Oh, and you must, and I mean must, listen to “Sunshower” which isn’t on the album but did come out around the same time on the Great Expectations Soundtrack. And Seasons, which was much earlier, on the Singles Soundtrack.

Happy Euphoria Morning release anniversary day!

-April

Notes:

Creativity Goals Check-In September 20, 2020

notebooksGoals from Last Week – How Did it Go?

Writing

  • work on Moonchild (writing project) all seven days – did six.
  • work on blog at least five days – did four.
  • at least seven sessions of digitizing old writing – DONE.
  • craft and send an important tweet – didn’t even think about it, will have to put this back on for next week.

Music

  • seven guitar practice sessions – did six.
  • get up through song 98 of Book One of my Hal Leonard Guitar Method Complete Edition book – just one new song this week, it has melody, harmony and rhythm parts and it’s long so it’ll be plenty to keep me busy – DONE.
  • seven piano practice sessions – DONE.
  • Continuing on my quest to catch up on Technic and Composition sections previously skipped in Keyboard Musician for the Adult Beginner book, I will do the composing for Unit 2, Technic and Composing for Unit 3, and Technic for Unit 4 – DONE.

Lifestyle

Reflections on the Week

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The Artist’s Way Reflections – Week Three: Recovering a Sense of Power

MPjournal early fallIn today’s column, I’ll look at all of the essays, exercises and tasks of Week Three in The Artist’s Way, except for Synchronicity, a fairly long section, which will be the focus of next week’s post. That’s a whole beast of a topic to tackle.

In thinking about this week and all its topics, including Synchronicity, it strikes me that this one line in the Detective Work, an Exercise section could be the topic sentence for the whole chapter. It reads:

“Many blocked people are actually very powerful and creative personalities who have been made to feel guilty about their own strengths and gifts.”

She goes on to say that:

“Made to feel guilty for their talents, they often hide their own light under a bushel for fear of hurting others. Instead, they hurt themselves.”

To my mind, all the little essays in this chapter illuminate more about these lines, and get at how we lose our power through shamings and criticisms, how we give away our power by ignoring the messages from our difficult friend Anger, and how to start to take it back with detective work, synchronicity, and finally, growth.

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Spotlight On: In the Dark Podcast Season Two and the Case of Curtis Flowers

itdThe timing here is uncanny. In the Dark was always going to be my Spotlight post for this month, but a few days ago, major news came out about the case, which I’ll link to at the end.

In the Dark is a podcast put out by APM Reports. The first season of the podcast focused on the kidnapping of Jacob Wetterling in Minnesota, one of the first missing children cases to get national attention. While they were reporting, though it was decades later, some major news came out about the case, which informed the podcast. In Season One, they discuss the case, the handling of it, and its implications on a national level. It was really well done, and the host, Madeleine Baron, has a way of reporting and interviewing that’s disarming and unassuming and supremely listenable.

Season One was good. But Season Two is in a category all its own. Madeleine and her reporting team moved to Mississippi for a year to fully investigate and report on the case of Curtis Flowers.

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