A 25 Song Playlist to Energize Your Writing

Yesterday in an online writing group, one sci-fi author wrote, “I am writing a chapter where the protagonist is (finally) leading a mutiny against her spaceship Captain. I need a playlist to write to. Taking all song suggestions!”

I threw a half dozen youtube videos at him and then decided that it might be worthwhile to compile a longer, more complete list of favorite tracks and explain how they assist me. So here you go.

I believe that essential to creative writing is the ability to shift and re-focus one’s normal state of consciousness — embracing the altered state. Thus, when I’m going to seriously write for a number of hours chances are it’ll be aided by some combination of caffeine, alcohol, sugar, exercise, and yes, specific songs. The objective of these varied methods is to prevent the mind from growing distracted and wandering to non-writing subjects. Music of numerous genres can contribute toward this shifted consciousness effect. Thus, I have chosen 25 tracks from throughout history and genres — from the Baroque era on through classic rock of the ’60s and ’70s, heavy metal and rap from the ’90s, and onto this century’s often more electronic pop songs.

I hope you find at least some of these tracks both useful and entertaining.

1. Just about anything by Bach can help inspire your writing. I love the Baroque era.

2. Vivaldi was another wonderful Baroque composer.

3 and 4. While I generally prefer the Beatles to the Rolling Stones, when it comes to kick ass, high energy tracks the Stones may have an edge.

5. While I’m trying to keep this list in rough chronological order, this track from a 2001 solo Mick Jagger album, Goddess in the Doorway, is getting placed among Stones tracks. “God Gave Me Everything” has been one of my absolute favorite, mantra-like tracks for about five years now.

Continue reading “A 25 Song Playlist to Energize Your Writing”

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April Bey’s New Show “Made In Space” Opens Today at Band Of Vices Art Gallery

I am so happy and excited for April with her third solo art exhibition opening today. Click here for directions to this new art gallery in Los Angeles. The show will be up through June 16. Below check out, via April’s instagram, some of the work-in-progress images of pieces that will be included:

Continue reading “April Bey’s New Show “Made In Space” Opens Today at Band Of Vices Art Gallery”

The Mysteries of Ancient Egypt & the Hidden Roots of Western Civilization

Last weekend April and I saw the King Tut exhibition at the California Science Center. Here are some of the highlights:

This is a definite, must-see exhibit. It’s amazing see objections this old in such beautiful, stunning condition. Continue reading “The Mysteries of Ancient Egypt & the Hidden Roots of Western Civilization”

Returning to the Fun of Photographing the Sun

Today at Liberty Island I published a post featuring a series of Sunset images I shot on Saturday. Here are two more from Sunday:

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This evening’s #sunset beginning…

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Our 27 African Art Acquisitions & My Final Thoughts on the Trip…

See part 1, part 2, and part 3 in the series documenting our trip to West Africa in July…

April’s been home now for several weeks, but I’m only just now ready for this final wrap-up post about our trip. It took some time to prepare our new shelves and to set up our art, books, and movies. But now I’m ready to present our findings, most of which April acquired after I flew home from Nigeria and she continued on for a number of weeks into Togo, Benin, and finally Ghana. My post yesterday regarding Camille Paglia’s books linking ancient tribal Paganism with today’s art and popular culture are relevant to the points of this piece — the line between religious icon and art object is often in the eye of the beholder…

First, a mask from Ghana, with two sand paintings from Goree Island in Senegal. Our comedy DVD shelf sits above them:

Two heads from Benin, in between shelves of April’s art books, these also possess two Goree Island sand paintings, one on each side:

Continue reading “Our 27 African Art Acquisitions & My Final Thoughts on the Trip…”

Pop-Paganism: 11 Extraordinary Camille Paglia Excerpts

Essential Authors: Camille Paglia

Two years ago, I joined Liberty Island Media, a start-up book publishing company focusing on genre fiction, as their West Coast Editor and began acquiring and editing novels. I also started writing my own novels and helping other writers develop their stories. Now, in this ongoing series at Smash Cut Culture I’m going to start highlighting the authors who I’ve returned to most often in working with writers. As I’ve studied and met both fiction and non-fiction writers over the years these are the ones with the most depth, originality, and humanity. Reading their books and understanding the ideas that matter to them has helped change my life for the better and I hope it can do the same for you.

On Tuesday Mark Bauerlein at First Things published a thoughtful post on Camille Paglia and the key idea that he sees as distinguishing her from today’s cookie cutter Right/Left ideologues:

She announced it a few months back in an interview with the New York Observer. The very first question asked her about comparisons between President Trump and Adolf Hitler, to which she replied: “‘Presentism’ is a major affliction—an over-absorption in the present or near past, which produces a distortion of perspective and a sky-is-falling Chicken Little hysteria.”

….

Paglia believes there is a causal connection between young Americans’ ignorance of history and their dim view of present conditions. At a conference in Oxford, Paglia stated again, in response to a student who criticized her and others for telling youths not to be so sensitive and snowflaky, “There is much too much focus on the present.” Thanks to the (presumed) sensitivity of modern youth, Paglia says, students have not had a “realistic introduction to the barbarities of human history . . . . Ancient history must be taught . . . . I believe in introducing young people to the disasters of history.” Without that background, she implies, our only standard of appraising current circumstances is current circumstances plus a few utopian dreams. We have so much material prosperity, they think, so why don’t we have more perfect people to enjoy it?

I’ll take Bauererlein’s insight into Paglia’s value as a writer and intellectual a few steps further. Yes, that she analyzes today’s culture through the broad stroke of history, starting in the ancient world gives her arguments greater weight and originality. Where I value her even more though is in the way she connects this grand historical understanding to our everyday pop culture. And what is her key here? It can be summed up in one word: Paganism.

Paglia connects the primitive, religious earth worship of the ancient, pre-modern world, with the secular faiths of today’s postmodern ideologies and celebrity-obsessed culture. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from her book Vamps & Tramps: New Essays, about how what is natural must be overcome and transcended to achieve greatness:

Here are ten more of my favorite Paglia quotes I’ve collected over the years. I hope you’ll find them useful and inspiring. Continue reading “Pop-Paganism: 11 Extraordinary Camille Paglia Excerpts”

The Last Two Legs of My Africa Trip

(Click here for Part One, and here for Part Two.)

Well, I’ve been home for over a week now and between trying to get caught up on work and getting my sleep back in order (apparently jet lag can last awhile) I have not yet done the final post describing the last two countries of my part of the trip — Morocco and Nigeria. Let’s correct that now.

Day 19: Thursday, July 20 — We arrive in Morocco early in the morning (around 8) but cannot check into our hotel until the afternoon (2ish). Apart from that anticipated bump in the road the hotel was nice, among the highlights of our short stay in Casablanca.

Day 20: Friday, July 21 — We take a tour of the Hassan II Mosque in the morning and then explore the markets in the afternoon.

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#Casablanca #morocco

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Continue reading “The Last Two Legs of My Africa Trip”