Saturday, December 3, 2016

2016 Reading List

I keep saying it, but it remains a truism; 2016 has been a supremely weird year. You might look at this list of books I read and think "That's it? That's your list? C'mon, son."

Much of my creative output didn't happen until the tail-end of the year, thanks to this back injury, of which I'm having surgery in a little over a week. During that time I've done some writing (which I'll talk about in another post) and very little reading. It's been a struggle to juggle the creative life with the normal social life, more so here in KC because I moved back with a pretty diverse bunch of friend groups from all walks of my life.

With the death of two friends this summer, it became paramount to me that spending time with them was infinitely more important than sitting at home reading or writing. It just felt like the right move...and it still does.

But now I'm settled in and I seem to have found a good groove. Plus the winters here are crazy cold, so plenty of people just go into hibernation most nights anyway, which makes it easy to divert my time to other endeavors. With the back surgery in a week or so, I'll have plenty of time to do some more reading before the year ends. Below you'll find my incredibly anemic list for the year.

Because I knew that my social life was going to be outshining my personal life, I mostly chose to dig into books that I'd already read before. Somehow that makes them easier to finish when life gets a little chaotic, I think. Plus they're just really enjoyable books, which is why I read them over and over again every so often. The last two by Bolano and Dick, however, I'm planning to read during my recovery time as they've been on my "to read" list for a cool minute now.

2016 Reading List


01.) Carlos Ruiz Zafon - "The Shadow of the Wind" (487pgs)
02.) Carlos Ruiz Zafon - "The Angel's Game" (531pgs)

(1,018pgs total)


03.) Carlos Ruiz Zafon - "The Prisoner of Heaven" (278pgs)
04.) Haruki Murakami - "Hear the Wind Sing / Pinball, 1973" (233pgs)

(511pgs total)


05.) Lev Grossman - "The Magicians" (402pgs)

(402pgs total)


06.) Lev Grossman - "The Magician King" (400pgs)

(400pgs total)


07.) Amber Sparks & Robert Kloss - "The Desert Places" (87pgs)
08.) Amber Sparks - "The Unfinished World and Other Stories" (223pgs)
09.) Stephen King - "The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower, #1)" (231pgs)
10.) Stephen King - "The Drawing of the Three (The Dark Tower, #2)" (399pgs)

(940pgs total)


11.) Stephen King - "The Wastelands (The Dark Tower, #3)" (420pgs)
12.) Stephen King - "Wizard and Glass (The Dark Tower, #4)" (672pgs)
13.) Stephen King - "The Wind through the Keyhole (The Dark Tower, #4.5)" (322pgs)

(1,414pgs total)


14.) Stephen King - "The Wolves of the Calla (The Dark Tower, #5)" (714pgs)
15.) Stephen King - "Song of Susannah (The Dark Tower, #6)" (413pgs)

(1,127pgs total)


16.) Stephen King - "The Dark Tower (The Dark Tower, #7)" (845pgs)
17.) Bo Fowler - "Scepticism, Inc." (256pgs)

(1,101pgs total)


18.) Philip K. Dick - "The Man in the High Castle" (274pgs)
19.) Roberto Bolano - "The Insufferable Gaucho" (164pgs)

(438pgs total)

Total Pages Read


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Weekend Collective / YeahKC - 4 New Articles Online & A Broken Back

It's been a weird year all around. Or maybe it's just been a normal year and I'm just over-analyzing things, which I tend to do. The philosopher's brain often takes over when the creative brain isn't firing on all cylinders. Thankfully, however, the creative brain has been taking over this month. It's been far too silent for far too long.

I was recently the recipient of a back injury that left me pretty much immobile. After finally finding a doctor within my insurance network, I had x-rays and an MRI done. Issue: herniated L5 disc with impingement of the sciatic nerve. I haven't been to work in nearly a month, I'm waiting for my short-term disability payments to come through, and I've been given some great drugs that have serioiusly alleviated the pain and allowed me to be more mobile. Thus, I've had a LOT of free time.

First up, I spoke of a publication that was forthcoming. Bluestem Magazine published my story "The Same Night Waits for Us All" last month. A weird piece for me as it's more rooted in realism than my normal stuff. I feel like I wrote it last year around the anniversary of my grandfather's death a few years back. Interesting that that date is coming soon again. You can read that piece here.

I also just got word that another of my stories, "Anatomy of a Mixtape," will be published by Summerset Review in their December issue. That one went through a lot of rejections, with one of those rejections coming with a critique that pretty much gutted the entire story of its heart. If I accepted the changes, the magazine would accept the story. I passed on that. Their critique made no sense in context. I'll post a link to that once it goes live.

I've also been writing for a site called the Weekend Collective. They recently changed their name to Yeah KC! I've had a few articles posted up there as I've had more time to focus on writing them:

1.) The Plaza Art Fair. It's a massive fair of artists across the country who come to sell their wares to the general public. You can read about that and its history here.

2.) I've got a buddy in the rap game who's done work with a lot of great producers over the years and who has turned me onto more new music than I'd ever thought possible. I got to do a write-up on him and a night he's doing here in KC that's spotlighting local talent in the hopes of getting them more exposure. You can read about that here.

3.) Another friend (who is also a DJ) does a lot of graffiti work around town. He's been commissioned by several local businesses as well as national businesses with locations here to create his particular kind of art on their outside walls. He also does awareness work. You can read about him and his endeavors here.

4.) "Black Mirror" just released their third season of Twilight Zone-but-with-more-technology weirdness on Netflix. It's seriously a fantastic show that highlights how our dependence on technology might just end up ruining us. The writers of this show do phenomenal storytelling, often bringing about a twist that is completely unexpected by even the most well-read of people. You can read about that here.

Beyond that, I've returned to some old stories that remain unfinished, hoping I can create decent endings for them. Just last night I finished one called "Movie Music" that's been sitting around for about two years waiting for an ending. I finally found it and submitted it out to several magazines yesterday evening.

Tonight, I've found myself mired in the world of "The Motel Palms," a run-down place full of some very interesting characters that may finally get the ending it deserves sometime this week. I added about 1,000 words to it tonight out of nowhere, so this might be the next one to get finished before I head to Phoenix this weekend for my youngest sister's wedding.


Saturday, October 1, 2016

Four New Live DJ Mixes

The last year has been a solid one for me in terms of DJ-ing gigs across the city and the state. I played a couple spots at the Kirkwood Lodge in the Lake of the Ozarks. Luckily, I've been fortunate to have been booked for the more beat-oriented, jazzy hip hop stuff more suited for a martini lounge or a poolside afternoon as it's not only my favorite stuff to listen to, but to play as well.

The below mixes are mostly that kind of vibe. The first one, from the Lake of the Ozarks, was from a gig called Wet Hot Electronic Summer: Hot Miami Nights, which was a weekend-long party with some friends from both Kansas City and St. Louis and a TON of strangers that became friends later that weekend. There is, unfortunately, no tracklist.

The three mixes following that are from a night here in Kansas City run by my long-time DJ partner Mr. Nuro. He calls the night "The Listening Room" and works as a kind of spotlight on music that doesn't always get played on dance floors across the city. The weird, the abstract, the dark, the's a good venue for experimentation.

The first mix of the three is a more jazzy hip hop/instrumental/lounge vibe. The second mix is a more uptempo/funk/boogie style made for a more dance-centric crowd. The third mix is a blend of older 80s & 90s retro stuff that I love playing when the vibe is right. There are tracklists for all three.

You can find the link to stream this mix here:

You can find the link to stream this mix here:

24 tracks, 83 minutes

FloFilz - Gitdown
Galimatias - Sunlight Reigns Supreme
FloFilz - Keepitreal
Galimatias - Major Crimes & Unicorns
Vanilla - The Winter
Miguel Migs - Give Me Something
2Pac - Old School (Cookin' Soul Remix)
Alexis Davis - The Lift
Mono Massive x Vertual Vertigo - Can't Let Go
Brandy - I Wanna Be Down (Grades Remix)
Muneshine - Venus & Mars (Freddie Joachim Remix)
P.SUS - Midnight Thoughts (Breezewax Remix)
Dam Funk - I Wanna Thank You For (Steppin)
Austin Brown - Groove 92 
Chris Malinchak - So Into You
Q-Tip ft. Busta Rhymes - For the Nasty (Freddie Joachim Remix)
She Said Disco - Ocean Love
Bondax - Gold (Snakehips Bootleg)
Duck House - Flaw
Willie Hale - Groove On (Snakehips Edit)
Dam Funk - 10 West
Kartell - Two Step
Gang Starr - Skills (Oll-Zen Remix)
Banks - Warm Water (Snakehips Remix)

You can find the link to stream this mix here:

18 tracks, 63 minutes

Kraak & Smaak - Money in the Bag
JT Donaldson - Leave Your World (Hydro's Disco Dub in the Hour of Chaos)
Kenny Dope - Can You Handle It (Pt. One)
Tuxedo - So Good
Michael Tello - Black Thought
Jazzanova - The One-Tet
Dj Cam Quartet - New York New York
Cassius - See Me Now
Amp Fiddler - Faith
A Tribe Called Quest - Luck of Lucien
Ohmega Watts - What's It Worth (Instrumental)
Paolo Archenza Trio - Mondo Cane
Jazzanova ft. Vikter Duplaix - Soon (A Touch of Jazz Mix)
Dwele - Let Your Hair Down
Up, Bustle, and Out - Compared to What (Chase Mix)
Ohmega Watts ft. the Procussions - That Sound
Coolio - Too Hot
Dzihan & Kamien - Airport

You can find the link to stream this mix here: 

15 tracks,  60 minutes

Joe Jackson - Steppin' Out
A-Ha - Take on Me
Billy Idol - Dancin' with Myself
Berlin - Riding on the Metro
Shabba Ranks - Mr. Loverman
Hall & Oates - Maneater
The Cure - Close to Me
Soul II Soul - Keep on Moving
New Edition - Mr. Telephone Man
Hall & Oates - Method of Modern Love
Tears for Fears - Head over Heels
Howard Jones - What is Love? 
George Michael - I Want Your Sex
Stereo MC's - Connected
Bob Marley - Could You Be Loved?


Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Weekend Collective: Adaptive Skate Kollective and Janet Cardiff's "Forty-Part Motet"

A quick update on a couple things:

Just had a story called "The Same Night Waits for Us All" picked up for publication in Bluestem Magazine. It's part of the second short story collection I completed during the first half of last year while I was dealing with a work injury in San Francisco. It's been good to start shopping these unpublished pieces again, even though the only writing I've been doing has been less fictional.

Which leads me to two new articles of mine that have been published over at the Weekend Collective recently.

The first is about another upcoming exhibit coming to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in November. Janet Cardiff has done some crazy interesting audio installations over the years and this current one has a pretty interesting history, both musically and in terms of some of its early showings in NYC. No lie, I'm pretty stoked to sit in this room for awhile and just soak up the exhibit for a good hour. You can read more about that here.

The second article is one I really enjoyed writing as it involved a long-time friend of mine who lost his right leg years ago and turned his accident into a pretty phenomenal opport, unity for others with adaptive wants and needs. He and others have traveled across the country trying to remove the stigmas and social stereotypes associated with amputees or those originally born without limbs. You can read more about that article here.

For now, the hustle continues. I'm hoping to get a few more articles knocked out this weekend, but I've been laid up with a back injury (again), which has put a crimp in many of my plans. That back injury stemmed from a DJing gig I had this weekend, but out of that gig came three solid recordings which I'll post in a future entry.

Until then...


Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Weekend Collective: The Dark Tower, Kansas City Poetry, and Photography at the Nelson-Atkins Museum

I've been busy.

Crazy busy. And while there's plenty of updates to give, I will simply pop on here briefly to hype the latest work I've been doing, which is writing up news articles and profiles about things and people happening around Kansas City. The site is called Weekend Collective and I got to meet most of the crew this week, all of whom seem incredibly down to earth and fun to kick it with.

Luckily, the bosses want us to write about things that we're passionate about; if you're bored with your own story, chances are good the reader will get bored with it pretty quickly too. That's the nature of not loving what you do. The finished product suffers and it's obvious to EVERYONE. So in this way, I appreciate the approach.

Poetry Slam in KC

The first article I got published was about at monthly poetry slam contest held at the Uptown Arts Bar downtown. I went to the show that night, had a blast, and did a write up on the crew putting the event on. You can read that here.

Photography Exhibit at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

My second article was about an upcoming exhibit of photography at the Nelson-Atkins. The theme of the show is "Surveillance," and contains a mix of collections from various photographers around the globe, but I found one whose life story was simply too interesting not to write about in more detail. You can read that one here.

The Dark Tower, or O, Discordia!

The third article was definitely a more personally interesting piece for me as I've been a fan of Stephen King's "Dark Tower" series for many years. It's currently being adapted into movie form and the nature of the narrative (which has changed from the book) has completely changed, so it's not just a straight up adaptation. I make the argument that this is a VERY good thing for superfans of the series here.

That's all for now! I'll keep posting up new articles as they go live, especially since my name isn't attached to the articles on the site. Happy reading!


Monday, August 29, 2016

Beats for the Blunted, Vol. 9: Homecoming (New Dj Mix)

Beats for the Blunted, Vol. 9: Homecoming

Quantic - Archipelago
Anitek - Tip Toe
Nomak - Spiritual Home (Feet Remix)
Anitek - Burden Queen
Anthony Hamilton - Better Love
Ta-Ku - Trust Me
Victor Malloy - The Girl Who Wasn't There (Quantic Remix)
Four Tet - And Then Patterns
Massive Attack - What Your Soul Sings
Anitek - Mind Growth
Beacon - Fault Lines
Vaults - Lifespan (Instrumental)
Ta-Ku - Sunrise / Beautiful ft. Jordan Rakei
Shapeshifter - Summer Haze
Dj Krush - Edge of Blue
Portishead - Numb
Ta-Ku - Love Again ft. JMSN & Sango

Just recorded a new DJ mix a week or so ago. 17 tracks at a little over an hour. 77 bpm.

The final installment of the series that got me my start way back when at the turn of the century. Airy, spacious, atmospheric beats that remind me (in many ways) of the home I left for 6 years and then returned to in 2015. I started this series way back in 2001 or 2002, first trying to record to tape (as that was the only medium I had available to me then). When I finally released volume 3, I was surprised to find that many people really enjoyed it. Distributing the mix on CD across the city at random events got me my first few gigs in Kansas City, which led to more gigs after both here in KC and in other cities: St. Louis, Omaha, Sioux City, etc.

My life would be very different had I not been forced by my friend Scott to record the first BFTB mix. VERY different.

Sometimes when I put a new mix together, I know the overall vibe I want to achieve. This one, weirdly, started with the last track. Ta-Ku is one of my favorite producers and "Love Again" had been in heavy rotation; in the car, at work, while I showered.

Quantic's "Archipelago" was a track I stumbled upon in my collection a couple months back and the melody never came unstuck in my head, so it seemed to be the best way to open up the mix. Heavy on the drums and soulful saxophone, it turned out to be the right decision.


Monday, August 8, 2016

A Year in the Midwest

The summer is drawing to a close. It's been an interesting transition, moving from northern California (where air conditioning isn't a thing) back to the Midwest (where it is a necessity). Mine has gone out three times in the last three weeks and, luckily, I live in an apartment complex with a maintenance staff who are not only fast and friendly, but good at what they do. But the nights where the AC has gone out have been the longest as I've been unable to sleep or I've simply been sleeping poorly as of late. I have an active imagination; I play scenarios out in my head over and over with differing results and this is what keeps me staring up at the popcorn ceiling until the alarm goes off at 4am. Sometimes you listen to the voices, sometimes you have to drown them out or suffocate them altogether.

I'm coming up on being home a full year. I have recorded 14 new DJ mixes, all of varying styles. I have had 27 separate DJ-ing gigs, I've done one public reading, two old friends have passed on to other worlds, and I had the joy of a brief summer fling that has since, I imagine, fizzled out. This is life; this is how things go.

I am still broke, despite finally being in a job that has the potential to be a long-term career, but I am happier. I knew I would have to start from the bottom (as I have done over and over and over again, much to my consternation), but it is not the literal backbreaking work of my previous job. I am constantly called on for my brain, which is all I've ever really wanted. I am a "puzzle guy," as my work wife likes to say. I see problems, I offer up myriad solutions. I never approach my boss with a complaint unless I have a multitude of ways to solve said complaints, all with varying degrees of success upon implementation.

I have spent more time in my pool than not, my skin more bronze now than pasty white. My apartment has become a hub for friends and family to rest their heads after spending hours in the water or after a long weekend night out. It has been a good vessel with which I have reconnected to the people of my previous life. It remains the perfect size, allowing plenty of space for sleepovers, movie watching, boozing, and all the various detritus of my life spread out on the bookshelves that line every wall.  i am not displeased by how things have gone this year despite the few instances of dissatisfaction or sadness in the things I cannot control.

I have tried to find a place in my apartment that is conducive to my writing, but to no avail. This weekend, I attempted to revisit some old pieces to update and revise them, to finally finish them and send them out for publication. My mind remained blank as I touched on each of the characters in their respective settings. I worry that I have let them lie dormant for too long, that I have not allowed myself the time to marinate on their worlds and their problems because I have been far too focused on my own world and my own problems. This in itself elicits a whole other host of issues that need to be dealt with sooner than later. The tattoo on my left arm was originally a reminder to myself to never stop writing, yet that is exactly what has happened. Finding the balance between enjoying a real life and creating fictional ones has been difficult.

In many ways, my mental struggle has been the propellant force that allowed for so much writing to erupt out of me. Internal battles necessarily find themselves on the page because that is where I seem to find some measure of closure in them. Those internal battles are now fewer and farther between, though I have no doubt new ones will arise again soon enough.

They always do.