Book Review: The Year I Stopped To Notice

The Year I Stopped to Notice by Miranda Keeling

Miranda Keeling is a watcher, armed with a notebook, and in this lovely book of months, she records her observations of the world around her. Like Ross Gay’s Book of Delights, The Year I Stopped To Notice is a reminder of the magic of events unfolding around us, if we only pay attention.

Here, in small passages month by month (most were tweeted, so the length is limited by design), Keeling notices people on the Tube, families on the sidewalks, nature in its unexpected moments, city streets and more. Her keen observational style, and use of light humor in her noticing, make this pocket-sized book a real delight to read.

And it reminds us all to pay attention to the small moments.

Peace (watching for it),
Kevin

Poem: Erratic Muse

Erratic Muse

This poem originated from an inquiry research article by Wendy T and friends, which they presented at a conference. The inquiry had to do with using GenAI for playful explorations. (see research article – it’s worth your time for the way they reflected on how GenAI might be useful and not for making art).

I popped their article into ChatPDF this morning, and chatted with the GenAI about the piece about human agency, making art and GenAI, and ended with a request for phrases and terms that it could find that I could use in a poem on the theme of the article. (you can do the same, with this link.)

I then took those terms (there were about 20 or so) and whittled them into a poem, adding AI artwork from Adobe Firefly.

Peace (and poems),
Kevin

Nethermind

Nethermind

This was my response to the DS106 Daily Create prompt yesterday, about naming that time between sleep and wakefulness. I often wake with snippets of song lyrics in my mind. (I had submitted the prompt after reading an interest post of sharing by someone on Mastodon).

Peace (dreaming of it),
Kevin

Book Review: Bridge of Souls (City of Ghosts)

Book Review: "Bridge of Souls" ("City of Ghosts" #3) by Victoria Schwab ...

The Bridge of Souls is the third installment in a series for young adult readers by Victoria Schwab, a writer I enjoy for her range of magical fiction. I had read and savored the first two books in the Cassidy Blake series when they came out, and both during a unit on Independent Reading/Choice Books with my students, and so it is again this year.

Bridge of Souls continues Cassie’s journal an in-between, a person whose gift allows her to traverse the “veil” between the land of the living and the world of the ghosts, wandering souls who are waiting to move to a final resting place. Cassie’s family produces video documentaries of ghostly places, and this third book takes place in New Orleans.

Schwab takes her time with character development, which I appreciate, and there are nuances and hints at what still might unfold ahead in the series. Here, Cassie is confronted with an Emissary of Death, which is calling for her, and it takes all of her cunning and power and friendships to survive.

Meanwhile, her best friend, a ghost named Jacob, is changing, too, and it’s not clear if this is for the better or not. (Jacob had saved Cassie’s life in the first book, and that near-death experience gives Cassie the ability to move through the Veil and to use a mirror pendant to send ghosts on the way to a final resting destination).

This book is a good fit for any adolescent readers who like ghost stories, but not one that are too scary. With its focus on character and mystery, Schwab has woven another good adventure in the City of Ghosts series.

Peace (resting),
Kevin

Song: You Couldn’t Lose Me Now (If You Tried)

Much of 2023, I wasn’t writing much on my guitar. I did other music projects (like my In An Otherwise Odd World electronic music collection) but not much in terms of sitting down, with pen and paper, and finding chords, and writing something new. It wasn’t Writers Block, necessarily – just uninspired.

Then 2024 rolls around, and I have three new songs underway.

This one is the first — You Couldn’t Lose Me Now (If You Tried) — and I decided to go further on it than a simple demo, as I recorded many parts, and it felt pretty good (except for some vocal parts that just eluded me, and I still cringe at those moments, which I sort of covered up with some other sounds. My vocal range is small.)

I felt creative throughout the entire process — from the first sparks of the music and lyrics, to how it ended up — and I was grateful for the Muse to be sitting there with me, for a bit.

My lyric sheets were an adventure, though, and periodically, I track my writing process from initial writing to revision to final.

Lyric Sheets: You Couldn't Lose Me Now

After the song was done, I decided to create an animated text video with the lyrics in Keynote. I was reminded of how difficult and how long it takes to sync words to sound in a project like this. But, overall, I am happy with how the video came out.

Peace (strummed with words),
Kevin