The Day the Music Died

Here I am…week one of my new goal to write and day-the-music-died-rem_thumbupdate. Are you here too? Please comment so I get a little more motivation than my own sheer will — because we all know that doesn’t last that long!

As I was pondering what topic I wanted to muse on today, I plugged in my headphones and selected some random playlists on my iTunes to possibly spark a moment of brilliance. After a few hours of some mindless computer work in the office, I found myself listening to one of my favorite songs — “American Pie,” by Don McLean. Now, some of you may think I’m not old enough to know this tune, but I would like to point out that a lover of music tends to know quintessential melodies and lyrics from eras past because time has this magical property where it seems to influence the future. Take, for instance, my own father. He grew up singing and playing the guitar, enjoying the contemporary hits of the 1950s and ’60s. He shared those with me as a kid and I loved them as well; I was the kid listening to Simon & Garfunkel, Bread, The Beatles, and Peter, Paul, & Mary. I had records, not CDs, until I was a teenager. When I first heard “American Pie” I remember a few significant things… #1 It was a long song. Clocking in at over 8 minutes, I didn’t know too many other songs (at that time) that went on like this one. #2 It mentioned “The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.” Being brought up in a very religious household, I found this lyric to be particularly unusual; not because it was a religious reference, but rather because I hadn’t heard many song use “Holy Ghost.” In my faith, that’s a word that I considered part of a unique lexicon and not something I would have expected to hear in a pop song. When I asked my Dad about it, I remember him telling me that the song had more than just a literal meaning. Which brings me to #3 — I couldn’t understand at that young age how music could die. Nowadays, I could give you a lesson on symbolism, allegory, inference, allusion, metaphor, and abstract nouns, but at the time it didn’t quite make sense. Sometimes things just don’t make sense…

As I went on to study music and try writing my own songs, I came to appreciate the lyrics of “American Pie” even more. The tribute to three fallen musical geniuses; the collective heartbreak of a nation; the strength of national pride; the creativity of nuanced meaning. All of these and more still affect me when I listen to this emotional anthem of a lost generation.   On February 3, 1959, a small plane crashed in Iowa carrying rising musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson. Not only is the story of the situation tragic itself, it’s tragic so much potential influence was lost. As a musician myself, this is an event that has had an impact on me. As McLean so eloquently states, it’s “The Day the Music Died.”

More time has passed and I’ve come to revere these lost musicians, and Don McLean himself, even more. Music is a powerful force. It courses through me with an almost tangible quality. So, to honor the awesome power of music I challenge you to share the song in your heart with someone today, tomorrow, and everyday. I share this one with you in the hopes that the “Day the Music Died” can influence others to live life to it’s fullest and to share their talents with the world.

…So bye-bye, Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry
And them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey in Rye
Singin’ “This’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die.”


Putting my Money where my Mouth is…

money-where-your-mouth-isI was asked by my director, Cary Burns, to do a little talking in between numbers at a chorus performance yesterday. It just so happens his suggestion for my bit had to do with the word “Lexophile.” Being the smart aleck I am, may have mentioned my currently defunct blog “Leslie’s Lexicology.” Wouldn’t you know that someone approached him afterward and wanted the address to my blog. As I pondered this situation last night, I found that I could live with two possible scenarios: 1) I admit the blog is defunct, provide the address for proof, and be on my merry way, or 2) I could figure out the login & password, see just how long it’s been since I posted, and begin to post again. If you are reading this then you see that I have temporarily chosen option #2. Thank You to Cary and to this presently anonymous requester for making me realize I do miss writing, but more importantly, that there are a few wonderful souls that might want to hear what I have to say. So, to you my new friend, I’ll email this link to Cary to pass on to you and ask that you support me on my emotional journey; I’ll write for you and for myself. My promises to you include: posting a minimum of once a week, sharing things with you that make me laugh and hopefully make you laugh as well, and teaching you some new words along the way. Can you promise me you’ll read it in return? Do we have a deal? I’m all in if you are…

Dystopia Challenge

I know I’m late in joining, but I’m going to go for it anyway. Dystopian literature is some of my favorite! Here’s what I put on my list, but I’d love more suggestions.

1. The Handmaid’s Tale
2. Delirium
3. Pretties
4. Specials
5. Extras
6. The Road
7. Little Brother
8. Lockdown: Escape from the Furnace 1
9. Solitary: Escape from the Furnace 2
10. Death Sentence: Escape from the Furnace 3
11. Outside In
12. Inside Out
13. The Maze Runner
14. Incarceron
15. Sapphique
16. Across the Universe
17. Candor
18. Birth marked
19. Human .4
20. Matched
21. The Scorch Trials
22. Ship Breaker
23. The Water Wars
24. Wither
25. The Forest of Hand and Teeth
26. The Dead-Tossed Waves
27. The Dark and Hollow Places
28. Divergent
29. The Giver
30. Gone

Holidays Galore

February TitleDespite February being the shortest month of the year (don’t know why we say shortest, who knows how tall any month is really!), it is jam-packed with holidays.  Some small, some commercial, some historical, and some I even get a day off work to celebrate. In the middle of winter, this month can bring some rays of sunshine to those stuck in snowstorms, shoveling snow from the sidewalks, and learning to spell “snowpocalypse.” As I began my quest in finding out which days I could put a label on during this most often misspelled and mispronounced month, I was actually impressed by some of the reasons people celebrate. Here’s a quick list of some of the things I may potentially be participating in during the month with the least amount of days because let’s face it….I need some reasons to feel happy this time of year.

February 2 – Groundhog Daygroundhog

This day is set aside for an oft forgotten rodent.  Folklore states that on Feb. 2 the groundhog will poke it’s noggin from the ground to offer the superstitious one of two possible predictions — if it’s cloudy, the groundhog will leave it’s burrow and signify that winter weather will quickly come to and end, OR — if it’s sunny, the groundhog will see it’s shadow, be afraid, and scurry back to it’s bunker leaving us with 6 more weeks of winter. While I find that groundhogs can be quite cute, I personally have never seen this ritual take place.  Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania is home to the largest Groundhog Day celebration where folks come from miles away to catch a glimpse of you guessed it — Punxsutawney Phil (a lovable groundhog I’m sure) making weather predictions.

I would say “Bring on the warmer weather Phil!!” but the rationalist in me can’t dispute that fact that regardless of the results there is technically six weeks of winter…count them.  Six weeks until March 21 – the official beginning of Spring. How many times can I watch that Bill Murray movie before then?

February 6 – Super Bowl Sunday

footballThis is not an official holiday by any means, but the most celebrated unofficial holiday in the United States. Consider this: for Super Bowl XLIV in 2010, 51.7 million cases of beer were sold in the week before the game. I guess that goes with all the chicken wings, nachos, pizza, chips, and other snacks that comprise the menu at most Super Bowl parties. Sounds good, right?  While I’m just starting to appreciate the game of football, I do recognize that this is a perfect “holiday” to spend with friends in front of the TV. So that’s what I’m going to do. This Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers will face off against the Green Bay Packers in Dallas, TX for Super Bowl XLV. (That’s 45 for all you that struggle with Roman numerals.) I’ll leave the stats and trash talking to those more adept at doing so, and just say that I’m looking forward to seeing the players in those tight pants, hearing Cristina Aguilera sing the National Anthem, watching the new commercial advertisements, and hoping for another shocker of a Halftime Show (although I doubt anything will beat the Janet/Justin debacle).  And I’m especially looking forward to the new episode of Glee that will air after the game.  Go Cardinals!! — oh wait, they’re not playing this year…..

February 3 – Chinese New Year

Chinese new YearI was born in the year of the dragon. Don’t know if that contributes at all to my fascination with Chinese dragons or my love of Chinese food, but it can’t hurt, right? January 1st marks the beginning of the Western New Year, but in the East the months are calculated differently, zodiac signs are yearly, and they love the dragon dance. One of the most important celebrations in Chinese culture, New Year lasts 15 days, ending with a festival of lanterns. Tradition states that every family thoroughly cleans the house to sweep away any ill-fortune in hopes to make way for good incoming luck. I’m hoping I can get around to cleaning (literally and figuratively in the near future for this very reason!) 2011 ushers in the year of the Rabbit, the 4th year in the cycle of the Chinese zodiac.  If this “new year” hasn’t been better yet, why not take the opportunity to start over…again. I will.

February 21 – President’s Day

presidentsHonestly, I sorta feel jipped that there’s only one holiday to celebrate our Nation’s leaders. Remember the days in elementary school when we would have lessons about George, color pictures of the flag, and eat cherry pie? Then a few days later we would learn about Honest Abe, color pictures of log cabins, and recite the Gettysburg Address. (Tell me I wasn’t the only one to participate in this most heinous of stereotypical rituals.) Why do we mush them together now and only call it President’s Day?  We celebrate Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays in the month of February, coincidence I’m sure, and until the late 1980s it was a day each man could call his own.  True, we never did get the day off school/work for Lincoln’s birthday (another ironic case of slavery?) but now he’s lumped in mix and our holiday became President’s Day. Alas, we forget other presidents born in February – William Henry Harrison and Ronald Reagan.  However, I still think it would be a good idea to celebrate each President’s birthday separately.  I could really use those 3-day weekends.

February – Black History Monthmlk

Officially recognized in 1976, Black History Month aims to bring more public awareness to the individuals and events in the history of the African diaspora. While there is much controversy and debate centered around this celebration of culture and powerful leaders, I just want to say that I find it inspiring.  It’s a chance  to reflect on the events that I’m sure I couldn’t have lived through, marvel at the spirit of determination it took to rise above the hate, and be in awe of the creativity found in the written and spoken word. Listen to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, look up Langston Hughes’ poetry, or read anything by Maya Angelou.

I leave you with one of my favorites:

The Lesson – by Maya Angelou

I keep on dying again.
Veins collapse, opening like the
Small fists of sleeping
Memory of old tombs,
Rotting flesh and worms do
Not convince me against
The challenge. The years
And cold defeat live deep in
Lines along my face.
They dull my eyes, yet
I keep on dying,
Because I love to live.


Other Notables:

February 3rd – “The Day the Music Died”

February 5th – “World Nutella Day”

February 15th – “National Gumdrop Day”

February 17th – “Random Acts of Kindness Day”

February 28th – “Public Sleeping Day”

So much to do & so little time…

Starting a New Year is not very simple for me. I’ve spent the last 2 weeks, really the last few months, reflecting pretty seriously on what my life is and supposed to mean.  There are so many things that I would like to accomplish but rarely do I find the internal motivation to actually do them.  As someone who has realized that external motivation, i.e., deadlines, numbers, visual and tangible progress – is what gets my motor running I need to devise a strategy that will help me get motivated to “Go Forth.”

For my own sake, I’m going to put in writing a few of the things that I hope I can make happen in 2011.

1. Find a new job.

2. Write more. My goal is Nano this year – for sure!

3. Get in shape. (duh!)

4. Participate in Ignite – Phoenix.

Things I’m looking forward to for 2011:

1.  My trip to Europe in June.

2. Working on Book Reviews with my good friend and mentor!

3.  Finding a new way to expand my mind.

Getting started…

I’ve decided to accept a challenge and take inspiration from a friend (thanks Bex!) and start blogging. There’s been half-hearted attempts in the past, but without effort, things will never move forward. So….rather than just thinking about doing it, I’m starting right now. I would love to GO BIG and say I can post once a day, but the realist in me will commit to once a week for now.

2011 – here come my thoughts – watch out!!!

I know it won’t be easy, but it might be fun, inspiring, awesome and wonderful. Therefore I’m promising to make use of The DailyPost, and the community of other bloggers with similiar goals, to help me along the way, including asking for help when I need it and encouraging others when I can. I hope you’ll encourage me with comments and likes, and any tidbits of gossip along the way.

Signed, Leslie