science fiction + poetry: two loves, one outlet: basementstories.org

While browsing the Writing & Publishing section of Kickstarter, i was captivated by the gypsy-like illustration for what turned out to be a project for sci-fi and poetry magazine, Basement Stories.

I was very happy to receive an email that i was able to help kickstart this project, one combining two of my loves, poetry and sci-fi. The former i have marked indelibly upon my flesh; the latter is useful in exercising my mind, constantly pushing the envelope and stretching my imagination into contortionist positions. Combined, i see the two as a mental yoga, maintaining intellectual spryness, yet with youthful boundless creativity.

It’s said one should never judge a book by its cover, with the proverb’s subjects being placeholders for anything, generally. But, i’m aware that we are attracted to those things that, those people whom are aesthetically appealing, that spark some intrigued part of our brains or loins. So, with the illustration, with the gypsy appealing to some aspects of both, i was delighted by something deeper. Everything is connected, intertwined.

I perused the basementstories.org site and was quite pleased by the previous offerings, the authors coming from all sorts of angles regarding content, as well as titles of their pieces. Titles are important—they are the names of each individual creation, of each singular family (collections or anthologies) and help to give us an idea of what to expect, or even not to expect; they can impart history. One such title that piqued my interest was one entitle, “Persephone.” I’m a Greek mythology/legend geek. I absolutely love all aspects of it. From the stolen stories from the African continent, to the parables and jarring stories of mortals versus immortals, their innocence and glory, the hamartia and arrogance that destroys them.

Science fiction is not always about space and ships, moons and far away galaxies; it can focus on time travel and slavery, the interracial love spanning centuries, as is seen in Octavia Butler’s seminal Kindred; or it can be steampunk themed, think of the Will Smith movie, Wild Wild West (but, not always cowboys and saloons).

Science fiction is very robust and organic. Poetry is the same way.

Read any of Emily Dickinson’s 1,773 poems (many of them very short, no more than 5-10 lines) or Bukowski or D. A. Levy or Amiri Baraka or T. S. Eliot or Shams-ud-din Muhammad Hafiz and you’ll be astonished and jolted. Nothing is similar, all different aspects of someone’s world are shown or touched upon. From the morbid to the divine to the everyday to the blasphemous to the contemplative to the condemning to the incredulous, there is a poem or an artist for all.

I’m not going to edit this piece—or re-read it. I’m on my mobile device (BlackBerry, baby!) And don’t feel like scrolling up.

I gotta run right now, but wanted to share something; it’s been too long. Weeks i think.

Let’s hope this post kickstarts my writing more frequently again.

Thanks, as usual and most appreciated, for reading.

I’m out.

Peace.

Vere sandals: i’m taking the plunge

Apparently, my whole essence and aesthetics, style and swagger scream, “Sandals!” Yet, for most of my life (that i remember, at least) i have held a certain disdain for them. Not too sure why.

I much prefer to walk around barefoot and w/ cargo shorts, than to wear sandals.

That’s all changing for good. A few months ago, i was looking at sandals, anything that would appeal to me—you know, not rubbery or that old person look, with the weird looking Jesus straps; they had to be of some wood-looking or leathery variety, that whole earthy aesthetic, but stylish (if that makes sense lol). I wanted to be like an ascetic, but just w/o the whole religious undertones and looking too dirty lol.

And, of course, Kickstarter came to the rescue: i found a project from an American company, Vere, which is working diligently on infusing our country w/ its own home-grown products—no more importing materials and outsourcing production. I’m all for helping out American companies!

There are several choices for the Vere sandals, but i only really like the Al (Dark Brown) sandals. They look pretty snazzy, and fit with my wearing-linen-on-a-beach-look lol.

What’s cool about certain pledge levels is that i will be able to have them personalized! I think i want them to say either “macario.james” or “everything is relative.” Not sure yet. I have time, though, so no need to decide right away.

Hopefully, i’ll have them in time for April/May: when the warmth comes back to New York, and i can prance (yes, prance, like a reindeer!) around.

Here’s to “doing it live!” (Video will pop-up in Lightbox window.)

I’m out. Thanks for reading :-)

Peace.

g33kiest, nerdiest of items: mathematician’s dice

I saw this and was immediately stoked! I’m not even going to write anything more than to say to watch the video. It’s self-explanatory the awesomeness that is this idea ^_^

I hope you share in my enthusiasm for the dice. If you like other geeky things, definitely check out ThinkGeek. Oh, and feel free to buy me something from there :-) lol

Thanks for reading—as usual.

I’m out.

Peace.

French film, joyeux bordel

I love the French language—it’s hella sexy—so although this project was already fully-funded with over a week remaining by the time i found it, i had to still pledge something.

A young French woman sits by her window smoking a cigarette and ponders her favorite shape: “The triangle is a lover.” “Joyeux Bordel” follows three veteran flâneurs who spend their lazy days exactly how they please only to learn that excess has consequences.

Plus, from the description, i’m all about excesses and that bohemian life lol—truly a Joyeux Bordel, which translates into “happy mess.”

Either way, i’m not too sure what the film will truly entail because of the very terse description, but the trailer intrigued me, especially since it’s in black and white. Not sure i agree with the woman’s statement that circles are “dumb” and “selfish.” I like circles. And, too bad that $50 reward was too steep for me at the moment; i would love to have a DVD copy lol. Oh well.

Be sure to check out Joyeux Bordel. Thanks for reading!

I’m out.

Peace.

writers, photographers look: 25 short stories project

I’m a big fan of @Kickstarter! They have kick ass projects. I love books. I’m a writer. An emerging one at that.

Combine those ingredients, and you’ll understand why i fell in love with Avery Anthology’s 25 Short Stories Project and pledged to fund.

I’ve embedded the project’s video below, but in case you’re on a Flash-less phone and can’t view it, here’s the skinny:

For the past four years, Avery has scoured America in search of short stories from “emerging artists” to publish in an anthology. They’ve been able to publish over ninety projects, but were looking to expand, to continue to shine light on the diamonds in the dark.

They eventually came up with the idea to publish stories (and now photographs) from 25 cities. Some of the cities are popular, some not as well-known.

Avery Anthology's 25 Cities Project

The stories must center around one of the specific cities. Originating from or currently living in the city is not a requirement, but the stories’ central locale must be one of the 25 cities.

Already, 35 submissions have been received, and after only two weeks in, the project is currently at 50% of its crowdfunding goal, thanks to its 19 backers. The deadline is March 5th, so you have plenty of time to pledge funds or submit material.

^_^ Anything is helpful.

I’m thinking of submitting a short story i’m working on, or well, one that i was working on a couple of years ago: it takes place in Seattle, revolving around a struggling, unpublished writer. And, before you ask: Nope, i’ve never been to Washington State, but i love the infamous backdrop of its most known city: rain and gloomy.

Maybe i’ll post a preview of the story to see if it has some legs, even if they are wobbly and not strong enough to walk yet. It could be fun.

Be sure to check out my other posts on the each Kickstarter project i’ve funded, as well as the post on Kickstarter and sites like it.

Thanks for reading—as usual.

I’m out.

Peace.

tagli.us, a new social alternative to delicious

tagli.us

Two days before my post about never having to forget a link again w/ trunk.ly, i pledged to tagli.us. The goal of this project was to be an alternative to the hospice-residing delicious bookmarking service.

Combining bookmarking and social networking, tagli.us aims to fill a void. It seemed great at the time, but after learning about and using trunk.ly, tagli.us seems a little too late. At least on “paper.”

The biggest thing it has going for it is its much larger list of sites with which it will play nice. Right now, trunk.ly only grabs links from Facebook, delicious and Twitter, while tagli.us lists close to a dozen popular services.

Check it out, though. Maybe it’ll have some features setting it above and beyond its competition.

As usual, thanks for reading! And be sure to check out other Kickstarter projects i like.

I’m out.

Peace.

hip hop word count: searchable rap almanac

Over the years my friends and i have had heated debates over song lyrics, over artists, over albums, hell, even over skits from a mixtape. Constantly we tried to recall exactly what someone said, always skewing it to fit our needs, of course; who produced a beat; or who said something first—did dude really bite a line?

I, nor my friends, have an eidetic memory, so being able to accurately bring up lyrical “facts” has been difficult and time-consuming, even with the Internet and being able to search for lyrics or liner notes. Also, that ish isn’t always accurate (it is the Internet after all lol).

We now have an answer with the forthcoming project, The Hip-Hop Word Count: A Searchable Rap Almanac.

The idea to build the Hip-Hop Word Count came out of having hundreds of heated & passionate discussions about Rap music: Who was the best rapper of all time? Which rapper had the smartest songs? Which was the most popular champagne in Hip-Hop during 1999-2003? Which rapper uses the most clever metaphors? Which city’s rap songs use the most monosyllabic words? Does living in higher altitudes create a natural proclivity for Gangster Rap?

Tired of having these answers left up to conjecture or whoever had the loudest voice, I decided to build a tool that would help give answers by charting the culture described within Hip-Hop music.

With 21 days remaining (deadline Feb 13th), the project is ~70% funded by 200+ backers. I can’t wait to be able to dive into the almanac to see what zany facts or other information i can find about my favorite songs and rappers, as well as random stuff i never knew.

I’m hoping Hip Hop Word Count will be the Google or WikiPedia of Hip Hop: the go-to source for “truth” or at least to settle more friendly some debates.

I’m proud of hip hop. I’m proud to be a supporter of this project. Let’s go!

I’m out.

Peace.

creatives + non-profits, solve your funding problem: Kickstarter kicks ass; IndieGogo does, too

[Update at the bottom: 1/24/2011] Many of us have wonderful, creative ideas. We believe they will be the biggest thing since Facebook or Mooz-lum The Movie. But, before we can deliver it to the world, we need funding.

That’s where Kickstarter comes in. It revolves around crowdfunding. Basically, you post a description and video of the backstory and purpose of your project, sharing with others why it would be great to pledge funds. Of course, your project has to follow some guidelines, but that shouldn’t be a deterrent.

For those looking to pledge, the funding can be as little as $1 up to whatever you’d like to pledge. The money isn’t taken out of your account right away; it isn’t until the project is “fully funded,” meaning it has reached a preset monetary goal and the deadline has been reached.

In addition to the good feeling you’ll receive from helping others fulfill their vision, there are different tiers of Rewards you can receive. I’ve seen rewards after donating $1, which will be a thank you note/email and credit on the project’s website as a funder; stuff for $25, where you’ll receive a physical thank you card or a t-shirt; and $100, earning you the status as a “Founder” or receiving behind the scenes access to production of the film or being a beta tester. The reward tiers vary for each project; i was just giving an example.

There are all types of projects, from films and documentaries, to music albums, EPs and mixtapes, to iPhone accessories and online services. You can search for them by city or category. There’s something for everyone to support—and if not, i’m sure there will be in the future. I’ve been checking at least once a week the past few weeks, and found these great projects.

IndieGoGo

Based on the projects, it seems that Kickstarter is preferred by entrepreneurs and artists for funding, but for non-profit organizations, i discovered IndieGogo (thanks to @AfricaHannibal, a Search Engine Marketing expert). The website uses a similar funding and rewards system to Kickstarter’s.

IndieGogo has a wide-ranging assortment of interesting projects, in particular is its listing of several for community-based, non-profit organizations. There is also a cool looking film about a paralyzed musician, Jason Becker, who composes music with his eyes!

I urge everyone to browse through both IndieGogo and Kickstarter in search of something of interest, especially if you are a non-profit looking for an influx of cash to reach your next goals. Continue to help fellow creatives, entrepreneurs and philanthropists.

I know i will.

Hope this was helpful, and i’m thankful for your patronage ^_^

I’m out.

Peace.

[Update: So, i misspoke earlier: with IndieGogo, when you start a project/campaign, you keep money raised, even if you don’t reach your goal; but there’s a 9% fee if you don’t, and a 4% fee of monies raised if you do. Kickstarter, on the other hand, charges zero fees when you reach your goal, and you do not keep any money if you don’t reach your goal. Kickstarter is better for pledgees, since they aren’t charged; IndieGogo is better for those looking to raise money.]

The Loving Story: tears welled in my eyes watching this

The video below is the trailer for an upcoming film, The Loving Story, by Elisabeth Haviland & James and Nancy Buirski, about the Supreme Court case of Loving vs. Virginia, contesting the legality of miscegenation (interracial cohabitation or marriage).

The film project is currently in the final days of funding at Kickstarter, the “largest funding platform for creative projects in the world.” Although it’s been around for a few years, i hadn’t found a project that resonated and compelled me to pledge funds.

Until now.

Being of mixed heritage and a firm believer in the rights of the individual, the upcoming film hits squarely home. Without the allowance of my parents to commingle, i, nor my brother, would be alive today.

The Loving Story
The Loving Story by Elisabeth Haviland James/Nancy Buirski

I think the image i grabbed speaks volumes: Felony, Interracial Marriage.

I was first introduced to this case in 2009 by my frat brother, who invited me to attend the annual Loving Day celebration in New York (events are held throughout the country and on various dates). It was wonderful to see hundreds of other products of mixed parents, as myself, and supporters of equal rights for all and the spread of love for humanity. The attendees weren’t just Black and White progeny, but i met a Norwegian-Chinese man, a Japanese and Black woman, and other assorted combinations. It was grand, to say the least. Having attended the past two celebrations, i look forward to being present at the 2011 event.

I take very seriously the rights of the individual; i believe wholeheartedly in free will, in allowing one’s own creativity, imagination, opinions, conscience and desires, amongst all other choices to roam free, baring in mind that others are given that same liberty; undermining or limiting someone else is prohibited. It is a principle that i hold steadfast, and i cannot bare or standby if it’s attacked.

With that said, i also love history, i love my people, i love my country, and i love humans as a whole, but i know that we have faltered when it comes to many things, anti-miscegenation is one of them. It hurts to see or know that people have been denied the option of and to love; that they’ve been denied relationships because of ignorance and myopic rationale, not to mention fear and uncalled for and misguided hate.

I hope to spread the word of not only the Loving Story film, but also awareness of Loving Day and the continued triumph of choice and love.

Peace.