Music & Storytelling: Troye Sivan


First, I came across Troye Sivan‘s music by accident while on tumblr.  His song “Fools” happened to be playing on the page that I was viewing.  That led me to YouTube, where I discovered that “Fools” was the second part of a three-part story told through music videos (in order: “Wild,” “Fools” and “Talk Me Down”). If I understand correctly, these songs/stories are a part of a larger story that is called “Blue Neighbourhood” (the name of his album).

Beyond the fact that the songs are quite enjoyable, very mainstream pop with a bit of R&B (at least, this is how I describe to myself), the songs tell a poignant story of two gay teens and their tragic love affair.  Really the videos left me at a loss for words–not only is the music awesome, but this a very direct display of gay teens and the struggles they deal with.  Sivan, himself, is gay and actually a very famous YouTuber.  Check out the videos, and then go buy the album! 🙂


Far From Mainstream: New Music Loves!

istock_000019172228xsmallI’ve been listening to a lot of new music over the past year. From dubstep to hardrock.  Luckily, most of what I’ve heard, I’ve liked.  So, on that note, I thought I would share with you to songs I really like.

First is the song “Surprise Reprise” by the band Boom City.  Second is  “Feel Me Why Don’t You” by actor/musician Asahi Uchida.

Two completely different genres of music, but both really amazing.  Hope you enjoy them. 🙂

Travel | Listen to Hang Drum Street Music in Vatican City

Although, due to policy changes, there are fewer musicians these days, Rome continues to have a very vibrant street music culture.  Every now and again, I come across some a musician playing an uncommon instrument, e.g. didgeridoo or (in this case) the hang drum.

Alessio playing the Hang drum on the streets of Vatican City. (Image by D. Blake)

Alessio playing the Hang drum on the streets of Vatican City. (Image by D. Blake)

Take a moment to listen to this wonderful instrument being played by Alessio, a young musician I came across while hanging out in Vatican City.


Quick Note | I’m Back!

“No Excuses. Right?” (Image:

To My Readers & Followers:

My apologies for not having posted over the past 12 days.  Let’s chalk it up to being overwhelmed and morphing into a proverbial hot mess. 😉  It happens, and probably even more so when you have FMS.  Who knows?

Either way, I am back and getting myself and blog sorted out for the month of October.  Of course, NaNoWriMo is on its way next month, in which I will participate, and I hope you will too.

Also, I did keep up with my ATR Challenge and Prayer/Meditation Challenge, both of which are still going strong!

Look out later on for a regular post from me.  In the meanwhile, enjoy this video (with an adorable little girl  doing some incredible dancing) I found lately by Japanese actor and musician Asahi Uchida. 🙂

Until Next Time,


Season of self-love…

It is cold today.  The kind of cold that reminds me of walks in northern Massachusetts on a windy autumn day.  It is that kind of cold.   My mind is filled with images of warmth:  blankets, fires, good books, family and friends.

I also have a cold today. It is not the worst one that I have had in recent memory.  It is enough, however, to cause my mind to feel sluggish, my fingers to ache, and my creativity to diminish.  Sometimes life is like that, right?

Sometimes life forces you to stay still.  Sometimes it reminds you that no matter what you think you ‘should’/’must’/’need to’ do, you can only do as much as you can do.  It reminds you to make decisions that take into account where, who, and what you are.  I am glad for this.

It is in these moments of pause that I remember that… You know what?  Physical and psychological hardship are experiences a part of the ebb and flow of life, and they are possible to overcome.  And what’s wonderful is that they can be easier to overcome when you acknowledge their presence in your life…

More importantly, they can be easier to overcome by allowing others to understand that this is your present experience, and furthermore…by allowing others to help you.  Well, I am off to play piano, write, study, work, and be with friends.  In other words, I am off to experience the rest of my life not just my illness.

Happy Weekend All!

Until next time!



Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes,
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Moments so dear.
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights
In cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.In five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure
A year in the life?

How about love?
How about love?
How about love? Measure in love

Seasons of love. Seasons of love

Packing the playlist…

“Fragments of Freedom,” photography by Dolores Juhas (

As I prepare for NaNoWriMo and am engaging in studying for exams, listening to music is becoming a more prominent feature of my daily experience.  Whether it is listening to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons or Gotye‘s Heart’s A Mess, I find that music helps me to focus my mind, and streamline my thoughts and emotions.

And so….I’ve been trying to put together  a playlist specifically for NaNoWriMo.

Selecting music for a playlist is a bit like packing a suitcase for a long trip.  You need to make sure that every item there serves a purpose.  I am still not certain of my list as it stands.  Thus,  I am looking for suggests for instrumental as well as vocal music.  Ethereal and dark sounds are welcomed.

I have about fifty selections at the moment (even though there are only forty listed below).  I would like to make it an even hundred (100).  So, make some suggestions!  At the moment, my playlist is as follows:

  1. 3 LibrasA Perfect Circle
  2. Rolling in the Deep – Adele
  3. Con Te PartiroAndrea Bocelli
  4. Moonlight Sonata – L.V. Beethoven
  5. Invasion – Bleach Soundtrack
  6. Morning Remembrance – Bleach Soundtrack
  7. Short Skirt, Long Jacket – Cake
  8. Hello AloneCharlie Winston
  9. In Your Hands – Charlie Winston
  10. Viva la Vida – Coldplay

  1. Lovesong – The Cure
  2. Makedo – Darko Rundek
  3. Titanium – David Guetta
  4. Didn’t Cha Know – Erykah Badu
  5. Here Comes The Rain – Eurythmics
  6. Cosmic Love – Florence and The Machine
  7. Trista Pena – Gipsy Kings
  8. Un Amor – Gipsy Kings
  9. Eyes Wide Open – Gotye
  10. Heart’s A Mess – Gotye
  1. Somebody I Used to Know – Gotye
  2. What Do You Want? – Gotye
  3. Now We Are Free – Lisa Gerrard
  4. Anna Molly – Incubus
  5. A Long Walk – Jill Scott
  6. Really Believe – Theo Eastwind
  7. Still Doll – Kanon Wakeshima
  8. Michiyuki – Kaori Hikita
  9. Got the Life – Korn
  10. Bram Stoker’s Dracula Soundtrack
  1. The Piano Soundtrack – Michael Nyman
  2. Little Earthquakes Album – Tori Amos
  3. Desert Rose – Sting
  4. What You KnowTwo Door Cinema Club
  5. MapsYeah Yeah Yeahs
  6. Heads Will Roll – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  7. Not in Love – Crystal Castle feat. Robert Smith
  8. November RainGuns ‘N’ Roses
  9. Live at the Acropolis Album – Yanni
  10. Lord of the Rings Trilogy Soundtrack

Vrijeme po mom satu, (Photo of the year: Cahayabox –, photography by Dolores Juhas ( )

Photographs are by Croatian photographer, Dolores Juhas, whose work has been featured in such magazines as Italian Vogue.  You can visit her website at or email her:  She has her own blog at

Hearing my voice again…

Suppleness Of The Moment, photography by Dolores Juhas (

It is cold today.  The kind of cold that conjures to the mind apple orchards, pumpkin pie, and children running around in costumes.  It’s that kind of weather today, and I am sitting outside.  Perhaps I shouldn’t be.  Perhaps I should go inside.  I won’t though.  At least, not until I have finished enjoying the feeling of being outside.

Living in the moment is an art form.  Being able to say “Yes, I will acknowledge you” to the goings-on around and within you is not easy.  It takes time to soothe the fear of the unknown known, or to learn how to live comfortably with it.  I believe it is a lifelong self-dialogue.  Today, I was able to give an affirmative to myself when I felt the desire to sing and play guitar.  I worked through the fear of having others overhear me, or being disruptive, or sounding like crap, or whatever.  I am glad for it.

Singing today brought about the realization that I have long missed this mode of expression.   To find the right sound, the right words that reach within to evoke all that is so very difficult to state in regular speech, or in poetry, or in stories…

The sound of my voice has changed over the years.  It is more  melancholic, darker…still, I hear that clarity of old, which is something about which I can smile.

Now, if I could only sing like this… 😉 piano…piano

Until Next Time!




Self-portrait by Dolores Juhas. Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

Photographs are by Croatian photographer, Dolores Juhas, whose work has been featured in such magazines as Italian Vogue.  You can visit her website at or email her:  She has her own blog at

Something that makes me smile…

So… I’ve been learning Italian. For the most part, I think it is going fairly well… Well, at the very least, I will say it’s been a process.

One of the most wonderful experiences in learning this beautiful (but quite challenging for me) language happened last semester during my intensive Italian course.  We had the fortune of being introduced to (and listening a couple of times per my request) to the song, “La Gatta” by Gino Paoli, … and it made me smile 🙂

It still does… Thanks, Professor B.!

I hope it will brighten your Saturday too!


Excerpt from “La Gatta” Lyrics

C’era una volta una gatta

che aveva una macchia nera sul muso

e una vecchia soffitta vicino al mare

con una finestra a un passo dal cielo blu.

Se la chitarra suonavo

la gatta faceva le fusa ed una

stellina scendeva vicina, vicina

poi mi sorrideva e se ne tornava su.

Ora non abito più là,

tutto è cambiato, non abito più là,

Ho una casa bellissima,

bellissima come vuoi tu…”  – Gino Paoli

(Lyrics found at

Until next time!



The joy of people-watching… and the interesting people you meet…

All right, so the reality is this: I am writing this on March 4, 2011.  Also, I am no longer in Rome, but sitting in the comfort of my studio-like room in the house I share here in the U.S.  However, better late than never, right?

Tourists at Piazza Navona, Feb. 2011

People-watching is one of my favourite pastimes.  I am also starting to believe that it is the national sport of Italy (yes, yes, I know… there is football/soccer) as Romans, regardless of sex, seem to  naturally engage in the stare-you-down-as-I-pass-you-in-the-street activity.  Also, both Romans and tourists alike enjoy sitting outside cafes and restaurants, in order to take in the events and activities of passersby.  This is without wonder as there is so much to see, smell, hear, listen, and touch in Rome, whether it is the beautiful art prints being sold in the Piazza Navona, or the Bangladeshi street venders asking tourists to try out any one of the many gel-filled objects only for 1 Euro.

Promoter handing out flyers for La Traviata Opera at the Spanish Steps (Rome, Italy) Feb. 2011

During my stay, I have definitely engaged in my share of people-watching, which has provided me with moments of both humour and contemplation.  What I wanted to address in this post, however, are the talented people, who are fixtures on the streets of Rome, whom we sometimes rush by as tourists, because they are simple “street performers,” or “street vendors.”

Campo dei FioriSasha

I remember the first time I saw Sasha Aleksovski perform.  It was an early evening and I was on my way home.  At that time, I did not have the opportunity to stop and stay for his entire performance, but I made a mental note to look out for him.  Luckily, I found him one afternoon, and was able to take some pictures of him, and learn more about his work.

Sasha Aleksovski (Campo dei Fiori area) Feb. 2011

Sasha is a performance artist.  Upon first glance, one might merely think him to be a mime, i.e. until he truly begins to move.  The fact is, Sasha is an extraordinary dancer with a both grace and a fluidity that enchant the observer.  The storytelling quality of his movements create a sense of empathy…  And even if it is for a brief moment, one cannot help but to stop and pay attention to the story Sasha tells through the expression of movement.

Sasha Aleksovski was born in Skopje, Macedonia, and studied painting and sculpture.  He lived in London for three years, where he studied mime and dance theatre.  He began studying butoh dance in 1996 in Rome.  He continues to perform both in public and onstage in and around Rome.  You can find him on or


Trastevere Alex

While making a trek around the city of Rome, it is fairly easy to find your share of watercolour prints, copies of famous paintings, and a host of other image-based art, especially in the tourist-filled areas such as the Piazza di Spagna and Piazza Navona.

Alexandre Veron, photographer, Trastevere (Rome, Italy) Feb. 2011

Everyday I would take a walk through Trastevere, and it was on late weekend afternoon that I met Alexandre Veron.  Actually, to be quite truthful, I met his photography before I met him as Alex actually sat some distance away from his beautiful work. 

Art stand, Alexandre Veron, Trastevere (Rome, Italy) Feb. 2011

Alex is a black and white photographer, who takes images of Rome’s everyday life.  He does not set-up situations, or gets models; he simply photographs what he sees… and what he sees and photographs is wonderous.  I wish I had taken a picture of his pictures.  Perhaps, however, a stroll through Trastevere… or emailing him might work too.  Either way, look him up as he is quite a gifted emerging photographer.


Alexandre Veron, photographer, Trastevere (Rome, Italy) Feb. 2011

Alexandre Veron is a French photographer currently based in Rome, Italy.  You contact him via email at

Campo dei Fiori – Taras 

Meeting Taras was one of those odd occurrences… like lightning striking the same place/person twice.  It was quite a cold and dreary Sunday, and one of those days when Rome and I were not the best of friends.  I was walking back from my usual stroll to the Piazza di Spagna.  On this day, I stopped to listen to the band that played daily in the Piazza Navona, and then made my way to Campo dei Fiori.

Band performing in Piazza Navona (Rome, Italy) Feb. 2011

Taras Bokan, musician, Campo dei Fiori (Rome, Italy) Feb. 2011

I had not really observed many musicians playing in the Campo dei Fiori area since my arrival.  Then again, I rarely came out at night, and perhaps that is when they often played.  Thus, it was a surprise when the sound of music fell upon my ears as I entered the marketplace. 

 There, sitting on a small stool, sat Taras Bokan playing guitar.  Moreover, on what was truly a grey day, he wore the brightest and most wonderful smile that matched well musical abilities.  Also, close-by stood Sasha Aleksovski, the above-mentioned performance artist, who told gave me some information about Taras.  From this conversation with Sasha, I had the distinct impression that there was a strong community bond amongst street performers, which I could only imagine would be beneficial due to the emotionally grueling nature of the work – It truly is not easy putting one’s self on display for the world and asking simultaneously to be compensated for one’s creativity.  Each day is a financial uncertainty for those performers, who do not have other means of livelihood. 

Taras Bokan's guitar, Campo dei Fiori (Rome, Italy) Feb. 2011

Taras Bokan, apparently, is amongst the fortunate, and has been able to utilize his musical talents in different arenas.  

Taras is a multi-talented individual, who is not only a musician, but also a composer (and is quite a gifted artist also).

Taras is a Russian musician and composer based in Rome, Italy.  Visit –


With Italy’s unemployment close to 9% and also its lure for artists of all kinds, it shouldn’t be unusual or shocking to see many talented, established and emerging artists utilizing the public space as a forum to display their creativity… and most importantly, to earn a living.  Yes, the ancient buildings are important, and the art of old too.  What I am suggesting is to move pass any biases, and take a serious look at the offerings of those who make up modern-day Rome, i.e. the street musicians, performers (and I am not talking about the ones wearing gladiator gear), and artists – These people are helping to build the new image of Rome, and should be equally treasured.