Avi Kaplan: The Evolution (in Videos)

There are only a handful of musicians who move and excite me otherwise they are mostly meh. I hadn’t really been able to truly dig music since the ’80s (with few exceptions).

Until nearly five years ago (2014) when I stumbled across Pentatonix’s Christmas video, The Little Drummer Boy, on You Tube.  Two vocalists in particular stood out to me: Kirstin Maldonado and Avi Kaplan.  I especially loved Avi’s booming bass voice. I was very sad when he announced in early 2017 that he was leaving Pentatonix to pursue his own music as well as to spend more time with his family.

It’s been a joy watching him grow and mature as a musician striving to find his own path.  And boy, with his latest song, I believe he has finally arrived.  But, in order to truly appreciate his latest music, you really need to revisit his past music, and then as you listen to the Change On the Rise, you will truly understand why his fans are so excited and wowed and stunned!

Avi was born and grew up in Visalia, California, a city in the San Joaquin Valley.  Being Jewish, he was subjected to ridicules and bullying as a kid. Having grown up near the Sequoia National Park, nature greatly influenced his music.

In the video below, you will hear the story of how Pentatonix and Avi came together to compete on a television show (Sing Off) that would change their lives forever.

September 2011

The video below was where I first discovered Avi (in 2014).

December 2012

The song below won Pentatonix their first Grammy.

2013

Below was Avi’s final performance with Pentatonix.

September 2017

Avi loved Folk music so naturally the music in his debut album fell in that genre. The song below is my favorite.

First solo album (Sage & Stone) released in June 2017-Avi & the Sequoias

I believe sometime in 2017, he moved to Tennessee to live in a cabin deep in the forest outside of Nashville. Here he would spend his quiet days writing and playing songs. Every once in a while a video surfaced of him. Otherwise, he basically took a sabbatical in order to delve into his own music away from the chaotic world.

September 2018

And then this! This music video premiered on You Tube on the said date below. For those who closely followed Avi and his music, well, this was a real treat.  We’ve listened to the kind of music he sang in the past, and this…this was NOT what we expected.  Far, far from it!  We were speechless and so incredibly moved to tears.  Yes, Avi is finally coming into his own. And I expect him to continue to surprise and shock us with his talent in songwriting and singing.  Oh, did I mention that voice?  Simply put…there is no other like it.

March 22, 2019

Avi’s official website 

His You Tube channel

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10 Films Based On Short Stories

Are all movies produced from screenplays only?

Nope.

Many have been inspired by novels. Think Harry Potter and Twilight. But, did you know that there are a large number inspired by short stories?

Here are a few just to give you an idea:

Sleepy Hollow – based on Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

The Birds – based on Daphne du Maurier’s story with the same name

Minority Report – based on Philip K. Dick’s story with the same name

I, Robot – inspired by a collection of short stories by Issac Asimov of the same name

Candyman – based on Clive Barker’s collection of stories in the Books of Blood

They Live – based on Ray Nelson’s Eight O’Clock In the Morning

Dark Water – based on Koji Suzuki’s Floating Water

Screamers – based on Philip K. Dick’s Second Variety

The Thing – based on John W. Campbell Jr.’s Who Goes There?

In my next post, how does a short story get selected to be a film?

#NeverForget September 11th (The Bench)

September 11, 2001 changed America.  Even after seventeen years, I can’t shake this dreadful feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Every time I hear a plane fly overhead.  Or, enter a high-rise building.  Or, see a fireman walking past me on the street.  Certain images and sounds would transport me back to that fateful day.

In fact, I went nearly seventeen years of not stepping foot on an airplane.  Until July of this year.

I was born in New York State, and spent the first 30 years of my life there just five hours north of where the World Trade Center once sat. I had just moved to Raleigh, NC (May 2001) when this horrific day took place.

As the events of 9/11 continued to haunt me, I decided to write a micro-story and then turn it into a microfilm, The Bench.   In a way, I did this to try and purge some of these feelings of intense sadness and of the anger over what we all had lost that day.  I wrote this from a fireman’s perspective drawing upon a specific story I saw on one of the many 9/11 documentaries.

 

I then realized I could not remember the name of this fireman.

For the next two days, I hunted online for his name as it’d been several years since I last saw his story.

Finally, I found it in this article:  Husband and Wife Survive World Trade Center On 9/11

Someone also took the iconic picture of him sitting on the bench when he couldn’t find his wife anywhere—

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although his story had a happier ending, I wrote my story with the thought of so many others who’d lost their loved ones.  And even worst, never to have their remains found.

So, let us never forget the sacrifices of all those who died on that day, and continue their legacies into our future generations.

 

#YouTube Tuesday: Man’s Hands

I wrote this poem not too long ago about my thoughts on nature, and how man tries to imitate it with his own creation.  Below you can either read it, or watch in video format.

 

Beauty and magic

are found in nature

where the urban

landscape

only hopes to

emulate

 

 

Guardian, keeper

of sacred and pure

unmarked, noble

from man’s

immoral hands

these peaks stand

 

 

This world darker it

grows, compelling me

to the mountains

in search

of what my heart,

soul yearn for

 

 

No city or wealth

created by man’s

hands can provide

the hope

and harmony

crafted by earth

 

 

Now I understand

the soldiers’ need of

retreat to the

quiet

after wars

to a place where true

healing exists

untouched, unblemished

by man’s hands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Favorite: Captain Kirk (Quote)

 

I’ve long been a fan of the Star Trek television series and films, and out of all the Captains, James T. Kirk has always been one of my favorites.  Although I do enjoy the version by actor Chris Pine, the one portrayed by William Shatner will forever be the best.

The most memorable quote by Kirk (Star Trek V The Final Frontier):

(The full quote: “Damn it, Bones, you’re a doctor. You know that pain and guilt can’t be taken away with a wave of a magic wand. They’re the things we carry with us, the things that make us who we are. If we lose them, we lose ourselves. I don’t want my pain taken away! I need my pain!“)

This quote resonated with me on so many levels both personally and as a writer.  Our painful experiences deepen and enrich our lives, and make us the individuals we are.  Without painful experiences, how else are we able to sympathize and empathize with others?  They make us human.  Our painful experiences also enable us to be better writers.  To create real characters that our readers can identify with.

For me, on a personal level, I’ve decided to keep my pain instead of seeing shrinks to help ease them.  Not (just) to punish myself (yeah, morbid), but they help me craft better poetry and disturbing stories.

Sounds so Stephen Kingish, eh?

This is probably one of the reasons why I write dark stuff although lately I’m attempting to write Romance (but of course they’ll have some dark qualities in them).  Life is real, and it’s hard.  Life isn’t all roses and sweet.  But, it does have moments of hope and love and laughter.

Being human is complicated.  Full of layers.  Both good and not-so-good.

Like Captain Kirk.

What about you?  Do you have a favorite quote that resonates with you?