Kalifla’s 5’s and Dimes (A Music Review)

Today I went to the Fair Grounds and had an interesting adventure. Between the usual wares and the people selling pirated music I found a gem, I met Otisha and LB who were both working on a tour to promote their music. I went ahead and picked up a CD, though I’d had to head back to the house because I hadn’t brought enough money with me and I’d bought something already. They weren’t asking a lot but I felt I should give them more than a dollar for their hard work. I wish I could’ve given more than I did.

Before I review the music I want to talk about the people. Not only are they very friendly but when we were talking I enjoyed the intelligence that they both held. We talked about Jazz, despite the CD I am reviewing being Hip Hop and Rap. Some one who is a regular on this blog just burst out laughing as they read that but I actually do listen to a lot of rap, I just tend to move away from Mainstream and especially avoid Gangsta because of the often abusive lyrics.

I am not going to discuss the sociological issues with this CD, but instead I am going to talk about the music. This is because as a mainstream hip hop CD with an attempt at a break out these musicians are going to be singing in ways that are derogatory about women and I expect a lot of internalized racism. I have other posts about that, and I knew going in that there wasn’t likely to be much beyond what I perceive as the norm for this genre.

This is where I was surprised. SHARON’S BOYZ MUSIQ GROUP Presents Kalifla’s Five and Dimes Volumn #2 has some standard beats. The lyrics themselves are given with great talent. The harmonies are solid. I do think the group should invest in a better synthesizer as often the synth defeats them by sounding cheap. Their voices are rich and pleasing. This shows most on the song that for me stood out from the rest. This song is special in that it isn’t about women, it isn’t about sex, it isn’t about money, but it is one of the best love songs I have ever heard. I don’t like most love songs but when your love song is dedicated to your children and is essentially a lullabye that you share with them and the world so that they know you love them even as you travel to try and work? That sort of song is awesome. I wish I could tell you what it is called by the CD doesn’t come up when I hunt for it’s data online and doesn’t have a track listing.

This leads me to the challenge of presentation with a CD such as this. While the music is quality I believe that the producers would benefit from using CD Baby (CDBaby.com) to add more of an internet presence for their artists. This service also includes online sales, and being added to ITunes as well as the general CD Database which is where Media player gets the CD track information from. CD Baby also can provide you with CD production services, though depending on the size of the group this may not be worth it. The CD came in a jewel case with a good cover, though again the cover could benefit from someone like myself who can alter the photo values and make it look on the quality of the bigger groups. This adds to the professionalism.

Would I recommend this CD to my friends? That depends… do you enjoy Hiphop? Yes? Then absolutely. Do I think that there is room for improvement? Yes. Out of five stars here are my ratings:

Music Quality: 3.5, a half is definitely lost to the rough synth sounds.
Music Originality: 3 (This means it’s average with in the industry)
CD Sound Quality: 4.5
CD Presentation: 2

I do think that this group has the potential to succeed in the music industry, and by doing the foot work to build a fan base they adding to their own success. With Books and Music you must reach out and get the word out that you exist.

Their Myspace Page

I was told that they are having a concert on July 3rd, the details SHOULD be present on this page. If they aren’t and you want to attend please let me know and I will find out the exact details for you. I also want to add that when I mentioned I would review the CD the response was “I look forward to reading your review no matter what it is.” So good or bad, the producers and this group are out for people to hear them, another sign for their longevity.

Nightmares

I haven’t had nightmares since my father died. I didn’t notice they were gone at first, because I tend to only have nightmares when I am tired or when I am stressed. Yesterday I was tired and stressed. I curled up to sleep, taking the time to play some music for William so he would sleep and allowing Sprite to lay sprawled over my hips, which pins me in that position until she moves. This is comforting to me. I drifted off into the twilight that comes before sleep and felt the slight pang of fear, wondering what my dreams would bring.

I remember most of my dreams in vivid detail, and last night I simply dreamed of Super Heroes without villains. They had nothing to do and it was a strange mix of Batman and Hal Jordan from the DC universe sipping tea and staring at one another. There were no words, but it appears that the heroes who inhabited my dreams, fighting off the dark monsters have won. I think it was pomegranate tea.

I remember the smells, and as I crept through what my brain deemed Wayne Manor I found only happy things. It was strange, and when I woke, after a 12 hour dead to the world sleep my first thought was, “Huh… I wonder what that was about.” What does it mean when your heroes run out of villains?

After some rumination I decided my brain is well aware of my ability to fend for myself. The one threat that I could not cope with due to the fear, the flashbacks, and the training from infanthood, is gone. My brain embraced this. One of the truest tests of this is finding silence, nothing but happiness even with the Batman in my brain.

Yesterday I ran into people from the last four years, and I found myself frustrated by the repercussions of those roommates. The credit being taken for my work had an effect, and left me aching a bit. The happiness however, at the true friends that I still have was overreaching.

I went to an SCA event for the College of Blaiddwyn, and I pillaged. My medieval persona (who I dress up as) is a norse female who happens to love Pillaging. I start with a fellow viking, a specific individual and then pillage the rest in my own shallow representation of history. I told stories as well in a competition. It was beautiful, it was fun, and I came home with a sense of satisfaction that I only obtain in the SCA. I missed it.

I will upload videos of my stories and some pictures for you all to check out soon. You can appreciate the awesomeness of my hobby horse on the scooter, I named him Wilbur. I found bits of myself i thought were gone forever. Perhaps it was this wholeness that allowed Batman to take his tea. I wonder if he uses cream and sugar.

With fulfillment comes peace. I forgot who said that. Perhaps it was my Sensei, but, I was fulfilled in a thousand ways with in the last few weeks. A lot of that fulfillment is from writing this blog. Though I may become a more sporadic poster, I am alive.

I look forward to telling you of my adventures with the two young women who are marrying one another, with in the SCA, and as I begin to persue the only job I really know how to do in a classic profession (Public Speaking). I specify in a classic profession as I can do many things, and always have layered my life with the things that please me.

Now for the first time in my life all I choose to do is for myself, or my person. For the first time in my life it is mine and mine alone. Even with a commitment to share my life with people I love, it is my choice. When I started this blog a month and a half ago it was at the start of this adventure. It has just begun but in that short time I have come so far, and i am bringing you all with me.

I can’t do this alone, yet, it is for me that I act. I haven’t felt such power since I started dancing. Dance, sing, and find what gives you this strong sense of peace and joy. Change what needs to be changed for the better, and love yourself. A lot of the private correspondence from this blog comes from people in need of love. The best person to find that love with is yourself. I know it is a cliche, yet it is cliched because it is true.

I also offer you something that my neighbor and Sensei taught me. It comes from the Buddhist tradition. He said, “The strongest Love is Wishing love.” What is wishing love? “Wishing love is the love in your heart that comes with each breath. The joy you feel for life, and the love for anyone. I feel wishing love for you. I feel wishing love for my wife. Wishing love is the love for all people and living things. I even feel wishing love for the people who made me cry.” Why? Why love? “Love is powerful, Little Lotus. Love can help you survive anything. When you hurt in here.” His hand on my heart,”Remember that I love you.” He kissed my forehead and sent me home. I wondered then if I could feel wishing love.

I feel wishing love. Remember, when you are afraid, I love you. When you are alone, I love you. I love everyone in this world. I loved even my father with Wishing Love. I will never forget the pain, but I will also never forget the first moment of love. I will never forget the strange sensation in my heart. It felt as if I could do anything. It still does and I can. So can you.

Wishing Love-
I will cry for you
I will live for you
I will laugh with you
I will love you.
I wish you love
I give you love
Wishing Love
Potent Love.
I wish you life.
I wish you joy.
I wish you mercy.
I wish you peace.
I wish you guidance.
May you find those who can lead you in the path of life, until you can lead another.

Showtunes

William Shakespurr is full of surprises. Until last night I haven’t had a good night’s sleep without locking him out of the bedroom and curling up with Sprite and Sprite alone. He stayed last night due to a discovery made in the morning.

I had my Person hand me my antique music box. It is shaped like a grand piano, though the lid is missing now. I wound it up, pulled the wire and a tinkling tune began to play. The Impossible Dream from Don Quixote. You will find that is a theme I listen to often, and have for most of my life.

William came running in to the room and had to investigate the sound. He was quiet, as he usually is but sniffed it. The music stopped and he looked disappointed. His ears drooped and he lowered himself to try and figure it out. I wound up the box again and set it in the same spot.

This time he put one ear against the glass where the music is created. He switched ears as the box wound down again. On the third wind he decided to lay on it, seeing if that would keep it going or claiming it. The music stopped, as the little wire that used to go up and down with the piano lid was pressed in by his body. He got up, and it started again. He did not lay on it a second time but instead put his nose to the glass staring inside. I had to give it another wind and this time he seemed frustrated.

He flipped the box on it’s side, using one paw to keep it from falling over fully and then tried to lift the box with his mouth. It was too heavy for him, so he tried to drag it. He wanted to take it away. At this time I was curious as to why other music didn’t effect him this way. The not so savage beast was tamed by … Showtunes?

Turning to the computer I pulled up a recording of the Impossible dream. He laid down and let me hide the music box in my purse, as I needed it for the day. He was just as happy. It was a sign! I currently am paying way too much for TV and therefore have access to an entire TV station for showtunes. I put that on the TV after the song on the computer was through and to the tune Hello Dolly discovered he was relaxing, calm, and content.

I left to go and watch a speech, and when I came in both he and Sprite were curled up watching the TV, though there were no moving pictures. They were hooked on the showtunes. William has changed his behavior. He was quiet enough I let him sleep with me, though normally this means I do not sleep.

He was warm, soft, and he was well behaved. Even as the night wore on I slept hard and without any interruptions. When I woke he continued to sleep too. When running out of the room suddenly, he did it for the first time without running first into the walls. Showtunes? He apparently needed to have some calming music. He seems like a different cat. Did the Broadway gods come and steal the William I know and am often annoyed at replacing him with this alien copy? That would make him a copy cat.

All I know is this, I love Showtunes and they have him behaving so well our house is now going to be filled with the standards of the stage!

Confessions and Denial

I have a confession to make. I have been in denial about the extent of my back injury. This was partly to survive, but mainly out of fear. What does a spinal cord injury mean? To me it was this frightening set of words that meant I would never do anything again. I have already proven to myself that this is not true, and finally I needed to know. What exactly happened when my spine began to fall apart? What happens as the damage is furthered? Why am I not supposed to exercise? Why do I keep having palpitations and trouble breathing but my heart seems fine? The last one is what made me start learning. Four years of denial, have ended. The answers are frightening but, empowering.

I found this nifty tool, a spinal cord map! This was the first step towards opening my mind to the information. The map gives a general break down of what happens when the zones are injured. My Spinal Cord Injury is overlapping two of the zones, and knowing now what I do, I can understand all of the above. T-12 and L-1 are both damaged, broken, and cutting into my spinal cord. My sacral region is also damaged, though to what extend I am not quite sure.

I still have feeling in my legs, most of the time, but I have limited control over them. I can do a bang up zombie impression when I am trying to walk, my arms outstretched for balance, moans escaping me as I fight to hide my pain, jerking and halting as I move slowly forward. Zombies aren’t diseased corpses. They are people trying to walk with damaged spines!

There is another set of broken bones in my back, between my shoulder blades. Eventually, if the spine goes there, I will be paralysed in a different way. Some of this terrifies me. I am supposed to focus on stillness, forgoing excercise because moving allows the gnawing teeth of broken bone to flex, shift, and cut into my spine. It hurts to move anyway, even my hands moving enough to make these words causes pain, a deep rooted ache that feels as if it will  never, ever end. It might not. If it doesn’t am I lucky? That depends on what comes with the ending of my pain. Death? Not so lucky. Paralysis? Not lucky. Healing?  Extremely unlikely, and that would be better than winning the lottery.

I must adapt. I admit openly that adaptation is not a choice, it is the only option. I can risk my life and my health to excercise or I can try to get used to a stillness that is unnatural. It is natural to move, to dance. Watch a small child play, and they are moving, unless in pain. Pain is a rescrictive thing, it constricts us and binds us in ways that our brains cannot always comprehend. That is why I am asking for more help, I need help with food, I cannot always force myself up to get it. I need help to preserve my tattered spinal cord.

In my imagination my spine is like a worn out dress I used to own, it was bright and colorful but eventually it began to wear thin, holes appeared, until one day when giving a speech I lifted my hands and it fell apart. I was thankfully wearing underwear that day but the people watching my speech saw much more of me than intended. I just grabbed my coat and pulled it on, buttoning it, then finished my speech. I no longer have the confidence to fight my body, to risk wearing my spine through. It can’t be tied back together. I cannot move through my life with a tattered spine, pretending nothing is wrong. I must accept it, and adapt.

This is not an act of strength. It is an act of life. I am not exactly sure why, but, I find no inspiration in others who have ‘over come’ their disabilities or adapted. I think it is because the truth is that you die or adapt. That is the exact thing that makes humans what they are. We adapt. We may suffer, we may struggle, but adaptation is not an act of greatness. The acts of greatness come after, with the knowlege gained and what you do with it.

I have admitted many things in my essays and writings here. Now I am admitting that I am afraid. I am afraid to adapt. It means change. I also know that every time I twist, every time I turn, every time I hear loud snaps from my back, this is something I cannot ignore. I already have an appointment in a few weeks with my doctor and I am going to ask for help. I need to see a nuerologist, I need a reassessment of my body. The wheelchair system I have is hurting me. This must be addressed. There is change afoot, and it is unpleasant.

I am admitting too that my mind is dulled often by pills and pain, together, one at a time, seperately. I am not helpless but my body leaves me vulnerable and now so does my mind. I have dreams, I have hopes, but they feel alien. Who am I to dream? Who am I to hope? These are forbidden emotions, just as to dance was forbidden and is once more. The world feels twisted, pulling at me from all sides.

I live in a world of oppression and today it is too big. I am going to write a story in a few moments, for a story telling contest I want to enter. I am going to chase down my dreams, I am going to live, I am going to adapt. I just am not going to give up. I want to. I want to dance, but, if I do I will be paralysed. There are worse things than paralysis despite what people are taught.

A wheelchair is not the end of the world. I just feel that fear anyway. I am in a wheelchair but I am still afraid of it. I am afraid now that I will pass out while using this one, that I will be hurt. This is not the freedom I felt at first, that first taste of being able to go. Now, it is a fear that does not belong. I am afraid too, that when my spine gives I will suffocate. As my spine degrades it effects my ability to breathe. I feel now that I will surely die if I cannot sing. This is silly, of course I can live without music yet I fear it. I once had this fear about my dancing, and although I can dance in my head, I can feel my muscles flexing and moving, I fear that this will not translate through, with music.

These are my confessions. I have been guilty of denial, self harm, and giving in to irrational fear. Apparently I am not super cripple today, just a human. I confess to being just like everyone else who faces adversity and disability, human. I confess that needing to adapt is frightening. I confess too, that I am determined to find a way to get what I want while respecting the needs of my spine.

Dancing with Limited Mobility

I miss dancing. It was one of my jobs, but just as writing is like breathing, it was also a part of my life that I thought I would have forever. I started dancing when I was three, my Aunt’s daughter taught Ballet and we had lessons. I remember my pride at being able to lift my leg high, and the motions, the grace. I felt like a fairy princess during every class. I never wanted it to end. It did.

My father decided that dancing was just too good for his children, so the lessons ended. The ideals and memories did not fade. I discovered Belly Dancing when I was 17, and I once again found myself moving to music. I could feel it in my blood, coursing through my veins and just as singing, it took over my soul. I could leap, I could twist, I could use my hands and my entire body to entrance someone, as I celebrated the life that is in music.

I was the healthiest I had ever been, and I finally had a job as a dancer. I was reading through the contract to sign on as a permanent dancer with a troupe when I broke my back. I knew something was wrong immediately during practice when I first lifted my arms over head and wanted to scream. I still danced, but, quickly gave up on it. I couldn’t make my body move the way it used to. I had lost the silken rhythms and was trapped in a world of pain. It was the first blow of depression. For a time I wanted to die. If I could not move, what was the point of living?

Four years, maybe more as my time line sense is skewed, and I find the music still stirring my body. Every time, if I twitch my hips slightly my spine begins to burn and I cry. I am failing to resist the lure of a simple beat. I can hear it in my head, my heart pounds and I want it. I cannot strike the poses from my modeling career, I cannot dance… or can I?

Thanks to William Shakespurr I discovered a new method for dancing. He has mastered the remote control just as Sprite has and was watching fashion shows. He has a love of the bright colors and I think it is the techno that is the latest in fashion runway modeling that draws him. I could not resist the music. Tonight after a satisfying, if exhausting Career Builders Toastmasters Meeting I flopped into bed and got comfortable. I left the TV going and reminisced.

I remembered walking on the catwalk, Striking a pose, my body in line, my face the face that the people watching wanted. My body the perfect display for clothing, to make you want to buy it. I struck a pose, laying flat. I crunched horribly but despite the protests of my frame, I felt free. It wasn’t nostalgia, my mind was not trapped in the past, it was just the giggling and playful side that I do not let out as often.

A commercial came on with music and I moved my arms, my back is supported when laying and so it doesn’t have me tipping out of my chair. I was dancing again. This is how I dance now, a fresh discovery. I can twist, I can move, without really moving. I can feel the rhythm and I am not trapped now. My limbs feel freed. I know there will be conecquenecs in the morning, there are already now with my hands refusing to respond as fluidly as normal. I am forbidden to move like this by my doctors, yet, I need it for my soul.

I will have no regrets tomarrow. I have none now, and I am free. I am dancing in the air, I am floating in the sea. Nothing can stop me, for the melody frees me. Twisting, twirling, weightless, and so alive. I burn, not with pain but with Passions that have long been starved. Model, Singer, Dancer, Teacher, Writer. Who I have been? Who I am.

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