The Writeous Ones Small Group: Week 1

My friend Rocky is leading a small group called The Writeous Ones. It’s full of writing exercises with like-minded people. Tonight was the first meeting. I’m excited to be a part of it, and I look forward to him challenging me through this semester.

The first assignment was a found poem. I had these instructions to follow:

Find two ads in a newspaper. Create a poem only using words from the two adds.

So for lunch today, I went grab a newspaper. I might’ve only needed a physical newspaper a handful of times in my life. This newspaper only had two ads in the entire paper. Maybe I grabbed the wrong one? I made a list of all the important words on these two ads, skipped over anything in fine print or the paragraphs inside the ad. I felt like I needed rules around this challenge. What you’re seeing here is both ads and then what I came up with. Nothing major, but a fun exercise to get me thinking.

  • The Most Insight Inside Of Eyesight.
  • Take Time, Stay Available With Us.
  • Turn To Your Family.
  • Factory Trained, Remaining The Same.
  • School, It’s Cool. From Residential Services, To Techs And Experts.
  • Make Vision Today. Wanting On, Not Off. And Operated Outside When Hot.

Mixing Up Metaphors

For my second assignment, I had to come up with my own versions of popular sayings. I find all of these cringe worthy, and kind of embarrassing, but that’s the point, I guess. Here’s the results:

  • Fast as Usain bolt and Michael phelps in a tricycle race.
  • Hot as your McDonald’s burger that was prepared 30 minutes before you got there.
  • Smooth as a babies bottle.
  • Dark as the night, when the moon left room.
  • Slick as a slipping slide combined with blue Dawn soap.

Next Week’s Assignment

Dear Younger Me: Write a letter to yourself in the past. 500 words.

The Gold Coin: a short story by Devin Wright

I’ll be starting something new on my site: a series of guest posts. I know a lot of creative people. I also know a lot of people with powerful stories and testimonies. I’d like to give these people a platform to share something, as well as add more value to my site.

I must’ve said this story a dozen times already, but it holds so much power. When introducing ourselves at the Creative Minds Small Group, Devin said, he doesn’t create, he’s just here.” But since saying those words, he’s written three short stories already.

Let’s all encourage him to keep writing and create a short story book. He said that’s what he wants to do, and at this pace, that dream is closer than he could’ve ever imagined. Here’s his first one. During all the chaos (guitars, singing, rapping, laughing), this was written.

The Gold Coin

One day a professor hid some gold coins in a big open field and then challenged his class of 50 students from his Religious Studies to each go into this open field in between classes and look for the gold coin that has their name in this big open field, and once they found their coin, they could keep them.

For the next two weeks, each student went to this open field and looked for the gold coin that had their individual name on it, coins they believed to have a high price and to be very valuable. Some students found one after only several hours. Some spent the entire two weeks to find their coin with their name on it. What the students found out was, in addition to the frustration and aggravation created from taking so long to find this coin, was instead of finding an expensive, highly valuable coin, they discovered that the coin they were looking for was actually fake and held zero value to anyone.

The students grumbled and complained, and did not understand why they were given such a pointless assignment. Why did the professor mislead them to believe they were looking for something of real value, but was actually meaningless? The professor calmly stood up from his desk and walked to the front of the classroom. With a sense of tenderness in his heart and voice, he began to explain to his class that the reason for this assignment was to teach them about God.

He wanted to teach, by example that the students had each searched fervently for their coin the same way Christ fervently searches and seeks each and every one of us. To God, we are a treasures and are worth more to Him than we could ever imagine. This was to teach them that God seeks our heart (His Treasure). When we allow God to capture us, we are then made complete by His love and we become priceless.

Creative Minds Small Group: The Introduction

There’s a story I want to tell you. It’s actually a few stories. This blog post is important to me because it’s about other people. It’s about underdogs. These people have been overlooked for most of their life. But tonight, that all changed.

I was the first person there:

Just sat down at Downtown Jeaux. Jazz is playing in the background. Antonino is the DJ, scone baker and order taker. See y’all soon.

That simple message alone was good, but that was before experiencing the rest of the night. This is what happens when you put a dozen creative people together in one room.

Before everyone showed up, we put three tables together and planned for about 10 people, but once everyone arrived, we had to add another table to it, and a few people even sat in a booth next to us. The number of people that gave my group a chance is incredibly humbling. I was nervous about the outcome before it started, but I left there knowing that something big just happened.

Once everyone walked in—they were all right on time, some even early, all eager to get started—they ordered their coffee and scones, filled up the chairs, and we took turns introducing ourselves and how we were creative.

The coolest story from tonight is that my friend, Devin Wright, when it was his turn to introduce himself, said, I’m not creative, I’m just here.” Well, before the night was over, he handed me his small notebook, and asked me to read what he wrote. The same guy that said he wasn’t creative wound up writing a short story, and he’ll be my next Guest Post on this site. That’s incredible. That’s a success story like no other: someone that walked into a room full of creators, shy and feeling like he didn’t belong there, ended up being the only one that left with a finished product.

After introducing ourselves, we decided to leave for 30 minutes and watch JP perform. He was only a few streets over. He knew the small group was coming watch him, but he thought the small group only consisted of a few guys. We walked in with a dozen people (about half as many as they already had in there), increasing the audience and giving JP the support he deserves. My Creative Minds Small Group, after learning each other’s names, went on a field trip to watch a fellow member perform spoken word. You would think this was planned. You couldn’t have scripted a better introduction if you tried.

When it was over, we all went back to Downtown Jeaux and stayed there until 11pm, two hours later than their usual closing time. The owner gave us permission to stay there as long as we needed, and that thought alone blows my mind. See, this small group was originally planned for Books-A-Million. It was the only place I could think of for a handful of people to talk about creating. It was also the only place I could think of that stayed open until 10pm. But a few days before starting my small group, I found Downtown Jeaux, told the owner about my idea, and this is the results. As you can see—between this and an art performance going on a few blocks over—things effortlessly fell into place.

When we settled back in at Downtown Jeaux, one guy performed a song: he went grab his bluetooth speaker, grabbed a handful of loose-leaf papers, turned on the music and words just started flowing. Behind me was someone crocheting. In front of me, there were three acoustic guitars, people singing, another guy rapping over the guitars, there were writers writing. On the right side of me, coffee was brewing. You can hear people laughing and just having a great night. This paragraph is what I had in mind for a small group: no structure, no rules, just let creativity happen—but even the thought of all of these things happening doesn’t compare to what actually went down. Inspiration was everywhere.

I made this small group on Saturdays at 8pm for a reason. That’s usually the time people are getting ready to go out and drink. I wanted somewhere’s healthy for me to be, without the alcohol, without the negativity. I wanted my Saturday nights to be booked up with people that inspire me. I didn’t want my Saturday nights to be a blur anymore. I made that decision when the location was still going to be Books-A-Million. God had other plans. My small group is now hosted at a coffee shop that’s right behind two popular bars. The people that are walking in those bars and won’t remember their night, are first passing by us and looking through the window, at a dozen people who are experiencing a night they’ll never forget.

Death Note: Light Up the New World (Trailer)

The story continues.

Rolling Shirts and Letting Go of Hangers

When I got home from work last night, my plan was to relax and watch some movies and just take it easy, since I never get the chance to. But then I stumbled upon this video.

I immediately turned the lights on, dragged my nightstand near the television, grabbed all of my hanged clothes, and within 20 seconds of getting excited about this idea, I was rolling my wardrobe and making a pile of hangers. (Also watched this video during folding everything.)

How cool is it that hangers is something I’ve had my entire life, and now I can let them go.

How do you get over a broken heart?

Neil Gaiman:

You don’t, ever. Not quite. But time can do amazing things. A deep wound scabs over, and the scab becomes a scar, and then one day you look for the scar and it’s barely visible.

What’s important is not to become the wound. Not to spend your life and your time and your attention on the hurt and the heartbreak. Take it and make art with it, instead, or use it to push yourself forward, into things, not away from them.

Radiohead: The Secrets of Daydreaming

A video essay exploring the many hidden secrets in Paul Thomas Anderson’s new Radiohead music video: Daydreaming.”

A fascinating 14 minute video. I love Radiohead so much.

The Dark Knight — Creating The Ultimate Antagonist

Batman and The Joker aren’t competing for the survival of humanity. They’re competing for the soul of Gotham. The stakes are personal.

10 minutes of in-depth analyst, exploring why Heath Ledger’s Joker is the ultimate antagonist.

Sometimes we earn the day, sometimes we sit on the couch

This picture showed up in my email today. Austin Kleon, the guys who made this, takes a newspaper and blacks out everything but the story he wants to tell.

Sometimes we earn the day…

The phrase earn the day” caught my attention. How can I earn my day, both at AT&T and on my site? Am I doing what I can to earn this current day? Did I earn yesterday?

Lately, I know I have earned my day creatively and at my church. I’ve been pouring into both more than I ever have. And unfortunately, because of this, my work at AT&T has been slacking. My day job is what pays the bills, so you would think I’d be completely focused on it, but I seem to get comfortable and go through the motions. I haven’t been earning my day there.

Sometimes we sit on the couch.

It’s important for me to give each day everything I have and not be complacent. I have all the tools that I could possibly need: a great paying job, a vehicle, a website, an iPad, a microphone. There’s no reason why I can’t earn my day. From when I wake up until I close my eyes, my goal is to earn the day.

Side note: I love Austin Kleon’s book, Steal Like An Artist. Highly recommend it.

The easiest way to organize your stuff is to get rid of most of it

I’ve cut my possessions down to about 70% from last year. Studying minimalism has been one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made. It’s helped with my peace and anxiety—It was one of many steps I’ve taken to improve my life.

I can’t stress this enough: you don’t need as much as you think. When I bought a new pair of shoes a few months back, I got rid of almost all of my other shoes. I only kept one pair of dress shoes, one pair of basketball shoes, and then my new everyday shoes. Since buying my everyday shoes though, it’s been the only pair of shoes I’ve put on. The other two are technically not even needed, but I’m a basketball player, and if I get invited somewheres nice, I’ll need more than tennis shoes.

I’ll be talking about this a lot more going forward, but this tweet inspired me to share some thoughts on the matter.

EE to Offer Free Six-Month Apple Music Subscription

I can see this coming to AT&T and Verizon next month when the new iPhone launches. That’ll give Apple Music a huge boost in users.

My Thoughts on Blonde, Frank Ocean’s New Album

Frank Ocean’s album, titled Blonde, came out this past weekend. It’s been four years since his last album, Channel Orange (which is one of my favorite albums ever). I’ve been eagerly waiting for his follow up ever since. It’s finally here, and needless to say, it doesn’t disappoint.

In fact, I consider it even better than Channel Orange. Frank taps into more complex emotions, as the album isn’t as black and white as Channel Orange was. There’s so many abstract moments throughout the 17 songs that I catch something new every time I listen, which is huge since it literally hasn’t stopped playing on my phone for days. As soon as the last song ends, the first song starts, and even when I’m busy and can’t pay attention to it, it’s still playing in the background. The reason it hasn’t gotten old yet is because Frank didn’t focus on the traditional verse, hook, verse, hook format. In each song, there’s no telling what happens next. Stories are constantly moving. From beginning to end there’s a nonstop sense of progression.

The album starts with Nikes”, which incapsulates the album on its own. That entire song is a build up, from the words to the production, and even the adjusted pitch in his voice, chipmunk sounding. But you know that you’ve finally arrived inside of the album, three minutes in, when the pitch is corrected by his natural voice, and the first words you hear from him are, We’ll let you guys prophesy.” This is the beginning, this is when the story starts, as if those first three minutes were a tunnel, traveling towards him for those first words, we’ll let you guys prophesy.

There’s a level of detail throughout the entire album. His thoughts are all over the place. One song could be about a dozen different things—they’re all well thought out, but with a sense of calmness and patience. And that’s what I appreciate most about this album, the controlled chaos. It’s rare to see an artist take so many risk on an album, but yet still be in complete control.

Becoming the Boy Once Blind: a guest post from John LeBoeuf

I’ll be starting something new on my site: a series of guest posts. I know a lot of creative people. I also know a lot of people with powerful stories and testimonies. I’d like to give these people a platform to share something, as well as add more value to my site.


Becoming the Boy Once Blind

My name is John JP LeBoeuf and I am a writer/spoken word poet from Houma, Louisiana. I perform under the moniker, Boy Once Blind (album link) which came from the title of a short story I wrote years ago about a young man who encountered God much like the story of Saul of Tarsus in the Bible except this blindness was metaphorical and not literal. Since the latter part of 2012, I have been writing, recording and performing pieces that are now featured on my debut album, which I independently released in June of 2015 titled Inspired by Tragedy”.

Originally, the poems that are featured on the album were never intended to be released publically. Much like a lot of my previous songs, they were going to be for my own keepsake but after releasing my first and only single at the time, The Awakening”, that changed everything. It looked to me that there were people who were interested in what I had to say, so I decided to release two more singles right after, which were The Vultures Circle” and Walking Backwards Into Quicksand”.

After a few phone calls from friends who felt the need to confess that they too dealt with the similar struggles that I mentioned in my poems, I wondered who else needed to hear these words of encouragement that demanded a change, who else needed to hear about the hope I had found in God, which led me to want to perform these pieces in front of an audience.

At the time, my brother and I were a singer/songwriter acoustic duo and had a performance at The Cypress (a venue in Metairie, LA). We were the opening act and in order to get the crowds attention, I began reciting, The Awakening” and the audience liked it but that was only just to get their attention, we were there to play songs, not recite poetry.

An opportunity arose just a few months later in the Spring of 2013 when the local Arts Council held a showcase featuring local artists, so I jumped at the opportunity. I didn’t have much to work with at the time so I frankesteined” lyrics together to make up enough material for a whole 7 minutes, that’s right, a 7 minute set time. During my performance, I noticed the crowd was a bit taken back, whether it was by me reciting at a nervous, fast-paced speed, or maybe it was the black jacket with bright pink words Norma Jean” written on the front, and a zombie, ripping his face off on the back. I mean, what were they supposed to make of this?

Once again, to my surprise they actually liked it. I was approached by a few people after the show who said I inspired them to want to pick up a pen and write. They wanted to do what I just did. They wanted to speak! Since then, my work has been featured in Magazine, Newspaper and other online sites. Although it’s great to be recognized for my art, what matters most is the opportunity to share my story about what God has done and is doing in my life. I wouldn’t be where I am without Him and the family and friends He’s given me. There’s no slowing down, I’m just getting started.

We all have a story. What’s yours?

Cornfox & Bros Announce Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm

If you haven’t played the first Oceanhorn, I highly recommend checking it out. It’s like playing Zelda, but on the iPhone (and now it’s on PS4 and Xbox). This was the first game on iOS that changed things for me. This is where I knew mobile gaming is right there with the consoles, if the developer changes the way they think, and not just build a dummed-down game for smartphones, and instead aims to build a great experience, no matter the platform, that’s when something special starts happening. That’s how we got Oceanhorn. And now the second one is on the way. That’s exciting.

Galaxy Note 7 vs. iPhone 6s Speed Test (Spoiler Alert: year-old iPhone blows Note 7 away”)

John Gruber:

Hard to say how much of this should be attributed to the A9 SoC (hardware) and how much to iOS (software), but it is impressive that a year-old iPhone blows away a brand-new

I’m Leading Two Small Groups That Are Starting This Week

This coming weekend I’ll be starting something new. I’m taking a leap of faith and leading two small groups for about 12 weeks straight.

  • Creative Minds: Saturday nights, from 8pm to 10pm, at Downtown Jeaux. This small group will be for anyone that enjoys creating things. Just a group of people, hanging out, discussing the process, and brainstorming on what to create next.

  • BBQ and Basketball: Sunday afternoons, at 5:30pm, at Gray Park or Houma Christian gym. This small group will be for anyone who enjoys food, pickup games, and hanging out with other like-minded people.

Here’s a pro-tip: if there’s something that you wish existed in the world, just create it. That’s how these small groups came to be. If someone else would’ve come up with these ideas for groups, I’d be the first one to sign up.

It’s similar to reverse engineering: how would my favorite artist make this song, or how would my favorite basketball player get past his defender, or how would my favorite writer talk about this topic for a story—and for a second, I’ll pretend like I’m them, imagining their process of creating this thing I want to exist—and before I realize it, it’s becoming a reality, but now I’m the one building it.

That’s an example of what will be discussed at the Creative Minds Small Group, and that’s why I made these groups, because I want them to exist in the world. I hope to see you there.

How Can I Help: an ongoing thought of never doing enough

With so much going on, from job losses, to floods, to people losing their homes, to shootings—I just feel helpless. I made a song about helping, and I help out a lot at my church—and as I’m writing this, I’m in Gonzales, working with AT&T to provide a charging station and free calls to those in the shelter—but in my heart, it still doesn’t feel like enough. I feel like there’s so much more I should be doing.

I understand that we all have limited time and resources, and we can only help so much, but still, are we doing enough? Are we stretching ourselves further than our comfort zones? Or are we donating just enough of ourselves and our resources to look good? Hey look at me, I’m helping! That’s the echoes in my head. There’s this threshold that remains in front of me at all times. It’s usually in my peripheral, not always present, but off to the corner, I see it, or sometimes feel it. That threshold tells me that I’m a good person, and I’ve done my duty as a human and as a new Christian. It’s that threshold that, when I meet it, bells ring, notoriety comes, peers are proud of me—and then I can drift away, feeling better about myself. But it’s that threshold that stops me from reaching further.

I feel guilty and hypocritical. I want to help you without telling others that I’m helping you. I don’t need the recognition. I want to give you my time, but with a 40 hour job that involves late hours, I’m limited on the time I can give you—but even that feels like an excuse.

The Night Of’ Is Not a Mystery Show

Chris Ryan, writing for The Ringer:

Every time we get a fix on what this show is about, the certainty fades away, or delightfully bleeds into a dozen other things. The post-9/11 immigrant experience? Sure, but not only. A study of how the systems that are supposed to keep us safe can easily be turned against us, or destroy us? Yes, and more. Something about the malleability of personal narratives, and how our protagonist can be both a good son and helpful tutor to others, but also a disaffected youth prone to violent outbursts? How about some noir chestnuts like nothing is what it seems”? Yes, but more. So much more.

The Get Down (Part 1): A Netflix Original Series

Just finished watching this. You have to watch this. Grandmaster Flash, Nas, Kool Hurt—what more do you need to hear?

This show is about the essence of hip-hip and DJing. It teaches you about style, and respect, and about maturing. It teaches you about love, and being competitive, and about being fearless. Part 1 is only 6 episodes long, but all 6 are classics.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Trailer)