I am an avid writer and eclectic artist. I have spent years harnessing my skills of observation in my writing and embellish the ordinary in my work. I created my blog to share my unusual and interesting experiences with the world, to inspire people, or simply to make them laugh.
Today’s featured “15 Seconds of Art” is a snapshot of a weekend in Atlantic City, New Jersey. I find inspiration in quirky details, architecture, and people watching. You can see more of my photography on Instagram: thirtythirdwheel
Today’s featured local NEPA based artist is Cloud Bembenek. Cloud wrote about himself in his following artist’s statement:
Cloud Bembenek studied Illustration and Design at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, graduating with a BFA. He focuses on symbolic design and illustration with a strong sense of type and overwhelming work ethic. His influences run from the history of Russian posters to contemporary metal iconography. He enjoys design tasks that provide space for problem solving and working as a part of a team.
Dive in into my first day of Summer on the streets of Scranton, Pennsylvania. I am inspired by nature, architecture, and the simple random things in life. Check out my work on Instagram: thirtythirdwheel
Siobhan Casey is a writer originally from NEPA. She wrote the following about herself and her work:
Siobhan Casey completed her Master’s in Fine Arts at Chatham University in 2011 where she studied Poetry and Creative Nonfiction. She worked as an assistant editor on the graduate publication, The Fourth River: A Journal of Nature and Place Based Writing as well as Assistant Poetry editor for Weave Magazine. Siobhan also spent time as a creative intern on Creative Nonfiction. Her work has been published in Blood Orange Review, Caper Literary Journal, Rougarou, Monongahela Review, and Coal Hill Review. She published a chapbook of poetry, Three Fourths of a Dream in 2016 and presented her work at the Scranton First Friday Arts Festival. She currently lives in Pittsburgh with her cat, Zooey.
Siobhan included the following poems: That Time I Met Buddha, Story, Mary Oliver Way, and Ode to Objects that Hold.
That Time I Met Buddha
The stones, they
were hands pressed
hard along my vertebrae. Hot,
they formed straight
lines, rows of fires along my legs.
who didn’t claim to be a healer
said that she was born in Hong Kong
and that she was Buddha
that she was a man with power
in her previous life.
−and when I opened my eyes
I was not the same.
I was pure light, weightless.
The dark was not so dark
and the boats were not so far.
The beginning is always improbable: a good hook. You can sense
a seed blowing through the air about to land, anywhere, and turn into
peony or zinnia or, human.
all conflict—a bar fight, communal
shunning, disease, or storm after storm on a broken raft.
If the story is good, the conflict
is so much like the one you are living and yet
not so to the naked eye.
It is one you can feel in your breastbone, in your sleep,
and you mention it to your bedmate
the breath knocked out of you each time
you finish a chapter.
When the story finds its end
you are stunned or unsurprised. Either
way you would like to return
to the moment when the seedling fell from the tree
a magical thing at your feet,
and was just about to become.
Mary Oliver Way
The world blossoms, whether or not we are ready.
The violets and vines creep without design. The backyards purple into blue, cracked asphalt hot underfoot. To the right: a gym with graffiti-d doors. Painted ice cream cones and a man lifting a barbell, his face rendered in the peripheral. The latest addition: a swan with folded wings who floats like a snowy apparition in the winter.
It’s a short meditation, this path, before it breathes onto the boulevard.
To the left: rows of houses, unkempt gardens and stoops where the neighbors, my neighbors, exchange recipes and slumlord stories. Where grandmothers take care of the children and call them in for supper at six o’clock before mothers and fathers return home from their shifts, feet aching.
I walk this alley often. The cats follow, slinking out of garages if the sun is low enough in the sky.
I am learning, like this, to be soft and rooted. To grow whether or not you are visible, not in defiance but in awe.
Ode to Objects that Hold
Julia said I would hear the bagpipes
once it was warm again. And finally
they woke me, the sound clear
on a Saturday morning.
I climbed the fence.
like I would have as a child, my fingernails chipped
from so much living.
A young girl, sixteen, was playing
in Schenley park, under a grove of trees.
I’m not sure how this sound can exist,
holding the opposition
of joy and sorrow together.
metal feathers hang from my ears
and the only sound I can make out is
sleet on the horses
where the fields shiver.
I want to build
a fire. I want to make blue white sparks
so the horses and I can warm ourselves and keep ourselves safe.
Instead, I walk home
and take comfort from solid names
like shelf and bed and tea-kettle
the things that hold
and do not cave.
Would you like your written work to be featured in the The Obsequious Pen? Fill out the form below:
Isabel Anderson is a NEPA based photographer. She writes the following about herself and her work:
“My name is Isabel, and I am a photographer from Scranton, PA. I enjoy taking photos of all kinds, but preferably of people, because I love the touch of humanity and emotion that can be captured on camera.”
Recently, I spoke with directors and cast members of the upcoming musical performance, Showstoppers Cabaret, by Diva Theater Productions, to be performed at The Olde Brick Theatre, starting the weekend of June 22, 2018. I met with the cast a few weeks ago at the Olde Brick Theatre and sat down in the back of this charming place, mesmerized. Marcie Herman Riebe, our beloved contributor of Thirty-Third Wheel and Musical Director of Showstoppers Cabaret was hard at work with the talented cast, perfecting the song, “Be Our Guest” from the musical, Beauty and the Beast. As I sang the song loudly in my head as I would aloud as a child of the 90’s, I relived my love for musicals once forgotten. Then, I recalled the feelings of excitement while listening to this number, imagining dancing dishes, charming candelabras, and back-up accoutrement preparing a fabulous dinner for two in a lonely castle. As an adult, I still picture this performance and sing along as I prepare for dinner guests from time to time.
The next number caught my attention, was “Suddenly Seymour” from the musical, Little Shop Horrors. I spoke with George Conrad, who sings the part of Seymour. George has years of experience in the theater, alongside his family members, including his sister, Kayla, who is also in Showstoppers Cabaret. He said he identified with Seymour’s character, which he said he was also “quirky and was not successful with women.” George discussed his goals to direct and stated the importance of “carrying on stories and impacting others.” Whether comedy or tragedy, I could hear the conviction in his voice that George set out to fulfill his purpose.
I discussed with Marnie Azzarelli, also a beloved writer for Thirty-Third Wheel, her roles in Showstoppers Cabaret. She remained secretive about which songs she will be performing in, particularly as lead. However, she hinted that her lead song involves “a lot of corsets and fans.” Marnie stated about her past experience with acting that, “In the last year, I’ve done a couple of musical reviews. I haven’t really been a part of a production like this in a while, so I’m super excited about it! I was only in maybe one musical when I was younger and I was always hoping to be able to branch out and get myself more involved with musical theater. I’m so glad I get the chance to do that with this show! It’s a challenge but it’s a good challenge.”
Lastly, I spoke with Director, Paul J. Gallo, who gave me a summary of what to expect from Showstoppers Cabaret. He stated: “Showstoppers Cabaret is a celebration of great showstopping numbers in musical theatre. Some tried and true favorites as well as some that may not be as well known, but all bring that big showstoppery feel that sets them in their own class!”
I definitely felt the “showstoppery feel” when listening to the performances of this wonderful cast. I encourage you to attend at least one show (you will want to attend more, because it is that good)!
The Olde Brick Theatre is located 126 W Market St, Scranton, PA 18508. It is $12 for general admission and $10 for student admission. Please call 570-209-7766 to make your reservations. The performances will take place on the following dates and times:
Ever feel like the doors of opportunity are real-fake doors? Ali Pica wrote this poem out of ennui and listlessness of searching.
I Know How To Waste My Time
I know how to waste my time.
I took too many selfies
That all looked the same
Minus the duck lips and cleavage.
I swiped left on my phone,
Edited, and re-edited
A bio no one read.
Vintage vinyls and art,
I struggled to figure out
If someone actually liked me
Or if it was an accident?
As Bob Ross said, there are only happy accidents.
Then, I thought I would be more productive
And use an app to apply for jobs,
Which I kept swiping left, editing,
And re-editing my profile
That no one read
Until I applied for a nursing job by mistake
And received a free resume analysis, which said,
“You have no accomplishments.”
Now I get messages from men
For potential random part-time jobs
Or meet-ups in coffee shops for potential hook-ups.
It’s all the same to me.
A few summers ago, an older gentleman
Rolled up in a BMW convertible
And chatted with me
While I waited for an oil change.
He gave me his business card, which read:
“Service with Happy Endings.”
The card was littered with hand prints
Like that of a child would press against the wall.
He offered me a job waxing boats while wearing my bikini
And promised I could live in his condo on the beach.
I politely declined and moved back home after two masters degrees.