'Big Driver' Explores The Monsters We Know All Too Well

Oct 20, 2014

In horror stories we're used to viewing the sharp, blood dripping fangs of a vampire or seeing a restless specter wreak havoc on unsuspecting non-believers, forcing them to believe that things do go bump in the night. That there are ghouls, goblins, and demons, and that their existence is without understanding --- just happenstance. Those monsters are easy to decode, easier to run in the opposite direction from. Yet, human beings translate different.

We toss around the word "normal" or "ordinary" whenever we describe people, especially in the aftermath of horrific acts because it just seems outlandish for anyone to be step outside of those things. Serial killers were "normal" acquaintances to their friends, lovers, and family. Their victims were just "ordinary" harmless people minding their own business till tragedy struck. Or so we're told. Lines are often blurred.

Humans, all of us so "ordinary" and "normal" may offer kindness and a smile, but we're just as easily capable of turning around and snarling, showing our fangs, and sending people running. Lifetime's Big Driver explores the horrors of humanized monsters, as we follow one woman's confrontation with not just the horror of her defilers, but her coming face-to-face with the monster that has been awoken within her.

Malala Brings The Peace

Oct 11, 2014

When I grow up, I want to be Malala Yousafzai. Seventeen years old, a champion for women's education rights, with courage and intelligence by the tons, and now the youngest recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize.


Her speech after the cut.

8 Fictional Femme Characters That Shaped Me As A Writer

Oct 10, 2014

We are all influenced by something, somebody. As a writer, an artist who 'paints' images with words, I don't always turn to the writers whose work practices I desire for sparks of inspiration. Most of the time, the films and television shows I view, the music I obsessively collect and absorb, and the characters that leap out of the dogged-eared novels on my bookshelf influence how my writing flows on the page.

A lot of these mediums began as scribbled down ideas on paper, so my practice of it is nothing obscure, but sometimes I feel that a lot of the fictional characters in these films, television shows, and books spark my creativity more than real-life people. I guess because sometimes real flesh and blood folk can be disappointing because they evolve with age and experience, or they masquerade their true selves in order to conform to the ebb and flow of society. They are disappointing because they are duh! human. Flawed and fluctuating fuck-ups. Fictional characters, especially the well-drawn ones, are ones that are fixated in their vibe. They are never-changing --- they are as is --- and you can return to them again and again, and they are exactly as you remembered them last. I don't know about you, but there is some comfort in knowing that.

Growing up I saw a lot of images of what a "woman writer" was supposed to be. A lot of what I saw was either a thirty, flirty, and thriving dame who stuck pencils in her teeth and hairbun, or a salt- tongued navigator who could rock a mean blazer and swap wits and snarks with the boys. All of them were saddled with a 'you're gonna make it after all' quest to conquer the newsroom and the 'big city' --- which was 9 times out of 10 was always New York City. Still a lot of of the fictional journalistic and writing femmes I admired were not Carrie Bradshaws, Mary Tyler Moores, Murphy Browns, or any character Kate Hudson has played in a film. They fit my scope. They were unconventional. They were stumbling through life in heels and high-tops. They were somewhat misbegotten, yet I didn't forget them as they inspired me and continue to inspire me to put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, urging me to let it all pour out.

It's Not That Simple To Dismiss Labels, Raven-Symoné

Oct 7, 2014

Actress and comedienne Raven-Symoné caused some eyebrows to raise after she began to discuss labels and what she does and doesn't want to be called during her Where Are They Now interview with Oprah Winfrey this past Sunday. The discussion was prompted after Oprah asked Raven-Symoné about a 2013 Twitter status where she sorta, kinda came out of the closet in response to California's legalization of same-sex marriage. Raven-Symoné confirmed that she is in a relationship with a woman, but that she dislikes being called "gay", as she is a woman who happens to "love humans". Raven-Symoné went on to talk about labels, going as so far as to say she also didn't want to be called an "African-American", which caused a record scratch across social media:
"I’m an American. I’m not an African-American; I’m an American… I mean, I don’t know where my roots go to. I don’t know how far back they go…I don’t know what country in Africa I’m from, but I do know that my roots are in Louisiana. I’m an American. And that’s a colorless person."
 Oprah asked her to clarify what she meant, and Raven-Symoné continued:
"I have darker skin. I have a nice, interesting grade of hair. I connect with Caucasian. I connect with Asia. I connect with Black. I connect with Indian. I connect with each culture." 

Raven-Symoné may feel she's absolved from labels, but she needs to know that it's not always so simplistic.

The Antagonist Of Self & Setting In 'Midnight Cowboy'

Oct 2, 2014

From synopsis alone, there wasn't any way I could relate or even care about the tale of a naïve guy in the 1960s with rose-colored dreams of taking New York City by storm as a male prostitute. Those aren't shoes I walk in or have even come close to walking by. Yet, James Leo Herlihy makes me walk in them, makes me become involved, as after being sucked into Joe Buck’s lonely, seedy, and reckless world, meeting the depressing little lump that is Rico "Ratso" Rizzo, thrown about the underworld of New York's shivering and starving nights, and then being released from all of that confusion and soil with a hard shove out the door by novel’s end --- I was nodding my head. I got it. I understood. I formed compassion, and in a lot of ways, I related. I got it all completely and now I’m left feeling numb and consumed by this classic tale of friendship, hard lessons, and isolation.

Midnight Cowboy is an extremely H-E-A-V-Y story. Sorry for the caps, but it has to be emphasized that this isn't an easy, breezy sunshine of a read. I hadn't seen the notorious X-rated movie before reading the book. All I knew of the film was that it won a Best Picture Oscar, that it starred Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman, and from the iconic film poster, they made them look shaaady as all get out.

My vagueness on the story and the movie helped me to enjoy being shaken out of my plush environment. I'll admit this isn't the type of book that I would immediately pick up, and I wasn't sure about it when I began reading, but within a few pages I became charmed at how Herlihy has written what is the ultimate tome of isolation, focusing chillingly on the irony of being surrounded by people and still feeling as insignificant as possible as he takes us through every cracked sidewalk step into a man's reluctant and brutal coming-of-age.

Paperback Mystery

Sep 29, 2014

Feel in the mood for a little intrigue? Feel like stepping into a mystery novel? Follow the board. 

Eyeing 'Big Eyes'

Sep 24, 2014

Okay. I like "Oscar Bait" movies. The lush cinematography. The sweeping musical scores. The poetic linguistics. The epic drawn-out bio-pics with all the sloppy tears and substance abuse slurred words. For a character study nerd who likes to read over-analyzed, Easter egg hunting posts about The Shining and Rosemary's Baby on IMDb as a pastime, I love getting immersed in the world building of movies that are all about catching the attention of the gilded gold man. I even hang onto the flimsy (but valid) dream that one day one of my (always in draft mode) novels will be turned into an Oscar bait-y film *fingers crossed* 

I came across a list the other day that highlighted all the upcoming 'Oscar bait' flicks, and a few caught my attention. I was interested in the synopsis for the Tim Burton-directed, Big Eyes, and after viewing the trailer I'm sold on it and am excited that Burton is diverting away from the fanciful macabre he's known for, and doing some magic realism swirled real-life storytelling.

Big Eyes recounts the story of artist, Margaret Keane, who created the "big eyes" paintings that became popular in the 1950s and 1960s. Yet, nobody capitalized greater off of them than Margaret's own husband, who being the savvy businessman he was, monopolized on her talent and took credit for her paintings. The film stars Amy Adams as Margaret, and Christoph Waltz, as the conniving husband, Walter, and I'm already sold by cast alone (Krysten Ritter is even in it!). Plus this is a Tim Burton movie without the talents of Johnny Depp and Helena Botham-Carter for a fresh casting change --- unless Bonham-Carter is playing the paintings because she so could.