Assemblage #1: Plath, Curves & Comets

Nov 14, 2014

AT&T Ad from 1967 (via Tumblr)
A collection of curiosities, irks, and thoughts...

I haz opinions, and yet, I don't always want to dedicate a full post to these thoughts and findings. This is where the 'Assemblage' series comes in as it aims to fill in the blanks and give me ample room to share links and air out the words rattling in my brain about various topics. I have a similar post series for my Audio Diva blog where I pool five recent songs and/or music trends, and welly wells, I just decided to do it here. For now there isn't a set number of items or a set word length, so just dive into the mix....

Lupita Nyong'o & The Redefinition Of Beauty

Nov 11, 2014

When Lupita Nyong'o won the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her role in 12 Years A Slave, I let out a sigh of relief and smiled.

The Kenyan-Mexican actress became the talking point of almost every media outlet once word spread about her compelling performance in 12 Years A Slave, and from there her popularity escalated. Every corner of the media became plastered with her visage --- from dedicated Tumblr pages, to articles articulating her on-point acting performance, to talk show appearances showcasing her infectious charisma, to fashion editorial spreads and fashion critics alike going mental over her impeccable style --- Lupita Love was being spread all around.

In the last month, she was named the new face of the lush LancĂ´me line and was chosen as People Magazine's Most Beautiful, high honors that kept her aura aglow. Lupita fever has certainly arrived and in the heat of heat --- believe me --- I caught it. Almost immediately I began to adore her 'carefree Black girl' attitude, and her keen fashion sense (she's like the Millennial version of Audrey Hepburn for me), which has in turn pushed me into sharpening my own style game. She is my new best friend in my head, and I'm not alone in that thought, so don't give me that look.

It's no lie. We all have a tendency to gravitate towards someone who can come along and bring a uniqueness to the shifting our cultural paradigm, and it's safe to say that Lupita Nyong'o cultivates that ideal, so much so that it'll be just a matter of time before we get to see more of her --- or will we?

Now that Nyong'o has become the hottest tamale in 2014's warmer, her image has come under scrutiny, becoming the focal point in numerous fiery discussions about her and about women of color and their personal brand of beauty, and not all of the brouhaha has been bubbling sweet.

NaNoWriMo Diary: Week #1

Nov 8, 2014

Writing 50,000 words amid the chaos...

I did something weird this NaNo year: at the last minute I decided to write something completely off the course of my initial plan.

Since I'm a perfectionist when it comes to my work (my life, not so much), I like to plan ahead. I like to have some sort of map, some sort of skeletal outline before I begin something. I sometimes spend so much time writing out character quirks and describing the settings my characters will be wandering in that the initial writing doesn't get done. Cue Writer Leopard.

Like normal I spent most of October going over one WIP that needed a little more 'umph', deciding that this was going to be my NaNo entry for the year. I prepped the character list. Fixed the chapter outline. Set up a "story parts" document (a word doc of story events and dialogue that pop into my brain and don't fit with rest of the narrative just yet, but will be returned to later upon revision). The whole storytelling wonder enchilada was all mapped out and ready to be utilized as my own personal tour guide to keep me focused and on-track while writing.

Then on November 1st, I sat in front of my computer and was all ready to write this ah-mazing story that I had laboriously planned out for a good month, and well, I had nothing...absolutely freaking N-O-T-H-I-N-G.

No drive to write it. No passion to play around with words. My brain had pooped out. The worst was when I tried to 'summon' the characters and their voices...and they were dead silent. Little fuckers. Maybe I was hung over from all that Halloween candy, drunk on the saccharine, but I was just not enthused.

Then, out of nowhere, I heard the knocking.

Crossing Boundaries & Oversharing With Lena Dunham

Nov 4, 2014

I had little to no opinion about Lena Dunham till this past weekend. Sure I know of Dunham, she's supposed to be the "voice of my generation" even though we do not speak the same lingo and come from alternate universes, but she apparently speaks for me because the media tells me so and we happen to be the same age. Sure, I know of Girls, the hit HBO show that she produces, writes, created, and employs her friends on, and of how she's supposed to be this super unapologetic rebel rouser who is tellin' your 20s selfish phase it like it 'tis because she sheds off her clothes and accepts her flaws on camera and is ~edgy~ in all the right girl power doses. I know of Dunham, and while I appreciate her existence of being a woman who is doing her thing and doing it her way, I'm really 'meh' about her.

Yet my ears perked up when the Internet exploded over the weekend when website Truth Revolt discovered some bizarre and highly problematic lines in Dunham's recently released memoir, Not That Kind Of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's "Learned". Of the findings, there are passages about Dunham describing a time where she at seven years old explored her one-year-old sister Grace Dunham's vagina. From there the over-sharing circus began....

Belle Of The Ball

Oct 30, 2014

Me as Belle cheesing severely hard at age 6 on Halloween '92 
Halloween is really enjoyed best as a kid. As I go kicking and screaming into adulthood I realize that Halloween is now an excuse for adults to be assholes. It's Halloween! Let me be as racist, sexist, insensitive, and as idiotic as I can possibly be! Woot woot! Whether it's a retailer taking extra special care to enrage and chastise their consumers or some fools thinking they're oh so clever by dressing up as the latest tragic current event, every year I begin to feel that hanging out with Dracula and even fucking Pennywise the Clown are better than associating with adults on Halloween.

So that's why I choose to reach for nostalgia during this ghoulish time, because it was when Halloween wasn't the national holiday for assholery. It was just the last day in October where I was supposed to get dressed up, stuff my face with candy, and watch Halloween and Hocus Pocus till my eyes droop. Nothing more and nothing less.

Aside from the candy and the horror films, the number one thing I loved about Halloween was dressing up in a costume and pretending to be someone else for the day. I have been many things throughout Halloween --- a Power Ranger (the pink one, duh), a cheerleader (when I was a marching band's an oxymoron y'all!), and even Zombie Tina Turner (which I've been since college because I'm broke). Still, I have yet to have a Halloween costume like the one I had when I was six years old.

Pretty Princesses Drop F-Bombs For Feminism

Oct 29, 2014

Hmm. Hmm. Hrrumph.

At first glance, I wasn't sure what to make of this video sponsored by socially aware clothing retailer FCKH8 that features little girls dressed up as princesses who are continuously spouting out the word "fuck" to spread awareness over sexism. The video begins harmlessly with the girls saying the word "pretty" and acting all precious, till one of the girls interrupts the pretty party and screams, "What the fuck!" while declaring how she's not 'a pretty and helpless princess'. With furrowed brows and arms akimbo, the girls then ask the question: what is more offensive, little girls saying the word "fuck?" or gender equality?

Trick question.

Mostly people are going with the former as far as the video's comments suggest (enter the comment lair if you dare), because we can't be having little girls in frilly dresses and sparkly crowns smarting off as if they are auditioning to be a Goodfella. Yet, ha ha ha, FCKH8 have bamboozled you right into the web of truth as this is exactly the type of rise they were hoping to get, that obviously people will rush to bemoan that a little girl saying "fuck" is highly and morally mucho more offensive than sexual assault. Gotcha good, didn't they?

Okay, sure, FCKH8 walk a thin line with this. Using children to push for what is considered an adult situation always makes people queasy, because it courts depravity, it corrupts the 'delicacy' of childhood. True, some of what is presented here is for shock. I was especially uneasy at the line where the girls were discussing the stat over how many women will be raped, and one little girl questions, "which one of us will be next?" Quite appalling, yes, but so is the statistic itself. That is why we need to cut the 'wrecking innocence' bullshit for a second, because 'F-Bombs For Feminism' is saying some valid things through the mouths of their little sass pot babes.

Look: Rosemary's Baby (1968)

Oct 27, 2014

Tannis, anyone?

The devil is in the details.

For me, it's the tiny, blink-and-you-might-miss-them details that are sprinkled throughout Rosemary's Baby that make it the classic film that it is. For the horror genre, Rosemary's Baby raised the bar on how horror films, especially psychological horror films, were to be executed for the following decade as it made sure to take the details presented (and those that were cleverly hidden) and have them take on bigger, unnerving forms and meanings by film's end --- everything is truly not what it appears to be at first glance.

When it was released, Rosemary's Baby diverted boldly away from the usual horror film set-up. Gone were the dark and stormy nights and Gothic castle settings of 1960s Hammer horror films. The setting of terror was now a posh apartment house in the middle of the hustle and bustle of 1960s New York City, its horrors confined in its claustrophobic quarters and illuminated in broad daylight. Gone are the snarling creatures that rise out of coffins and stumble around in fog saturated forests. The creatures are now humans in guises of busy-body octogenarians and a suave and seemingly devoted husband.

The horror is still just as unsettling as any old-fashioned chiller --- a young woman (Mia Farrow) becomes a pawn in a Satanic plot and is unknowingly raped and impregnated by the Devil himself --- but it's modernized by its eerie and slow burning build-up, its stark normalcy, and the pinpricks of foreshadowing that all seem mismatched and obtuse, even insane, but then come creepily together by film's end.

Not a minute or a movement is wasted in Roman Polanski's 1968 masterpiece, and to my knowledge, it follows Ira Levin's novel of the same name right down to every last detail. I know NBC had the dumb idea to make a TV mini-series remake recently, and from watching clips it left me with a chalky under taste (heh). I don't even know why they tried, I mean, you just can't recreate chilling intricacy like the 1968 version did. Plus everyone in the original film gives great performances, especially Farrow, who's innocence is just ruptured so chillingly, and Ruth Gordon, who is just so amazing as the comical and creepy Minnie Castevet. You just can't replicate or even top those performances.

You can't even replicate the look of this film. It's brightly lit for the most part, which thrusts the sinister events out in the naked open, and everything is so oddly colorful and has that great '60s Mod style that it's feels strange, dreamy, and trance-like throughout, like everything that's happening can't possibly be --- but it is. Even when that odd 'drugged dream' sequence creeps in, you never leave it after the fact, and really the movie began like a hazy nightmare right from the beginning, and you're just constantly feeling dread mount as the film progresses thanks to these stark seemingly natural, everyday images being distorted.

I never watch this movie the same way as I did before. I'm always finding something new that I missed, some little quote spoken that takes on new meaning or those fine-tuned little details that spring up to change my perspective or question others (though I still don't buy into the "Rosemary was hallucinating the whole thing" theory, total BS). I know every twist and turn, and of course, the doomed outcome, but it still feels fresh, and never am I not trying to warn Rosemary to get away from those meddling neighbors and that shifty-eyed husband of hers. I'm also never not chilled over the fact that a woman's pregnancy, something that is supposed to be intimate and innocent is turned into something so perverse. Oh, and that devil rape/procreating scene? --- absolutely terrifying.

Let's keep on looking...