Dec 31, 2014

Book Looks: What I Read In 2014

I read. I read a lot. I'm not one of those who reads 500 books a year, because...that's insane. I'm a slow reader. I like sinking into words and then really traveling into a story or a situation, and since my time is limited I usually save all my reading for the weekend or over breakfast (pico de gallo cheese eggs and green tea, for the curious ones...). For articles that is a different situation all together, but nonetheless, I still take my time with them, saving a bulk of them to my Pocket app to read for later. (Oh, and real talk, Pocket is one of the most amazing inventions ever).

Since this blog is on it's wobbly legs, looking for a direction to go in, I decided to compile an end-of-the-year list of all my favorite reads of the year, in hopes that maybe I'll have more features akin to this in the new year....and to be nosy and see if anybody out there who skims this blog wants to talk about the reads they read this year. Okay? Alright! Let's get to listing...

Dec 1, 2014

Impressions: Going To The Chapel

It seems like a rite of Pinterest passage to have a wedding board, and after much fussy resistance --- I have one now. No, I'm not getting married (that is if Chris Evans gives me a call...), and at current weddings and the act of participating in them are the furthest from my mind, so consider this board 'Pinterest Peer Pressure' as Pinterest has got jokes thinking that with every pin I expand on I want to look at wedding pins. Then again, I always did like wedding dresses and baby's breath...

Yet, knowing me, what I have culled isn't the typical wedding board littered with DIYs on how to make swan place cards out of parchment paper and endless photos of garden receptions. Don't believe me? This is some of what I've posted so far...

top: Solange going for adventures in paradise Minnie Riperton at her November 16th wedding reception.
middle: (l) Dawn Silva and Lynn Marby of The Brides Of Funkenstein (r) Tequila Sunrise inspired shoot via Junebug Weddings
bottom: From 'The Black House' photo series (1973 - 1976) by Colin Jones

If you want to follow the board, click here.

Nov 14, 2014

On The Rocks: Plath, Curves & Comets

AT&T Ad from 1967
A collection of curiosities, irks, and thoughts, shaken, stirred, and served...

I haz opinions, and yet, I don't always want to dedicate a full post to these thoughts and findings. This is where the 'On The Rocks' 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 talk about them, 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, and I'm pretty sure it will turn into personal ramblings, but for now, just dive into the mix....

Nov 11, 2014

Muse: Lupita Nyong'o & The Redefinition Of Beauty

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 Lancôme 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.

Oct 30, 2014

Life & Times: Belle Of The Ball

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.

Oct 29, 2014

Muse: Pretty Princesses Drop F-Bombs For Feminism

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.

Oct 27, 2014

Impressions: The Devilish Details In 'Rosemary's Baby'

"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.

Oct 22, 2014

Writer's Block: 8 Things I Learned During National Novel Writing Month

Gypsy Rose Lee writing her book, The G-String Murders (1941)
I'm the grand dame of drafts. Of starting, stopping, and somewhat finishing. You should see all the unpublished posts I have in the post drafts of this blog. You should see all the drafts that are stuffed on my computer documents and jump drives. To the gills. One of these days those drafts will be finalized, but for now they are the start of something, which is, to me, the most exciting part of the writing gamut.

November is National Novel Writing Month and it is all about the first draft. It's the start of some molecule of a story that could end up being the greatest thing ever put down on paper (or not, but flow with me..). They really should call it National First Draft Month because that's what it truly is, but I think the military might get peeved about that title.

So what exactly is National Novel Writing Month?

National Novel Writing Month (or NaNo for short) is where for 30 days people attempt to write 50,000 words on a novel, a short story, a book of poetry, a screenplay, etc., and go batshit crazy during the process.

Oct 20, 2014

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

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.

Oct 11, 2014

What I ♥ Today: Malala Brings The Peace

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.


Oct 10, 2014

Writer's Block: 8 Fictional Femme Characters That Shaped Me As A Writer

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.

Oct 2, 2014

Book Looks: The Antagonist Of Self & Setting In 'Midnight Cowboy'

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.

Sep 29, 2014

Impressions: Feeling Gothic

Feel in the mood for a little intrigue? Feel like stepping into a mystery novel? Get your gothic on and follow the board...

Sep 24, 2014

Impressions: Eyeing 'Big Eyes'

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.

Sep 17, 2014

Muse: Oh Hello 28

28 kinda crept up on me.

It was there, looming, waiting for the moment to pounce on me, but today it has decided to tap me lightly on the shoulder instead and say a whispered "boo!" --- yet I'm not so easily scared this time as I was when I turned 25 and felt the big ~*crisis*~ coming on. Okay, okay, that smirk is a little faulty as I’m a wee bit shaken as I carry a flashlight down that dark hall into the unknown depths of 28-dom. I'm in the twilight of my 20s. I’m edging closer to the big 3-0, and being nonchalant about it is a difficult task as I didn't plan on my life to be so well, beige, and so utterly stalled at this moment.

Sep 16, 2014

Muse: Looking Up At The Big Sky & Learning To Trust Myself

Trusting myself is something that doesn't come easy as I often waffle between confidence and cowardice. Some days I know what I want, and will say what I want. Other days I'm swallowing my opinions and clamming up or catching myself asking others what I should do.

This isn't the same as 'if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all'. This isn't the same feeling as asking for genuine help, because there is nothing wrong with asking for assistance or advice with tough decisions. It's just that some days I don't trust myself enough to know what's the best thing for me to do and or to say. The situation could be simple, but I'm always thinking (or over-thinking) that someone else may know better or may have said it better. That's stupid, right? Only I should know what I want for myself, how I want to engage with others, but that's because the trust I have for myself is sometimes wrapped up in the craggy foil coldness known as 'fear'.

Fear is something that I've discussed before in concerns towards my writing, my sharing of it, and how I'm trying to utilize fear as a motivator to get me to achieve my writing goals, rather than have the boogeyman, the fear, crowding me in a closet. I am determined to be Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween with my writing. I want to take the hanger and stab the boogeyman (aka the fear of writing) right in the eye. 
But as for applying that image to the rest of my life --- that is easier said than done.  

Aug 26, 2014

What I ♥ Today: Lost Words

Poem by Michael Faudet that wonderfully describes the vicious cycle of my everyday struggle. Le sigh.

Aug 7, 2014

Levity: A Victim Of Being Catcalled? Here's How To Smile Like A Lunatic At All Times

Are you a lady who has been told that you don't smile enough in public? Are you suffering from permanent resting bitchy face? Are you brushing off dudes and their oh so cavalier advances because you're not smiling like a lunatic at all times to feed their pleasure? Then The Smile Bitch Training Camp is exactly what you need to cease that pesky daily catcalling!

Created by comedienne Janelle James, this "recruitment" video is the hilarious truth of the day.

Aug 4, 2014

Muse: Why Everyone Should Read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's "We Should All Be Feminists"

Being a feminist means being true to yourself regardless of whatever expectations society throws at you --- or so I thought. Other voices started talking...and talking...and talking...and talking and pretty soon feminism became an abundance of ideas, practices, and declarations to me. Then somehow rules were set, criteria was instated. You don't do this, you do this. You identify as this, you sure as hell don't identify as this. Then it became generational. It became womanism. It became #solidarityisforwhitewomen. It became #yesallwomen. It became Women Against Feminism. It became complicated as fuck.

Pliable as Play-Doh are the concepts of feminism, and yet some have built unmovable, hardened statues with them allowing the idea to become daunting to those unfamiliar to it or disdainful for those conditioned on stereotypes and whatever jargon talking heads spew. The definition of "feminism" is pretty straightforward. It's described simply as, "the belief or theory that men and women should have equal political, economic, and social rights and opportunities". What is also straightforward is Chimamnda Ngozi Adichie's essay, "We Should All Be Feminists", which yanks away all the conversational barnacles that get attached to feminism and its practitioners, and brings a centered and thoughtful dialogue toward it.

Jul 30, 2014

What I ♥ Today: Love & Compromise According To Eartha Kitt

...and this is why I adore Eartha Kitt.

In less than three minutes the auntie in my head drops some purrfect knowledge on what love and compromise means to her and what it should mean to a lot of others. This clip, which is probably posted on a ton of Tumblrs by now in .gif form, is culled from All By Myself, a 1982 documentary where Kitt reflects on her life and music. I've been looking high and low for the full doc, and like usual, we cannot have nice things because it's out of print. Still this abridged wisdom she shares will forever be imprinted in my mind because what she says is the haunting truth. We often times forget that ourselves matter in the process of love and relationships. We're so much in the process of loving someone else that we, ourselves, our ideals and our emotions, dissipate.

Kitt's rebuttals to the interviewer may seem a bit harsh, but every scoff, scowl, and laugh is valid. I'm learning that love is about being honest with yourself, that you have to truly like yourself in order to extend that honesty and like towards another. When Kitt says, “I fall in love with myself, and I want someone to share it with me. I want someone to share me with me" she's not tripping off of her ego, she wants to see herself, her all-true self reflected off of the person she's involved with, and have that honesty reciprocated.

Though I've never been in a serious relationship, from viewing my own parents and their 30+ year marriage I do see a lot of compromise, even sacrifice, in order to make things work between the two of them. I don't know the ins and outs of their marriage, because that's their business --- I'm just noting things on the surface--- but there are moments where I do catch the candor they share between each other, how comfortable they are with each other, and how they have a balance, where one doesn't outweigh the other even when things aren't so lovey-dovey.

With so much cynicism on romance and marriage these days it's hard to find someone who meets you at minds-level. Still even in my doubts and eyerolls, I hold onto the fact that as long I know myself, know what I want, and how I want to be treated that eventually I'll find a like-minded person who will understand that, and who I'll have no trouble understanding all their mechanisms as well. Knowing yourself and sharing that self with others is a deep and powerful thing and Eartha Kitt has that power on lock, and that's why we should open our minds to the real talk she's articulating here.

Jul 29, 2014

Nostalgia: Bye Bye Bye To Bop

'96 HOURS with *NSYNC'?! Sure you jest, BOP

After 31 years the technicolored teen magazine that brought you glorious centerfolds of "manly men" in curious poses is dunzo. Yep, Bop magazine is ending its reign and yes, you can come wall slide with me and shed all the tears while clutching onto your Leonardo DiCaprio nameplate necklace. This is some devastating news.

During the mid-to-late '90s into the early 2000s, I know Bop got a lump sum of my "hard-earned" allowance money. Like clockwork, every time I went to the grocery store with my Mom, I'd beeline to the wall of magazine at our local H-E-B and decide on what magazine to purchase. It was either between Bop, 16, or Teen Beat and it was a tuffff decision. But what was really tuffff, the absolute worst thing was having both sides of the pull-out poster or pin-up belong to two different boys you liked. Oh, what an agonizing decision that was.

Still there were good things that unfolded from Bop's newspapery pages. Like all the pin-ups you'd ever want were available and ready to wallpaper your room with or to trade with your friends. My best friend during my Bop years was a girl who lived down the street from me named Jessica and we were like pin-up dealers like our conversations on the bus went like "I'll give you three Rider Strong's for two Johnathan Brandis's". We were hardcore like that.

Also every school year in middle school I'd buy a binder with one of those clear covers, and then slip in a pin-up, or a ~*fancy*~ homemade collage of whatever heartthrob(s) I was crushing on at the time and tote it around. Ah, aimless youth how dare you race out of my grasp!

Jul 28, 2014

Rant & Rave: The NFL Scores Yet Another Touchdown For Sexism

So much shitty stuff has been going on in the NFL recently that Keith Olbermann drummed up a brilliant and epic rant against them (and the sports world in general) highlighting in fiery finesse the glaring fact the League hates women, but loves their money instead. The catalyst for his rant is over the pointless two-game suspension for Baltimore Ravens running back, Ray Rice, who earlier this year punched his then-fiancee Janay Palmer and then, as seen through surveillance cameras, was caught dragging her limp and unconscious body out of a hotel elevator. With all the unsettling visual evidence of the incident, the NFL collectively shrugged their shoulders and took a swig of Gatorade over the ordeal, because it's just another day in misogyny paradise for them.

Jul 17, 2014

Impressions: 13 Lessons Learned From 'Orange Is The New Black', Season 2

I LOVE Orange Is The New Black with a fierce passion. It's got everything from fantastic storytelling to compelling characterization, and one-liners that will dress up anyone's sassafrassin' game. It's just an adventure to watch. When the second season premiered June 6th, the excitement I had couldn't be contained. Still I did something pretty lame as I didn't binge watch like I kept boasting I was going to do. I decided after watching the first episode that I wanted to let this season linger for at least a week. I was going to watch one or two episodes daily, peeling back the wrapper of each episode like I'm Charlie Bucket eating bite-sized pieces of a Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemellow-Delight Bar. Big mistake really, because I was growling for more, and trying to function throughout the following day became impossible. Sure I was able to digest the episodes better and not have everything blur into one glob of awesome, but I was just burnt toast the next day awaiting the 'what next'.

But *whoosh* I made it. I'm now completely finished with the season, and I'm coming up for air to deliver what I like to call ~ in-depth musing ~ as I laughed, gasped, fought the sky, and learned a lot of lessons --- 13 lessons really --- during this phenomenal  season. Hopefully by now, if you are a fan of the series like I, you're all caught up. If not, stop right now. Go to Netflix, find a bootleg site, I don't care, just go on and clear your schedule, kiss your kids, your spouse, and your Pillow Pet goodbye, and watch the season, and then come back here and let's go over what we've learned this season.

Jul 11, 2014

Nostalgia: A Fashionable Birthday Ode To Claudia Kishi

It's a little bizarre to be celebrating a birthday of a fictional character, but I'm always bizarre so... *throws glitter in air*

Today is Claudia Kishi's birthday! Who is that you ask? Well, if you had your nose stuck in a book and salivated over a book fair during the '80s and '90s, you know all about The Babysitter's Club book series by Ann M. Martin which followed a close-knit group of friends who started a babysitting business in the fictional community of Stonybrook, Connecticut.

I was obsessed with the books back in the day. I also watched the short-lived TV show, saw the 1995 movie in the theaters, joined the "super secret club", wore the gold charm necklace --- you get the idea. If this all sounds precious, believe me young adult fiction and the fandom surrounding it has gotten a lot more intense in the last decade or so thanks to stories about post-apocalyptic worlds, sparkly vampires, and John Green writing tomes for a whole new generation of emotional Kleenex clutchers. Books about young girls eating pizza, joining forces to babysit brats in their community to make bank off it was about as philosophical as it was gonna get for an '80s and '90s kid.

Out of all the members of the Babysitter's Club, Claudia Kishi stands out as being one of the most memorable, and for me, she was the one I identified with the most right down to her habit of hoarding junk food, her love of art, her obsession over Nancy Drew books, and also her flair for being horrible at math. Also we have the same closet. Yep. Soulmate.

Another (obvious) reason why I adored me some Kishi was her fashion sensibility which was detailed in the pages of the books, shown on the fabulous paint-brushed book covers, and seen on the actresses who played Kishi on screen (I preferred TV version Claudia). Scrunchies, vests, boots, leggings, bangles, and vivid colors --- Kishi brought some much needed panache to the circle of babysitters, and I'm not the only one who took notice. A Google search will lead you to other lovers of Kishi fashion, most notably the sometimes active, What Claudia Wore and Tumblrs like the defunct, The Claudia Kishi Diaries and Claudiavore.

I admit to wearing some badly printed sweaters and t-shirts, as well as jellies, overalls, and stirrup pants from way back when, and as much as some of that stuff should remain in the '90s, somehow I'm finding myself leaning back into the fold of a Kishi wardrobe. Pretty much because clothing stores and Pinterest keep telling me so. So I'm rocking the blue jean tops, buying the lace up boots, wearing printed shorts, and always and forever topping everything off with some funky cheap ass jewelry. Though I've ditched the scrunchies, my style is still somewhat rooted in Kishi Koture, as I just cannot get away from floral prints and weird earrings, and well, proud of it I am.

So in honor of the Babysitter's Club most stylish occupant (sorry Stacey McGill) and her birthday, I provided a run-down of outfits and accessories that would get the Claudia Kishi approval. I hope the list inspires you in to think outside the box --- or just worship at the alter of floral prints again. So let's all raise a candy bar to celebrate because well...

Jul 9, 2014

Book Looks: The Leaning Tower Of 2014 Summer Reads

Its blazing balls of fire outside in the furnace that South Texas so it's time to keep my rumpus indoors and get some good ol' reading in. Reading is never something I do during a holiday season --- it's a year-round deal for me --- but this summer I found myself with a leaning pile of books on my bedside table and began to think, "yeah, I need to get to reading these", you know, before I buy nine more books (which is usually the case for me). Unfortunately, I don't get to escape to a beach to read them, because I'm well, poor, and don't know the right people. Still I'll ~imagine~ and share with whoever is out there what I'm reading at the moment, and maybe find some fellow book sniffers out there who are flipping pages in order to keep cool this summer. 

  • Bright Boulevards and Bold Dreams: The Story Of Black Hollywood, by Donald Bogle: An in-depth look back at important figures in Hollywood history who just so happen to be African-Americans. The book spans from the 1920s to the 1950s and it not only covers the important actors like Hattie McDaniel and Paul Robeson, but also dives into the back stories about the costume designers, architects, make-up artists, choreographers, screenwriters, directors, and even "the help" who built from the ground up their own private paradise in the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles'. Fascinating stuff.
  • Shanghai Girls, by Lisa See: The story of two sisters who due to their father's carelessness with money (go fig), are forced to become Chinese brides to American suitors, but a little something called World War II gets in the way. Be still my historical fiction heart.
  • The Wedding, by Dorothy West: Important back in the '90s for being Harlem Renaissance alum, Dorothy West's first book in about forty-something years at the time, but remains significant as a literary drama about a family in Martha's Vineyard who get all up in a tizzy when one of their own marries a white Jazz musician. Oh, and the story takes place in the 1950s, so yeah, this is big ol' issue. Saw the movie with Halle Berry and Lynn Whitfield eons ago, but wanted to give the novel some attention. 
  • Dust Tracks On The Road, An Autobiography, by Zora Neale Hurston: Alice Walker claimed that this book is complete fabrication. A real fanciful trip into delusion, that was geared as entertainment for curious White folk, and is possibly the worst thing Hurston scribed in her lifetime. Okay, I'm a few pages in and um, hmm, yeah, dammit Walker is kinda right as she does wax poetic about some magical White man who was there at her birth and helped her learn how to fish. Hurston completely spun the 'magic negro' trope and made it land on its head. Still I shoulder shrug to Walker and naysayers because Hurston was a craftsman at words who weaves a good story. Still, who wouldn't pad their autobiography with color coated lies?
  • Caucasia, by Danzy Senna: Another "sisters in peril" story this time set in the 1970s and follows a biracial family who just cannot get it together as the parents get knee-deep in the radicalism of 1970s Boston, split, and then divide the sisters up --- the father taking one to South America, and the mother masking the other sister's true racial identity. You know some ish is about to go down with a recipe of disaster like that.
  • Under The Ivy: The Life & Music of Kate Bush, by Graeme Thomson: To know me is to know that I adore me some Kate Bush, the kooky progressive rock queen of the '70s and '80s. She's more to it than having a hit song about Emily Bronte's classic Wuthering Heights and the Mother Goose-on-acid holiday specials she did back in the day (YouTube them). She's a fantastic songwriter and, to me, an awesome storyteller who writes songs about haunted houses, the war in Vietnam, and about her bearing witness to one of her ancestors being tried for witchcraft. Serious. I'm curious to see if this book will give me insight on the context behind those beloved musical novellas and Bush's provocative imagination. 
  • Theatre, by W. Somerset Maugham: Ah, Maugham. He always writes about discontented and fussy rich people, and after reading the brilliant bratty couple's quarrel that was The Painted Veil, I decided to check this one out as its about a self-centered actress who meets her match when a ~brooding stranger~ strolls into her world. Ooo, scandal.
  • Incidents In The Life Of A Slave Girl, by Harriet Jacobs: Slave narratives don't exactly scream "summer reading", so this might get pushed back to those winter months of discontentment, but ever since seeing 12 Years A Slave and re-watching Amistad recently its duty to finally sit down and read a slave narrative and check my privilege and note how far we've come and how we still have a long way to go. 
  • Mo' Meta Blues: The World According To Questlove, by Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson: Questlove's sorta-kinda-maybe-not memoir about his yellow brick travels into music and infamy and the soundtrack that backs this thought-provoking journey. Within a few pages, Questlove has gone to the top of my list of "People Dead or Alive That I Want To Eat Enchiladas With and Annoy With Questions", knocking Shelley Duvall down a slot. He is the music nerd of my dreams.

So what is everyone reading for the summer?